Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Holding fast in the hope and the foundation of our faith, I write to you to share an update regarding programs and services at St. James Presbyterian Church amidst the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Executive Board of Northwest Coast Presbytery released a mandate to all churches in our region to suspend gathering in person until further notice (link to presbytery update here). This strong precaution is meant to step up efforts of social-distancing, which can drastically reduce the spread of COVID-19.
As of today, the church will be moving all of its activities “out of the building” and into online formats for gathering. We will not be gathering for Sunday Worship in person and are already making efforts to enhance our capabilities for broadcasting services via livestream and recorded audio/video. Many church meetings will begin happening over web services like Zoom, which allow for us to still meet together, but from the distance of our homes. The church staff will be working remotely, continuing to keep up the operations of our organization by reaching out to members of the congregation, connecting with families and children, and taking extra efforts to strengthen the Body of Christ as we are apart.
The Session of St. James is also asking our outside tenants to cease their operations in the facility for the time being and many groups are already working to cancel or postpone their plans for later dates. We are all in this together and it is a joy to see how people cooperate and work toward the common goal of keeping all people healthy and safe.
We acknowledge that using services that are only online can be a limiting factor for some of us. To that end, we will be organizing a group of people who can help people set up access to our church website and Facebook page, connect with a Zoom account, and utilize other options on phones and computers that allow us to connect. If you need any technical assistance, please take a minute to fill out this brief form and we will be in touch to help: http://www.saintjamespres.org/tech-support.
I feel connected with the Apostle Paul as I write this note. Paul wrote to many churches, spread out around the Mediterranean Sea, to encourage them through their struggles and changes. He wrote to challenge them to grow together in the face of persecution, to rely on each other and deepen their bonds as members of the Body of Christ. I write to do the same for our church, St. James Presbyterian, as we face a global pandemic. We must not lose heart, but instead, find our strength and hope in Christ alone.
I pray this message finds you well. Please be in touch if you need anything. The church office will continue to receive messages, emails, and letters in the mail. I am available by phone (360-303-0898) and would be happy to hear your voice.
Looking forward to the celebration of the Resurrection when we return to worshipping together. Until then, grace and peace,