When will we meet again?
Dear members of the Presbytery of San Francisco,
These are unprecedented times. Not only is a pandemic wreaking havoc on our world, but governments and politicians are arguing over when churches should and should not be open. In the Presbytery of San Francisco we have all answered the call to shelter in place; now we are considering how long we will stay sheltered. Our counties have given orders that expire on April 7th; the state has given an open-ended order “until further notice,” and the CDC’s guidance is to avoid groups of over 50 until May 11th. Other national guidance is erratic, often unscientific, and politically motivated. Therefore it is hard to tell when we shall all meet again. Meanwhile we are living with fear, stress, and anger. In these times it is important to affirm some essentials:
– Our lives are in God’s hand, at all times; whether we live or die, whether we gather or shelter apart; whether we work or rest. There is a season for everything. This is a season unlike any other.
– All of space and time belongs to God. We observe a calendar of holidays, but the days set aside to celebrate Easter and other holidays are human approximations of events that happened in sacred time. If it is not safe to gather again until May or even June, the tomb will still be empty. If we celebrate Easter apart in our homes, we will not be different from the early disciples who feared to gather publicly.
– Christ calls us to care for “the least of these” in Matthew 25. Our congregations must be careful to feed those who are hungry, provide for those who are in need, and minister to those who are in distress. These urgent works must continue. We also care for the least of these, during these times, in a new way: by social distancing, and cancelling gatherings, following the guidance of our local health departments and trusting their information and wisdom. In these ways we care for those who are medically vulnerable, and care for our overtaxed healthcare workers.
– Though worship is essential to our lives together, gathering for worship is not urgent. Worshiping God separately, in the safety of our homes, is a valid option.
– When local, state, and national guidance are in conflict, it is best to err on the side of caution. Whenever it is possible, we should keep people safe. We encourage all congregations to stay safe, err of the side of caution, and NOT to gather again until it is truly safe to do so.
We are truly building the airplane while flying it, now. As a Presbytery we are learning new technologies, changing many of our practices, and doing our best to support our congregations both spiritually and financially. Please let us know how we can further support you in your ministries, and in your walk of faith through these difficult times.
Your Sisters in Christ,
Mary Jane Gordon & Talitha Amadea Aho
Co-Moderators, Presbytery of San Francisco
Board of Pensions: March 25 Message
Pastoral Message from J. Herbert Nelson & Diane Moffett (March 18th)
PC(USA) Advisory opinion on Church in an Emergency/Pandemic how to proceed with a congregational meeting in such a time as this.
PC(USA) Advisory opinion on Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – COVID-19 resources for churches and individuals
Social Media Resource: Faith-on-Facebook Toolkit
Important article from PC(USA)– ‘Church attendance is an individual choice’
Prayers for Times of Uncertainty.
NPR article on: Flattening A Pandemic’s Curve: Why Staying Home Now Can Save Lives
Here is the CDC COVID-19 webpage: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
The PDA document “Preparedness for Pandemics” .
March 19, 6:40 p.m. on Shelter in Place–California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the shelter-in-place order already in effect in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County will now be extended to the entire state and its 40 million residents. The order allows for essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies to remain open. Restaurants can also remain open for delivery and pickup only.
The order allows for essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies to remain open. Restaurants can also remain open for delivery and pickup only.
The mandate is identical to the one in the Bay Area, meaning individuals can also leave their houses to take a walk or go for a jog so long as they are practicing the requisite precautions of social distancing.
ALL COUNTIES have banned gatherings.
Our Congregations are doing the following:
- NO Worship Service/Fellowship/ or any type of gatherings.
- Sending out a recording or doing Facebook live with a small team.
- Recordings of worship/ sermons and putting them up on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites
- One congregation has moved worship to Livestream
- Some have made arrangements to provide Sunday worship via ZOOM.
- Resources collected from other traditions, as well:
We hope this is helpful, and if you have other resources or suggestions, please let us know.