ALC and COVID-19

Beloved Siblings in Christ,

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in Colorado and beyond and the best information coming from our public health officials is that the virus spreads quickly and readily at times and in places where people gather.  Pastor Valerie has just today heard from our bishop, Jim Gonia, that the governor of New Mexico has asked faith communities to refrain from gathering for the next several weeks.  He will have a conference call tomorrow (Friday) afternoon with our own Governor Polis and anticipates a similar request.

Your Pastor, Congregation Council, and I have been in discernment and discussion about creative ways to grow, live, and share faith in light of a global pandemic and were not unprepared for this eventuality.  We had already planned and prepared to offer worship virtually through a live stream on YouTube for those who chose to stay home to stay safe.  We have the technology and creativity to do that and will begin to live stream worship this Sunday morning, March 15 at 9:30am.  A live-stream means that you will be able to participate in the worship service as it is happening, from the comfort and safety of your home.  In the next couple of days, we will be sending the link and instructions about how to access the live stream in a separate email with the subject line: live streaming ALC worship.

Although we know that worshipping together is an important and sacred part of our faith life, and we recognize that worshipping via technology will not be the same and there are certain to be growing pains, the Congregation Council, Pastor Valerie, and I have decided to cancel all in-person worship and other ALC gatherings and events effective immediately.

Certainly this is not a situation any of us hoped for, but this decision has been made for the good of the body of Christ and in response to Jesus’ call to love and care for the most vulnerable among us.  As the leaders of the congregation we take seriously God’s call to faithfully care for this congregation in body, mind, and spirit and this solution seems the most loving way to do that at this time.  We invite you to participate in this faithful care of one another and yourself by, as much as possible, conducting church business via telephone and/or internet rather than in person.

We also understand and appreciate that it is important to you to be able to support the mission and ministry of ALC, even (perhaps especially) in the midst of this fear and uncertainty.  We will, therefore, also send an email in the next couple of days encouraging and explaining online or text giving.  The subject line of that email will be: Online Giving to ALC.

You are an important and valued part of this faith community.  We love you.  And although we will miss being together and look forward to the time that we can once again gather in our sanctuary to worship, both faithful science and faithful discipleship persuade us that this is the most loving and healthful journey for ALC this Lent.

As much as this may be hard news to receive and perhaps not what you hoped to hear, you may be confident that the council made these decisions in love, with the goals of serving God and respecting and caring for the most vulnerable members of this congregation and our larger community. We will continue to faithfully discern how to keep us all healthy and how to share information to keep us as connected as possible while medical professionals get a handle on this thing, and we will continue our mission together as children of God!  We have also set a hard date of April 8 to meet, most likely virtually, to discern what, if any, steps we can take to return to worshiping and celebrating the Lord’s Supper together in the flesh for Holy Week and Easter.

In Christ’s love,
Mark Hinkle
Congregation Council President