Dear Centenary Family,
We’ve all been following the news about the Coronavirus. These are anxious times. Not only has the stock market fallen, but the NBA has canceled the rest of their season and the NCAA tournament has been canceled! Many colleges, universities, and public school systems have canceled classes and gone to online formats.
As we’ve followed the developments and recommendations from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, the Governor, and the Mayor of Richmond, we have decided to cancel worship the next two Sundays (March 15 and 22). We are also canceling all other meetings and activities and plan to be closed on weekdays the next two weeks. We plan to resume worship and other activities on Sunday, March 29, but of course that is contingent upon whether that is advisable at that time.
Beyond our own decision making process here at Centenary, Bishop Sharma Lewis has just issued a statement directing all United Methodist Churches to suspend worship and large gatherings for March 15 and 22.
Read Bishop Lewis’s letter here.
Here are some of the factors that make these steps easier for many of us to understand and accept:
1) We want to do our part in helping to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
2) Many people in our congregation have underlying health issues that are probably not self-evident to us. We do not want to put them at risk. You may not be aware of church members who are cancer survivors, asthmatics, diabetics, or who have other conditions that put them at greater risk.
3) We want to make sure we do what is best for the older members of our congregation and our families.
Other Ways to Connect
There are simple and inexpensive tools we can use for meetings to conduct business, spiritual growth, and worship. Look for an invitation in the next few days to join us on Zoom, an online service for meetings and conversations. Even though we are closing the building the next two weeks, we will be checking phone messages regularly and monitoring emails and text messages.
We are working on plans for our Walk-In Ministry on Fridays. We have made modifications in the way we serve our guests today. We have served bag lunches before and may need to go to that method of serving our friends in coming weeks. We’ll keep you posted as these discussions progress.
Rev. Tim Gerde and I want to be available to you as needed. Tim’s cell phone number is 202-870-1241 and Tim’s email is
. Feel free to call, text, or email Tim if you have a need or know of someone who has a need. Feel free to call, text, or email me (Matt) at 804-971-7563 or
You are probably aware that many facilities for older adults are prohibiting visitors, and some hospitals are restricting visits. Nonetheless, we want to hear from you and will do our best to respond in the ways we can in the current situation. If you know of someone in our congregation who is ill or in need of assistance, please let us know that also.
For many of us, our giving to Centenary is tied to our worship attendance. But we can still continue to support the church’s ongoing work in this time. You can certainly do that by mail. But you can also contribute by check, debit, or credit card on our website. At the very top of our homepage (
) you will see in red a tab that says Give. Simply click on that and you should be able to follow the process form there. If you’d like to give online and have any questions, do not hesitate to call us at the church office: 804-648-8319. Thank you in advance!
In some of my reading during this Lenten season, I’ve been reminded that one trait that defines Christians is hope. When the people of Israel were in bondage in Egypt, they never gave up hope that they would be delivered. When they were in exile in Babylon, they were sustained by the hope that one day they would get to go back home. And when things looked most bleak under Roman occupation, they hoped for a Messiah to deliver them. During this season, we are on the journey that goes with Jesus to the cross, making ourselves ready to offer ourselves completely to God’s call and purpose. We do not fear death, even as death is discussed with great frequency. We have hope that even beyond death we will find life. We have hope that in the midst of the challenges of these days, God will not ever forsake or abandon us! (Romans 8:28, 38-39). We live through Lent with Easter in view.
This is a time for us to continue to be intentional in prayer, studying the Scriptures, and serving as we can even in these circumstances. God is with us in this time. Let’s pray for the leaders of our nation and world, for health care workers who are on the front line of the battle with this disease, for those who are infected, for those who become gravely ill, for those who are anxious and afraid, and for one another. Let’s encourage and support one another and consider what we will learn about God and ourselves in this time.