March 13, 2020

Dear friends and fellow disciples,

Here’s the church,
Here’s the steeple,
Open the church, 
And here’s the people!

That's a rhyme many of us learned in Sunday School, perhaps with cute hand motions. But the point is key - church is not about buildings, church is about people . Church is fundamentally about being a community; as we say in worship each week, a covenant people. We gather for worship, then we go out and serve and connect, and live as fully as we can towards the work Christ calls us to do.  

The past few weeks - and especially the past 72 hours - have been like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’m sure you can say the same. COVID-19 is spreading across the globe and our communities at a rapid rate. The threat of infection and death is real - for the healthy, but especially for brothers and sisters who have underlying illnesses or compromised immune systems.

The question then becomes: Who will we be? It is the call of the church to, as it proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, always be looking out for the most vulnerable among us. With this in mind, the Session voted last night to suspend on-site worship services and activities through the end of March. Our campus will be closed to outside groups as well (except for twelve-step groups). This decision was made in consultation with public health officials, educational institutions, and churches in our area. Also, the Westminster School for Young Children will be closing effective March 16 , following the lead of Durham Public Schools. 

In the meantime, we will continue to be the church. We will worship online. Our 11:00am services will be live-streamed through Westminster’s Facebook page Some members and staff have worked very hard this week to make this possible, and we are grateful for it.

When Sunday morning comes, visit www.facebook.com/wpcdurham and scroll down the page to find the link to the recording. Sit at home with your family and an extra cup of coffee, and let us worship God together. We'll have singing, preaching, and prayer. The staff and I will do our best to adjust to this new way of holding worship, but we're bound to experience a technological blip or two along the way so your patience is very much appreciated.  

We are also collaborating on daily prayer opportunities that we will email to you regularly. While we would much rather be in person, we hope we can stay connected in this way.

It is also absolutely crucial that we stay in touch with members of our community. Isolation and anxiety are a deadly combination. I challenge you to call church members you know and call your neighbors, especially those who might be more isolated. You will hear directly from Cherrie about this early next week, as we seek volunteers who will take time each day to call and check in with members of our Westminster family. Please invest time in taking care of each other.

The way we live together in this season matters profoundly. We will be careful and wise, but we will also move in the world with hope and confidence in God’s purpose. I challenge you to do so with an extra measure of kindness and grace for yourself and others, looking for ways you can be a part of how God’s love is changing the world even now, even in the midst of this.

You’ll be hearing from us regularly as we stumble into this new reality together. I am not at all sure what lies ahead. But we will be the church, I am confident of that. 

With gratitude to you and to the God who holds us,