Note from Peter | May 4

What a strange and unprecedented time we are living in!  Staff members have said they are looking forward to using the word “unprecedented” in a sentence in a positive way sometime in the future.  I can relate to that statement, and I suspect you can, too.  This has been a challenging season for all of us, and it’s required each of us to dig deep into our spiritual reserves and draw upon the power of God’s Holy Spirit to help us manage with all the changes and challenges.

However, there is reason to hope, not only because of our faith in Christ but also because it appears the curve is flattening and there are many promising developments in research and medicine to address the Covid-19 virus in the way of treatments and a vaccine.  In addition, states are beginning to open up and ease their social distancing restrictions, and I anticipate that in the next month we will see changes along these lines here in Winston-Salem and all across North Carolina.  There are two matters related to the easing of restrictions I want to mention.

Mask the City

First, our church has been very involved in the Mask the City campaign, and we want to encourage everyone in our congregation to wear a mask whenever you go out in public.  Love your neighbor, protect yourself, and bless the city.  This will be a key strategy for ensuring that businesses in our community can open back up again and life can return to some semblance of normal once more.  We have provided masks for all of our older adults over 75 who have requested them, and we also have purchased additional masks for distribution to our covenant partners.  If you haven’t been able to secure a mask through your employer or by some other means, contact the church and we’ll make arrangements for you to be able to come by and get one.  We will send an email to let you know how and when you can get a mask if you desire one.  Stay tuned; more details to come.  We want to promote a congregational mindset of wearing a mask in public so we can love our neighbors well and aid in the opening up of our city.  (By the way, we have been working with 149 partners in the city to provide masks to those who live below the poverty lines in our community and those who live on the margins, and we have also already provided masks to 36 of the senior adults in our church who requested them.)

Reopening Task Force

The second matter I want to tell you about is that I’ve asked Mike Horne and Tim Norton to form a Reopening Task Force to explore what we will need to do at our church to be prepared for when the governor allows us to gather again for worship and resume some of our church’s programing.  They are recruiting medical personnel, people who are plugged into what is happening all across the city, as well as key program staff to help develop for leadership’s consideration  strategies and steps, along with protocols for sanitation and cleaning, that will help us transition in accordance with each of the four phases of reopening Governor Cooper has outlined in recent weeks.  We want to be careful and intentional as we think about and plan for this, and we want to do everything we can to ensure the safety and health of our congregation.  Please pray for this team as it begins its work the first week in May.

Service Livestream Will Continue

I also want you to know that we plan to livestream the worship services for the foreseeable future, even after we are permitted to gather again in worship.  We know that even after we are allowed to gather for worship, there are many in our church who will need to stay home and continue to protect themselves from the potential of this virus.  We want to meet the needs of our whole congregation, and we realize that likely it will be quite some time before life returns to normal.  I’m so proud of our staff and the wonderful job they have done to produce the outstanding worship services we’ve enjoyed during the last several weeks.  I hope you will join me in expressing your gratitude to them for their sacrificial service.  They’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty, and we are blessed to have them helping lead us and our church’s ministry.

We’re going to get through this, and better days are coming.  The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Is. 43:18,19).  I’m curious to see how this global crisis will reshape our world and also impact the way we do ministry and mission in the future.  I believe God has a new work He wants to do, and many believe this could lead to a spiritual awakening.  Through it all the Lord will lead and guide us as we keep our eyes on Him.  I miss each of you, and I can’t wait to see you again.  Until then, be safe, stay well, and God bless.