Dear Beloved Community of the UCC in Simi Valley,
We are in the wilderness, an unknown, unfamiliar experience with regards to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Moment by moment we are learning new information. Please know, however, that you are our greatest concern, and we would like you to know that we are implementing health and safety precautions and measures to ensure the highest standards are in place in order to allow us to continue meeting, worshiping, and fellowshipping together.
As we continue to monitor and plan for the evolving situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact upon our church, we will continue to provide you updates. We appreciate your continued effort to read these e-mails so that we can best support congregants and visitors. We ask that you please make the necessary phone calls to those who don’t have e-mail access, so that they may receive the information as well. We also appreciate your staying in touch with us directly with your questions or concerns.
We are trying to anticipate COVID-19 scenarios so that we are prepared and your input is helpful.
The Department of Health recommends those who are most vulnerable to the virus, namely older people, e.g. over age 65, or those with diabetes, asthma, or immune system compromises, to stay home. There is currently no such directive from LA County or Ventura County for mandatory closures.
Council met on Saturday, March 14, to discuss alternatives and recommendations pertaining to various mandates concerning the COVID-19, and have determined that our Worship Gathering on Sunday, March 15, will be our last in-person Worship Gathering until further notice. As of Monday, March 16, the church building will be closed with certain exceptions (namely, Rev. Stacy and Wendy, our Administrative Assistant). If you need access to the building, you must make pre-arrangements with Chris White, our Trustee (she can be reached at (805) 750-5781 (cell) or (805) 499-5110 (home).
We will continue to meet as needed in order to reassess our decisions, reevaluate our recommendations, and make new considerations based upon new information as released from the Department of Health.
We will continue to utilize e-mail for more routine updates. We may institute a phone-tree, to allow for people who do not use e-mail to stay informed. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you check your e-mail inbox regularly, and read carefully messages sent from Rev. Stacy, Rebecca Lirette, Wendy Sengpiehl (administrator; firstname.lastname@example.org), and UCC Simi Valley (via MailChimp).
It is always a difficult, sometimes painful, decision to cancel an event or activity, especially when that event has been heavily advertised and is valuable for the spiritual, emotional, mental, and intellectual health and growth of our community. However, as of last week, nearly every organization, including faith congregations, have cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled events which have been planned for the months of March through May.
- Please be aware that a number of churches in the U.S. have enacted coronavirus-related closures.
- Please be mindful of the travel parameters and quarantine recommendations delineated by the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/travel-advice). Please notify us if you will be needing to quarantine yourself as a result of any traveling, by emailing Rev. Stacy.
- We are especially concerned for our higher risk folks and ask that you create “physical distancing” when possible.
- We have been prayerfully considering the benefits of cancelling over the benefits of holding an event. Please note that as of March 15, all in-person gatherings at the church building have been suspended until further notice. Such gatherings include worship, Beyonders, Women’s Gathering (second Saturday of the month), FFLUID, and Narcotics Anonymous. Worship, FFLUID, Narcotics Anonymous, and all meetings (Council, Deacons, Mutual Ministry, Transition Team, and other meetings) will be conducted virtually. Council is exploring various platforms to determine which one will best serve all the members of UCC-Simi. We will contact you as soon as we know how we will convene virtually, with all of the necessary details and information on joining us. Again, we ask that you advise anyone who does not have access to the internet so that they will not be left isolated and alone.
When any part of these plans change, we will notify you with as much advance notice as possible. Remember, with this particular virus, changes can occur rapidly. Be on the alert for communication from us! We don’t know what the coming days and weeks will bring.
Rather than practicing “social distancing,” it’s been suggested that we practice “physical distancing.” In this way, we can remain socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually connected with one another, with our friends, and with our family members. Phone calls, e-mails, text messages, and other communication forms will become even more vital in the days and weeks ahead. Stay connected!
While it is important to be kept informed and updated, it can become overwhelming and terrifying. If you are prone to excess worry, anxiety, or depression, take care of yourself and limit your news-watching and social media scrolling. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and panic is widespread. Take time to breathe deeply, and to pray.
I invite you to pray with me right now.
May your healing power flow
into a world consumed by fear
You hold all our times precious.
Now we submit to you our
seasons of despair and our seasons of hope
for your safe-keeping and blessing.
We ask your presence with us
and within us,
Now and forever.
Thank you for your support in helping our community navigate and plan for the novel coronavirus situation.
With grace and peace,
Rev. Stacy, Pastor
Rebecca Lirette, Moderator
PS: Now, go wash your hands!
*with thanks to Cameron Trimble and Walter Brueggemann