Dear Trinity Family,
The gospel of Matthew concludes with a command and a promise. There we hear Jesus telling us to go into all the world and baptize in the name of the Trinity (command) and that he, Jesus, will be with us until the close of the age (promise). These two words encompass our life and work as the people of God in the world. As the baptized people of God, we go out with joy to share what we have first received, comforted that we are never left to our own devices – Jesus has promised to walk with us, always.
Recently, the covid-19 virus has brought suffering, fear, and anxiety to the whole world. Public events are cancelled. Scientists scramble to develop tests. The medical community braces for millions clamoring for treatment. It’s easy to be overwhelmed. But we resist. We are people of the promise – Jesus is with us. We rely on the gifts God has given us, our faith and our intellect.
Last evening, in a special conference call, the members of your Congregation Council and staff met to consider Trinity’s response to the threat of the virus and Governor Hogan’s call for school closures and suspension of large gatherings in Maryland. We were blessed to have the additional input of a physician and members who are on the front line of this fight at NIH, the FDA, and the State Department. With the wise guidance of these professionals, we have decided that the faithful, fact-based response of Trinity must be the cancellation of all worship services, all church activities, and all building use by outside groups through the end of March. That means no church, Sunday School, youth events, committee meetings – anything – for the next three Sundays or any day in between.
We do not make this decision lightly. Since the beginning of faith, our impulse as the people of God has been to come together in times of crisis. To not do so now feels counter-intuitive. But in this time, physical distancing is what faith requires. That does not mean, however, that we are going to be isolated. We are also in the process of putting together a plan to try and assist members who may end up quarantined and need help getting groceries, household items, etc. We will be in touch with one another like this, electronically, and by phone to monitor events, check in with each other, and most importantly share any concerns of members. We will be creative about continuing the important Ministry Site Profile discussion. And the Council is going to conference call each Thursday evening at 7:30 pm – more frequently if needed – to monitor events, check in with each other, and most importantly, share any concerns of members.
Dr. David K wisely counseled us that much as we would like to believe that these actions will be the end of our response, the fact is that this situation changes by the day, if not the hour. Faith and health requires that we heed the warnings of public health officials, limit our contact with each other, and stay fully informed. As your president and your pastor, please, feel free to reach out to us with any concerns you might have during this time either by email or by phone. Please try and contact us directly instead of leaving a message in the office. And please keep in contact with one another! Not everyone in the congregation uses email. If you know someone who doesn’t, please call them and share this letter with them. During the duration of this time, consider emailing and calling members and friends of the congregation to see how they are, maintain friendships, Even though we won’t be physically together, we enjoy the blessings of modern technology that will allow us to keep in touch.
Our church staff is already at work, looking at options for sharing worshipful and educational content with you – perhaps weekly worship videos, educational resources for children and youth, etc. Keep checking your inbox. Again, if you have any questions or concerns or you would like to help us plan our response to this situation please reach out to any member of the Council or staff.
God has brought us this far on our way and God will see us home. We will get through this together. We will gather once again to hear the organ play, the choir sing, and lift our voices in praise. And until that great day, we will remain united in prayer. For the duration of this time, let’s commit to taking a minute each day, at noon, to pray the Lord’s Prayer together, wherever we are. Together, our prayers will ascend and God will hear us. Do not fear. Jesus is with us – always.
In the readings appointed for Sunday worship (Exodus 17:1-7, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-2) we hear a theme about the water of life that God provides – water to drink and the living water that is Christ. In the first reading, the people of God in the wilderness cry out for water to drink. In the gospel we hear Jesus assure the Syrian women at the well that he, Jesus, is the living water that satisfies. In each instance, there is a degree of difficulty and confusion that surrounds the story, much like we find for ourselves today. Into all of this strides the apostle Paul declaring that such is our faith that we not only celebrate the goodness of life, but we also find meaning in the trials of life: …we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit….
In hope and faith,
Sarah G, President Pastor Kern