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March 16, 2020

My prayers and thoughts are with you all in this challenging time. I know it is frustrating to be cooped up at home and unable to go to church or work or even out to eat or engage in your normal recreation. As your pastor, I strongly encourage you to resist the temptation to do any of those things! If you are older or infirm, you are putting yourself at risk; if you are young, you are putting the older people in your life at risk because you could carry the disease back to them.

Until and unless we hear otherwise from government leaders and health care professionals, St. Stephen will observe the CDC warning against gatherings of more than 50 people for up to 8 weeks. That means no public worship. To be honest, given the descriptions of the threat, I have serious concerns about any gatherings at all other than possibly a handful of people, observing the proper precautions and practicing social distancing, to do particular projects. Because of this, I strongly discourage gathering for women’s circle or other normal events that take place off campus. This is only for a few weeks. Please take care of yourselves!.

Pursuant to above, I have contracted with a local videographer, Chuck Shanlever, to film our worship services in the sanctuary for the next eight weeks or more. We’ll post these services to FB and to the SSPC web page. These will include our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services as well as Easter itself.

Jordan and I will post Thursday Morning Prayers at the usual time of 7:00 am on the Facebook page. After that they’ll be added to the web page. Other methods of using social media to do church together will be explored.

Some of you have asked if St. Stephen needs extra money at this time. I certainly won’t turn it down, but I am also sensitive to other non-profits who are under far more stress than St. Stephen. This would be a good time to consider giving some extra money to the Presbyterian Night Shelter, the Center for Transforming Lives, DRC, or another non-profit that deals directly with vulnerable populations. I will stress, however, that it is important right now that we continue to receive your pledge. You’ll note that the “DONATE” button is now prominently displayed at the top of the St. Stephen web page. Online giving is the easiest, and right now probably the best, way to give to St. Stephen.

Pastoral care will continue, even if we have to do it via social distancing. Please send pastoral care requests to Anne at . She will pass it on to staff and the deacons.

I will keep you all informed as things develop. My prayers are with you all and everyone whose life is touched by St. Stephen.

Grace and peace,