March 17, 2020
Covid-19 Statement #2
First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Erie, PA
As the information from the CDC, the PA Dept. of Health, the PA Governor’s office, Erie County Health Dept. and the PCUSA is updated daily and hourly, church leaders and staff made the decision to close the church building to ALL groups and to postpone the physical gathering for worship on Sunday mornings until further notice and/or updated recommendations from those five parties.
World doctors and scientists are saying loudly, clearly and unanimously that the more isolated we make ourselves now, and in coming weeks, the better local doctors and hospitals will be able to keep up with emergency demands and the more likely our most vulnerable community members will be protected from this virus.
Toward this end, we want to comply with “social distancing” best practices. Suggested gathering limits have reduced from 250 to 10 in recent days. It feels extreme, but we want our congregation and neighborhood to fare well through this pandemic. Since we have never experienced anything like this, it seems prudent to err on the side of caution. As we watch one country after another grapple with the spread of Covid-19, we wish to live out: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Effective Tuesday, March 17, all church and community groups using the building will need to make other arrangements and postpone events/gathering. This will be for an undetermined duration, but definitely through March 30. This applies to all groups, including: choirs, committees, NA/AA groups, neighborhood and Gannon gatherings and room/event rentals. One exception will be the emergency housing “Our Neighbors’ Place Shelter” in Knox Hall, currently implementing new health-safety policies and planning an earlier than expected termination.
Until further notice, “Sunday Suppers” will adapt from sit-down dinners to “takeout” meals provided at the door from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday afternoons.
The church staff will work from home, where possible. In coming days, the staff will sanitize and disinfect surface areas throughout the entire building.
Church staff and Elders decided after testing “virtual worship” on March 15, to proceed with an 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning Facebook Live virtual worship service. There will be no physical gathering on Sunday mornings until further notice. You can find the service here: http://url.ie/16jof
Last week’s worship livestreams are available below or here on this website:
Part 1: http://url.ie/16jow
Part 2: http://url.ie/16jos
Please tune in on Sunday mornings. Let us not give up “meeting” together. Make it interactive: Pray and sing along from your living room or kitchen. We will include lyrics to songs and all words for liturgy in our online bulletin. Watch for a Wednesday noon Bible study led by Rev. Britney Knight, also live on the church’s Facebook page. Let’s use this electronic tool to tune our hearts and minds toward God during Lent and this unprecedented health situation.
Don’t be surprised to receive more changes and updates. They will be posted on Facebook, the church website and sent by email. Check in on your church friends by phone. Call your neighbors. Do you know anyone who is sick? Or a single parent with kids at home? Or someone with a vulnerable immunity or respiratory system? Or someone losing income due to closures? Is there something you can assist with? Talk and pray together, from a distance. Revive the lost art of note writing and snail mail. This time of self-isolation will be challenging. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus at this time?
Continue to pay attention to science, pray for wisdom, take courage, consider “the least of these,” and press onward while loving our neighbors. Be the Church, even if we can’t gather in the church building. Be well. Pray for us as we try to navigate this uncharted journey…
— Your Church Staff