“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7
Dear church family and friends,
Once upon a time watches merely told time and you had to wind them if they were going to keep time accurately. But now watches like mine keep time, give you the news, and measure your steps. And step measurement has become more important than time for most of us because it is directly related to keeping ourselves in good health.
You could say that since the GLOBAL PANDEMIC hit around the world that time and taking steps have truly developed new definitions. As we grieve all those who have lost their lives: young people and old; healthy folks and the infirm; and the rich and the poor; we have seen time morphing days into days, and weeks disappearing into months. Friends and strangers have died and friends’ and strangers’ lives have been saved by doctors and nurses around the world. Many of us have had more than one moment during these weeks when we didn’t know what day of the week it was nor what day on the calendar, because we have been living in a never-before time.
But St. Paul’s of West Deptford has never stopped being church. Not for a single moment, much less a day, week, or month, has your church stopped being church. However, on Sunday March 15 we did lock our doors for all our safety. Those doors remain locked today because our church leadership still wants to keep each of you safe! If we hurry to open the doors because some people think that COVID-19 no longer is real, it would be a foolish and extremely sinful action for us to take. It would put anyone who came to church and their family members at risk.
And even when we come together in those early dates of open church we will not be allowing anyone to rush up and hug and kiss their friends. We will strictly maintain a social distance out of love for all. Our church has a great reopening leadership team (Meghan Beidle, Lori Brown, and Kim Gibson) who are working with me to develop a step-by-step plan to bring us back together at St. Paul’s. But we depend on all of your love for our church and for each other to agree to follow the rules we will have in place.
I can’t predict a date when the doors open but we are moving towards that date. Our Vacation Bible School will be exclusively online because we don’t see any time this summer when it will be safe for our kids and our volunteers to fill the church with people getting close with each other. Our online worship services including Holy Communion are not going away.
What is really important now is that our church family doesn’t start rushing to buy into the false stories that some are spreading about it being safe to go without a mask. I will be forever grateful to our Governor for instituting policies that helped slow down the impact of the virus in New Jersey, even in the face of loud voices that have resorted to calling him childish names. The world community has never faced a reality like this before, and every leader from your pastor on up has attempted to do the right thing for the safety of all.
I do want to give a SHOUT OUT to a few very special people who have helped church continue as church. First, Carol and Don Strock have worked so hard allowing us to feed hundreds of hungry people since the pandemic started. Without them our coordinated and safe delivery system wouldn’t work. And the other deserving special recognition is Elaine Luoma who every Sunday has given our kids a ONE-ROOM SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSROOM to connect them with God and Christ. Sunday School is now on vacation until September.
Psalm 37 also has this verse, “Trust in the Lord and do good!” Since March 15 our church has become a global church with people around the world joining us for worship and devotions! Since March 15, we have had more than 200 individuals worshiping with us every single Sunday. Since June 1, our streaming Wednesday morning online Communion services have been blessing people across the United States. We have provided counseling and assistance to people far beyond the building we call church. WE have proven that St. Paul’s is much more than the building we meet in on Sundays.
I miss all of you. My family misses all of you but even when the doors open you won’t be seeing Megan for a long time. We have to protect her health even though she wants to hug everyone.