Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I’m sorry to say that just as the updates and recommendations regarding Coronavirus seem to be updated on the hour, so also do I have an update since then on how we are proceeding. After much time was spent to put precautions in place and get them out to you all, I received an email from our Mid-South District Office and President. It was sent to all of the congregations of the district and strongly urged that we follow the just announced recommendations to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people. Not long after that, Memphis city Mayor Jim Strickland declared Memphis to be under a state of emergency; and, at least as I have been told, he gave direction to churches to stop public worship at this time to limit exposure and spread of the virus.
After speaking directly with President Paavola at our district office and further prayer, with great reluctance and sadness I consulted with and recommended to the elders we halt public worship services for the next couple of weeks as requested and pray that we can resume very soon. I was thankful that the elders struggled with this decision, as well, and only with reluctance agreed.
So, what does this all mean? For at least the next 15 days, we will not have public gatherings of more than 10. One of the things we had begun to work on, which I noted yesterday, was attempting to livestream services. So, that is what we are going to do. For now, we will have modified worship services that will be streamed on Facebook Live through our church Facebook page – TrinityMemphis.
This will begin with tonight’s mid-week Lenten service. The service will obviously be shortened but include readings, message, prayers, and some music. The stream will begin at approximately 7:00 p.m., the scheduled time for the service. We will have an order of service posted on our website if you would like to download it and follow along.
At this time we are working on a number of things regarding Sunday’s service and others going forward, including how to incorporate limited hymns and singing. This has all come so quickly. No doubt there will be tweaks as we go along. The Sunday service streaming time will be the normal 10:30 time.
Another item of importance, with details to be worked out, includes the Sacrament. In addition to the nourishing of our faith we all need through the Word, we recognize the importance of our faith being nourished and strengthened by Jesus’ body and blood. My intention is to set up one or two time frames during the week when I will administer the Sacrament. To avoid too many people coming at once, we would have you call or register online in some way to schedule a time during those periods. Again, this is all still in the works right now. I’m sorry I don’t have further specifics on that just yet. I will get that out soon.
Sunday morning Bible class: I am working on some ideas to carry on with our adult Bible class using technology. What I would like to do if possible is set up teleconferencing of some sort so the class can continue to be interactive. More to follow as I work that out. As far as Sunday School, I will be in contact with our Board of Christian Education director and Sunday School teachers to see if there are things we might be able to send home for families to work on together.
Confirmation and adult instruction: As these classes all involve fewer than 10 people, I would plan to continue with them, depending on the comfort level of those involved. I will be in contact with you who this applies to soon to find out your thinking about meeting.
One other area I need to address is tithes and offerings. Obviously, not meeting weekly in person could cause a strain on the giving and thus the finances for the carrying out of the mission and ministry of the church. Some may be impacted, as well, by the changing economic realities so many are facing with much of public life around us being shut down. We would ask that you continue to give as the Lord has blessed you. As I reminded in my previous correspondence, we have a safe and secure online giving option that can be accessed through our website. You can set up automatic withdrawal from a bank account and/or make one-time payments using a credit or debit card or bank account. For direct access to the web page for online giving to Trinity, visit here: Online Giving. For directions on how to use it and set it up, download the instructions here: How to Give Online. If you still have trouble or questions about this, please contact Jennifer in the church office and she will do her best to help you. If you are not comfortable with giving online, another option would be to mail your tithes and offerings to the church.
These are uncertain and challenging times. But, as I noted yesterday, be at peace in the peace we have with God in Jesus. He is our very-present help at all times in every trouble (Psalm 46).
Please feel free to contact me, the church office, or your elder if you have any questions. And, please let us know if you have a need that you are unable to meet at this time which we may be able to help with.
God’s Richest Blessings, Peace, and Love to You in Jesus,