|A Letter from our Pastor|
|March 12, 2020|
Since the letter on Wednesday, news of the Coronavirus [COVID-19] and its impact in our community has continued to evolve. As of this afternoon, the Governor and his staff are recommending that all gatherings (including conferences, sporting events, worship services, etc.) that draw more than 100 people be cancelled, postponed, or modified. This guidance also reminds us that while people of all ages and health statuses can contract this virus, its impact is far more severe for people who are over the age of 65 and who have other health challenges. Following this new guidance, I called upon the “think tank” I convened yesterday for their advice. These leaders were called upon because they have experience in health care, they are knowledgeable about best practices in different settings, and they are trusted leaders in our congregation: David Ammons, Kay Meyer, Annie Hardison-Moody, Pat Boone, Nancy Register, and Joanne Thompson.
Based on the recommendations from the CDC, NCDHHS, and Governor Cooper’s office, and in collaboration with the staff, deacon leadership, and congregational leaders, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our in-person gatherings (including Worship, Wednesday Night Live, children’s and youth ministry activities, choir rehearsals, and Sunday school classes). We have created a new YouTube channel and plan to post videos there which will connect us for digital worship, prayer, and faith formation. We will update you as new resources are available via YouTube, Facebook, podcast, and the church website.
The GBC staff have been encouraged to work from home as much as possible. Therefore the physical office will not be open until further notice. The staff will be working from home, checking voicemail and email, so please continue to reach out as needed using individual email addresses, the church phone (919) 847-1333 or minister on-call number (919) 817- 8975.
We are also suspending all in-person pastoral care visits for deacons and staff to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable church members.
Just as the church is responding in accordance with public recommendations, the Preschool will also follow the recommendation to stay open for the time being. As is our policy, the preschool will follow Wake County Public Schools regarding virus-related closures.
We know that these are big changes and that they come at a time when many of us may be feeling fear, frustration, and anxiety about the current situation. However, we feel that by adapting our regular practices for a short time, we might be able to slow the spread of this virus and protect the most vulnerable among us. It is also comforting to know that we are not alone as we struggle to make these difficult decisions. Methodist, Episcopalian, and Baptist churches across our state are taking similar actions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to do our best to protect all members of our beloved communities.
We want to be sure that all of you are connected and cared for throughout this pandemic. Our care for one another is at the core of who we are, and so we are doing everything in our power to see that it continues. To that end, the deacons will begin making phone calls to members of the congregation as early as tonight. With this connection, they hope to learn about your needs and open an additional line of communication between you and your church. The deacons will be your primary points of contact as we navigate this new and ever-changing pandemic.
In this year of kindness, it is hard to imagine that kindness sometimes looks like social distance and self-isolation. And yet, here we are, discovering that one of the kindest things we can do for one another is to limit our in-person interactions to prevent the spread of this new virus. Even as we are apart for a short time, let us commit to pray constantly for each other, for our global community, and for the most vulnerable among us. Pray for the gift of creativity to fill us as we endeavor to find new ways of participating in God’s love for the world. Pray for the healing of all who are ill or who will become ill in the days ahead. Pray for those whose work puts them at great risk during these uncertain days. And pray for those who are at financial risk because there will be less work in the days ahead.
As we pray, may we be encouraged by our God who is faithful in all things and who is with us every step of the way.
With great love for all of you,
GBC Ministers and Staff Team
Members of the COVID19 Think Tank