Information and advice regarding our community’s response to the novel Coronavirus have been changing by the day. Based on the most current information, the Executive Board and I have decided to go to an on-line model of worship.
Before I talk more about this, I first want to say this: Please know that you are not alone during this time. God walks with us in this wilderness, guiding and supporting us. We, as a church, are here with one another. Already, folks in the church have been reaching out in love and support to one another and to those in the wider community. As my fellow pastors from other churches have noted, I will also say that I am inspired by your loving response to those in need, and by your prayer requests that we avoid blaming and stigmatizing. Now is definitely the time to come together in spirit, loving our neighbor. We will weather this together, as we have weathered so many other things.
There are a lot of logistics to share with you in the below message. Spend some time reading through it. I have borrowed many of the ideas and some of the wording from Rev. Liz Miller at Edgewood and appreciate her willingness to let me do so. I also appreciate your flexibility and willingness to be a community in new ways in the coming weeks. My focus is to support our church and make sure people feel connected and cared for during this time. Do not hesitate to reach out via email or phone to talk.
WORSHIP AND CHURCH ACTIVITIES SUSPENDED
Sunday worship and all church activities/events are suspended until April 1st. Our goal is to join the wider community in making sure that the virus does not spread so that our most vulnerable populations are protected. Please note that vulnerable populations include all people over 60 and anyone with an underlying health condition (which includes things like diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, history of stroke, and any respiratory issues). We, the Executive Board and your pastor, are confident in this decision, even as we mourn the loss of in-person gatherings.
We are still discussing the use of our building by outside groups. Please rest assured that if we do allow them to continue, we will sanitize bathrooms, doorknobs and other frequently touched hard surfaces before and after these events. This policy may change as we monitor the best facts and wisdom from the epidemiology and public health community.
WATCH WORSHIP FROM HOME
Pastor Laura will lead a virtual worship service on Sunday at 10:30am that all are invited to watch/participate in. This means that you can participate in worship at our normal time from your home. We’ll send instructions about how to tune in soon.
You do not have to be a Facebook member to watch the worship service live. We will also have a link on our Facebook page and webpage after the service is completed for anyone who would like to watch the video at a later time.
ONLINE MEETINGS FOR GROUPS
The Executive Board and I are learning about on-line meeting spaces where Boards, Teams, Bible Study, and Adult Ed might meet. We will keep you posted as we learn more about these so that there will be as little disruption to these meetings as possible.
SECRET PENPALS - all ages welcome!
We might not be able to gather in person, but we can send each other mail! Sign up to be a Secret Pen Pal and swap notes, cards, stickers, and uplifting messages. Sign up by Tuesday, March 17th to be paired with another FCUCC friend. Send each other old fashioned notes and messages in the mail, using a "code name" to keep the identity a secret. When we are all reunited in person, we will reveal our secret identities to each other. Great for all ages - you can sign up as a household or as individuals. If you are willing to be a pen pal, write to me at email@example.com or call the church office and leave a message: 517-627-2336. Once I’ve compiled all of the requests, we will send you an email with the contact information of your pen pal.
This is a great time to reach out to your FCUCC neighbors and friends, or to make new ones. Call someone, send an email, or connect via social media. Crisis can draw us together and build relationships, if we let them. Maintaining and strengthening social connections has positive impacts on our mental and spiritual health. It's time to get creative with how we nurture each other and ourselves. If your Church Directory gives you a number or email that is incorrect, please contact Jeannette. If we have permission to share the person’s information, she can give it to you.
For those who might have to take unpaid time off from work, know that we have a small Pastor's Discretionary Fund available for church members who are facing a gap in income, or for whom a modest gift card would help keep you out of food insecurity. Speak to Pastor Laura for more information, or to be connected with other social services.
And finally, here is a short, sweet set of spiritual guidelines adapted from Plymouth Church UCC in Des Moines, Iowa:
THOU SHALT PRAY. Pray for all people everywhere who are impacted by this disease. Pray for health care workers, first responders and all those serving others in this time. Pray for local, state and national governmental officials, that they will have strength and good counsel to make wise decisions. Pray for our most vulnerable community members, those at higher risk of contracting the virus, those living in isolation, those without paid sick leave, those whose mental health issues are exacerbated by the high levels of anxiety and uncertainty. Pray for FCUCC and for all churches everywhere, that our work and witness will be faithful.
THOU SHALT WASH THY HANDS. THOU SHALT WASH THEM FREQUENTLY AND THOROUGHLY. Please wash your hands with hot water and lots of soap. It is the single best thing that you can do to cut down on the risk of spreading the virus. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. If you need to time yourself and are tired of singing the "Happy Birthday" song, consider using the doxology instead ("Praise God from whom all blessings flow...").
THOU SHALT TAKE A BREAK FROM HANDSHAKES AND HUGS. We all need human touch for mental and spiritual well-being, but now is a good time to swap out those hugs, handshakes and high fives for elbow bumps or meaningful eye contact, for the physical well-being of our most vulnerable community members.
THOU SHALT CONNECT WITH FCUCC ONLINE. Watch worship online every Sunday morning on Facebook starting at 10:30 am or whenever you like after that. Sing the hymns loudly without fear that anyone but your cat or spouse will notice your off-key notes. Raise your hands during the passing of the peace toward your nearest FCUCC neighbor.
Get better acquainted with our social media presence. Like our public Facebook page.
THOU SHALT SERIOUSLY CONSIDER ONLINE GIVING AND MAILED OFFERINGS. If you haven't already, now would be an excellent time to look into our options for electronic giving to FCUCC. At https://grandledgeucc.org/ you can make a one-time donation (click on the About Us tab and then click on “Giving”). Or you can email Lynn Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up automatic deductions, if you haven’t created those already. Making arrangements to give electronically is one of the best things you can do to stabilize your church in these disruptive times. Please also consider sending in your Sunday Offering through the mail to the church office. Our church does run entirely on donations and we need the Offering to pay our bills.
Rev. Dr. Laura Miller-Purrenhage
210 West Saginaw Hwy
Grand Ledge, MI 48837
TO FIRST CONGREGATIONAL
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Following Jesus, our mission is to serve God
by building an inclusive community where uplifting worship
and relevant messages deepen spirituality
and inspire acts of justice, service, and compassion.
Sunday worship: 10:30am
Sunday school is held during worship, children are welcome in worship, and nursery care is available if needed.
Our prayer for every gathering is that you would feel welcomed, loved, and moved.
We want you to leave our gathering amazed at God’s radical love and acceptance as shown in the example of Jesus Christ and those of us who try and follow in his example. Our worship isn't here to entertain you, it is here to engage you and to praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
FAITH IN PRACTICE
We craft our worship services to help us see how God is moving and calls to us in the world. Our prayers keep us engaged with the world and remind us that our faith is not for one hour on Sunday mornings, but is geared towards making this world an expression of God's kin-dom.
Through timely messages, our faith is renewed and we are encouraged to act sincerly, honestly, and lovingly to all of God's creation.
We reject the idea of Christ's people being the "frozen chosen." We believe that the story of Jesus and the life of our community inspire us and give us, hope, joy, and laughter. God has given us a spirit of wonder, and we seek to express it. We believe in the phrase, "preach the Gospel always.
If necessary, use words." You will know that we are Christians by our love.
Through Jesus, God welcomes all. Jesus hung out with outcasts, rejects, the marginalized, and enjoyed their company.
Our church has intentionally chosen to be a place where people of all kinds, all races, all sexual orientations, all gender identities, are welcome just as they are.
We seek to live out God's unconditional love.
At First Congregational United Church of Christ
As children of God, we never stop growing in our faith. Answers that served you well at one point in your life may no longer be enough. We offer a variety of ways for people to grow in their faith no matter their age, and encourage questions and skepticism. We walk with you on your journey, we don't tell you where to walk.
- those of every age, gender, sexual orientation, personal ability, race, ethnic background or faith background - who wish to participate in the life and ministry of the church, including membership, spiritual growth, and leadership.