Dear Members and Friends of JPC:
Grace and peace to you all!
I hope all of you are well during this time of great uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing I know, and that I’m remembering each hour, is that the Lord calls us to be strong and courageous. God promises to never leave us or forsake us no matter the trials we face (Joshua 1:5-7). We are also told that challenging times will come. In these challenging times, let us remember the Lord’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves and our own health and we need to look out for others as well.
For me (and likely many of you), the last couple of days have been something of a whirlwind — gathering information and talking to colleagues and officials in Presbytery and beyond. When we first began to think about changes that might need to be made, they were much smaller in scope and then quickly, almost hourly, new information emerged. Yesterday, I joined a conference call with other ministers throughout the West Community of Presbytery where we discussed Governor Cooper’s directive regarding large gatherings as well as recommendations from our General Presbyter, Jerrod Lowry, and the Executive Committee of Mission Cabinet. Their recommendation is to cease worship and other group gatherings until April 1. This seems to be in the best interest of our congregations and communities at large.
Before and after the conference call, I was in conversation with Session and the consensus was that we should concur with Presbytery’s recommendation. Therefore, we at JPC will not have church or other fellowship gatherings until April 1 at the earliest. Instead, I will offer a service with meditation via Facebook live on Sundays at 11 am. I may also offer other worship opportunities on Facebook or other digital platforms periodically during these upcoming days. Presbytery is encouraging congregations to find new ways to use technology to minister to members and the community. In addition, please continue to support the church financially as our expenses will remain the same. You can send your contributions by mail and we may try to make online giving an option.
I encourage you all to pray and lean into this chance to experience something like a Sabbath in your own lives. Parents will spend more time with children, families with one another. Take care, all of you, and let us embrace the chance to explore our faith in new and unfamiliar ways. I will be in touch and stay tuned to Facebook and the JPC Website for updates.
O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2