About This Sunday’s Worship Service and Other Updates

Members and Friends,

Worship is the most fundamental reason we exist as a church. It’s what separates us from any other nonprofit service organization (who we still work closely with), and what draws our attention out of ourselves and toward the Divine. Worship this Sunday will be online only, both on our usual Facebook livestream, and through Zoom as well. Why two options? We don’t want to stop streaming through Facebook for those who find it convenient, but Zoom will provide us with ways to record in better quality, additional, interactive, features, and will not require participants to have a Facebook account.

This past Tuesday evening, the Church Council, which met via conference call, decided to postpone our in-person worship services for at least the next two Sundays, since we would have more than the CDC’s recommended 10 or fewer attendees, and to continue to avoid putting any of our members at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Council also voted to have our Moderator, John Shore, create a Health & Safety Task Force, comprised of health care providers, who will work to keep church members and leaders informed of developments as our situation continues to unfold, as well as suggest practices that will help us keep our congregation safe. This task force is chaired by Jeannie Hobson.

You can join the Worship Service through Zoom here: https://zoom.us/j/364596493

Have any questions about how to use zoom, or want to see a video about how to load it onto your computer?  Try this quick video tutorial.

Other Church Updates:
Our Director of Facilities, Technology, and Communication, Kim Williams, will be working from home while Fresno’s “Stay-in-Place” directive is in effect. The church’s phone number has been forwarded to a mobile phone, so Kim is still answering calls made to the church. Please refrain from coming to the Church Office for any “non-essential” or non-urgent reasons.

The Pantry Committee has put together some bags of food for those experiencing food insecurity at this time, which will be brought out to anyone who requests one, or delivered to those who should refrain from going out.

If you are willing to deliver food to your neighbors, please email me to indicate your interest.

Randy Oftedal, in consultation with Pastor Raygan and Jeannie Hobson, has decided to cancel this month’s Free Food Friday, so as to not put any of our volunteers or guests in situations of increased risk.

If you need pastoral care, food, other supplies or other forms of support, please email me.

Please remember, friends, that even while activities, events, and programs at the church are being adapted, postponed, and canceled, being the Church is never canceled. Take care of one another, call and check in on one another and your neighbors, pick up supplies for those who should not leave home, and rather than be discouraged or give in to fear, be a blessing to others through these uncertain times.

Pastor Raygan

PS: Color your prayers and ease your anxiety: coloring pages for kids and the young at heart.(We’re looking for our colored pencils right now!)

Prayer One | Prayer Two | Prayer Three

Updates About this Weekend

Beloved Big Red Family,
With very heavy hearts, Council leadership and I have decided to cancel and reschedule this weekend’s special events, and to make significant modifications to our worship services. We will not be holding our Pot ‘O Gold Pantry Fundraiser Friday evening, and my Installation will be postponed and rescheduled once we know we can do so safely. Worship on Sunday morning will be moved to the Fellowship Hall, and adapted to limit physical contact. Our Wednesday evening Lenten Soup Suppers and Learning Circle will be cancelled until further notice. Please, if you feel sick with any symptoms, or are in an especially high-risk group, please stay home and let me know. I would like to check in on you. 
These decisions were not made lightly, and with much awareness of our shared anticipation for these events, and with shared grief for our volunteers who have poured so much time, effort, and resources into these events. To do our part to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, we are following the directives issued by Gov. Newsom, in conversation with our NCNC Conference leadership, and after speaking directly with Fresno County Public Health officials to confirm the importance of following these protocols locally. You can find their specific guidelines and recommendations for limiting the spread here
Like many challenges of today—climate change, mass extinction, racism, environmental destruction, resource inequity—the Coronavirus threat is both personal and collective. On the one hand, we fear for ourselves and our families. We want to insulate, isolate, protect. On the other hand, solutions to challenges like this one come in community. 
  • The Whidbey Island Institute 
Church, our task is to care for each other both individually and collectively. I know that we can follow the directions of social distancing while not spiritually distancing from each other. It is in this spirit, and out of concern for our members, community, and loved ones in higher-risk groups and with compromised immune systems, that we decided to support the larger Fresno community in being proactive and to avoid putting people at risk. 
In this moment of increased concern and anxiety, let’s use this as an opportunity to actually strengthen the fabric of our community. Could this occasion actually build up our spiritual life together? Even if not in person, we are still connected through the Body of Christ, and we still need our community and collective resources. Please call and check in on your elderly neighbors and those whom you know having underlying conditions, or who have self-quarantined. If you’ve self-quarantined, please let people close to you know, so that we can support each other. Let us all remember the community we have here and the covenant that we share. Let this moment be a time to build up the Body of Christ.
With Love, 
Pastor Raygan