Covid-19 Update – July 23

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Dear First Church, 

As we move into the 5th month of the Coronavirus pandemic, I want to update you all on the decisions about our church’s activity and future. While it seems that there are few certainties these days, I think it’s helpful to provide you with as much clarity as possible. 

The Board of Stewards, Board of Trustees, Church Staff, and I have been examining the trajectory of our community health and what is best and safest for our church. We assembled several members of our church who work in medicine and community health. Their recommendation for safe in-person gathering depends on three factors; 1. a 2-week downward trend in new COVID 19 cases statewide, 2. a 2-week statewide test positivity rate under 5%, and 3. a 2-week downward trend of new hospitalizations. Only after we see these three metrics in Arkansas can we begin making a plan for reopening. We are also using the UAMS model as a guide for what to expect with the progress of community spread. That model originally projected that that cases in Arkansas will not peak until October. However, just yesterday they released an update with an adjusted date of peak in mid to late November. 

With this kind of uncertainty, it is obviously difficult to make plans for the church. Therefore, rather than continually trying to make decisions on a two week or monthly basis, the Board of Stewards has decided we will worship only online through at least the end of October. At that time we will reassess and make future decisions. This allows us all to better know what to expect and engage in the ministry opportunities being offered. It also allows our church staff to plan further out and create ways to stay connected and deepen your spiritual journey.  

In addition, the Board of Stewards has decided to not open the church building for indoor gatherings. Small groups of 10 or fewer may gather outdoors if they; maintain 6’ distances, wear masks, meet for one hour or less, and do not share food or drinks. I realize this prolongs the feelings of isolation and disconnection. However, our church leaders are exercising the greatest caution for the benefit of the whole community. 

Worship Participation
We’re trying to keep worship meaningful and engaging. Also, we want to hold to the fact that worship is the “acts of the people.” One of the things we’ve heard over and over about our online worship services is that people love seeing other members of the church. Everyone loves to hear all of you read or sing or share your reflections. Therefore, we need your help. We need to know those people who would be willing to participate in worship leadership. If you would like to participate via video, we want to give you that opportunity. Follow this link and fill out the brief questions, and we’ll begin contacting you about participating in worship. https://fumclr.wufoo.com/forms/m3g894p0j1tots/

Focused on our Values
When things are uncertain, I believe our best practice is to get laser focused on our values. We regularly proclaim our church’s core values; Trust, Health, Relationships, Imagination, Value, and Education. If we are have clarity of what is most important, it will give us clarity on what we need to be doing and where we need to go. Because health and education are critically important issues right now, it’s time for us to double down on those values. Over the next several weeks you will be hearing about our effort to create a COVID 19 Relief Fund to benefit the students, families, and teachers at our partner schools. The safety and support of the students and teachers is of highest concern and so we’re setting a high goal. I hope you will prayerfully consider being a part of this project. More details are coming soon. 

Sure, this is a difficult time in history. However, I am grateful to be a part of a church that takes seriously the need to care for the community, whether that is by wearing masks and practicing social distancing or by caring for our neighbors and the children of Little Rock. Thank you for being people who live their faith so passionately. 

Gratefully,

David

Lesley Andrews

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