One reason I love Two Rivers so deeply is because our community is always mindful of the impact our actions have on the community around us. The work of our church is strongest when we hold ourselves accountable to this practice, because we recognize that our work is much larger than ourselves.
The rapid spread of coronavirus COVID-19 is a public health crisis that has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare system and community resources, which can disproportionately affect those who are most vulnerable. Though only one case of COVID-19 has been identified in the greater Charleston area at this time, we know that the virus spreads through person-to-person contact that is facilitated through large public gatherings, and that the best way to combat the spread of the virus is to engage in social distancing.
The health and safety of those who are the most vulnerable in the greater Charleston community is our highest priority during this time. After prayerful consideration, consultation with healthcare professionals in our church, and in alignment with guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, our leadership team has decided to temporarily suspend all in-person gatherings for the foreseeable future.
Here is the good news—our Leadership Team also is absolutely confident the work of our church will not be adversely impacted by this decision. In fact, we are excited about the possibility of pursuing new and innovative solutions to engage with one another and our community while also taking action that we believe is in the best interest of public health. This decision also will allow us to focus additional resources on those who need it the most at this time.
Beginning immediately, we will move all of our in-person programming online.
Sunday Worship Experiences
We will stream our Sunday morning worship service live on our Facebook page and on YouTube every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The format of these services will be different than our usual live stream, but the experience will be very familiar for those who have worshipped with us before. We will still engage in song, scripture, a sermon, and prayer.
I ask you to commit to tuning in to our worship experiences live at 10 a.m. on Sunday with your loved ones, if possible. We will have moderators joining in together to have conversation and take prayer requests while the service is happening. Even if we cannot be together in-person, we still can share the worship experience with one another.
If you don’t have access to reliable internet, or if you are concerned about your ability to participate in this offering in any way, please reach out to me directly and our care team will make every effort to provide an accommodation.
Our life together isn’t limited to our Sunday worship experiences and, to that end, we’ll offer online programming throughout the week so you and your loved ones can remain engaged with others in our community. We’ll expand our opportunities every week (we’re learning as we go, after all), but here are a few programs you can expect right away:
- Guided children’s spiritual formation videos with our children’s director, Elizabeth Vice, will be posted to our Facebook page every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. She will offer a scripture story and wonderings and suggest ways you can engage the story with normal household items.
- Prayer and meditation on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. live on Facebook.
You can also expect an email from me every Monday morning with more information about the online programs we have planned for that week.
Community groups are how we make space for relationships to grow, and they serve a critical function in the life of our community. Our groups will continue to gather using video conferencing during this time. Your small group leader will send an email with a link to the video conference ahead of your usual meeting time. Meeting days and times will remain the same. It’s not too late to connect to a small group—you can visit tworiverschs.org/groups to find one that works for you.
Our solidarity partners are critical to the work of our church, and we will continue to support their work during this uncertain time. When you give, we give. We will send 10 percent of our offerings in this season directly to Fresh Future Farm, our partner who ensures that vulnerable members of our community have enough to eat.
We also will provide specific food and personal care items to community members who have a loss of income during this time. If you or someone you know needs help accessing food, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or your neighbors, coworkers, or friends are able to provide funds to make sure our friends are healthy and cared for, please also reach out directly.
Pastoral Care and Connection
Connecting with and caring for one another is, always, one of our community’s highest priorities. Over these coming weeks, please reach out to each other via text, phone, email or social media. Our pastoral care team is ready to connect with you as well. If there’s anything at all that you or your loved ones need during this time, please reach out to me directly by email at email@example.com and a member of our pastoral care team will reach out to you to set up a video chat, FaceTime, or phone call.
If you’re not already a member of our Two Rivers Conversations Facebook group, I’d encourage you to consider joining!
We are making these temporary adjustments to how we conduct life together at Two Rivers Church out of an abundance of caution and because we believe this is the responsible choice in the interest of public health. Please be assured that, as soon as it is safe for us to do so, we will be ecstatic to return to our in-person gatherings with one another.
One last thing. In my message to you last week, I referenced Paul’s letter to the Philippians. “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” These efforts we are making now are not made out of fear or anxiety. They are made with the full peace of God that guides our leadership and our community. Though we may be physically distant, we are connected to one another through God’s power, the gifts of technology, and our care for each other that surpasses any limitations.
Our core values remain the same: to follow the way of Jesus in ways that are creative, beautiful, inclusive, vulnerable and authentic. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in person and greeting you with a big hug very soon—but until then, take care of yourselves, take care of one another, and take care of those who are on the margins.
I’ll see you online!