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An Update on Church Building Closure

To the Members and Friends of Union Congregational Church:

I hope this letter finds you safe and well. We are entering a new phase of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic—a phase when our friends, families, and neighbors are becoming sick; when the rumors of this disease are becoming reality; and when efforts to slow the spread of the disease are becoming more extreme. The cloud of uncertainty that hangs over us all only compounds this reality with added anxiety. Though we cannot be sure when we will come out of the wilderness of this pandemic and quarantine, we can be sure that we, as a church, will come out. Union Congregational Church has stood as a community of faith for nearly a century and a half; we will get through this together.

In light of the changing circumstances, we are responding in a number of ways. First, we will be closing our church office until April 7th. Our staff will continue to be paid in the interim, and our office manager will continue to provide communications and other logistical support from home. Though we will be collecting physical mail every couple days, we ask that you please refrain from sending donations to the church by direct mail during this period. If you can transition your pledging to online giving, please use the Paypal “Donate” button on our church website to do so.

Second, I will continue sending out Daily Devotionals via e-mail and social media, to ground us all in scripture and prayer. I am also soliciting requests for prayer that will be included in our weekly e-mail (which will continue to come out). Third, I will be posting pre-recorded messages and prayers each Sunday, until we can worship together in person again.

Lastly, church committees should find ways to maintain communication and continuity without in-person meetings (via telephone and videoconferencing, email, etc.). We must all do our part to maintain social distance, in order to make these extreme quarantine measures as effective as possible.

This past Sunday, I posted a message and time for prayer on our church’s website that included the scripture for the day (Psalm 23), and a sermon. If you have a computer and internet access, I encourage you to watch and join in the prayers of our community. We remain always connected through God, even when we are socially isolated from one another. The “fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” which we remember often in our worship together, is just as real now, even when we aren’t physically present to one another.

In my message last Sunday, “Through the Valley,” I said, in part:

"Christianity is a faith for the shadowy, high-walled, and darkened valleys of life. With this pandemic, we all feel penned in, either by fear, or anxiety, or even just by the limits of the four walls of our own homes. But our faith was born and bred for this kind of moment. While we are making our way through this anxious, fearful time in the valley, I hope that you will connect with the power God offers us through faith in Christ. No one should feel embarrassed about being scared; these are fearful times. No one should feel embarrassed to admit they are not feeling well, or that they have contracted the coronavirus, or that they need help with finances or employment. We are all in this together. And we have the assurances of Psalm 23 to comfort us: God is with us. God has goodness and mercy enough for these days in the valley, and for all of our days."

If you are struggling, do not hesitate to reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you get sick, call your deacon, or call me at the parsonage so that the church can pray for you and support you in whatever way we can. We are strong in hope and strong in love; that is the blessing of being the church together.

In Grace and Peace,

Pastor Shepherd

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