Dear Siblings in Christ,
I'm writing today to update you on what is happening at Church of the Saviour as we make accommodations for one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are regularly monitoring reports from Governor DeWine, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Federal Government, working diligently to keep everyone safe and healthy. At the same time, we are also working hard to maintain strong spiritual connections during this time of necessary physical distancing. I am reminded and want to remind all of us that we are practicing physical distancing, not social isolation. It's sometimes hard to separate the two. But being separated by space does not mean we have to be disconnected. Keep praying for one another and reaching out by phone, text, email, video chat, whatever you can.
Here are some updates on schedule and activity at the church this week:
- Worship will continue online only: https://www.cotsumc.org/live-stream/. At this point, we are anticipating this will be for more than just a few weeks. I do not expect that we will be back to normal by Easter nor for a few weeks after that. We are working to make worship as engaging as we can during this time, including some elements of worship more typical of sanctuary or chapel worship services than Great Hall. For now, we will continue to offer one unified worship experience via live-stream on Sunday morning at 9:30. Holy Week and Easter services are being re-framed and redesigned now so we can offer those with the level of solemnity and grandeur they deserve.
- Remember that you can join worship via live-stream when it is live or access it later in its entirety after worship has concluded. Worship is available through our website or Facebook Live. Please share the link with others you know who may not have a connection to a church during this time.
- All group activities at Church of the Saviour have been suspended, except for vital mission connections: addiction and recovery groups, hunger and feeding ministries. Small Groups, Bible Studies, exercise groups, and committees are encouraged to meet using alternative methods like Zoom, Google Hangouts/Meet, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live and Chat, Webex, or other platforms. We are working to create a webinar to train group leaders on how to use various technologies to keep groups connected to one another.
- Building access at Church of the Saviour will be limited. The office will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please come in only when necessary, to drop off or pick up, and limit your stay to only the amount of time necessary. Calls and emails are the preferred method of contact for now. Only the Reinberger Entrance (covered entrance behind the sanctuary) will be unlocked during open hours.
- As of yesterday, I have instructed all staff who can to work from home and through remote connections. Essential staff are in place to maintain church operations - office, finances, facilities - and are working at safe distances and with appropriate protocols to ensure safety.
- The Early Learning Center, our partner agency but separate from the Church, made the decision to close starting Wednesday. They are extending staff salaries for four weeks out of their reserve funds in order to provide the most care they can for their staff. Please keep their staff and families in your prayers in the coming weeks.
I want to express how proud I am of our staff and our leadership team for their care and diligence during this time. This is not a time for fear and panic, but for clear, thoughtful, faithful decision-making. They have risen to the occasion. We are in regular contact, mapping out ministries and providing for the needs of our congregation and wider community.
You will receive more information soon from Rev. Lois Annich and the Care Ministries team about being intentional in our connections and care for one another throughout the congregation. In the meantime, if there is anything you need, even if just to talk, please reach out to me or to any of our staff. It is good and wise to ask for help, even if you are not used to doing so. Our motto should not be "grin and bear it" but rather, "stay connected and safe." We are stronger together, God's beloved community, caring with and for one another.
"But God has put the body together...so the parts might have mutual concern for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it." (1 Corinthians 12:24-25)
Peace and blessings,
Church of the Saviour, United Methodist