A Letter From Pastor Scott
March, 25 2020
The last week and a half have been challenging, yet, we’ve had a number of blessings along the way. Sunday worship went well. We had a great turnout and the technology went without a hitch. To make everything go smoothly the first week had to include God’s hand. On a personal level, I was concerned that it would not feel enough like a worship experience that I could preach with meaning. While it felt strange, listening to Juli’s playing, the quartet’s singing, and Jan’s prayers made the service come alive, and I felt the movement of the Spirit and a passion to share the message. From the people I heard from, it appears that same feeling was conveyed through the live stream. God is at work in our midst.
Care is taking place, with staff and others in our church family. As we reach out by phone, we are remaining connected, helping to bridge the isolation. While we’ve worked hard to make intentional calls, I know the church family is also reaching out to one another informally as well. In some ways, all of us are reaching out more than ever, which is a wonderful consequence to this awful situation.
We are blessed to have our staff working hard. Drew and Tiffany are preparing age appropriate activities to nurture our faith life while separated. Ruth continues to keep up with donations, paying bills, payroll, and all the other parts of her job. The church is being cleaned and maintained. Many of the staff are working from home. In the last week we organized a way to have one-on-one meetings as well as larger staff meetings online. We continue to need your prayer. If any of us gets sick, or even quarantined, it will be hard to keep this level of ministry going. While we are working to set up redundancies, much of what we do cannot be addressed by volunteers or even other staff members. Please pray for your staff each day. Please know that we are praying for each of you.
Communication is primary during this time. Thank you to all who have made a prayer request. Please pray through these names and situations each week. As the list gets longer, rather than feeling despair, find strength in knowing God’s hand is responding to each prayer and bringing healing to our families, our church, our community, and our world. Reach out to each other, and reach out to God, that is the way we will get through this time. Praise God!
A Letter From Pastor Scott
Wednesday, March 18
All of us are feeling the anxiety that comes with the unknown. Thank goodness we are not going through this alone, but we have each other and the Holy Spirit’s care. There are a number of protocols we are putting in place to provide care through this challenging time. While church life will be significantly different in the short-term, it can be profoundly meaningful. We will keep each other close through phone, Facetime, email, and other forms of communication. Keeping a physical distance does not mean we must keep spiritual and emotional distance.
Let me fill you in on the process we’ve put together thus far. Things will continue to transition, but this is how we are going to begin:
The staff will be working from home and the office. With the church building closed, staff should be safe to work from home and church. When staff work from home, the church phones may not be answered immediately. We will get an email that you called, and we will return your call. The staff will be working hard, but in a unique way throughout this time. Committees and other groups can continue to meet, if necessary, but will need to do so by Zoom or another form of online communication.
During this time of distancing, staff and volunteers will make phone and Facetime calls, and send emails of support to those under their responsibility. We already have a number of church people wanting to volunteer. Please call Susan at church if you would like to volunteer to make calls or assist in some other way. We are putting together lists to provide calls to those most vulnerable and isolated, but it is also important for us to reach out to each person in the church, making sure everyone receives care. If you are struggling, please be sure to reach out and call the church.
During this time, we want to make prayer a central part of Westminster Cares. Please email Jan Scott your Prayer Requests at . You can also submit Prayer Requests through our website under Watch Live. There is an option to submit Prayer Requests. We want to remain intentional in providing confidentiality, but also prayerfully communicate with each other. Please let us know if you want your prayer request to be “pastors only,” for staff, or for public prayers. We will honor your request. If you are praying for someone else, please contact them first and get their permission before you offer them in prayer. You will save Jan and myself a lot of time contacting you, if you share the level of confidentiality with us in your prayer request
Worship Services and Other Spiritual Practices
Worship services will be streamed live over the internet. You can find them on our website, westpres.org. If you are not comfortable using a computer, please call or email Susan at , and we will add you to our DVD list and send it to you each week. You can also watch the service any time throughout the week on the Westminster website as well.
Live streaming the services will include a way to follow along with the Order of Worship and Hymns. We encourage you to say the responses and sing along with the hymns, just like you were sitting in the pew. We will continue to offer Communion the first Sunday of the month. You will just need to provide your own bread and juice or wine (just a shot!). Regarding baptisms, we are offering families the chance to baptize their children during this time at the live streaming service or wait until we are back to public worship. So far, families have chosen to wait until we can celebrate worshiping all together in the Sanctuary.
In addition to hymns and an anthem led by Aaron and the Westminster Choral Scholars, Juli will continue to play the organ and piano.
I will continue to write my Daily Devotions. You can call the church and ask to receive it by email, or access it from the website. Daily Devotions are another way to remain spiritually focused during these challenging times.
This is a challenging issue that continues to change daily, based on the information we receive from governmental reports. At this point in time, we will be offering private funerals in the Sanctuary or Chapel for those who desire them during this time. We will be limiting who can attend, keeping the numbers low. Families could decide to wait and have a Memorial Service when it is safe to invite everyone; or, we would be willing to have a private service now and a public Memorial Service when it is deemed safe.
We do not have a wedding in the next few months, so we have time to evaluate our options closer to the time.
We have temporarily closed the Preschool. We have closed it until the end of March, and then will evaluate whether it is safe to reopen. We will not open until it is clearly safe for children, family, and teachers. The Session provided additional dollars for teachers suffering financially, but we will not be able to pay them during the closure. The teachers are allowed to negotiate with parents who want to hire teachers personally or find other positions until we reopen. Preschool families will also be given the option to continue to pay their fees, during this time, with income going to the teachers. The teachers were gracious and supportive even amidst their hardships. I respect each one of them so much. It, yet again, shows how blessed we are to have these special teachers in our Preschool.
Westminster houses three homeless families, seven days a week, from about 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Then these families usually go to other churches for the evening and stay overnight. We’ve offered Family Promise the opportunity to keep the families in our church 24/7, and they will begin doing that this week. Commercially prepared food will be brought in for the families to minimize the use of volunteers. If one or more of the families get sick, they will be moved to a special government-provided shelter. We will have the rooms cleaned professionally before they are used again.
We are blessed to have Seth and Jason on staff, as our Building Supervisor and Head Custodian. They, along with our Preschool custodian, will be doing regular deep cleaning of all the church spaces. The one benefit of a shutdown is it gives the staff time to clean floors and other surfaces thoroughly.
In the coming weeks, you will be receiving a large number of requests for financial gifts from any number of desperate organizations. While they are all beneficial, this is a moment in time when Westminster’s future is in real jeopardy. Let those without faith communities to care for provide for the needs of other organizations. This is a moment when we need your pledge commitment and other gifts. Some families will be unable to give because of job loss. This crisis will require those of us who still have jobs and ongoing income to step up and provide more, in their place.
Please pray for those suffering with the virus or other health issues, and for those struggling economically, or emotionally. While this time will be challenging for all of us, it can be a rewarding time as well. Westminster will continue to be a caring community, reaching out in faith, hope, and love.
God bless each one of us and our world!