Dear Peachtree Family,
I am so grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement you have provided for the church through these difficult weeks of “sheltering in place.” The massive effort on behalf of society both to slow and to prevent the spread of this pandemic is humbling as well as painful for so many. No aspect of our lives is left untouched either by the direct effects of the disease itself or the residual impact of our social distancing.
I have cried over the phone with one of you who cannot visit her loved one in a care facility. I have listened to the bewilderment of a business owner scrambling to salvage what was a thriving small company. I have prayed over the phone with a young adult so desiring to start a new family yet the corporate layoffs loom like a dark storm cloud. I have spoken with the high school senior who wonders whether or not college will be really open in the fall.
These are disruptive, uncertain, and isolating days. There is an urgent desire and need for the lives we once shared together. As a church, this means lifting our voices together in praise, hugging the friend you cherish, and dropping the child off for a Sunday School class or day at camp. These activities will come, but we must be patient.
Per Governor Kemp’s executive order this week, many of you have inquired as to the church’s plan for re-opening the campus. Sadly, my answer to that question will be a longer timeline than what any of us would wish. In consultation with the session as well as several medical experts, our approach toward moving back to filling our pews and normal programming will be slow, methodical, and deliberate.
This framework for decision-making is not based out of fear and timidity, but wisdom and vigilance. The safety and health of our congregation must be paramount as we begin the process of gathering in person. The structure of our plan includes the screening of staff, new procedures for cleaning and sanitation, and compliance with size regulations and types of activities. You can imagine the complexity of all that we do at Peachtree – from sports leagues to support groups to Vacation Bible School to musical ensembles. On a typical week, more than ten thousand people walk through the doors of our campus. The need to evaluate the risk of each particular ministry is not a responsibility I take lightly on your behalf.
At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Session, we determined that in the best interest of our church community, we will remain in online-only worship through Memorial Day Weekend. We will continue to monitor the advice of our civic leaders and health professionals as we move ahead with some of the early stages of our plan. This will not be a typical Summer as a larger society or as a local church. As soon as we have details about the months ahead, we will share them with you.
Thank you for the partnership we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which cannot be confined to a campus or hindered by a disease. Hope will rise from our efforts to encourage one another and our community. Already, hundreds of families have received food and prayers from our “Feeding the 5,000” compassion effort. Online engagement for Easter was the largest on record for Peachtree Presbyterian. The Spirit is at work in spite of our limitations, and one day we will gather together “face to face” beyond the dimness of the darkened mirror in which we find ourselves today. Yes, this is partial knowing of one another but one day we shall be fully known (1 Cor 13:12).
Until that day I am honored to be your pastor and friend.
With love in Christ,