April 23, 2020
I am thinking of you and praying for you as we continue to do our best to navigate this new season of life in which we find ourselves. Our experiences and emotions in this time are as unique as each one of us. I invite you to be kind to yourself (and to your family and loved ones) during this pandemic. Give yourself some extra grace. Give yourself permission to not know the answers and that be okay. Find a healthy outlet to express frustration, anger, grief, disappointment. Make time to focus on gratitude and giving thanks. Breathe a bit more deeply. Let things go that aren’t serving you. Take things on that could be lifegiving to you. If you feel like it, call someone. And - if you don’t feel like picking up the phone when someone calls you, let it go to voicemail. Because we are all navigating this time differently, remind yourself that what you need may or may not be what someone close to you needs.
Many of these practices are easier said than done, and that’s okay. Just keep reminding yourself that we are living through a pandemic, and as much as we try to create normalcy in our lives, things are not normal. And even this new normal we are creating will be one that is continually shifting and changing as we respond to the medical science and data we receive each week about the coronavirus.
Today I want to update you on some information I received about the new “Safer at Home” phase we are moving into in Colorado in the next weeks (“Stay at Home” ends for Colorado on April 26 and for Denver on May 8). I was on a phone call for Faith Leaders with Governor Polis on Tuesday afternoon and he was able to answer some very helpful questions for faith communities as we look ahead to what this means for our gatherings and ministry. However, the truth is, in this “Safer at Home” phase nothing much changes for us as a church:
Those 70+ years of age and with compromised immune systems or preexisting conditions continue to “Stay at Home;” those younger or without compromised systems may go out, exercising extreme caution (washing hands, wearing face masks, social distancing, etc.).
The ban on gatherings with more than 10 people remains in place.
Calvary will continue virtual worship and will only hold virtual/zoom small group gatherings. We will not have any in-person gatherings or meetings at least through the end of May.
Livestreaming from the church building (without a congregation) can take place if proper social distancing is adhered to, if the group remains less than 10 people, and if no one is actively ill or recovering from COVID-19. Our Calvary staff is evaluating each week how we film our worship services and are making decisions based on our own unique situation. We appreciate your patience with us as we continue to climb the steep learning curve and make modifications and changes as needed.
Social distancing of 6 feet+ remains in place, as does as strong advisory to wear a mask in public.
The Governor reminded us that 6 feet+ is a good guideline for standing in line at a grocery store, but it is not enough distance if you are in a space with someone longer than a few minutes. COVID-19 is highly contagious and they are still learning about how it travels and is transmitted.
Any employees that can telecommute (work from home) should continue to do so.
Calvary’s office will remain closed and staff will continue to work from home as much as possible.
Governor Polis shared with us that this “Safer at Home” phase will run at least through the end of May. It will be evaluated and could extend into June, July, etc. as needed. It is also possible that if COVID-19 cases increase during “Safer at Home” this month, then we would return to “Stay at Home.” These phases are fluid, and the progression or regression from one phase to the next is dependent upon the spread and/or containment of the virus. Governor Polis also reminded us that going out (even with a mask and even social distancing 6 feet+) still poses a risk for all of us. These measures are to mitigate the spread of the virus, but they do not eliminate risk. Risk will not be completely eliminated until a vaccine is in place and widely available.
The third phase, called “Protect Your Neighbor,” will begin to loosen restrictions on gatherings, but it is less clear as to how many people will be able to gather in this phase. Governor Polis shared some information with us about this phase, but will be informing us more about it in the weeks to come. Calvary’s Council will be discussing the information I learned this week about this phase and I’ll share more about it with the congregation as a whole when we know more.
I am so very grateful to Governor Polis for his leadership during this time and he expressed his thanks and appreciation to us as faith leaders and to our faith communities for doing our part to keep our state safe. Thank you, Calvary, for staying home, for washing your hands, for wearing a mask, and for practicing proper social distancing.As I wrote in my first pastoral letter to you when this started in March, following these guidelines is indeed the best way we can follow Jesus’ commandment to “Love our Neighbor.”
I know this is a hard time. I know we want an end date. A goal. Something we can put on our calendars and look forward to for when we’ll be together again. Trust me, I get it. But we just don’t know and we just don’t have that date. What we do have is the love and care of one another and we have the presence and peace of God.
More of us are missing key milestones in our lives. More of us are losing our jobs because of COVID-19 closures or layoffs. More of us are having loved ones directly affected by a COVID-19 diagnosis or death. This is all tough news. The good news is - more of us are engaging with online/virtual worship. More of us are calling one another and writing notes to each other. More of us are giving financially to the church. More of us are turning to Scripture and prayer as we seek to make sense of this time. More of us are voicing our prayers and concerns to one another, and more of us are sending each other goofy videos to make each other laugh. This, too, is what it means to BE the church.
Our Staff and Council will be having conversations this week and next about what this continued time of being physically apart means for how we adapt in all areas of ministry. As we make plans, we will be in touch with you along the way. As a community of faith, we will continue to strive to be a “Christ-like community that experiences and shares God’s love” by being creative and compassionate in our care and by putting people’s safety and health first.
A final note: One of the hardest parts of this pandemic is losing loved ones and not being able to gather and grieve together. I am in touch with our families who have lost loved ones and each family is making decisions about what is best for them. You will begin to see some “In Memoriam” eblasts in the coming days for various Calvary members, as we seek to honor and remember those we’ve lost without exactly knowing when we’ll be able to gather all together to celebrate their lives.
As I heard in a video that Pastor Morgan shared with me this week:
“The world has changed.
We are changed.
Luckily, changed people change people.
And we are part of the LOVE that never quits,
and leaves nobody out.
[As we continue to BE the church]…
It won’t be easy.
It will take time.
We will mess up.
We all need to TRUST…”
Calvary, be blessed today, and be a blessing…you never know who might need Christ’s love and hope today.
You certainly are a blessing to me…