As I write these words, sunlight streams through my office windows. It offers a balm for my soul in these anxious times, a brief respite from the dizzying onslaught of breaking news and growing concern. It speaks to me of the providence of God. We are indeed a community of faith called to love, and times like these invite us to a deeper understanding of what that means.
Last week, I wrote to share with you the steps that Second Presbyterian Church was taking to be equipped and prepared in response to the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). I’m writing again to affirm those steps, and importantly, though there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Second Church community at this time, I’m writing to provide new information given the pace of events, the directives of elected leaders, and the prudence with which we are choosing to operate. Our engagement with the professional medical community and public health officials remains very close and we continue to echo their message of high vigilance. We also continue to hold faith in the God whose providence and grace holds us, and to boldly claim that the Body of Christ creates sanctuary wherever we may be and in every circumstance we face.
With those thoughts in mind, here’s how Second Presbyterian Church is responding, effective immediately:
- This Sunday, March 15, we will worship only through our LiveStream service, at 11:00 a.m. In the conviction that the fellowship we share in worship is bound by neither time nor space, we will embrace the sanctuary created when hearts and minds are joined both near and far. We will determine and communicate our worship plans for Sunday, March 22, in the coming days.
- All church activities, including fellowship gatherings, Bible studies and Children’s Circle Preschool are canceled through at least next week, and likely beyond. We will reevaluate building activity as the days progress and the news evolves.
- "Holding Faith, Together” – a new page found on www.secondchurch.org – will house daily messages from pastoral staff, provide more detailed information on programs, and offer a space of engagement for our community as we wade through these new waters and uncertain times together.
As people of Christian faith, we have a deep understanding of what it means to belong to each other. In describing the church, the Body of Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “when one member suffers, all suffer together with that member.” This time of unrest and rapid change is putting us all in touch with the reality of our interconnectedness. It is also a time that so clearly calls us to practice what it means to be the church, to be the Body of Christ, to be led by love even in the midst of swirling fear.
We can come together, no matter the circumstance, to boldly proclaim that God holds us all in the tenderness and strength of divine grace. We can pray. We can love our neighbors in authentic and meaningful ways. We can reach out to the isolated and the vulnerable, the weary and the fearful – through words of reassurance and acts of compassion rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ. We can trust the steadfast providence of God. As certain as the rising sun, we can seek and share signs of hope that point toward God’s promise of wholeness.
With peace and grace,
Christopher A. Henry
Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church