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August 9: Tenth Sunday After Pentecost
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In-Person Services Suspended
Dear Church Family:
The session met via Zoom this evening in an emergency called meeting. At that meeting, the session voted unanimously to suspend in-person worship through August 31, 2020. To be sure, this was an extremely difficult decision — and potentially an unpopular one. Below are some of the factors that contributed to our decision:
• At least one person in worship this Sunday (August 2, 2020) was COVID-19 positive. If you were in worship this Sunday, we strongly urge you to monitor your health for symptoms. Follow this link for the CDC’s list of symptoms.
• We have had four in-person services since July 1. We have subsequently learned that during those four services at least 3-4 COVID-19 positive persons were present.
• Several local family members (not church members) that we know of have tested positive during this month.
• Since July 1, we have gone from 59 total cases in Lincoln County to 259 total cases.
• First death in Lincoln County on July 23
• On July 5 we had 19 active cases in the county. Today (August 5) we have 119 active cases (two of whom are in Lincoln Medical Center).
• Madison County (as of Monday, August 3) has 121 cases in the hospital, with 40 in the ICU and 24 on ventilators.
I imagine that many of you will grieve the decision to suspend in-person worship. I grieve along with you. Christian fellowship and corporate worship are not simply key components of my personal sense of calling, they are indeed keystones of our faith. So while I whole-heartedly support our session’s decision, the idea of another three weeks of not seeing your smiling faces pains me. During these times of grief, pain, and anger, I like to read and pray the lament Psalms. Here are a few verses from Psalm 88 that I think speak to our current situation:
1 Lord, God of my salvation, by day I cry out,
even at night, before you —
2 let my prayer reach you! Turn your ear to my outcry
3 because my whole being is filled with distress; my life is at the very brink of hell.
8 You’ve made my friends distant.
You’ve made me disgusting to them. I can’t escape. I’m trapped!
9 My eyes are tired of looking at my suffering.
I’ve been calling out to you every day, Lord — I’ve had my hands outstretched to you.
13 But I cry out to you, Lord!
My prayer meets you first thing in the morning!
14 Why do you reject my very being, Lord?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Since I was young I’ve been afflicted, I’ve been dying.
I’ve endured your terrors. I’m lifeless.
18 You’ve made my loved ones and companions distant.
My only friend is darkness.
Before I close, I would like to share with you that, due to symptoms I am exhibiting, my doctor has advised me to get tested tomorrow morning. That means that I will be quarantined until I receive the results of the test. I will let you know of my test results as soon as I know them.
I’ll close this letter with the same words I’ve closed my previous COVID letters: May we walk forward in faith together, embracing facts over fear, and washing our hands at every chance we get! Above all, let us remember and rejoice that “nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Brief Statement of Faith; Rom. 8:38-39).
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Bruce McVey Pastor
First Presbyterian Church Fayetteville, TN