(March 30 Update)
We are in what week of this interesting time we are living? Early last week Sedgwick County went into a stay at home order for 30 days and on Saturday, the state of Kansas issued a stay at home order through April 19. I will share that I think that order will go longer, but I could be wrong.
We continue to live into a time none of us have experienced. In this uncomfortable time, I think it is important for us to continue to pray for those on the front lines: doctors, nurses, aides, medical personnel, emergency personnel and scientists, who are doing their best to care for not only those who may be or are infected with COVID-19 but all the other people with health care emergencies and needs. We need to lift up those who continue to care for the most vulnerable on the streets, who are struggling to feed their families with no income and no jobs. We need to pray for the most isolated and lonely. That is one thing everyone can do with no special training or equipment…just a heart for God and for our world.
In the midst of this “personal” distancing, let us see that as an act of prayer and love. To stay at home is to love those who have immune disorders, who are vulnerable because of health care issues and age. To stay at home is an act of love for those hospital workers and others who are tirelessly caring for the sick. Even though it is not easy, to stay at home is to be caring and compassionate to our neighborhood, our community, our nation and our world.
In the world of our church community here is an update from Pastor Rebecca:
You might have noticed that I was not leading worship on Sunday, March 29th. Over the weekend I experienced slight complications to my pregnancy, I spent time at the hospital but was able to come home to rest and relax. Today (Monday) I visited the doctor again and he has requested that I transition into maternity leave now. I plan to go on maternity leave this week, with an anticipated return to working full time on Sunday, June 14… Thank you for your continued prayers and for your gracious support. Joe and I are trying to stay as positive as possible during this odd time we are living in, we know that this child will bring joy and light in a time when it is so needed.
Finally, the “First Light” will be in your mailbox a bit later. Usually it comes out at the very end of the month so you will be prepared for the first of the month. We held back on publishing so we would have a better grasp at what April would look like for our community of faith. It should be out by the end of the week with various articles on how we can stay connected when the “building” is closed for meetings and activities. The church is not the building, it is our loving and compassionate community.
I am praying for all of you.
Ways you can help:At this time, more than ever, non-profit organizations in our community are in need of our assistance. Here are a few opportunities to help.
(March 24, 2020)
I am praying for you, for our health care workers, our social services working with our most vulnerable, the grocery store workers and all those who are trying so hard to work with those panicked by our current situation. I am praying for scientists and our leaders locally, nationally and internationally. I am grateful that the person who potentially exposed me and some others, from a mission trip I had been on, tested negative for COVID-19.
Sedgwick County just issued a stay-at-home order, beginning tomorrow, for the next thirty days. The staff and I had anticipated this happening and while religious leaders and employees are exempt, we plan to support and live by the spirit of law. The building hours are being adjusted to 9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Thursday. If there is a real need for you to be here, we ask that you call and make an appointment. All the staff are available by phone and e-mail.
Most of the staff will be working from home, myself included. We will have very limited staff in the building at any time. The phone will be answered and on Friday (when the building is closed), our First Impressions Receptionist will be checking periodically from home for any phone messages. The business office will be processing checks and paying bills, and our custodial staff will continue cleaning and doing some long term deferred maintenance since there will not be people in the building. The D building has been locked and is closed off for the time being.
We will be worshipping live each Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. with just the persons necessary to ensure we can broadcast a meaningful service, not only to our members, but also across 2/3 of the state of Kansas. We will continue worshipping this way through the end of April. We believe this is an essential ministry we offer and have been offering for over 40 years. We have received more letters in the last two weeks from persons who do not have internet access and are at home. I am deeply grateful for those leaders who believed in this ministry.
As you might understand, our 150th celebration kickoff on April 19 has been postponed, as is the “Free” Reunion for June. The “First Light” will look a little different for April, but we hope to share some good ideas for staying connected. Depending on how things change, our plan is to be back in worship together and resume all our activities in May. I invite you to continue to pray with me, reach out and connect with the staff and your friends and family.
Please consider keeping up your giving not only to First Church but any other charitable organization. In times like these, we all will be working to continue in ministry with limited funds available. All of us together, make a difference in our world.
Friday, I will send an e-news with information about Sunday’s worship. Thank you for all you are doing to keep our community safe, and keeping yourself healthy.
Praying for you and with you, as I am graced to serve
Here is what we can do:
- Pray: for those affected by this virus, the ones who are ill, their families, the medical professionals who are treating them
- Check on your friends and neighbors. Many are self isolating and restricting their time with groups of people. Call, send a card, connect through the internet, let them know you love them and care for them.
- Consider ways to show your appreciation to our medical community. They will be working long hours and we can bless them through small acts of kindness and appreciation.
- Keep yourself healthy. If you are sick, stay home. Wash your hands, do everything in your power to keep yourself and others safe and well.
Greetings First Church family,
I want to acknowledge that we are in a time of great concern over the novel coronavirus COVID-19. While, Kansas has not yet seen a great number of cases, the number of people infected across the world and our nation continues to rise. I want to assure you, we take the well-being of our congregation, staff and visitors to our church facility very seriously. In the event there is coronavirus outbreak in our community, we will implement any actions/plans recommended by the Sedgwick County Health Department and/or CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
Current actions to prevent the spread of illness include:
- Our facilities are regularly cleaned and sanitized by our facilities staff.
- In addition to our hand sanitation stations outside the Sanctuary and the Wilke Family Life Center, we are in the process of adding additional hand sanitation stations throughout our buildings.
- Our staff and volunteers will wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.
- During Holy Communion, all servers will use hand sanitizer before serving the elements.
- At this time, when greeting one another, we encourage you to smile, wave or bump elbows. Our staff and volunteers will still greet you warmly, just not shake your hand.
You can help by following the guidelines from the Health Department and the CDC:
- Stay home when you or your family members are sick, and worship with us at 11:00 on KAKE TV or online at firstwichita.org
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Carry your own hand sanitizer so you can use it as often as you wish.
- If a major outbreak occurs in Wichita, we will invite you to join us on KAKE TV or online for worship.
We are taking this seriously, monitoring the information and developing plans to do what we can to minimize the spread of illness through our programs and worship, and determining what role we will play in helping others. Even as we take this seriously, I want to remind you, at the time I wrote this, there are only 1,100 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the United States and 30 deaths. Of those who contract the virus, 96% recover. Meanwhile this flu season, 12,000 people have died, and the pediatric rate is the highest in a decade. I mention that not to minimize the concern, but to put the number of deaths by the COVID-19 virus in perspective. We want to respond appropriately and not react in fear.
We want our church family to be prepared for this virus should it strike Wichita and to do our part to minimize its spread, to support health care workers and to care for those affected by it. We will provide updates as necessary.
Graced to Serve,