UCC Coronavirus Update
Coronavirus Update: March 17, 2020
Hi church. I wanted to take just a moment to talk with you today and to update you on what's happening here at University Christian Church.
In these days when we are keeping a distance from one another, when we're changing our behavior, we're learning new ways to live and connect-- all for the healing of our world.
As you are aware, out of love and not fear, we closed our building on Sunday and we offered worship online only. And I hope that you were able to join us for that and that you found it meaningful and uplifting. And if you are not, you can find that service here and our Facebook page so that you can worship at a time that's convenient for you.
We've been forced to continue in that same way and have closed our building to the public, sending home our administrative staff and that includes both church groups and outside groups for the foreseeable future. But I want you to know that just as closing the building on Sunday didn't stop us from worshiping together, closing the church building during the week won't stop us from being the church. We've closed the building, not the church. And as you've heard me say, the church is not a place where, but a people who. In other words, we are the church. And our calling in this moment is to be of a non-anxious spirit, to control the things that we can control and to leave the rest to God.
Our clergy staff has met the last two mornings spread out across the room to keep a safe distance from one another in order to talk about how we can continue to provide the care and connection that we are all needing. About how we can ensure that this time of social distancing does not mean spiritual distancing and to continue to offer ways that we can connect with one another and to rely on our faith in the midst of these uncertain times. And we've talked about ways using technology and social media that we can offer faith formation opportunities and discussion groups and devotions and so much more.
And please, if you have a pastoral need, please call the church office at (817) 926-6631 our phones are being forwarded to one of our admin staff who is working remotely and she will connect you with one of our pastors quickly, or submit a request online here.
Finally, I want to say this, panic and fear are not from God, but calm and hope are, and we can respond to this crisis seriously and deliberately while maintaining an inner sense of calm and hope.
Many things have been canceled in the midst of all this, but love isn't one of them, and keep your heart and your eyes open to those around you in need and please, let's be kind to one another. This virus that we are fighting is very contagious, but so is compassion and kindness; this is our opportunity to embody the love and grace that we profess so that people will know that we belong to God, by the way that we love each other and care for one another. And Church, if ever there was a time to unite in prayer, this is the time.
As people of faith, although we aren't physically gathering together, we unite ourselves when we pray, and so let's pray: for ourselves, for our friends, our families, our neighbors, our communities for the world with the strength and peace of God by our side. That is how we'll be church in these uncertain and anxious times.
I love you, UCC, and I am so thankful for you and for your faithful love and witness.
Coronavirus Update: March 13, 2020
Thank you for taking a few minutes for me to share an important update as the coronavirus concerns continue to evolve.
The clergy staff and I met to pray and seek ways to "be the church" and still keep members and friends safe and healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have decided, for the next two Sundays, to move worship to online only - this Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22. Of primary importance is the safety and health of our members and friends. The information we are receiving strongly suggests avoiding large group gatherings is an important step in preventing the spread of Coronavirus. In addition, many of our most active members are in groups considered to be more vulnerable. By temporarily adjusting the way we worship, we are working to care for them – for you – as best we can. While we won’t be together physically, through technology we will be together for an online worship experience. We aren’t cancelling church... we are just changing the way we relate / connect / gather together for a while. As I mentioned yesterday, social distancing doesn’t have to mean spiritual distancing.
"Social distancing doesn’t have to mean spiritual distancing."
We invite you to worship by clicking the link below during the time you would normally attend worship, at 9:00 or 11:00am. The worship service will include music, scripture, a moment for children, communion, prayer, and will continue our Lenten series, Listen. We invite you to have a bit of bread and juice ready so that we may share in communion / maybe a candle and a bible.
Effective Sunday, March 15 the building will be closed for 2 weeks.
In terms of other specific events and meetings, I encourage you to contact your small group and program leaders for more information. You can also check our website for contact information for scheduled programs and how they might be affected.
Please know though that we will continue to provide pastoral care through phone calls, emails and texts. The ministers and staff will continue to be available. If you have pastoral concerns or other needs from the staff, please don't hesitate to reach out via phone or email.
Know, too, we are seeking ways to prayerfully / educationally / spiritually remain connected as a congregation and to serve the community. Watch for updates via email or check our website or Facebook for developing opportunities to share in the courageous love of Christ!
I’m happy to say that one event that won’t be cancelled but rather postponed is our musical program, ALIVE AT THE BASS, originally scheduled for this coming Tuesday. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday, September 15, 2020. The tickets you purchased will be honored for that date. More details will be coming later, but in the meantime, just save September 15 on your calendar.
We’ve also been working with Rebecca Santi, the director of the Weekday School, and together made the decision to close the school for the week of March 16-20.
All of these decisions have been difficult. But we’ve been working together – prayerfully and carefully – to make the best decision for everyone—even if it’s a hard one.
I promise you that we will be assessing the situation daily and will make decisions about the coming weeks as more information becomes available.
We also encourage you to reach out to members who may not use email to share this information. I invite you to join me in continuing to pray for those that are suffering from the effects of this virus – because of health, age, or employment.
This is a time for us to unite together in prayer, support each other in love, and reassure one another with hope. We can, together, do all we can to encourage each other and the wider community as well. --Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman
Coronavirus Update: March 12, 2020
Like many of you, we have been paying attention to updates from organizations who are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, like the Texas Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
We have also been in close contact with Dr. Cheryl McDonald, not only the chair of our elders, but also an infectious disease doctor at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease here in Fort Worth.
As I said last week, all of this reminds me of how interconnected our world is and how important it is to approach one another with compassion and care. It is so important during such anxious times, that we, as the church, take the time for an informed and thoughtful / non-anxious response.
First, we recognize that there are people who can and are being severely impacted by this virus. And we hold in prayer all those who are suffering... believing that when even one member of the human family suffers, we all suffer.
Secondly, we want to be proactive in protecting our congregation and staff. The health and well-being of our congregation and community is of our utmost priority.
The ministers, staff and leadership at UCC want you to know that although we cherish our worship together, we certainly support and encourage that anyone in a high risk category and anyone who is ill or has traveled to an affected area please stay home and utilize our one of our worship opportunities online / or on the radio.
We are also making available an opportunity for people who may not be technologically savvy to call in to listen to the services and worship that way. Details on how to do that are included with this message.
We promise that we will strive to make sure social distancing will not have to mean a spiritual distance. Our pastoral staff is discussing ways to deploy elders & ministry staff to maintain contact with folks via social media, phone calls, emails, and smaller gatherings.
With that said, we will also make a few changes to our services to protect those who do gather with us in the sanctuary. Communion will look different / may not even include food. We also will not pass offering plates, but will have them available for you as you leave the Sanctuary.
We want our church to continue to be open as long as it is prudent to do so. But this is a fluid situation / Information is changing quickly. Please know we are monitoring the situation closely / listening to doctors / the Texas Department of Health, City of Fort Worth, and FWISD, and if any changes need to be made as it relates to the closing of our building and cancellation of worship services and other events we will let you know as soon as possible.
Our theme this year for Lent as a congregation is Listen.
Howard Thurman once said, “In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.
Church, we love you, will walk with you through these confusing and difficult days. Let’s all do our best to lean into our faith, and not be led by fear / listening for God who loves us and promises to go with us into the valley of the shadows, and then lead us into still waters.