Covid-19 Updates From Pastor Chad

NEW UPDATE:
March 18th, 2020

Dear Kirk Friends:

This has been such a stressful time for all of us, for our neighbors and for the communities we call home. Our purpose as a church is to welcome all to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ, through worship, authentic relationships, and meaningful work together, and to pursue peace and justice in the world. As your pastor, I cannot help but watch the expanding effects of this pandemic through this calling. How can we invite people to experience God’s love when everything is so upside down? I’m convinced that The Kirk has an important role to play, to help ground us all in God’s values of love and compassion, and to inspire us to new ways of loving and serving our neighbor.

Everyone is having to adapt due to the coronavirus pandemic, and much quicker than we thought possible. The Kirk is no exception, and as we work through how we will adapt to these challenging circumstances, we are committed in our support of public health and medical professionals who are working to keep us safe, to “flatten the curve,” and to ensure that people severely impacted by COVID-19 can have access to the best possible medical care.

City and County health officials have urged everyone to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. This is to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and is particularly important for groups with those particularly in danger of severe infections. To this end, The Kirk session has voted to suspend all of our in-person gatherings at The Kirk effective immediately through at least April 6th. We are asking that anyone who might need assistance from the office to please email first or call, and we will try to respond through phone or email wherever possible. The session will be meeting (electronically) next week to consider additional steps that we might need to take.

I am currently out of town, but will be heading back home Wednesday evening. We are working on digital options for our worship, bible study, and community building opportunities. Committees and teams will also be meeting electronically, and it will take a few days for these plans to become operational. While not the same as gathering together in person, we are seeking to worship authentically and meaningfully together, even if we have to do so electronically for the time being. Please stay tuned for more communication about these virtual offerings, and help us by calling or texting your church friends and staying in touch with one another. Your ongoing support for our work together, through your patience, your engagement, and your encouragement, will be important as we seek to weather this pandemic and do our part to help our neighbors.

If you have questions, concerns, or pastoral needs, please contact me by email (chad@kckirk.org) or phone at your convenience.

Peace,
Chad

PREVIOUS UPDATE:

(March 12th, 2020)

Dear Kirk Friends:

We hope that this letter finds you safe and well. As we continue to watch the reports surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we are having conversations about what effect this has on our church life. Our Session and staff will be regularly evaluating the recommendations from the Missouri and Kansas departments of health and our cleaning staff is doing a good job all over our church complex.

We plan to continue to meet, but we will be taking some precautions:

  • We have some hand sanitizer available at various places around The Kirk building, and are looking to obtain more in the next few weeks. Soap and water are more effective, and we encourage good hand washing while at church, too.
  • We are recommending alternatives to shaking hands or hugs, and, in particular, defer to those who are practicing caution and would prefer a different greeting. Many people last week used the elbow bump, the 60’s peace sign, or my favorite-bowing and curtsying like in a Jane Austin novel.

The most important thing we can do is simple practices that we should do every cold and flu season:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes (into your elbow, if possible).
  • Disinfect frequently used surfaces (phones, doorknobs, etc).
  • Use a mask only if you are sick
  • Hand washing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of any disease.

For spiritual practices: sing the Doxology (Praise God from whom all blessings flow), say the Lord’s Prayer, or take this opportunity to memorize Psalm 23.

In addition, we will be exploring best practices for communion, and there may be some modifications starting in April. Those who prepare the elements will exercise good hand sanitation and will wear gloves. The use of individual cups (our traditional practice) continues to be recommended over a shared cup, and we will modify Maundy Thursday accordingly. There may be other changes as well, including a temporary elimination of the broken loaf, in favor of using the pre-cut pieces of bread as currently offered. We’ll share more as we know it.

As we are a community, we are all in this together. If you do not feel well or are worried about being in large gatherings, please exercise good caution, and let us know if we can send you a DVD of the service. It is best to stay home in this situation, or if you are at heightened risk to serious illness due to the novel coronavirus. We currently post videos of the sermon each week, and are exploring how to expand this if necessary.

In the meantime, continue to check in on your Kirk friends to see how they are doing, and find your own unique ways of supporting the church (through prayer, contacting your neighbor, mailing in your contribution, sending thoughts of encouragement). If you have any questions or concerns please contact Pastor Chad at herringc@gmail.com.

Peace to you, and thank you for all you do for The Kirk.

Pastor Chad