Beloved of Christ,
The Session remains in prayer for all of you in this strange time. We are aware that many of you have questions and concerns. This email will hopefully address many of those. In what will be shared, I (Pastor Evan) know there will be many thoughts and feelings across the board. Please know every decision has been made after considerable prayer, lots of reading and researching, and thoughtful discussion by the Session.
Rev. Ted Churn, Executive Presbyter of New Hope, sent a letter to all churches. In the letter, the presbytery recommends for all churches to remain physically closed for the remainder of May and the month of June. The letter also recommended that each session in this time create and implement a plan for safe reopening. I (Pastor Evan) agree with the recommendations and explained to the session that I felt completely uncomfortable to reopen until we examine all of our practices and procedures. Truthfully until there is an medically accepted cure and/or vaccine, any and all public gatherings will be a risk. However, there are steps we can take to mitigate and lessen those risks.
The Session of Roxboro Presbyterian met in a stated meeting last night (May 19) and desires to keep the church apprised of what we are doing and decisions being made. The basics of those follow:
1) The physical church building will be closed according to Presbytery recommendations (May - June). This decision will be revisited at the June Session meeting on June 16. We are aware that the situation can and does change rapidly. If possible to alter the date earlier, the Session will certainly do so. If the situation changes negatively, the dates may be extended. What is offered is a tentative schedule. Any changes will be communicated to the church. One member of Session made the wise comment, "We will not hurt anyone by moving too slowly. We certainly can hurt people by moving too quickly."
2) All online offerings (daily devotions and worship) will continue. The church has the capability to set up Zoom meetings for Sunday School classes, Presbyterian Women, and any other groups that may desire. Pastor Evan will be available to train anyone who feels uncomfortable.
3) The Session is examining options to keep those without computers as connected as possible. Hard copies of the worship services are being delivered each week by Beth Miller. If you would like one, please email the church. If you know of someone who would like to receive them and cannot email, please email the church on their behalf.
4) The Session established a sub-committee consisting of Property Chair, Sam Wilson, Worship Chair, Kjersti Lockhart, and Pastor Evan Walker to establish a plan for reopening and how to make it as safe as possible for all who come. That plan will be developed over the next couple of weeks and shared with the session by the beginning of June for further input, clarification, and alterations as needed. Once officially approved, the plan will be shared with the congregation.
5) I (Pastor Evan) continually stay in prayer and try to read as much as possible and share those articles with the session members. The session asks that the church pray for its leaders. We are making the best decisions we can with the best information as possible and also ask for your patience and understanding.
The Session is aware that many members will not like this plan for it either being too slow or too fast, we ask for your patience. When the plan for reopening is released, many of you will think the guidelines are strict while others will think they are not enough. The church universal and particularly Roxboro Presbyterian has a unique opportunity to model humility, patience, and love. This will not divide us or destroy us. We all seek to glorify God, to love each other, and to share the love of Jesus Christ within our community.
Paul urges the church in Ephesus: " I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:1-6).
May the Spirit of God guide, protect, and nurture each of us.
To the glory of God,
Rev. Evan Walker
11:00 Sunday Worship - Facebook Live
10:00 Bible Study Facebook Live
10:00 Bible Study Facebook Live
Morning Devotion - Facebook Live - Time TBD