Tuesday, March 17 Update: Covid-19 and all things Fair Street Church

Tuesday, March 17 Update: Covid-19 and all things Fair Street Church

Dear Fair Streeters,                                                                                                                 

These are interesting times as we find ourselves navigating our way through the worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus. We hope that you are taking care of yourself and doing what you can to stay healthy, stay home and help ‘flatten the curve’.  We find ourselves living in the tension of remaining calm and having perspective, but also taking this seriously. There are many questions as to how this impacts Fair Street.

At Fair Street, we are erring on the side of caution and taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the Fair Street Community is doing our part to live into the social distant request and remain connected.

Please know that while we seemed to have found a new rhythm, as things change and new information comes in, we are adjusting as necessary. We know that this is a lengthy read, but we are working to be as transparent and provide as much information as we can to help you make the decisions needed to be safe and to stay home. Here is what we are doing at this point:

How are we going to worship during this time? On Sunday, March 15 we were open for worship in which 31 people gathered spread throughout the sanctuary. Sadly, this would be our last time that we would be able to gather in person until further notice. To help flatten the curve and respond to the mandate that we are not to have gatherings over 10 at this time, moving forward for Sunday, March 22 and 29, worship will be offered through a Zoom Video. The link along with instructions for worship, along with the morning liturgy will be emailed out. The link will be posted on Facebook.  As we all stay home on Sunday morning, grab your coffee or tea, your Bible, and join us! During this time, we do invite you to consider how you can continue your faithful offerings and contributions … two of the best ways to do this are through mailing it to the church office or clicking here to our very secure online giving page. We thank you in advance for your faithful support for the work and ministry of Fair Street. (We are aware and already working on the gatherings we were planning for the rest of Lent and Holy Week and preparing for some alternative options should the need still be present).

Is my Ministry Team still meeting? At this point, it is safe to assume that your meeting is NOT taking place. Pastor Kendra has suspended ALL in-person Ministry Team Meetings at this point until further notice (including Praise Team, Choir and Handbells). Should there be a need for a team to meet, Pastor Kendra and the Chairperson will make the decision and come up with a way in which we will be able to meet and will let you know. However, at this point please do not come to your previously scheduled meetings. If you have questions, you can reach out to Pastor Kendra or call the Church Office.

What are we doing about people entering the building? Over the past two days, we have heard the directive and strong urge that gatherings not exceed 10 people. For this reason, we are closing the building and are asking groups to suspend their meetings. It is a difficult decision, but in order to do our part to help flatten the curve this is something we feel we must do. There will be signs on the doors that will ask people to call the Church Office with any questions prior to entering the building. Our custodians have been super busy and faithful in coming in each day to clean and sanitize the frequently contacted spaces, and by closing the building, this will allow them to stay on top of the daily cleaning. The Church Office is currently closed to visitors and drop-ins. Please stay home and CALL the Church Office with your questions, concerns or needs. 

Is the Office still open during this time? We have altered our Office Hours for the current moment from 10am-12noon. At this time, because the building is closed, we feel it is ok to be here during these hours to help with fielding calls, tending to administrative work that cannot be done off site. Pastor Kendra will be working remotely from home the rest of the time. You are always welcome to email, call or text her should you have a need or question. Should the Office close or Office hours change, we will be sure to let you know.

Is the Fairly New Thrift Shop still open? Right now, for the safety of the many volunteers and customers the Thrift Shop is CLOSED until further notice. 

Is the Fair Street Nursery School open? The Nursery School is follows the decisions of Kingston Public School System when it comes to closures. Additionally, with the directive of the Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, they are closed for the next two weeks and will resume classes the same time KCSD are allowed to return. Nursery School Director, Cathy Maletta is connecting with the students on Facebook Live with book readings for the children.

I’m now home during the week and thought about going to Bible Study, is it still happening? Bible Study in person, around the table IS SUSPENDED until further notice.  HOWEVER, Pastor Kendra has set up a Zoom Video meeting in which you are invited to join us for an hour of reading the scripture text, asking questions and learning together. By clicking on this link, you are invited to join us https://zoom.us/j/135552715! Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, grab your Bible and get to Bible Study on Wednesdays at 9am! 

What are some ways that I can help? We live in a world where being relational and going out with friends for coffee or to play games is normal and desired. However, right now, these seem to be on hold. It will be important to stay connected, call your friends and fellow Fair Streeters to check in with them and catch up on how everyone is doing. Send notes to our friends in the residential homes. Send notes to our first responders, nurses, doctors, and leaders who are responding and caring for this community during this time.  Pray. Pray for the many lives impacted during this time. Pray for the ones who are extending care, risking their lives by going out and responding. Pray for your Consistory and Pastor, as together they navigate and lead the Fair Street Community through what it means to remain socially distant and safe while remaining connected. 

What is the Consistory doing during this time? The Consistory has been corresponding over email and phone. This past Saturday, the Elders met briefly to discuss next steps. Over the weekend, the Consistory made phone calls to everyone in the congregation to check in, they will continue to do this as a means to remain connected. If you have not received a phone call or message, please let the Church Office or Pastor Kendra know. If you are curious who your Care Elder and Deacon are, Pastor Kendra or Ellen can let you know this information also.

What is Pastor Kendra doing regarding pastoral care, and what should I do if I have a pastoral emergency or need?

It’s true that this is challenging times for ministers to extend pastoral care, especially because the bulk of their time is spent in person and is so relational. However, Pastor Kendra has been working hard to create opportunities to check in with folks. Please be patient as nursing homes and hospitals now have restricted protocols on visitors. Please know that while there are visiting restrictions, Pastor Kendra is available to offer pastoral care over the phone. She is still working to be as assessible as the officials allow her and is adapting accordingly. If you have a pastoral need or would like a prayer, please know you can reach her on her cell phone and she will gladly talk with you. Pastor Kendra has said Pandemic 101 is not something they teach in seminary, so we’re just navigating through this with the rest of the world. 

  • Kids Corner Daily Check in with PK: Pastor Kendra is showing up each day on a video chat room with the kids of Fair Street every day they are out of school at 3pm! This will give the kids an opportunity to see their friends, share their day, hear a Bible story, share their concerns and have a prayer together. On Wednesdays, Valerie Percy (one of the Children and Worship leaders) is going to share a Children and Worship story over the video chat with the kids. (Keep your eyes open! It might be that if it goes well, Pastor might invite you all to a video check in for adults!) 
  • Daily Blog Reflection: Pastor Kendra is going to be working each day to share a daily Lenten reflection for you all. This will be shared on the church website under the Pastor’s Blog page. This is new for all of us, how do we create a sense of community, support and connection as we are in a new rhythm of life these days? What does it mean to be grounded and nourished, how do we feed our souls and faith during this time? These are some of the topics that she’ll be reflecting on. 
  • There is a Zoom video check in for anyone interested scheduled for Friday, March 20 at 10am. The link will be emailed out, but click here https://zoom.us/j/333782008 and it will lead you to the meeting. 

Whew, we know this was a lot, but we are also grateful for your presence, your willingness to work with us and be in ministry together as we seek God’s leading in ways to remain connected, provide support and be the light and love of Jesus in a world that is hurting and struggling right now, that allows us to love our neighbor with no exceptions.

Know that we are praying for you, and in this together with you. 

Leading in grace, walking in love,

The Fair Street Reformed Church Consistory

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