Dear Members and Friends of Idlewild Presbyterian Church,
In light of the recent confirmation that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached Shelby County and the World Health Organization having declared this a global pandemic , we are implementing preventative measures to keep our community safe.
If you were in worship with us last Sunday, you know that we learned how to say “Peace be with you; and also with you” in American Sign Language, halting the spread of the virus through physical contact.
This upcoming Sunday, you will notice other shifts in the way we worship.
- During the offering, you will be encouraged to meditate on your response to the Word read and proclaimed. The offering plates will not be passed. Instead, the ushers will have the plates at the doors as we leave the sanctuary, and everyone will be encouraged to drop any monetary offerings there.
- Friendship pads will not be passed down the pews. Visitors will be encouraged to share their information on a visitor card, dropping it in the offering plate. For attendance records, ushers will count worshippers from the balcony.
- We will not collect quarters during the children’s moment. You are encouraged to drop them in the offering plate on your way out of the sanctuary.
- Both services will be held in the sanctuary, providing greater space between congregants and the safety of social distancing. You are encouraged to spread out.
- Communion will not be celebrated. Those for whom communion is an especially important part of worship will have access to a communion liturgy shared through the church website.
We also cannot overemphasize the importance of staying home if you feel the least bit ill, especially if you are coughing. If you are 60+ years old and/or have an underlying health issue, you are also encouraged to seriously consider the way you choose to worship. The 11 a.m. worship service is
available on Livestream
and broadcast on the radio (96.1FM). Participating that way, from the safety of your home, may be the wisest choice to make if you are more vulnerable to this virus.
We pray these measures will protect those in our congregation and community who are most vulnerable.
We also understand that making the decision not to participate in any aspect of the church’s life and mission can be a painful one. Human beings are designed for community, and our need for each other is especially urgent in times of uncertainty. We know that the most loving thing we can do for one another in this season is to prevent illness, and so we invite you to join us in a spirit of thoughtful discernment.
We have made the difficult decision to cancel the following events, based on the typical age of the participants and/or group size, travel considerations, and level of physical contact:
Sunday school, pickleball, men’s fellowship/breakfast, Wednesday morning study, Thursday morning study, Lenten lectionary groups, PW circles, Idlewild book club, First Sunday Lunch, 2nd Grade Bible Workshop, Created by God workshop, No Longer Strangers Discernment, the CUBA mission trip, the Ghana mission trip, the Midtown Legal Clinic, and the Trezvant shuttle
For all the cancelled events, we will be actively working with group leadership to determine if an online option is available and worth pursuing.
More Than A Meal worship will continue because Sunday worship continues. Guests will be allowed to use the restroom facilities and will be offered a brown bag meal to go.
Please know that we have not come to this position without great deliberation. Medical and public health professionals have been consulted. We feel strongly that we are taking necessary, preventative steps, and that Idlewild is fulfilling its responsibility to be a leader in Memphis. Our position is not reactive; it’s proactive.
While preventative measures are part of a healthy response, communities of faith are also uniquely called to be agents of peace and reconciliation, especially when anxiety is high. In that spirit, we encourage you to join us in the following ways:
- Please pray. Prayer settles hearts, gives direction, creates empathy, and can even help outcomes be changed. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for those who are afraid. Pray for those who live in places with no access to health care. Pray for public health officials who are so very strained.
- Let us try to increase our courage. Fear muddles everything. A virus which is a clear cause for concern and commands a response is not automatically a cause for panic. There is a gulf between expressing caution and thrashing about in fear.
- Be a good neighbor. If you know people who are especially prone or susceptible, or if people that you know self-isolate or are quarantined in the weeks to come, be a friend and reach out to them with whatever technology you may be able to use. The support of friends and loved ones is crucial to any recovery.
Thank you all for your attention and consideration. We pray that a spirit of compassion and thoughtfulness will reign as we navigate this season together.
The Reverend Anne H.K. Apple, Executive Associate Pastor and Transitional Head of Staff
The Reverend Sara B. Dorrien-Christians, Transitional Associate Pastor
Heather Chauhan, M.D. and Clerk of Session