Very Important Message from Pastor Steven
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM STEVEN KOSKI
Friends and members of First Presbyterian,
None of us expected to be in this strange new wilderness. But here we are. Someone told me they didn’t expect to have to give this much up for Lent. Our spiritual work right now is to prevent fear and anxiety from consuming us and ruling our lives. Our spiritual work is to trust in the Love from which we can never be separated and boldly and creatively be the presence of that Love in the midst of this crisis.
Last Sunday was a first as we worshipped online. It was not fear or panic that compelled us to worship online. It was an act of care. We are keeping a physical distance, changing our behavior, and learning new ways to live for the healing of the world. We are sacrificing to protect the most vulnerable and at risk among us. We are sacrificing to give doctors, nurses and hospitals a fighting chance. All of the closures, cancellations and disruptions to our everyday life can generate a sense of foreboding and fear. What if we chose to see it, instead, as an amazing act of solidarity and love? These kinds of sacrifices for the sake of others is what the love of Jesus looks like.
We offered what many shared was a meaningful online worship experience. Well over 1000 people shared in the experience and it will remain posted on our website and Facebook page for your access at any time. We will continue online worship on Sundays until it is safe again to gather as a large group. We are also worshipping online on Wednesdays at noon.
Our building is closed to all activity and will remain so until we are informed it is safe again to open the doors and welcome groups. But, just as not worshipping in the sanctuary didn’t stop us from worshipping together, closing the building won’t stop us from being the church. Remember: we are the church…the Body of Christ in the world…and this is our calling in this moment…to be a non-anxious, loving presence…to control the things that we can control…and to trust God with the rest. Last Sunday, for worship online, I said, “Remember you are loved. And, promise this hurting world your love. And, with God’s grace, we’ll get through this. But we will only get through this together.
Please know your Pastors remain available to you. The Pastors, Deacons and Session members are continuing to call and make contact with our most vulnerable members. Let us know if you are aware of any who need us to reach out to them. If you have an emergency pastoral need, please call the church office at 541-382-4401. The church office is closed, but messages are checked regularly. The staff is working remotely, but they can be contacted via email. We are doing the best we can to continue to serve you, the church and the wider community throughout this challenging time.
Below is more information and details as to how we are trying our best to faithfully respond to the COVID-19/Coronavirus:
WHAT WE ARE DOING.
- Offering online Sunday worship at 10am on our website and Facebook as long as necessary.
- Offering online Wednesday noon worship, on our website and Facebook.
- Closing our building to all church and outside activities until it is safe again to welcome groups.
- We will be offering small group opportunities for spiritual growth and connection during this time using Zoom and other online mediums. Stay tuned for more details.
- The office is closed. Mail and messages are checked regularly. If you have needs or questions, please email or call the church office at 541-382-4401.
- We are attempting to contact and check in with every person in our directory. We are hoping to regularly check with our most vulnerable and at-risk members and friends. Please let us know if there is someone we should reach out to.
- We are following guidelines set forth by the CDC and WHO as it relates to visiting our sick and vulnerable members.
- We have set up Pandemic Partners-Bend on Facebook. We are supporting Pastor Morgan to devote all of her time to lead this effort. The way the community is supporting one another through this vehicle is inspirational. This effort launched by the First Presbyterian staff has been picked up by KTVZ, CO Daily, OPB, NPR and local radio stations.WHAT YOU CAN DO
- PRAY. As people of faith, we believe in the importance of prayer, especially for the most vulnerable and those at risk. Pray for our leaders at every level that they might have the wisdom, courage and compassion to lead us through this crisis.
- BE SAFE. Together we can make a difference in the spread of this virus. When in doubt, don’t go out. Staying home saves lives. And if you have a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.
- WORSHIP. Join us Sunday mornings online at 10am. Invite others. Join us Wednesdays at noon for worship. Let us know if you need help with the technology. We will help you.
- GIVE. Please continue to generously support God’s work through First Presbyterian. Your generosity is needed now more than ever. We created Pandemic Partners -Bend with now over 6000 members helping the community care for one another. We are continuing to serve those in need. We had well over 1000 people join us for online worship. Not meeting in person for worship places a big strain on our finances. We need your support so that we can continue to be a strong presence of love and hope in this challenging time. Gifts can be mailed in or made online at www.bendfp.org/giving. You can also text 541-516-1495with the amount you wish to donate then press send. You will receive a registration link. Click the link and enter your contact and payment information. Tap “Process.”
- LEAD. Show others by your attitude and actions that your life won’t be dictated by fear, but instead by faith and love. Be the non-anxious presence you hope to see in others. Reach out. Check in with others. Call, text, write a note. Before sharing pandemic information, however, please share as current and accurate information as possible. You can check local, state, federal and international sources such as the Deschutes County Health Department, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”), the federal Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and the World Health Organization. We’re all in this together and together we will get through this.
Here is the prayer that was shared in our online worship last Sunday:
Let us pray:
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving
their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children
when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the
tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home at all.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms\around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
We’re in this together. And, with God’s grace we will get through this. Together. Grateful to walk alongside you and be the presence of love and hope with you as we make our way through this new wilderness,
We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate as necessary.