July 16, 2020

Dear friends and fellow disciples,

By now I imagine many of us have had friends or family members who have tested positive for COVID-19. The tentacles of this virus keep spreading out, which is pretty scary. The more personal connections we have, the more we get a true sense of the toll of this pandemic beyond what we see on the news.

Last week Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) sent an email to their supporters letting the community know one of their residents had tested positive and been hospitalized. Until last week, all the residents of UMD had been staying at the Marriott-RTP through an arrangement made by the city. UMD has, of course, been working very hard in partnership with the medical staff at the hospital and the Durham County Health Department to isolate and test people who came in contact with this resident.

This is a very frightening time for those of us who have the luxury of being able to quarantine at home. The toll on our overall health is real. But for those in our society who are already so vulnerable, the burden seems unthinkable. This pandemic is being experienced in so many different ways. And even when it is very hard for us, we must remember those who were hungry and might not have had a place to live before February.

Urban Ministries has listed some urgent needs below, and I hope you will help. They are having to rethink and restructure almost everything they do. All of us must increase our care and concern for our entire community. Many of you continue to bag rice and beans or help on Wednesday afternoons with Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel's food pantry. I am so grateful for this service. The Local Mission Committee has been working hard, and in the past few months, has given away a lot of money on your behalf and will continue to do so. They are connecting with many key partners and making sure we have a sense of their needs.

This is a hard time. And Christ calls us to serve. Let’s keep doing that good work, friends, as much as we can.