GraceNote
March 12, 2020
Dear Grace Covenant Community,

You are in my prayers and in my heart so very much.  I am writing today to give you an update on Grace Covenant’s approach to the next few weeks in our community.

As many of you know, COVID19 is now classified as a global pandemic.  The CDC and Buncombe County health officials are providing clear directives for us all to decrease our social interactions.  These directives are not just for high-risk populations; these directives are for all of us.   Our actions impact the larger community, even the world.  We need to be a faithful witness in these difficult times, and show our community that we know ourselves to be a part of the whole human family.  

Our response to the COVID19 pandemic will continue to flow out of the way we already do things at GCPC.  We act not out of fear, but out of moral courage and abundant compassion.  
Below are the steps we are taking for the next two weeks. My hunch is that these steps may well be in place for longer, but we are going to take this one step at a time. My cross country coach in college use to tell us during long runs to remember that, “Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.”  
So, these are our next steps together: 

  • Worship services for Sunday, March 15 and March 22 will be live streamed only. GCPC will not gather for worship face to face for the next two Sundays.
  
  1. The link to view the live stream at 10:45am on Sunday is here
  2. You can share prayer requests for the prayers of the people to be included in the spoken prayers in the worship service. You can share those prayer concerns starting today and anytime in these next few weeks with this google form (http://bit.ly/GCPCPrayer) or by emailing prayer@gcpcusa.org.
  • Sunday school for all ages and Youth Group is cancelled until further notice. 

  1. Our anticipated Youth Sunday worship service that was set for the end of March will be rescheduled.
  2. Samantha will be in touch with youth about gathering online. 
  3. Heather will be in touch with families with young children about online gatherings. 
  • Yesterday I notified all Councils, Committees, Teams, and GCPC groups that they need to either meet electronically or reschedule their meetings scheduled to be held at the church for a later date. 
  • The Session voted this week to discontinue celebrating the Sacrament of Communion until Easter. 

  1. We will also discontinue Home Communion to protect those who are home bound in our community. 
  2. Remember what we have been learning together these last several months of celebrating weekly Community:  Eucharist is a way of life, not just something we do together on Sunday. I would love to hear from you about how “This Eucharistic Life” manifests for you in this “desert time” in our society.  I trust God’s abundance is all around us if we only open our eyes and hearts!  
  • Your staff is hard at work developing ways for us to stay connected as we navigate these next few weeks. Here are a few opportunities to stay connected: 

  1. Live Stream Worship at 10:45am on Sunday. Go to www.gcpcusa.org and click on "Live Streaming" that you will see below the garden photo. This will take you to our YouTube channel.
  2. Daily Live Streamed Devotionals led by the GCPC staff starting Monday, March 16 at noon. These on-line streamed devotionals will be fifteen minutes Monday through Friday for the next several weeks at noon. (Also on our YouTube channel)
  3. We will use the online platform, Zoom, to facilitate gatherings of as many of you who are interested in joining in. You can download Zoom.us on your computer and/or your phone. Zoom is a platform that allows lots of people to gather online through video or phone. If you have questions, please let anyone on the GCPC Staff know. 
  • Here are three weekly Zoom opportunities:
 
  1. Tuesdays @ 3:00pm “Zoom of the Week” will feature fun ways for us to stay connected! Tuesday Zoom of the Week: https://zoom.us/j/113705178
  2. Wednesdays @ 3:00pm Zoom Bible Study led by one of the pastors.  Wednesday Bible Study:  https://zoom.us/j/901186171
  3. Thursdays @ 3:00pm Zoom Intercessory Prayer and Support led by one of the pastors. Join us for a time of prayer and spiritual support. Thursday Intercessory Prayer: https://zoom.us/j/257231122
  • Periodic Zoom Opportunities: 

  1. Youth Zooms—Samantha will be in touch with info about timing and how to connect. 
  2. Family Zooms—Heather will be in touch with info about timing and how to connect.

  • The Weekly News:
 
  1. We will continue to use the weekly news to communicate with you even though it may look a little different.  
  • Office Hours

  1. I have encouraged staff to take care of themselves. We will be getting all of our work done, but some of our work will be from home. We are all available via email, phone, and text. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
  2. The church building is largely closed so if you have needs from the office staff, please contact them electronically.
  3. If you have not already, please sign up for paperless giving statements by emailing Natalie at nweaver@gcpcusa.org
  4. Many of you already do online giving, and that is a great gift to this community. If you would like to begin online giving, please click here or call Natalie. Thank you for your generous and faithful giving to GCPC. Your gifts help to sustain this community especially through times of challenge.
  • Pastoral Care

  1. Even though our face-to-face contact is decreasing for a while,your church is alive and well.  We are here! We are in this together, and we want to hear from you! We want to stay connected. 
  2. The best way to reach staff in the coming days will be through texts, emails, and phone calls.
  3. In order to keep people safe we will rely on these modes of communication in addition to the USPS instead of home visits.
  4. Some of the area nursing facilities are now closed to visitors, and we are already at work figuring out ways to stay connected with our GCPC community members who live in these facilities.
  5. Remember that our Reformed faith teaches us that we are all priests to one another. Take initiative to reach out and care for one another. Give people a call. Send them a text. Share stories and photos and feelings on Facebook and Instagram. Stay connected with each other.
Siblings in Christ, you are loved by God and you are loved by this faith community. What we are experiencing right now on the planet earth is unprecedented.  May these difficult days of unknown remind us that God’s tender mercies are all around us and that we are deeply connected with everything that is.  God’s unique power to redeem means that even the most difficult challenges we face carry with them a healing opportunity.   

I trust that we will all emerge from this challenge with a deeper commitment to a better world for all. 

Peace and love,