In light of the national coronavirus emergency, and the governor closing all Virginia K-12 schools for two weeks, we are cancelling all services and activities in our buildings for the next two weeks, March 14-28. This cancellation includes activities of our community partners like the Girl Scouts. The church office will remain open during regular office hours.
This two week hiatus will give our church leaders a chance to evaluate the situation, and plan for going forward. We have also learned that the Episcopal and Methodists churches in the mid-Atlantic region are also closing for two weeks, including the churches here in Chatham.
Prior to today’s announcements, we had discussed three specific ministry projects. First, establishing formalized networks of telephone calling. The CDC site suggests a buddy system for regular wellness calls within faith communities. We subscribe to an internet-based phone calling system, One Call Now. We can scale this up and add additional names to send out blanket messages. We are going to offer this to the three other congregations in our town, so they can communicate easily and quickly with their membership, too.
Second, we can provide transportation to those who might lose their regular rides during this time. We are not going to transport sick people, but those who need routine trips to the grocery, pharmacy, regular doctor’s appointments, or other necessary trips.
Third, we are planning to help those who have to self-quarantine, with groceries, and other household essentials. We currently have three Chatham residents who are self-quarantining that I know of, but I am sure that will increase.
On the spiritual side of things, we may offer an open sanctuary for prayer, encouraging “social distancing” and we will communicate devotional thoughts and prayer via our phone calling system, email, and mail. Whatever approaches we use will have the purpose of continuing to connect with our members and neighbors, and keep them connected to our faith community.
While our buildings are closed, we will use that time to clean and sanitize, anticipating our return to life as normal eventually. What is your church doing during this crisis?