March 12, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta:

Our Psalm for this week’s sermon series is  Psalm 95 . In this song, God is enthroned as King and Lord over all things. At the heart of the Reformed tradition is the conviction that God is God. In these uncertain days, we remain rooted and grounded in this truth. God is sovereign: this is our hope, our confidence, and our peace in the midst of the storm.

After consultation with physicians and public health professionals and conversation as a Session this afternoon via ZOOM, FPC is implementing the following changes to mitigate spread of COVID-19 in our community, effective immediately:

On Campus Gatherings
All on-campus gatherings are canceled between Friday, March 13 and Friday, March 27, 2020 no matter the size of the group. Staff members who usually facilitate such groups will communicate this message to them. For those who would like to meet via ZOOM, reach out to Dr. Chris Holmes  for access to the church’s account. 
For the next two Sundays, March 15 and March 22, we are canceling the 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. services and Sunday school. We will livestream a service at 11:00 a.m. from the sanctuary but strongly discourage in-person attendance by members or friends of the congregation. We encourage everyone to livestream. We will have security, necessary A/V tech staff, a few pastors, Jens, and one or two staff singers to lead worship for the livestream. I will preach and continue in our series,  Songs of Sorrow, Songs of Hope

Live Online Bible Study, Next Two Sunday Mornings 
In addition to livestream worship, our scholar in residence, Dr. Chris Holmes will lead a live, online Bible Study via ZOOM at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 15 and 22.

Daily Devotions and Bible Studies
From Monday, March 16 through Sunday, March 27, we will provide a daily devotional written by one of our pastors.  In addition, we will host four ZOOM Bible Studies:
            Tuesday, March 17, 12:00 p.m. with Tony Sundermeier
            Thursday, March 19, 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. with Leigh Bonner
            Tuesday, March 24, 12:00 p.m. with Chris Holmes
            Thursday, March 26, 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. with Rob Sparks

Pastoral Care
Using a phone tree, we will call every member household by the end of the day, March 14, 2020. This call will be to communicate our upcoming plans for the week, to make sure folks know they can livestream, and to make sure they know how to get in touch with a pastor in case of an emergency (678-508-4702).

Community Ministries
This Sunday and next, March 15 and 22, we will not host a sit-down breakfast in Fifield Hall. Instead, we will distribute food and coffee and juice to our guests in to-go boxes and cups. Community Ministries staff is formulating a plan to make sure our weekly guests continue to get the services they need during the week, prioritizing our most vulnerable friends and the ministries in which they participate.

Lenten Food Drive
We strongly encourage members to continue to support our food pantry by bringing in non-perishable foods throughout the next few weeks. W e're asking for canned corn, protein beans, tuna and pork & beans for the food pantry or men's briefs (any size), white crew socks, razors and combs for the shower ministry . Bins to collect the food can be located in the lobby of the Smith Building.

Samaritan Counseling Center
The Samaritan Counseling Center will remain open for clients who are well and who choose to continue their therapy on site.

Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels will continue to operate on their normal schedule.

Beginning tomorrow, March 13, 2020 through March 27, 2020, employees of the church, Childspring International, and Johnson C. Smith Seminary are encouraged to work remotely from home when it is possible. Security and facilities staff will be on site following a normal schedule, though fewer personnel than usual may be on site. 

Finally, I would call on you to stay connected to other church members during this time.  Pick up the phone. Call someone. Please especially be mindful of members and friends who might feel very isolated. I would also ask you to pray. Perhaps you would commit individually or as a household to pray the following prayer on a daily basis even as we trust God to be God in this time.

Adapted from Rev. Jill Duffield — God of all that is seen and unseen, our anxiety rises as the invisible coronavirus spreads. We worry about the impact of this illness on healthcare workers, older adults, those already physically fragile, the vulnerable among us and people whose livelihoods are tied to the regular movement of people and commerce. We recognize in this moment how inextricably connected we are to one another and we hope that this unmistakable realization will shape all our actions in ways that foster the common good, increase compassion and expand communal care. Bring healing to the sick, strength to the caregivers, comfort to those who mourn, peace to those in quarantine and mercy to all of your beloved creation. In Christ’s name and for his sake we pray. Amen.

Tony Sundermeier
Senior Pastor