Dear Brothers and Sisters of Union Avenue Christian Church,
Over the last few days and weeks I’m sure that many of you have had COVID-19 (coronavirus) on your minds-especially now, that it has officially made its way further and further south in Illinois. As a church we have an opportunity to respond in calm and informed ways and to practice loving kindness by taking this situation seriously and by choosing to take measures that will help protect the most vulnerable among us. We do not lead or respond out of fear, but out of love and care for our church and the wider community.This week I have been in contact with leadership of the church to craft our congregation’s plan for preventing and responding to COVID-19 in our area. Those prayerful, thoughtful, and realistic plans are included in this communication, so please take the time to read this in its entirety.In this plan, we have taken into account health news from the Center for Disease Control as well as pastoral and congregational recommendations from denominational leaders, local and state health officials, and trusted colleagues across the country. The constant watch words from our Illinois officials, remain education, caution, and common sense. Here’s how we are following all the recommended precautions.
We very much do NOT want to contribute to panic or anxiety, because neither is warranted. The risk of contracting the disease remains extremely low, and one who contracts COVID-19 most often experience mild symptoms. Though it is tempting to rely on social media outlets, for the most-up-to date information, be aware that misinformation is frequently shared through these same outlets. In other words do your research with accredited professional organizations, such as the county health department, the state health department, or the CDC.
At the same time we do NOT want to dismiss this situation as silly or unworthy of preparation. The risk of severe cases is higher for certain groups of people, and those people are beloved children of God just as much as anyone else. Therefore, we will take a variety of precautions to help keep our entire community healthy.We are already committed to work with our custodial and volunteer teams to keep the church as clean and safe as possible, and we will continue those practices.
Precautions that should be taken at this time are very much what we should already be doing during flu season. There is no reason to panic. It is wise, however, to be vigilant and prepared. Here is what you can do:
- Stay home if you are sick and wait until you are 24-hours fever free (without fever reducers) and until your cough is managed without suppressants. This is for your health and is an ethical and practical consideration for those in the community who are most vulnerable.
- Avoid close contact with someone who is sick.
- Wash your hands frequently—with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds. Soap is at every sink in the building.
- Sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or a tissue, not your hand. Wash your hands immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Use non-contact greetings before, during, and following worship instead of shaking hands, hugging, or kissing: bump shoulders, show a peace sign, wave, offer prayer-hands and bow, offer the Vulcan “live long and prosper,” or simply offer your great smile and a friendly hello.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes, with unwashed hands. If you do touch your face, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately afterward.
- Regularly disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched including keyboards, desktops, doorknobs, and your cell phone.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol or higher) and disinfectant wipes (baby wipes are not the same) but resist the urge to over-purchase and hoard these items. Other people deserve to have them too and over-purchasing/hoarding has led to shortages and price gouging all over the area. We will continue to keep a close eye on news from the Montgomery County Health Department, City of Litchfield, CDC, and our healthcare and pastoral colleagues and advisors.
We will our sermons on the church website (www.uaccdc.org) once our Facebook Live event has ended, you will be able to find them under the BLOG section and will keep up our bi-weekly newsletters, and there will be lots of phone and online opportunities for us to gather together in the next few weeks.
Finally, and sincerely, we invite you to pray for those infected, near and far, for their caretakers, for the medical community, and all who are anxious. Please, do not be anxious. Our Savior instructs us to cast our burdens upon Him and be not afraid. As Christians, we have a unique and distinct duty to care for those most at risk during times of disease. We have faithfully carried out this work for two thousand years. We will face the challenges ahead together with grace and strength. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me via telephone or email or contact your church elder.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” – Jesus Christ, John 14:27
Rev. Cassie-Sexton Riggs
COMPREHENSIVE UACC PLANS FOR MINISTRY DURING THE COVID-19 SEASON AS OF 4/29/2020:
- Currently, worship services in the building ARE cancelled. This will be our policy until the stay at home order is lifted by the state of Illinois and then reevaluated by the church board once that happens.
- Starting Sunday, April 19, 2020 we will be doing Drive-In Church. Join us in the church parking lot at 10am. Be sure to download your bulletin and sheet music from our church website, under the worship tab. The worship team has designated this as BYOC, Bring Your Own Communion. Be sure to stay in your car and keep the windows rolled up. If we have anyone outside of cars we will have to shut down immediately.
- But join us Sunday live on Facebook at 10CST at Facebook.com/uaccil You don’t have to have Facebook to connect.
- The first months of the year are always a very tight time for the church financially due to lower attendance caused by winter weather, flu season, etc.This year has been no different – and will be exacerbated by COVID-19.
- Electronic Giving is now available on our church website here: https://uaccdc.org/donate/
- If you are able, please mail your offering to the church office at 422 E. Union Ave. Litchfield, IL 62056 as we will still need to pay our regular fixed bills.
- Please remember that even when folks are unable to be present at church functions or worship, the ministries of the church continue on. Please be sure to mail offering to your the church if you are unable to be with us in person.
- Join the elders on Zoom at 3pm for a short communion service.
- Still working in the midst of this? That’s ok. Once the communion service is over the elders will post the video to the church Facebook page as well.
At-Home During the Week Options:
- Joins us Tuesday via zoom for Bible Study
Join via an internet enabled device: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/559515407
Dial by your location+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)+1 301 715 8592
Meeting ID: 559 515 407
- COVID-19 is creating special difficulty when it comes to our practices of visiting those who are homebound or who live in nursing facilities. Our in-person communion and care visits are currently suspended out of concern for the physical health of those we visit. This includes visits from our elders.
- Care for individuals and families will continue in the form of phone calls, FaceTime chats (for those who have that capability), cards, and other non-physical forms of communication. Please consider taking the time to send cards to people on our prayer list. This will help people in our community to know that they are loved and remembered in this confusing time. If you need an address please contact the church office.
Pantry Pals and Meals on Wheels
- Our Pantry Pals will continue to serve weekend meals while the school district is serving lunches. Packing will be on Wednesdays at 10:30am in the Fellowship Hall. Be sure to check regularly our social media, website and with church staff if you are a part of this ministry. We are also working closing with Larry Blevins at the LISD to find ways that we can still feed the kids who need it during the school closing.
- Meals on Wheel: They have currently shut down their meal on site at the community center. That means we may need extra help delivery meals to others who would have normally gathered at the community center. If you are able to help with this please contact them directly as they have a list going for volunteers who might have some extra time on their hands as a result of not being able to go to work right now.
Remember: These policies are being put in place for the sake of protecting the most vulnerable in our church and in our wider community. This is a choice we make as an expression of our faith and as a tangible act of kindness and mercy (as required of us by God in Micah 6:8 and beyond). It is not a matter of panic, but a matter of compassion.