Dear Hope Family,
First, the news you are expecting: Moderator Ann Jinkins and I, in consultation with the Safety Committee and on the recommendation of faith leaders and public health authorities, are suspending all in-person gatherings until further notice. Worship services will be available online. Boards and committees that must meet will do so by Zoom or teleconference.
We will closely monitor developments and Center for Disease Control recommendations. The latest guidance suggests this could continue for eight or more weeks.
We are asking all outside building users to wind down their programming as soon as possible, by the end of this week at the latest.
Some have asked why we should not continue to meet in groups below 50, for example, as boards and committees. The reason is this: someone who has contracted the novel coronavirus is contagious before they are symptomatic, and the incubation period averages five days. That means each person a patient has contact with in the previous five days is at risk and goes into quarantine. And so does everyone those people have had contact with. And so on. The result is exponential. Social distancing is intended to reduce this spread to avoid collapse of our healthcare system. We call this “flattening the curve.” And it will save lives.
What does all of this mean for our Hope United Church of Christ family?
- The staff and I are hard at work figuring out how we will deliver worship over the web on Sunday morning. Check the eNews later this week for details. We are hoping to snail mail some worship materials, including the sermon, to those without internet access.
- The office remains open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday through Friday as a communication hub to coordinate our efforts and to prepare support material for worship. I remain available for pastoral emergencies 24/7, though restrictions may mean I may not be able to enter some facilities.
- The deacons and other volunteers are setting up a system to maintain connections during this time when we cannot physically be together. This will include phone calls to check-in, especially with those without internet access.
- Our youth have offered to make themselves available to support those who are quarantined or ill with errands like grocery shopping. Healthy young adults appear to be less vulnerable to the disease, and they’ve read plenty of dystopian fiction, so they’ve got this.
- Losing Sunday collections, especially around Easter, will have a significant impact on our ability to do ministry in the future. Please consider mailing in your offerings and gifts (Hope Church, 141 South 12th Avenue, Sturgeon Bay WI 54235) or giving electronically (https://www.faithstreet.com/church/hope-sturgeon-bay-wi/giving).
None of us have lived through a time quite like this, but God is good, and the people of Hope are smart and loving. We will find news ways to be the church, and when we slowly start to re-open our public and civic spaces, we will have reason to truly celebrate resurrection.
Public health officials, healthcare workers, and even those re-stocking toilet paper at the grocery store, all could use our prayers right now.
The Rev. J. Gary Brinn
Pastor and Teacher
Hope United Church of Christ
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin