April 3, 2020
Dear friends of Lewinsville,
During this season with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many of us are living with anxiety and fear and grief. These are normal human reactions. Many of us can feel overwhelmed by the news and by the scope of the problem. This is also normal. We do not need to feel badly for having normal human reactions. As we move through these days, there are several things that we can bear in mind that may help during this time.
Be kind. In times of high anxiety, it can be a natural reaction to close down towards others or to lash out at them. If we find ourselves doing this, we shouldn’t beat up on ourselves because, after all, we’re human beings and we’re imperfect. But we can also set an intention for ourselves to be kind to others and to ourselves. We can remember that others are also living under great stress, which may help us to respond more compassionately if they are acting in ways that are less than constructive. (We can also extend that same compassion to ourselves if we are the ones who are being less than constructive!)
Remember the poor. The effects of this pandemic will fall most heavily – as is the case with virtually all disasters and crises – on those who are most vulnerable. The homeless, the poor, the refugees, those who have very little in the way of a safety net or support network. This crisis will fall very heavily on them, and it is up to those of us who have resources to marshal those resources and to advocate for their deployment in ways that bring help and relief to those who will need it the most.
Notice the small blessings. In the midst of the great challenges we are facing, we can set an intention for ourselves to keep our hearts and minds, our eyes and ears, open to notice the small acts of kindness, the moments of tender mercy, and the glimpses of beauty that will cross our path. These blessings will happen because the universe is like that. But it is also possible to miss them entirely, especially if our minds are clouded with too much resentment or cynicism or fear.
Trust in God for guidance. God never promised us a smooth ride. The road of life is often bumpy. That is the reality of life. But God does promises to be with us every step of the way, “to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). God promises to guide us, all along the way, if we will listen for God’s leading.
If the church can help or support you in any way during this time, do not hesitate to reach out. If you know of someone in special need – whether that need is related to the coronavirus pandemic or not – do not hesitate to reach out. We will get through this. Together.
March 19, 2020
Dear friends of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church,
We wanted to share with you the most recent updates from Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, regarding ways that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact our congregational life in the coming days. These are unprecedented times through which we are living. The church will continue to seek to make wise choices about our life together, while living in abiding trust and hope in the grace of God.
In light of recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as guidance from the President and other federal authorities, the Session met this past Tuesday evening (via videoconference on the Zoom platform), and voted to adopt the following changes to our congregation’s life:
- Public, in-person worship will be suspended until May 17, 2020, pending further guidance from the CDC. This breaks our hearts in any number of ways because worship is at the center of the church’s life. This decision is especially difficult at this time, because Holy Week and Easter take place during this period. Moreover, this period includes Pastor Annamarie’s final Sunday with us. However, our sense is that this is the responsible, necessary thing to do.
- On-Line Worship: As we did this past Sunday, we will continue to provide regular Sunday worship on-line throughout this period, through the church’s website. This will include worship services during Holy Week, and we will be in touch with you about those details.
- Church-sponsored activities, meetings, groups, rehearsals and classes will not take place on the Lewinsville campus during that same period (until May 17, pending further guidance from the CDC). This includes Ministry Group and committee meetings, Christ Care Small Group meetings, rehearsals, youth fellowship, and any other church-sponsored activity. As mentioned above, we have already begun to have videoconference meetings on the Zoom platform. The church has the ability to host several concurrent videoconferencing meetings on Zoom. If you or your church committee/group would like to use that capacity, please let me know, and we can get you set up.
- The church building will be closed to outside groups during this same period (until May 17, pending further guidance from the CDC). This affects all outside groups, including the 12-step groups that use our facility. Signs have been posted to this effect on the church doors.
- Staff/Office Hours: The work of the church and the church staff continues during this time; however, staff are being encouraged to do whatever they can from their homes. Staff will be checking voicemail and email regularly, so please reach out to us, especially with pastoral needs and concerns. There may be a bit of a delay in our response, but we are going to remain in regular contact with you.
- Ongoing ministry: We are all going to be figuring out what ministry looks like during this (hopefully, temporary) season. The staff are in conversation about how to continue to provide pastoral care, Christian education, worship, and more during this time.
- Stewardship and Giving during this season: Though we will not be gathering for in-person worship, the ongoing ministry of the church continues to need your support. There are several ways you can support the church with your giving:
- The easiest way for you to give during this season will be with our on-line giving option. CLICK HERE to go directly to our online donations page.
- You can text your credit card contribution by sending a text message with your intended donation amount ($xx.xx) to 703-270-0451. Then respond to the form you will be sent.
- You may mail in a check to the church office, and those checks will be deposited once each week.
Though much seems to be changing, the love and grace of God remains steadfast and constant. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult” (Psalm 46:2-3). This is one of those times when we are reminded that the church is so much more than a building; we are a living community of people, even when we are not able to be with each other personally.
During this unique time of separation, our pastors and leadership want you to know that our connection with each other and to you remains strong. While our staff are working remotely, we can be reached via email and voicemail. Please let us know if you have any pastoral care needs, or if you become aware of those of others, whether those needs are related to the coronavirus or not. And as always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at the church.
In Christ’s love and peace,
USEFUL LINKS and HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS
Resources for organizations that need help: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/covid19/donate-help
Fairfax County coronavirus updates (this week there have been daily updates). Go to this page and scroll down to subscribe: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/chairman/
Fairfax county information on COVID-19: https://fairfaxcountyemergency.wpcomstaging.com. It’s in blog format, so scroll down to read the daily topics.
Call for help from SHARE: https://www.lewinsville.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Share_of_McLean_COVID_19_response.pdf
Call for help from Second Story: https://www.second-story.org/news/our-immediate-covid-19-needs/
Christ House: Christ House provides health care to sick, homeless persons in the District of Columbia and assists them in addressing critical issues to help break the cycle of homelessness. Lewinsville Presbyterian Church volunteers have bought and served dinner at Christ House for over 20 years! While Christ House has temporarily suspended volunteer activities and prepared food donations during the coronavirus crisis, they are in urgent need of non-perishable food items, including: whole wheat sliced bread, canned green beans, canned baked beans, canned pinto beans, canned black eyed peas, ketchup, mayo, ground coffee, soy sauce, and olive oil.
If you are grocery shopping in the next few days and able to pick up some of these items, Lewinsville will have donation boxes outside the (side) church entrance during the following days/times:
Friday, April 3, 2020 12noon-2pm
Saturday, April 4, 2020 9am-11am
Please observe the recommended coronavirus precautions regarding social distancing when making your donation. If another person is at the donation box, please wait in your car until they return to their car before placing your donation in the boxes. Volunteers will remove the filled boxes at the end of each donation time and deliver the items to Christ House on Saturday afternoon. If you would like to help but cannot make a food donation, please consider donating via the Christ House web site
Thank you very much for your support of our mission partners..