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A view of COVID-19 from a church secretary

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Each Monday morning upon arriving at work I check emails and phone messages. Then I head into the sanctuary and narthex area to clean up left over worship programs and other items left after church Sunday.

I also make sure the sign in lists from Sunday have phone numbers and the names are correct in case I need to submit them to the County if requested. I then delete the reservation list and date the list for the following Sunday. There are a few people that have made “standing” reservations (I feel like a hostess at a restaurant sometimes!) for each Sunday so they don’t have to call each week so I make sure to add them back on the list.

Since we are minimizing contact with volunteers because most of them are over 70 years old I have to do many things that were done by volunteers. Pastor Jon and myself, or Pam Allen and Pastor Jon will count the offering each week and take it to the bank. When it is time to do the Clarion, Eddie, myself, and Pam are the ones to fold, seal, and then label them for mailing. Pastor Jon has dropped it off at the Post Office on Midway a few times or I take them.

To prepare the bulletin now is all done online. Pastor Jon selects the lessons and hymns and emails the rough draft to me. Once I have all the information from Dr. Steve as well I get busy formatting the bulletin. I have to type the words to the hymns in the program as most of them have not been used before in the old “Celebration of Joy” worship. Once I am done with my job I send it back to everyone to proof read and find my many typos. (I used to think I was a pretty good typist!!)

Once I print them, and get started on the slides for worship. This is done in a new program to me, Photoshop. Eddie trained me to do them, but I am not fast yet so this takes me a few hours to get them all correct and into the file format he needs so he can load it into the live stream program.

Sunday mornings have certainly changed. We had to come up with a safe plan and follow CDC and county guidelines. First in, last out in this case. Sometimes people are not happy where we seat them, or some people don’t want to wear the mask. When we started gathering in person again it was brought to my attention that I was still singing and my droplets were going into the air. I can’t sing well with my mask on, so I bought a face shield but it muffled my voice singing, so I devised a way to place it on the microphone so it prevents the spreading of my germs. I sing each Sunday which I really enjoy, but I know that everyone LOVES when Katy sings, as she is a much better singer than I am, but she doesn’t feel safe being inside with others at this time.

While we have allowed some in person gatherings and meetings again after reaching the “Red Tier” it is still the responsibility of the church to ensure everyone stays healthy. I have seen the toll it takes on the pastors to not be able to be with people as they are suffering, or celebrating. I have seen and felt the hurt when we find out someone passed away and we can’t have a memorial here.

I hear the sadness in their voices when something that used to be so simple has turned into a process to make sure we do our part to “care for our neighbors”. Taking communion to our shut-in members is something they miss, as do our Eucharistic Ministers. I hear the frustration in everyone’s voices when we can’t worship like we used to, or we can’t serve snacks or coffee on the patio like we used to, or when I have to shoo people off the patio because they aren’t staying six feet apart.

This pandemic has taken its toll on me too! Deanna’s housemate tested positive for the virus and had symptoms. Deanna had come over to my house before we knew about it and we didn’t stay masked because she is my daughter, my family, no need to keep our masks on right? Well once we found out, Deanna couldn’t go to work for 14 days, and I had to leave the office and go get tested as well. I couldn’t see my grandchildren. All the things I do during the week in the office were put on hold until I got the results of my test. Otha, my husband, couldn’t go to work until his test came back negative. Luckily our tests all came back negative, but it taught me a valuable lesson. I need to keep my mask on in the office, and anywhere I go. I have to protect others around me, as well as myself.

Please consider these points I have made. We wear masks to protect others, we have to create bubbles with our families, and protect them. We may see the same person each week, but do you know every person that they were around?

While we have been very lucky here at CLC/ILC to not be the subject of a “community outbreak”, we have had persons close to our members of our congregation test positive for the virus, including some who have become ill and displayed symptoms related to the virus.

Please know that we as your church staff and those in leadership have done our very best to return to worship, to offer communion, to be available, as needed, and as much as we can, during these difficult times. Thank you for your patience and und understanding.

*This was written while in the red tier and we are now back in the purple tier, which prohibits in person gatherings.

in Advent

Waiting for Jesus amid the pandemic

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Christmas is almost here. Will it even feel like Christmas this year?

To say this year is has been a tough one is an understatement. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted a global pandemic would have literally turned our lives inside out and upside down, but it has. Our activities, our daily patterns and even the things we take for granted have all been affected.

In my writings this year I’ve asked you to re-think what it means to be the church, to re-think our mission and to re-imagine our
vision as our congregation coped with big changes in our community and our world. What have been your answers to those questions? Have you shared them?

In the midst of all of what has happened, we’ve found ways to be the church of Jesus Christ in North Clairemont. We still feed the hungry. We’ve still had spiritual counseling via phone and online
conferencing. We’ve continued with worship in a variety
of ways: completely online, outdoors and with limited attendance indoors. But it takes a tremendous amount of work to put on worship these days.

We’ve also been able to hold Bible studies and have community groups back on our church campus, but we have had some
problems with this as well with groups not following safety protocols. And after years of work and waiting, we moved yet another step closer to our goal of building a new Fellowship Hall, and in this issue you will read about the efforts to make this happen.

Through all of the stress of this year—the spread of the novel Coronavirus, the everchanging public health orders and
restrictions, isolation from the ones we love, empty store shelves, the presidential election—we have managed to hold out
hope for the one who was, who is, and who is to come: Jesus the Messiah.

While Christmas may look and feel different this year, we can’t lose sight of the light that shines in the darkness, for the darkness has not overcome it. Our hope is in the one who came to be
friend, teacher, healer and the prince of peace: Jesus, the eternal savior of the world.