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03/16/20 – What’s Happening @ WPC
Friends and Member of Westminster

As we are sure you are aware, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has given cause for rising concern both within Central Illinois and across the US. Pastor Denise and our Session has been closely monitoring the situation as it continues to develop, and at this time believes it to be in the best interest of our church and congregation to cancel upcoming events. Health and government officials have advised against any large gatherings in order to decrease the potential spread of the virus. Older adults and those with a weakened immune system, or pre-existing condition are at a greater risk and are encouraged to avoid large groups if at all possible. Avoiding close contact with other people is especially important to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

 

All Activities will be Cancelled

In the interest of caution, we have decided to suspend all in-house services and activities for the next two weeks. Suspended activities include all meetings, choir rehearsals, bible studies. The Men’s Coffee Fellowship will meet only if Panera is open. Additionally, the Parish House Occupants have also decided to cancel classes. This includes all Taiji classes and River City Music Therapy sessions. WICC (Westminster Infant Care Center) will also be closed during this time. As we approach March 30, we will reevaluate the situation and see if it will be safe to resume normal activity. Our hopes are that by taking these measures, we will help to slow the progression of this disease and protect individuals that might be at an increased risk.

The WestMark Food Pantry will still hand out food Monday morning (March 16) from 9 to 11 a.m.

 

Church Staff Will Remain in the Office

At this time, all church staff will remain working their normal hours. As quickly as this situation is changing, we will need to evaluate our needs on a day-to-day basis. To mitigate the office staff from getting sick we need to limit in-person interactions at the office and we will be closing our office to the public. If your business can be done over the phone or through email, please do so. We are here to attend to the needs of the church and congregation and answer any questions. With hospitals and retirement communities limiting visitation, we are aware that there may be unique pastoral needs. Please feel free to reach out to the office regarding any special needs. Pastor Denise will also be available during this time.

If no one is available to take your call, please leave a message on the voicemail and the staff will respond to these promptly. All the office phones are set up to send an email to that person when a message has been left, this is with the exception of Steve’s personal cell phone.

 

Worship Availability

Canceling in-house worship is no small matter. It is vital that we do not give up gathering together as the Church, especially in times of significant challenge and unrest. This is why we will continue to

research for a way to possibly have worship this Sunday, whether it be a pre-recorded video or live on Facebook. Although it won’t be in-house, we encourage you to join us as we worship God together remotely, however that may be. There will be more on that later this week.

 

Tithes and Offerings

We depend on our congregation to continue to support the church financially. If you usually bring your tithe and gift on Sundays, consider setting up online giving or an EFT. To give online visit CLICK HERE

 

 

Click on the link: “Westminster’s donation portal”

 

 

 

Clicking on the link: “Westminster’s donation portal” will open the giving page which will look like the diagram below.

You can do a one-time giving or set up automatic giving as often as you would like to give.

 

If you run into problems, you can contact Denise Wirth in the Financial Office and she can help you with your offering. You may also mail it to Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 W. Moss Avenue, Peoria, Illinois 61606.

We know that the financial turmoil has many worried about finances and some may need to curtail their giving. If you are not affected, we ask that you consider how you can support the church during this time.

 

Remain Vigilant

We continue to urge church members to follow the best health practices. Please wash your hands frequently with soap or use hand sanitizer. Cover any coughs/sneezes with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your elbow. Make sure that you clean and disinfect any frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, handles, phones, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If you are sick, stay home except to seek medical care.

 

Stay Connected

We appreciate your patience and concern as we continue to navigate this situation. It is important now, more than ever, that we remain faithful and continue our prayers for the world. Pray that those who are ill might finding healing, and those in distress might be filled with God’s peace. Strive to remain connected with our church family digitally via phone calls, emails, text messages or through social media. It can be very easy to become isolated during this time, so please make a conscious effort to check in with other church members. We will also make efforts to accommodate any essential meetings using the online platform, Zoom. Please allow for two days’ notice so that all necessary arrangements can be made. We will continue to provide updates as we monitor the situation over email, social media, and on the website. We look forward to the time when we will reconvene, but in the meantime, we will explore new avenues for remaining one in the body of Christ.

 

Be Encouraged

We do not have to cease all activity, just change how we do it, and there is plenty we can do without gathering in groups.

Something like this is unprecedented in our lifetime. This level of disruption of “routine” in American life has not been experienced since WWII. It is understandable to experience a range of emotions.  Reach out to others, your family, your friends, or call one of us and we will listen. Trust us, you are not alone. We are all experiencing this like a whirlwind.

Let the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 43:1-4a give us comfort at this time:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia[a] and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you,

 

Thank you for helping us to respond faithfully to the needs of our community.

In His Service
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Pastor Denise, Session, and Staff