I imagine that throughout the past week, many of you have been absorbing the news of the growing number of possible or confirmed coronavirus cases closer and closer to home. No doubt this has caused a great deal of anxiety for many in our Wesley family! Some of you have asked what we’re going to do to keep the people of our church safe, especially with regards to Sunday worship.
You may have noticed Maggie, our Sunday sexton, wiping down many surfaces (including and especially door handles) on Sunday mornings. We’ll continue to use Clorox wipes to sanitize surfaces, and to prop some doors to reduce the number of surfaces you’ll come into contact with.
We are blessed with a big and beautiful sanctuary! As you choose your pew, consider maintaining a bit more physical space between you and other worshipers. Refrain from shaking hands — try waving or bumping elbows. (I’ve also heard the Star Trek “live long and prosper” Vulcan hand gesture is gaining in popularity — interestingly enough, it’s actually an ancient Jewish gesture of prayer and blessing!) For the time being, we will not include the ‘passing of the peace’/greeting in our worship services.
For the time being, instead of passing the offering plates along the pews, we will place the offering plates at the doors as you enter the sanctuary. Please feel free to place your offering in the plates as you enter; later in the service, we’ll ask the ushers to bring the plates forward as we offer them to God. Better yet, consider making the switch to online giving! Visit our giving page for more information, or donate here. You can also contact your bank to explore their auto-donation/auto-check options.
The next time we will celebrate communion will be Palm Sunday, April 5. For that service, we plan to switch to the individual communion cups rather than the single communion chalice. This is in addition to the precautions we’ve already been taking in pre-cutting the communion bread. All of these communion elements are prepared by faithful stewards who also take hand hygiene very seriously!
Please remember that our sermons and some of our musical offerings are available to view on our church’s Facebook page! If you need to stay home, you can still connect with your church family in that way. I am also more than happy to provide full-text copies of my sermon manuscripts and our bulletins to anyone who would like them — don’t hesitate to ask.
If you are sick, stay home from worship. (It doesn’t have to be coronavirus — this is a good rule of thumb for flu, common cold, and stomach bugs, too!) If you have recently traveled to an area of higher corona incidence, or if you’ve traveled through an airport, consider self-quarantining for a Sunday.
If you are in a particular “risk category” for coronavirus — due to age, suppressed immune system, health issues, etc. — consider limiting your exposure, whether by staying home and viewing our sermon remotely, by maintaining an even wider social distance, or other preventative options.
- Wash your hands. Wash them often. Wash with soap and warm water. Don’t forget your fingertips!
- Avoid touching your face, especially your nose, eyes, and mouth.
- Cover your mouth with your elbow or clothing if you need to cough.
- Eat good food and get good rest — give your immune system some reserves to work with!
- Don’t panic! Anxiety has the capacity to suppress your immune system. Stay calm and do what is within your power to protect yourself.
- Pray. God is still in control.
- We’ll get through this, friends.
And now, I leave you with some ancient and timeless words:
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NRSV)