July 16, 2020
Since the beginning of March, I have been checking in regularly with health care professionals in our congregation to get their input on what activities they think are and are not safe for the church to be doing as this pandemic has progressed. One of those people is Dr. Tom Hodge. Tom is an immunovirologist who has spent his career in academia as well as 20+ years at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta studying viruses such as Ebola, SARS, Zika, and others. Despite technically being retired, he is now actively involved in research and consulting with pharmaceutical companies pursuing a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

I mention this because if you are like me it is growing increasingly difficult to sift through the avalanche of information and news reports being published each day of this pandemic. Almost by the hour, it seems to get harder and harder to figure out what warrants our attention and what does not. As such, I thought it might be helpful to sit down with someone like Tom and videotape a conversation that we could then share with all of you and with our wider community. So yesterday, Tom and I sat down on the playground veranda to talk about all things coronavirus… 

  • How is this different than other viruses? 
  • When and where should we be wearing masks? 
  • Advice for teachers and parents preparing for start of school year?
  • Forecast on what the next 6-8 months might look like?

The video of our conversation is provided below. Feel free to share with anyone you think might benefit from listening and learning. And a big thank you to Tom Hodge for taking time to sit outside on a hut muggy July afternoon and sweat through an interview with his pastor!

Switching gears, the renovation of our Sanctuary and Ashantilly Wing continues in earnest. Concrete for the new chancel has been poured, work on the trim and ceilings is happening, and painting is underway. To that end, the Building Committee is excited to invite you to join us for a Renovation Tour Day on Saturday, August 8.* Members of the building committee will be present on that day to discuss the project with each group and answer questions. As part of each tour, participants will also be invited to write a message or prayer on the concrete slab of the sanctuary using markers that will be provided. These written blessings will form the literal and figurative  foundation for our new worship and mission space even after they are covered by the new flooring that will soon be installed. 

Finally, with thanksgiving for the gift of life and trust in Christ's resurrection, we share news of the death of two long-time members of St. Simons Presbyterian in recent days: Kenneth "Skip" Knight and Janie Marquess. As we give thanks for the faith and love of these two special people, I invite you to also be holding in prayer Wilma Knight (Skip’s wife) as well as Anne and Joe Camp (Janie’s daughter and son-in-law) who are also members of our church. We pray too for all those in our church family who are currently sick, hospitalized, lonely, struggling, or grieving the death of loved ones. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers…

Stay healthy. See you Sunday. Invite a friend to join us online.

Peace,
Rev. Alan Dyer
Pastor

*Tours will be scheduled in 30-minute increments and group sizes will be limited to no more than 12 people per group. Face masks will be required and all participants must signup for a specific time slot. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent(s). See the ad below or click here to sign up for a slot.
Looking Ahead
*Please note  that we are keeping a close eye on state and federal guidelines in regards to the COVID19 pandemic and will contact registrants immediately if there is any change to our current Summer Fun or VBS schedule.
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A Note from the Hands & Heart Ministry

The newly formed Hands and Heart Ministry held its first meeting via Zoom on July 8. We had 8 in attendance on the call and 13 signed up. This group has agreed to create lap quilts either through sewing, crocheting or knitting. We will meet a couple of times a month in the church social hall practicing social distancing and masks to work on our projects. The remainder of the time we will work at home creating lap quilts for those persons in our congregation who are feeling isolated. We are hoping to let those persons know they are loved and linked together by the love of their church family through the creation and distribution of these quilts.

If you love to sew, quilt, knit or crochet please take the time to sign up on the form in our newsletter. We need your experience. We also need fabric, yarn, crochet thread, and quilting supplies such as batting. Right now we are all going through our stashes and using what we have on hand but that will soon disappear! If you have something to contribute please drop it off at the church. A box will be labeled and in the entry area. If you have any questions please contact Nancy Harper at nanhbasket@aol.com or 407-461-9811. Thank you!
Sunday Devotional
Christian Education
Musical Notes

There have been many conferences and webinars on choruses and singing and how we should proceed during the pandemic.  I am currently watching a webinar every day this week that is headed up by Dr. Tim Sharp who is president of the American Choral Directors Association.  All the choral directors in the country are anxiously waiting until the end of July for a report that will come from the National Federation of State High School Associations and the College Band Directors National Association. This report and in-depth study have focused on the study of the aerosols that are formed when playing or singing and possible virus spread. This all affects what we are able to do or see this fall in our schools from preschool all the way to universities, our churches and music groups, and our community performing groups (choruses, bands, and theatres), and other arts organizations. The webinar itself has focused on the positives in this time and how we can still make music in small groups or in a virtual situation. It’s great to be able to get more tools to accomplish this not so small feat.   It is certainly a challenge with our music groups at the church. We have found ways to offer music in spite of not being able to stand or sit together and make music.  Thank you for your kind notes and comments concerning the music, it really holds us up when we are all feeling disconnected. Your Chancel Choir that has offered music each week for many years really cares about you as a congregation and misses leading you in singing the great hymns of the church. Please know that they are still connecting via ZOOM and other ways with one another and patiently awaiting the time when it is safe to come together again.   

For this Sunday, Mark Propst offers a solo, Safe Within Your Arms by Mark Hayes.   
Some of the lyrics:    Though the world would say I must be strong and prove my worth by what I do, I will rest assured in Your embrace and find my strength in You. 
   
For the 26th of July, we will use our four grand pianos to play  People Need the Lord  by Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh. This arrangement was played at the Five Grands, Twenty Hands concert several years ago. Participants will be Amy Bishop, Rhonda Hambright, Ann Nermoe, and Mark Propst. 

Hymns for the next two weeks will be: 403 Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty and 815 Give to the Winds Thy Fears 

What are your favorite songs that the Bluegrass group does? Send me an email and let me know. We are practicing soon.    
 
Love & Gratitude,  
Rhonda 

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