Wednesday, May 27 , 2020
One Take: Bob talks with Deana Cooper
Hear Bob Henderson and Deana Cooper, our Clerk of Session, discuss what the "new normal" will look like as a Covenant task force plans for re-opening.

Charting the way forward: Message from Bob 
A deliberate approach to re-opening
"Would you like to hazard a guess as to when we'll worship together again?" she asked with a smile. 

She had joined the volunteer work crew cleaning the church (specifically, scrubbing the lectern with a toothbrush!) during our on-campus hiatus, and I could hear the longing in her voice. I answered the best I knew how, "At first, I thought it would be April 1st. Then I thought June 1st. After being wrong twice, I think I'll stop guessing." She gave me a knowing glance and went back to work.

I thought it was hard to close the campus. All the meetings, groups, services and plans had to be quickly altered, and it required a flurry of activity. However, I had no appreciation for how difficult reopening the campus was going to be. The questions were practical and theoretical, individual and communal, logistical and theological. Do we start age-specific services? Do we ask people to sign up for worship? Do we require masks? If so, what do we do if someone shows up without one? 

If we learn that someone with COVID-19 attended a service, what responsibilities do we have to inform others and what process will be followed to get the word out?

Fortunately, Covenant's Session - our elected governing group of Elders - has wisely appointed a Re-Opening Task Force which has since been meeting multiple times a week. These good people have recruited additional subject matter experts - mostly medical, some legal - to advise and guide them in making the best decisions regarding the short and long-term needs of the church. This group will guide our re-opening in conjunction with the Session.

I'm thankful for the collective wisdom of our congregation's leadership, especially their "love of God and love of neighbor" approach to decision making. It may mean that our re-opening process is a bit slower and more deliberate than some would prefer, but it will also mean that we are being deliberate about calibrating various - and sometimes competing - perspectives. It also may mean that we'll need to sacrifice personal wants and wishes in service to the larger good, especially when it comes to following the new guidelines now in place. Many churches are taking this approach, and I know we will support these decisions.

In the meantime, I would remind us all that Covenant Presbyterian Church is very much open. We are supporting mission partners at home and abroad with enhanced support for feeding programs. We are holding funeral services, youth groups, Sunday School classes, mid-week studies and worship services. 

And, may I add, I've been richly blessed to get a deeper look at the character of this congregation. To a person, our congregation members have been grateful, supportive, sacrificial and constructive. Attendance at online worship has been promising. Year to date giving through April was actually higher than the prior five years. And many of you have found new ways to serve as we make the necessary pivots in our work and service. It makes me miss you all the more. For now, let me just say thank you very, very much.

We ask you to continue to pray for our Re-Opening Task Force and Session as they chart the way forward. It will certainly become more complex in the days ahead. I would also ask that you read closely the guidelines they have put forth for now. These are dynamic and will most certainly change over time. But for now, we will abide by them.

We also ask you to pray for the world, our nation, our state, and our city; pray for those who are sick -- especially those in forced isolation -- and their families. Present limitations make grief uniquely difficult, and I encourage us all to do our best to strengthen the ties of love that bind us together.

With gratitude and hope,

What does it mean to forgive someone?
Tonight: Katherine at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom
Drop into a casual weekly discussion inspired by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who looked back on their long lives to consider how to endure life's suffering. Katherine Kerr leads tonight's look at the concept of forgiveness.

Memorial service for Bob Taylor
Friday at 11 a.m. via livestream
You're invited to a memorial service livestream in remembrance of the life of Bob Taylor. Please join us in the following ways:

Summer Adult Sunday School starts next week
Sundays at 9:30 a.m. via Zoom
Grace Lindvall and Ian Clark will lead a series called "Contexts of Faith," exploring places, people and practices that represent bedrocks of Christianity. Click here to access the weekly Zoom meeting.

June: Places of Faith 
  • Discover the political and economic landscapes of ancient cities Thessaloniki, Galatia, Rome and Corinth. What lessons can we draw to better understand today's climate?
July: People of Faith 
  • Meet important - but often overlooked - contributors such as Moses, Mary, Noah and Lydia. How did their contributions influence the early Christian movement?
August: Practices of Faith 
  • Consider the meaning behind fasting, pilgrimage, evangelism and prophecy. Why do we still talk about these things after 2,000 years?
Check out Covenant's new website
Easier to navigate, welcoming to newcomers
Covenant's new website offers a friendly welcome to newcomers while equipping you to be an active participant in the church's life and mission. The new site works in concert with our mobile app and delivers an easy-to-use experience on smart phones and tablets.

Parents - get advice in the age of COVID-19
Thursday, May 28 at 6:45 p.m. via Zoom
The pandemic has created a whole new string of challenges for parents.  A meet-up for parents of middle and high school students will be a space to share joys and concerns and ask questions of experts in psychology, diet and communication. Click here to join.

Child Development Center has re-opened
New precautions seek to ensure safety
The Child Development Center re-opened on Tuesday following the state's move to a modified Phase Two.

Under new state guidance, only staff and children are allowed inside the building. Parents drop off children at the door on a staggered basis. The Welcome Center remains closed.  Read a letter from the director here.

Operation Sandwich is next week
Bring to church on Monday at 10 a.m.
Our project in May was such a big success, the missions team added another date. We are asking 20 families/individuals to make 25 sandwiches each and deliver to Julia and Lucy in the Circle drive. They'll take to Urban Ministry for lunch that day. Click here to sign up online.

Mary will return to campus for blood drive
Next Sunday from 8 to 11:45 a.m.
We'll be in the Fellowship Hall to allow for easier entry and exit. Your donation is needed more than ever as hospitals face shortages of blood during the COVID-19 crisis.

Parish Nurse Mary Mattiacci, who recently retired and moved to Durham, will return and be on hand to greet you.

Please do not volunteer if you feel ill, belong to a high-risk category or care for someone who does.

Partner spotlight: How Freedom Schools is adapting
Contribute to a book and supply drive
For children who might otherwise sit home all summer, Freedom School is a camp where young people read multicultural books about people of color who confront real-life challenges.

Children fall in love with reading because of the stories. R esponding to the COVID-19 situation, the organization will pivot to outdoor "pop-up" Freedom Schools from June 29 through July 31. This means Covenant will not sponsor a site at Highland as in years past.

How you can help: We can still make an impact. Drop off books and supplies in the bin outside the Welcome Center at any time on or before noon on Thursday, June 4. Click here for details.

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