As faith leaders, we are accustomed to fulfilling our duty by congregating, by gathering for worship in prayer and song. We realize, however, that promoting and facilitating physical proximity, especially through songful worship, poses a potentially lethal threat to the health and safety of our families, friends, and neighbors.
Our responsibility to promote physical distancing during this pandemic is a sacred duty. Our traditions are diverse, yet we share a faithful devotion to the preservation of lives. Our obligation to promote public health during this pandemic is part and parcel of our core beliefs, inextricable with our sense of what God demands of us.
For this reason, we reject the notion that houses of worship ought to be exempt from orders that limit large gatherings. Lest our churches, temples, and mosques become incubators for COVID-19, houses of worship are the very places that must model safety and promote wellness.
In our hearts, there is no greater desire than for us to gather in peace. We recognize, however, that at this moment- and likely until a vaccine is available- human behavior in group settings is our greatest asset or liability. We are gravely alarmed by the widespread, reckless move to reopen institutions that put human beings in close proximity to each other. When reopening buildings to large groups, the fast-track is the lethal track. The life-affirming track, which our faiths call us to follow, is one that adheres, at every stage and with utmost prudence, to measures that reduce the risk of transmission and fatality for the vulnerable.
As we pursue our obligation to promote physical distancing, our shared religious values demand that we draw near to each other in other ways. We do not distance ourselves from harsh realities and human dignity, and we are particularly cognizant that COVID-19 is not a “great equalizer.” This pandemic attacks our citizens disproportionately, along fault lines of racial and economic inequality. Closing buildings does not mean closing hearts and hands to the sacred work of caring for our African American, Latinx, and immigrant communities. The hour calls for urgent action. While our stance regarding the timeline for safely regathering may not mirror that of our government officials, we believe that our primary responsibility during this unprecedented pandemic is to the public health and safety of those whom we have been divinely called to serve. We urge all civic leaders to lead with moral fortitude and steadfast devotion to the dignity of those most vulnerable to the health and economic impact of this pandemic.
Lastly, we invite our clergy colleagues whose views differ from our own into conversation with us. We share our convictions with humility, with a listening heart, and with full appreciation for the complexity and uncertainty that challenges all of us in this moment.
Endorsed by Rev. Dr. Mindy Douglas, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, and 41 other clergy in the Durham area. Click here to see full list of endorsers.
Join us for faith formation for adults each Sunday, across a variety of topics…
- Faith & Community – This class discusses topics of interest or concern in our community and looks for intersections with our faith. It meets Sundays, 10 am. Contact John Weicher or the church office for access to this virtual class.
- Journeys – This class discusses the book, Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr. Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as “falling upward.” In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. Sundays, 10 am. Contact Eric Wiebe, Andy Henry, or the church office for access to this virtual class.
- Lectionary – David Smith is leading a discussion of each Sunday’s lectionary texts. Sundays, 10 am. Contact David Smith or the church office for access to this virtual class.
- We Make the Road by Walking – Mary Berry, Abi Bissette, Emily Durham and other members of the Scratch group are leading a time of check-in and support, as well as a devotional on Sundays at 8 pm. Contact a class leader or the church office for access to this virtual class.
- Women’s Spirituality Group – Support and check-in for women engaged in spiritual formation during these strange times. Be in touch with Leah Graves for access to this virtual class. This class meets Sundays, 10 am.
CHILDREN AND YOUTH – ARE YOU CONNECTED? If you are not receiving a separate weekly email connecting you to FPC online activities for children and youth, contact John Weicher to be added to the list.
Friends, do you love children, in all their glory? Our congregation is seeking a Director of Children’s Ministries, and we have officially opened the position to candidates from within the congregation – members and friends. We are seeking someone who loves children, loves Jesus, and is interested in introducing the one to the others. Might that be you?
This class is meeting via ZOOM on Tuesdays from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Contact Mindy Douglas to be added to the class listserv so you can receive the link to the class discussion each week.
Did you receive a stewardship packet for 2020? Have you completed AND returned your pledge form? Questions about the pledging process should be directed to Tom Bloom, the Business Administrator, at 919-682-5511 x 216 or [email protected] Click here to read and hear about our 2020 Campaign and how pledges are used.