Greetings from the Board of Stewards. We met virtually on Wednesday evening. The pressing topic of the meeting was the reopening of the church for in-person worship. We have moved very cautiously since the arrival of COVID-19 in our community. First, the church closed to comply with the local government's decision to “Stay Home, Work Safe.” Everyone went into quarantine. We then started the slow reopening of our campus with small groups followed by Sunday school. We anticipated returning to in-person worship this Sunday, June 28.
The Building Reopening Task Force presented an update on the status of reopening. The Board discussed many issues related to our desire to offer public worship balanced with safety and health concerns about large gatherings. Many thanks to the Task Force and especially Dr. John Jernigan for tackling the complex issues that must be addressed to create these protocols.
A major decision was made regarding in-person worship. The discussion centered around the alarming increase in the number of illnesses and deaths that are occurring in our community, as well as the dramatic increase in hospitalizations and persons undergoing treatment in ICU. Because these numbers are fluctuating on a daily basis, the Board voted to authorize the Task Force to change our plans regarding in-person worship. The Task Force met Friday afternoon and voted to postpone in-person worship until circumstances change and larger gatherings will not pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of attendees.
I want you to know that the decision to postpone in-person worship was very difficult, as all of us want so badly to be together, even if we had to wear masks and practice social distancing to do it. However, this would not be prudent. Medical officials and local authorities are all calling for a pause in the reopening of businesses and are discouraging large gatherings. The recommendation from our Governor is to stay home. We want to comply with these requests because the health and safety of our church and community are paramount. The live streaming of worship services at 9:30 and 11 a.m. will continue to be our opportunity to worship.
The Board continues to work through the various issues in partnership with our marvelous pastoral and lay staff. Your support of the church in faith and financial gifts continues to be strong. We met our adjusted budget projections for May and the CARES Act loan continued to support us. The CARES Act support ended June 15, and our staff is completing the paperwork required to finalize loan requirements. If all requirements are met, the loan will convert to a grant that will not require repayment. The staff is working with representatives from Frost Bank and the Small Business Administration to conclude the process. Thanks to our Director of Finance and HR, Valerie Slade, and her staff for their efforts.
One thing that we have learned about this virus is its unpredictability. One may be a carrier or infected without any symptoms, which allows the virus to spread without anyone knowing. No one is immune. Please wear masks. Please follow the social distancing guidelines. As for me, I’m staying at home as much as possible and urge you to join me in worship via live stream. Keep the words of John Wesley – do no harm - front and center in all that you do.
The next virtual board meeting is scheduled for July 8. Blessings and be safe.
Kathryn “Kitty” Meyers