Covid-19 Updates to the Congregation

A Message from Scott Minor – April 28, 2020

Pandemic, COVID-19, isolation, quarantine, social distancing, confirmed vs. probable cases, masks, sanitizer, hand washing—

         What a change the last five weeks has brought to our lives. On February 19, I turned 48 years old. Not a milestone birthday. Another year gone by. Words and blessings from friends both near and far. The “Rona” was beginning. To be honest, it was not on my radar. Scattered news reports from far overseas had little impact on how I was living from day to day. Life was packed full. Most evenings had at least one meeting or activity planned. A super conscious effort needed to be made to take some down time. Sharyn will tell you I was too busy, and did not take enough time for myself.

         And then… March 13. As the weeks progressed from my birthday to that date, COVID-19 made itself known here in the USA–in a big way! Largely populated areas begin the climb. Statewide numbers started to rise. Predictions were made, adjusted, re-evaluated, readjusted, and made again. Panic buying became the norm. (TP? A run on TP? Really? I have to search to buy TP?) And still, I doubted. I looked up flu numbers for comparison. I downplayed the danger. I assumed things would change slightly, but life could go on as we know it. And then, the governor issued the first stay at home order. No school for the three weeks, starting on March 16. I was… stunned. Reality sets in. And then the report of a case in T-county. Who I later learned is someone I knew from work.

         The changes came one after the other. No school. Sky home from college as classes were shut down, and then the dorms. Restaurants being closed to dine in. Even worse panic buying. Non-essential businesses being told to close. Shelter at home orders are put in place. Daily briefings from Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton. Watching the numbers climb, hearing the concerns about hospitals having enough equipment and room for the potential flood of severe cases. School buildings closed for the rest of the year. Strange and chaotic times.

         It feels like the stuff of a Hollywood movie. Almost surreal in its impact. We are almost six weeks removed from that March day. I have learned a whole new Pandemic vocabulary. I have seen my wife adjust to teaching from home, via the computer. Trying to maintain “contact” and relationships with her students. I have talked with other educators of their struggles. I have spoken with parents who are worried about money because they are laid off. Other parents who are now “teaching” their children. And realizing that education has changed, in a lot of ways, over the last two to three decades.

         We are now in a “new normal.” And what does that mean? I have no clue. I believe each person will have their own definition. No longer do we have a lot of the same basics to draw from. Other than being stuck at home, we are all walking a different road as we deal with this situation. I have no clue what the mindset is for an essential worker as they go to work each day.

         I am so, so, so blessed to not have a financial worry. For someone who is unemployed, how do they handle the stress of making each and every dollar stretch even farther. If a parent is overwhelmed by their child’s schoolwork, how do they cope?

         Life for me is very static. We are staying home as much as possible. We are limiting our trips to the store and making them as quick as possible. I have done more cooking in the last six weeks than I have done in the last six months. I do this to stay busy, since I cannot go anywhere. And, truth be told, I am not a fan of this new normal in my life.

         I struggle most with the isolation. I love my wife. I adore my wife. She is an absolute saint for being married to me. Lots of folks have appreciated the opportunity to dial down. This is almost a forced time of relaxation. And for the first week or so, I did as well. A chance to read and rest and binge watch, and shutdown the active part of my life. But I realized something super quick. Most of what I enjoy in life involves people. Friday nights playing games or cards. Thursday night darts. My severe auction habit. To truly abide by what was being asked, that all went away. I enjoy being around people. As a social animal, I crave the interaction. I am an extrovert. And I miss shaking hands and giving hugs and standing and discussing everything and nothing all at once.

         What is most disheartening is the feeling that this will never end. I know that is not true. At some point, the “old way” of doing things will re-emerge, to some extent. Aspects of this experience (sanitizer and PPE and cleaning practices) are going to be a part of our lives for years and years to come. And that is a good thing. I have always believed the adage that what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.

         I know my struggles are not unique. This is an imperfect time in an unusual situation. These are days of survival. When this is all over, I want to focus on reconnecting. In person. Face to face. Technology is grand. And has been invaluable as a coping mechanism during these abnormal times. But I want to pat someone on the shoulder, look them in the eye from less than six feet away, and ask “How have you been?” Ordinarily, during stressful times we would rely on our church family to support us. We would know that Sunday morning would have us surrounded by Christian friends, there to lift us up. And the option to physically gather is not available at this point. I cannot wait for that first Sunday when we can gather in the sanctuary and worship together.

         Please take care of yourselves. First and foremost, do what is best for your health. Know that you do not struggle alone. If you need it, reach out. Make a call. Send a text. Have a video chat. Give someone the chance to be your support. That opportunity to reach out might be what they need to put a smile in their world as well.

A Message from  Pastor  John – March 27, 2020

A Message to the  Congregation – March 17, 2020

Dear Flock,

Today, I share with you some very important information from our Joint Board and Staff Meeting on Monday, March 16. We have entered a time that is raw and uncertain for us concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision was made by the Joint Board to cancel all church activities for the next four Sundays through Easter Sunday on April 12, 2020. This will include: All worship services, Lenten meals and programs, Holy Week readings, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, Sunday School, choir practices, youth activities, VBS, and Bible Studies. Any extended suspension of service will be evaluated and determined after April 12. The communication will be made through the churchs website, the One Call Nowsystem, letters, and through our new Shepherds Phone Tree.

Here are many ways to help you stay connected to your community of faith. Let me share some of these positive and helpful steps:

  1.      Go to our website for the latest details about the church familys good news. Our website is: doverfirstmoravianchurch.org
  2.      Monday night we divided up the congregation into smaller flocks of friends and assigned a member of the Joint Board to each group. You will be receiving a call from your Shepherds Phone Tree team.
  3.      We will gather volunteers for our Care Go-For Team” – people willing to help those members in need with errands, purchases, and other issues as needed. I am looking for volunteers to help with this project. Please call the church office to volunteer.
  4.      You will hear daily One Call Nowupdates. If you are not on the One Call Now, call the church office and we can place your name in the system.
  5.      A worship component is being developed as we speak and will be accessed on our website by Sunday, March 29. Look for those messages of grace coming to you soon. Until then, tune into the Provincial Moravian service at: Moravian.org
  6.      Our office and staff will remain working until Tuesday, March 24, when the Board of Trustees will re-allocate personnel, and adjust office hours accordingly.
  7.      CEC is trying to put together a plan to provide materials for family members and their children.

We have taken a lot of new steps in this ministry. I think I have given you enough for now to mull over and sort out. Our lives will remain altered for some time to come. I will do my best to stay in touch with you as we collectively fight this COVID-19 pandemic, with Gods grace and your help.

I close with a reading from the 175th Anniversary booklet. 1918 was a difficult year for our congregation. With WWI raging, eight young men were in the military service, and an influenza (Spanish Flu) gripped the nation. As a result of the epidemic, a decision was made to close the church from October to mid- December. Diary entries indicated that this was a wise decision, as no deaths were reported from within the church family. Comparing this to experiences of other congregations in the Northern Province, Dover was blessed.(Thank you, Lee Elliott, for your writings.)

The mission field has come home to Dover. We are blessed. We have each other. We have a loving Lord. We can still connect with each other via social media or simple phone calls. Call a neighbor today and tell them how much you love them.

Stay healthy. You are loved. Godspeed,

Pastor John

John B. Wallace, Pastor

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