Saturday, March 14, 2020
Dear Epworth family,
 
As promised, we have been monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus. Part of the response that the staff designed involved cancelling on-site worship when our local school districts closed. As of Friday, Governor Carney has closed public schools for the next two weeks, beginning on Monday. Therefore, we will not be having on-site worship on March 22 or 29. We will continue to provide an online worship experience on those Sundays.
 
However, we have decided to hold a single worship service this Sunday, March 15, at 10:00 a.m. for those who wish to brave it. We will practice our social distancing and good hygiene and sanitation. If you do not feel safe to attend, please STAY HOME. We expect a very small turnout beyond the staff. We need to create ways BOTH to offer the presentation elements of worship, such as music and scripture and message, AND to connect individuals with our larger community. Studies have demonstrated that social isolation during epidemics also negatively impacts our physical and spiritual well-being.
 
We certainly understand that not everyone will agree with this decision, and we respect your opinion. We also urge you to make your own decision regarding worship tomorrow. Be aware that the Boys and Girls Club will continue to meet in our building and our Food Ministry will continue, with additional precautions. In addition, please consider staying home from other areas such as restaurants and gyms, as they also spread germs quickly.
 
As followers of Jesus, we know we must respond with BOTH precaution AND compassion. We recognize that social isolation is a privilege not everyone can afford. Join us in our efforts to offer compassion during this time. Offer to shop for an older neighbor or take food to a sick family. Check in on your friends from Epworth. Phone calls will become an invaluable means to connect during this time. Also, we have been asked to consider helping West Side New Beginnings to provide meals for low income students who will not eat if they do not attend school. You will hear more about opportunities to connect in the coming days.
 
Please be safe. Choose what you need to do based on your health and your comfort level with these risks. Join us in praying for a quick recovery from this pandemic and for those least able to handle it. Love one another as Christ has loved us. And, we will celebrate with joy when this pandemic has passed. May the peace of Christ be with you.
 
In His service,
Rev. Dr. Vicki Gordy-Stith
 
 
______________________________________________________________________________________
 
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Dear Epworth Family,
 
We thank God for each of you and for the gift of our community! As your staff and leadership team, we want to care for you and for this gift of community which God has given us, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. As a faith community, we first entrust our lives to God, remembering Jesus instructed us not to worry about anything. However, we recognize the difference between not worrying and taking common sense precautions. Therefore, we wanted to inform you of some of the steps we will take at Epworth to prevent the spread of the virus.
 
You will notice the biggest changes in worship, including the following:
  •  We will continue to pass the peace using sign language.
  •  We will no longer pass the offering plates. Instead, ushers will hold the plates at the doors to the sanctuary as you exit. Please place your gift in the offering as you leave.
 
Now may be a good time to begin giving online or through texting.
  • www.eumcrb.org/give for one-time or recurring gifts
  • Text: 302-488-0038 to link to the online giving portal.
 
Additionally, to minimize contact:
  • We will no longer pass the Connections Sign-in pads.
  • When we celebrate communion, we will shift to using the individual glass cups.
 
You will not notice some of the other changes we have made, such as:
  • Door handles and other surfaces will be sanitized every day.
  • Staff will be encouraged to work from home if they feel ill.
 
We have instructed our staff and invite you to follow good hygiene:
  • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
  • Sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm or into a tissue then wash your hands immediately.
  • Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid physical contact, including hand-shaking and even its alternatives of fist or elbow bumping. Consider placing your hand to your heart or even bowing your head to another to recognize and greet them.
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces, such as doorknobs, cell phones, keyboards, etc.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
 
We also invite you to consider the community by:
  • Sharing rather than stockpiling supplies.
  • Checking in on others, including family, friends, Epworth family, and neighbors.
  • Facing this situation with hope, rather than fear. Fear creates panic which prompts selfish behavior. Hope invites us to work together for the common good.
 
At this point, we invite elderly people and those at high risk to consider staying home from church until the virus threat settles down. Remember that the church website (www.eumcrb.org/videos) has videos of the two later worship services – 9:15 and 11:15 a.m. Please check in with your friends from Epworth if you notice them missing from worship.
 
We will continue to monitor the spread of the virus and take additional steps as necessary. We also communicate regularly with the preschool and the Boys and Girls Club, who share our building. We have created a protocol for our ministries to follow depending on the severity of the threat. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
 
We lift up Psalm 91 as a reminder: “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’” May the Most High walk with us through this uncertain journey.
 
Grace and peace to you,
The Caring Team and Staff