I spent the last week at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in a Foundation for Reformed Theology seminar discussing the writings of John Leith. The seminary’s campus is just north of the University of Texas’ campus, which allowed us to do some exploring during free time. This photo is of me checking out one of the surviving Gutenberg Bibles that’s on display at the Harry Ransom Center. It was an interesting time to be away as we kept hearing about how the COVID-19 virus is spreading around the world. Working with Deanie and the rest of the staff at SIPC, we sent out this communication to our church family yesterday, which I am posting below. We need to be diligent and to remember that the virus isn’t just about us, but those we may be contact with, many of whom may have underlying health issues that could make this virus really bad:
SIPC Responds to Health Concerns
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, we are reminded that the world we live in can be a scary place. But as followers of Jesus Christ, who trust in a benevolent God through life and death, let us hold fast to our faith and do what we can to mitigate risks to ourselves and others.
The staff and leaders on our Property and Worship committees have been in touch and are implementing the following suggestions in preparation for Sunday’s worship service:
- Increasing the cleaning of hard surfaces in the church, including the backs and armrests of sanctuary pews and door knobs
- Refraining from the Passing of the Peace and encouraging ushers and all present to greet one another with a smile and their favorite “non-contact” gesture
- Encouraging worshippers to be seated throughout the sanctuary, possibly on alternate rows, to give adequate social distancing
- Placing offering plates at doors and on vestibule and communion tables rather than passing them
- Asking anyone handling food for communion or at coffee hour to sanitize hands and use gloves located in the kitchen
- Asking members and visitors to wash their hands regularly and to use the hand sanitizer dispensers mounted upon entry into the flower room by the Sanctuary, Liston Hall, and the Office Workroom (Note: Other sanitizer pumps are being placed throughout the church but members are also invited to bring their own sanitizer with them!)
- Promoting our Live Stream option to those who are not feeling well or who have health conditions that make them vulnerable. To Live Stream the Sunday worship service, go to sipres.org and scroll down to the red “Watch Live” box on the Homepage just before 10 AM. Please share this link with friends and family members.
As uncertain as these times are in matters of health and finance, let us place our trust in the eternal God who holds us in the palm of His hands and remember, “God is good all the time…And all the time, God is good.” The church is at its best when we minister to those around us and so we encourage you to reach out to someone in need, go to the store for a friend, help sanitize public places, and be considerate of those who may be more vulnerable than you. Let us look to the example Jesus set for us in relieving the suffering of others.
If you have concerns, please reach out to your church. Please contact us if you or someone you know is sick or self-quarantined. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate with us immediately.
We will continue to look to the state and local public health departments and the CDC for guidance about best practices and procedures. If that results in a change in what we are doing or what we ask you to help us with, we will let you know.
We are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. –Hebrew 3:6
A few helpful links:
- Call to Prayer for the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church
- Guidelines for Pastoral Care during an Epidemic
- Loving Others in the Midst of a Crisis
Texas Bluebonnets in bloom