On March 17, 2020 the following email was sent to everyone on our email list:
Members and friends of Trinity United Methodist Church,
It seems almost inconceivable that only a week and a half ago life for TUMC was "business as usual." We were planning for Holy Week and Easter and preparing music. We were holding meetings, home groups and our prayer group. The church office was taking requests for building use and preparing worship bulletins. In this short time, the world has changed in response to the novel coronavirus. Recommendations for maximum attendance at gatherings has dropped from 250 to 125, and perhaps now to 10. Last week I sent out an email with our considered opinion that to cancel gathered worship would have been premature. We instead made a series of suggestions for worship, (that we did in fact follow), on March 15. Unsurprisingly, attendance was low last Sunday as people began to consider their best options for remaining healthy through the next weeks. In last week's email I concluded with, "We will evaluate our practices according to the best medical prevention advice every week until the need has passed."
News about the virus and its spread has been evolving more rapidly than any other situation that I have ever seen and we have indeed reevaluated our best response. The Tuesday home group announced that they would not be meeting. All of the upcoming community music events at TUMC have cancelled or postponed. As far as we can tell, all the outside user groups will be suspending their meetings until the situation improves. I have canvassed the Church Council and we have agreed that conditions do in fact warrant a suspension of all gatherings at and of the church. In response to the rapidly evolving nature of the possibility of infection, we will remain in suspension at least until Palm Sunday, April 5, and we know that we may need to continue longer.
Trinity United Methodist Church is committed to the life and work of Jesus Christ in our community and our world. At present we are taking every precaution to enable us to continue our food box ministry. For those who feel drawn to this ministry but uncomfortable with taking part in it, I would remind you that you can place food items in the Little Free Pantry.
Trinity is a community of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, and that won't change during this time of extreme caution. We may practice self-quarantine, but that doesn't have to mean isolation. Everyone able to read this has computer access. Send emails of love and encouragement to one another. We all have telephones. Call one another and don't fall out of touch. Worship at home. Remember to look for and appreciate God's blessings as they continue even now.
I can't say this better than my best friend, Frank Wulf, so I am quoting this portion of his Facebook post of March 14. "Our faith teaches us not to be afraid – even in the face of global circumstances that are outside of our control. However, it also teaches us to show common sense and not to tempt God with behaviors that are overly risky or foolish. (Matthew 4:7) God will get us through this crisis as God has gotten us through so many crises before. We need not panic, but we do need to do what we can to minimize the possibility that we or others contract this disease by participating in this congregation’s community life."
We still worship: We are neither a large nor technologically oriented community, but I will be exploring ways to use our website, (http://trinitylososos.org), and our Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/tumclososos), for online worship opportunities. Please check there for updates. Since this has come suddenly, I'm not sure how long it will be before we have things in place. In the meantime, please remember that we are the church together.
We still care for one another: We have wonderful people who are prepared to cook and deliver soup, or perhaps other food, to those who may need it. We are still the beloved community and will be in prayer for one another. If you need prayer, and especially if you become ill with COVID-19 or anything else, please let us know. Please send an email to both me - email@example.com, and to the church office - firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be adding a page to our website for our prayer requests, so please let me know if you do not want your request posted. Please seriously consider making it public to our congregation since one of the ways we can support one another through this time is in prayer. Also remember that Trinity has many commitments that will not cease while we are unable to meet together. If you are able, please remember to send your pledges and contributions either by mail or by using our online giving portal (http://trinitylososos.org/giving).
We still serve a great God. "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," Romans 8:37-39.
God be with you till we meet again,
P.S. For consistent and reliable information on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, consider these reliable websites (and ignore a lot of others).