Dear St. John’s family,
With the ever-increasing concerns regarding the coronavirus, the phrase “necessary precautions” has been widely used in recent days. Our leadership team has been monitoring the situation closely and has been mindful of the latest developments and directives being handed down to us from the government, CDC and other local health officials. We want to respond with wisdom and caution, especially in light of the directive to cancel all gatherings of 250 and above, and to limit smaller gatherings of those with higher risks to the virus. As a result, this afternoon, the staff and elders, in consultation with others in the medical field have made the decision that WE WILL BE SUSPENDING ALL ACTIVITIES HERE AT ST. JOHN’S FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS (MARCH 16-29). The driving force behind this decision is a desire to love our neighbor well and to live as responsible citizens of our state and country. While this is a fluid situation and changing daily based on the news that we are receiving, at this time we can tell you the following:
- All worship services and church-related activities (bible study groups, Sunday School, youth events, confirmation, handbells, Lenten meals, etc) will be canceled through March 29. Our ministry team will be looking further into creating an online presence throughout this time and will communicate further updates.
- The church office will remain open. This will be further assessed and if there are any changes this will be communicated.
- St. John’s School, in following the Central School District will be out of the classroom March 16-27. E-learning opportunities will be provided.
- Pastoral care will continue. Whether there is a need for counseling or hospital or home visitation, please do not hesitate to reach out to our staff! We will respond as best meets the needs of all involved. Through these challenging days, we want to continue to be here for you and your family.
Please know that this temporary pause on public gatherings is not being made out of our fear of getting sick or dying. Paul says, “To live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Rather, as stated above, we are taking all “necessary precautions” out of our desire to love our neighbor well. Minimizing contact with others will slow the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” of the pandemic, allowing our health care system the time necessary to respond to the demands and provide better treatment options.
During this break from public gatherings, we encourage our members to continue your faithful giving. However, as 75% of our giving happens through checks in the offering plate, we are encouraging our members to consider online giving by going to https://www.stjohnsnya.org/give. You may also choose to mail your offerings to the church. Your faithful giving throughout this crisis allows us to meet our budgetary needs and support our staff!
Finally, we believe that this is an unprecedented opportunity for us as a church. While some may see this as a “shut down,” we see it as an opportunity to “ramp up” our ministry efforts as we LEARN, LOVE, LEAD and LIVE. While we may not be gathering as large groups, we will continue to provide LEARNING opportunities centered in God’s Word. We will continue to LOVE each other like a family, checking in with each other and caring for each other. We will continue to LEAD and carry on the lives of service that God calls us to, as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). And we will in all of this LIVE for Jesus, knowing he remains in control and that in these difficult times people need Jesus more than anything else!
These are not easy times and these are not easy decisions, but they are made out of a desire to both love God and to love our neighbor well. May you be strengthened and encouraged as together as a church we carry out the mission that he has called us to.
The St. John’s leadership team