Our faith teaches us that, as Christians, we are called to love God and to love our neighbors. One way we live into these great commandments these days is caring about public health. We stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us and we seek the well-being of our whole community.
With caution and care, we look optimistically to the fall, making plans for in-person worship and ministry activities. Of course, we will remain flexible. We will make adjustments as federal and state guidelines shift and change and we will pay close attention to infection and vaccination rates in our community. Decisions do not some easy – but they do come prayerfully and with our community’s health in mind.
Worship – We worship together in-person, outside, on the lawn at 9:30am on Sundays. Beginning August 8, worshipers gather on the lawn with lawn chairs and blankets or with chairs we provide. All are welcome – individuals, families, friends, even pets! We sing hymns, listen for God’s Word, and pray together. In the event of inclement weather, an email is sent out to the congregation on Sunday morning with a Zoom link and worshipers will gather on Zoom to participate. The service will be recorded and posted to Youtube and the Youtube link will be distributed on the Thursday following the Sunday service through the weekly Connecting Community email.
Our intention is to begin worshiping inside the sanctuary on Sunday, September 12.
Fellowship – Every Sunday, all are invited to stay after the service to visit with one another outside. Beginning in the fall, small-group ministry will be launched. Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers are invited to attend the OASIS Multi-Church Youth Group events on Sunday evenings.
Learning – We are excited to announce that in late August, we will welcome Rev. Jinny Smanik to our staff who will serve as our Interim Minister for Faith Formation. Once Jinny is here and settled, a schedule of educational opportunities for people of all ages will be available.
Serving – When safe and socially distant service opportunities arise, we take them to heart! We provide meals, rides, and run errands for the vulnerable in our community. We raise money for organizations that support the hungry and the oppressed. We write letters and make phone calls, advocating for social justice issues we care about such as ending systemic racism and ensuring all people have enough to eat and clean water to drink.
We don’t have to tell you that the landscapes are always changing in this pandemic world. But, in these uncertain times, there are some of the things we can be sure of:
One, our God is a God of steadfast love, who is our companion, our guide, and our comfort during times of distress.
Two, we are a church committed to worshipping God, even if we have to worship outside, in multiple services inside to make room for social distancing, or via video for a while.
And three, we are a faith community that is committed to loving one another and loving our neighbors out in the world. We will continue to find ways to be connected even when we are apart.
To learn more about how we will worship, stay connected, and remain engaged in the ministry of Jesus Christ in the world, be sure to get on our email listserv. Email us at email@example.com to sign up!
Please consider picking up the phone and giving another member of our First Pres community a call! Reach out to hear someone’s voice. Ask them what they’re praying for and how you can pray for them. Ask them what they’re excited about or what sparks their imagination. Ask them how they are feeling, what is on their mind.
Pass the peace. Reach out! In this time of isolation and quarantine, we need not feel alone
Praying Together and the Prayer Wall
We have a prayer wall in the sanctuary. One way that we can continue to pray for and with each other is to continue to add our prayers to the wall.
If you would like your prayer request shared with the congregation via weekly email, click here to Email Pastor JC your prayer request.
If you would like for your prayer to only be added to the prayer wall during worship click here to send the request to Pastor JC and she will place them in the wall during our times of virtual worship.
How You Can Help
To support the ministries of CCA and ULA, text text amount and COVID (50 COVID) to (203) 689-7515 or give online and select COVID-19 Reponse. Your gifts will be divided up evenly to CCA and ULA to contribute to the immediate needs of our neighbors in this time of COVID.
To support incarcerated individuals, a population particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, click here to find a letter that you can personalize and mail or email to Governor Lamont, asking that he act immediately to protect the lives of the people impacted by prisons and jails in Connecticut.
To support FISH of Greater New Haven, a local organization that delivers groceries to neighbors who are homebound or food insecure, non-at-risk volunteers are needed to deliver groceries on weekdays between 10:30 and 3pm. Email Sarah for more details.
Use of Our Buildings
Our building is a valuable place of connection for a number of groups in our community. However, based on the apparent ease of transmission of the COVID-19 infection, the limited testing available, and the number of people and groups using our church buildings, it is prudent to close the building for all events until further notice.
Paying Our Staff
While our staff will be encouraged to work remotely when possible and be creative in their areas of ministry to serve the congregation, we are committed to continuing to pay our staff, even while the buildings are closed and public gatherings are suspended.
Romans 15 teaches us: (from the Message)
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us.
Thursday, March 12, 2020
It is incumbent upon us, as Christians, to show love and care for our community by participating in the protection of the most vulnerable among us. As people of faith, we are called to support the weak and comfort the sick. In this particular time and place, we demonstrate care for our community by mitigating health risks and worshipping apart on Sunday morning to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
It is also important for us to be aware of the increased incidence of acts of discrimination and racism against our Asian and Asian-American neighbors and community members. Please be aware of this and be an active ally, calling out racist rhetoric and supporting our most vulnerable neighbors.
We know that we are on the precipice of enormous health and economic impact on our vulnerable community members. We are preparing for a marathon, not a sprint, in caring for our community. I’m in contact with several local advocacy organizations and service providers to see where we can provide support in the months ahead.
In this uncertain time, let us remain steadfast in our prayer for God’s mercy, for God’s healing, for God’s wisdom, and for God’s comfort and peace to be with us, with those we love, and with all the world. Let fear not take hold of our hearts but instead declare love the victor. Let’s stay connected to one another as best we can in these coming weeks.
I, for one, am already looking forward to our reunion – what a joyous celebration it will be!
I’ll be in touch as developments unfold.
Peace, Pastor JC