Dear Members and Friends of the First Presbyterian Church in Victor:
We are now in our third month of a new reality: in life, work, school, church, and relationships. No one is ever fully prepared for this scale of rapid change, and many are now facing very significant challenges tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. We grieve the loss of life, the loss of employment and economic security, and in our faith family, the inability to gather in large groups together face to face. We miss seeing your faces, hearing your voices, and being close enough for a handshake or a hug.
We also delight in the many ways so many of you have been participating in the ongoing active life of ministry we still share. In gathering virtually for our multiple worship and prayer services each week, continuing in small groups for fellowship and study, continuing to financially support the mission of the church, and the innumerable acts of kindness and service you all have offered your neighbors, the church is alive and well. Thank you for being the body of Christ.
With NY State recently moving towards a “phased reopening”, many have been wondering about how that will impact the timing of being able to reopen our church facility. As you may know, churches are in Phase 4 of the state plan. As such they are among the last group of facilities to open. This is due to the extensive public use, enclosed spaces, extended exposure times, multigenerational intermingling, high percentages of medically vulnerable people, and challenges with regular and thorough sanitization. Gathering in large groups right now is simply a significant risk for the health and wellbeing of God’s children.
Your Session and I met earlier this week and have made the decision to keep the church facility closed until at least Labor Day (September 7th). This decision was made for this simple purpose of caring for our whole community, and especially those who may be most vulnerable within it. Following the biblical mandate to take care of the most vulnerable in society this decision helps us collectively bear witness to the precious worth of all people. We will not place the widows and orphans, the seniors and medically frail, the first responders and single parents at risk by gathering too soon without further clarity about how to do so safely. Our standard for reopening the facility will be to do so only when we are able to with a reasonable certainty that it is safe for the general public.
The church is not closed. Our ministries of proclamation, teaching, caring, doing life together in fellowship and community, and bringing life and hope to God’s children who surround us continue in full. Please take advantage of any and all of these opportunities faithfully and creatively being offered to you by the leadership of your active church. We will continue to provide, expand, and improve our offerings in this season. New educational opportunities are coming. Our Youth Group is starting back up. We are getting new equipment and technical skills to improve our livestreaming and recorded video teachings. The Deacons are continuing to reach out and are working towards additional opportunities to connect with each other. We are still fully committed to our mission commitments financially, and in direct service when possible. The church is alive and active.
One of the great blessings coming to us is the arrival of our new student intern from Columbia Theological Seminary. Alfred Appiah will be joining our ministry team starting June 1st, 2020. He will be with us through the whole summer and is looking forward to connecting with you, offering leadership with devotional times, prayer, our Youth Group, and Christian education. Alfred comes to us from the country of Ghana and we are very excited to partner in this way with our sister church in another part of the world. We all have an opportunity here to expand our understanding of God’s presence and activity, and to delight in connecting with the church beyond our local community.
We are still fully staffed and fully committed to our mission tithing. This is only possible because of your continued care and financial support for the ministry. We are so very grateful for the offerings and witness God has provided through you during this time. To date we have not experienced a significant deficit in contributions. Thank you. Going forward in a vital way will require the ongoing financial commitment of our community members. While we are not able to gather in person and “pass the plate”, we are still open to receive mail, and we have established a new online giving platform that allows for safe and convenient giving through your computer or phone. This can be found on the front page of our website victorpres.org
Please reach out to any of us during this time with blessings, concerns, questions, and ideas for how to continue to love and serve the Lord. This is a time of great challenge and a season of amazing opportunity. If you are isolated, struggling, or otherwise in need, let us know and let us help. If you are inspired to serve, or gifted with skills to help us navigate the journey, let us know and let us help you help God’s people.
For now, accept our thanks. For always, know you are the beloved of Christ. For the days ahead, may the Spirit show us the way and inspire our path.
Session & Rev. Colin Pritchard