“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
March 18, 2020
Dear St. James Church Family,
We want to keep you up-to-date on our response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus as it relates to our life and ministry here at St. James. We apologize for the length of this email to communicate the many facets of our life and ministry together. We hope by offering headings to each paragraph it will make it easier and faster to read.
Two-Week Intervals. Our plan each week is to communicate what will (or won’t) happen for the following two weeks. We believe it is more helpful to think and plan in two-week segments. It also allows us to be more flexible, agile and responsive to changing updates and scenarios.
Next Two Sundays: For the next two Sundays, March 22nd and 29th, our worship services will only be held online, in compliance with the CDC guidelines. The video of last Sunday’s service and videos of future services will be easily available on our website (www.sjpres.org) and on our newly created St. James YouTube channel. (Note: many smart TVs have YouTube apps where the service can also be watched).
Weekly Sunday Service Email: We will send out an email each Friday or Saturday that includes the link to that week’s service. Links will also be provided on our St. James Facebook and Twitter pages. We are grateful for everyone who is putting in the extra work and effort to make this all happen.The email will also include the order for the service, lyrics to the songs, link and options for how to participate financially in the offering (e.g. online, bill pay, mailing check, etc.), and scripture to allow everyone to fully participate in the service.
Audio CDs and Video DVDs. If you do not have a computer or the ability to watch videos on YouTube (either on your computer, tablet or phone), we can make audio CDs or video DVDs available. Please call or email Chris (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the church office to request your copies.
Discipleship Hour: We have decided to postpone our Spring Discipleship Hour classes that were scheduled to begin last Sunday.
Other Worship Opportunities and Events: In the season of Lent we have special services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. We had scheduled Dr. Hélène Dallaire from Denver Seminary to lead us in a Seder meal for Maundy Thursday. We decided to reschedule the Seder meal for next year in order to have the full experience and to allow enough time to make the preparations. It may be that both the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will need to be offered by video, although we will wait to make that final decision. In addition, we have decided to postpone our Easter Egg Hunt until later as part of a big celebration once things settle down. Other in-person gathering events through March have also been postponed including the hospital visitation training, Rwanda Mission Trip Presentation, and New Members Class.
Congregational Care: Our Deacons have been doing a great job staying in touch with all of us. Many members have expressed deep appreciation for the Deacons reaching out and connecting. Some have also been grateful to have someone to talk to, especially about their feelings regarding all that is taking place. Please reach out and stay in touch with one another. Let us know if there are ways we can be helpful to you as your church family.
Groceries Delivered for Seniors: We have a small team of people volunteer to pick up groceries for seniors who are unable to go out to get food. If that will be a blessing to you, please email: email@example.com. Please email Pastor Wayne if you would like to join this team.
Prayer Ministry: Pastors Wayne and Jim are available with other leaders of St. James to pray with anyone who request special prayer. You can request prayer by calling or emailing the church at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This can also be a helpful if you are feeling anxious or fearful and would like someone to talk with confidentially.
Community Outreach: The pandemic is not only a call to care for those within our church family, but to reach out with the love, peace and hope of Jesus to our neighbors. A postcard is being sent out today to every home within a half-mile of St. James. The postcard reassures our neighbors that they are not alone and that our St. James church family is here to help. The postcard offers opportunities for prayer, listening, having groceries delivered for seniors and inspiration by joining us in worship online.
This is an important time to join with our School Partners ministry to provide food and encouragement to under-resourced families at Alice Terry School. We will have more information about ways you can participate during our online worship service this Sunday and in up-coming communications. We are also partnering with other area churches to provide food through a creative outreach taking place through area restaurants. We will update you with more information as we receive it.
As much as you are able, let’s also reach out to our neighbors with Jesus’ love, care, compassion, concern and assistance. Moments like this can create wonderful opportunities to be vessels of hope to those around us in Jesus’ name.
Church Finances/Resources: We need your help. As always, we will continue our commitment to transparency. We are all in this together and we are grateful for your generosity. We began the fiscal year well from September through December, meeting our budget. However, in January and February our financial support dropped by $26,000. Then the Coronavirus hit. Without the opportunity to gather for in-person worship services, your financial partnership is all the more important. There are simple ways to give through our website, bill pay through your bank or by sending a check in to the church office. We are asking everyone to prayerfully consider what you are able to do to help us meet our financial obligations as a church family.
Office Hours/Functioning: For the next couple weeks we are going to be honoring the CDC’s direction for spatial distancing. [Please note we are using the phrases “spatial” or “physical” distancing rather than “social” distancing. We believe there is an important difference.] We are significantly limiting the use of our church building. Any use that takes place will be followed up with thorough disinfecting. Our church office will be open from 9:00 to noon Monday through Friday. This will primarily be for phone calls and necessary internal functioning. Our church staff are working normal hours. Feel free to contact them by email or phone.
Please let us know if there are other ways our church family can be helpful or any other questions you have. St. James is a special church and we are all in this together. God bless you.
In Jesus’ Love,
Pastor Wayne (on behalf of the Session and Staff)
— St. James Church Leadership
Dear St. James Church Family,
We are writing to offer an initial response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its implications for our St. James church family. We are aware many are concerned about personal health and safety; your health and safety are always a high priority. Many wonder what the appropriate response is. We have 6 “P” words in response to the Pandemic that we hope will be an encouragement to you. With these handles, we are planning to have one worship service this Sunday, March 15th at 10:00 am. We are postponing discipleship hour this week and on a week-to-week basis. For some, the idea of gathering for worship feels right; for others it does not. As a church family, we respect and support one another’s decisions.
Peace. Jesus said (and continues to say to us), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). It is helpful to have up-to-date information available; it is sometimes not helpful to focus our time on continuous news or feeds that heighten our fear and anxiety unnecessarily. Genuine peace does not come by denying our circumstances; real peace comes by trusting God in the midst of our circumstances. God is faithful; you belong to Him.
Prevention. The CDC and others have provided helpful information to keep ourselves and others safe. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based (60%+ alcohol) hand rub. Stay home when you are or feel sick. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and/or mouth, especially with unwashed hands. To date, there are no known cases in Littleton and the risk remains extremely low.
Preparation. St. James has taken proactive steps to raise the already high standards of sanitation and disinfection throughout the church campus. We are working closely with our custodial contractor to maintain this high level of disinfectant. We continue to have hand sanitizers throughout the campus for your protection and the protection of others. We encourage you to wave, nod, elbow bump as you greet one another for now rather than our usual hugs and hand shakes.
Prudent. It is up to each of us to take prudent steps appropriate for our unique circumstances — and feel good about those decisions. For example, if you have underlying medical issues or compromised immune system, it is not wise to gather in large groups with others. However, if you are in good health, you may find it more helpful to safely gather for worship and fellowship for mutual encouragement in challenging times. Pastor Wayne will be addressing the Coronavirus as a part of his sermon this Sunday. As a church family, we respect one another’s decisions.
Prayer. Continue praying for each other, our community and world. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill us and those around us with His peace, grace and compassion.
Proactive. Lets proactively serve one another, our neighbors and our community in Jesus’ name. How is God calling us (as individuals and as a church family) to be vessels of His love, compassion, peace, and care during this unusual crisis? While everyone is moving away from others with “social distancing,” how can Jesus followers appropriately move toward those who need care? This care for others can take many forms. How can we be instruments of peace by relating to others with a non-anxious presence?
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or ways we can serve one another.
In Jesus’ Love,
— St. James Church Leadership