May 6, 2020
Dear Grace Covenant Community, 

I pray that you and all who you love are holding up as the COVID 19 pandemic continues.  

As North Carolina’s response moves toward another step in the process, you may have new questions. You may have increasing anxiety. You may have things you are hoping will happen soon.   All of those feelings make a lot of sense right now given all the uncertainty we’ve been facing for several weeks in our world.  

Grace Covenant will continue to listen to scientific experts and follow the guidance of the CDC, the State of North Carolina, and Buncombe County Health officials.  
I hope the following guidelines will be supportive to you as we navigate the road ahead this summer as a faith community: 

  • As Phase 1 of the State of North Carolina reopening begins on Friday, the stay at home order remains in place. The main change is that there will be a few more allowed retail opportunities when you need to go out. 
  • Stores must adhere to social distancing practices, employee and store sanitary standards, and EVERYONE is encouraged to wear a mask when moving about in public. 
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed, but still with social distancing, hand washing, and masks. 
  • Working from home is still best practice and GCPC Staff will continue to work from home as much as possible. 
  • Childcare centers can reopen with strict protocols in place. The Grace Covenant Session voted to let The Children Center at Gracelyn do a modified re-open on or after May 18 unless there is a compelling reason not to when that date arrives. 
  • Churches, particularly churches the size of Grace Covenant, are not reopening during Phase 1 or Phase 2. 
  • Even in Phase 3, churches our size will have to find modified ways of gathering safely. The State of North Carolina is not yet indicating what size gatherings will be allowed in Phase 3. 
  • With the timing and benchmarks the State will need to meet to get to Phase 3, the best case scenario is that GCPC will be able to gather in some modified way face to face this Fall. That is not a plan; that is a prediction IF things go well with the numbers of new cases and deaths decreasing over the summer.
  • Together we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that we may not be able to gather face to face as a congregation until next year.  
I know it is hard to think about several more weeks and months of sticking close to home, worshipping online, not being able to gather and be together the ways that we love to be together. 

Remember we are doing this because we know we don’t live in a bubble! We are a part of a big world; we are a part of a tangled up world.  We follow the guidance of scientists and medical experts because we are Christians and we put love as the first cause of anything we do. 
At Grace Covenant we will continue to practice the same things we were practicing before had ever heard about COVID 19: 

  • We will continue practicing self-awareness about our impact, no matter our intentions. 
  • We will continue dismantling and disrupting white supremacy culture (e.g. a sense of urgency, either/or thinking, perfectionism, defensiveness, only one right way, paternalism, fear of open conflict, power hoarding, individualism, right to comfort, and the list goes on). 
  • We will continue practicing moral courage and abundant compassion when it comes to issues of environmental, economic, and social justice. 
  • We will continue learning and growing in response to difficult questions of faith. 
  • And we will continue seeking after Jesus’ ways of healing, truth telling, and mercy. 
In the midst of this global pandemic I am seeing Grace Covenant get stronger, go deeper, and grow way beyond the walls of our building in ways we couldn’t have before. God is always at work in every challenge inviting us to embrace healing opportunities. May we have the heart and courage to know those opportunities when we see them in the weeks ahead.