UPDATE: Wilmington Friends will NOT be gathering for corporate worship tomorrow, 03/15. Instead of having everyone gather at Wilmington Friends Meeting for worship, we are asking only committee clerks to come in. Our clerks will meet at noon in the Thorne Room to discuss our plan for the coming weeks. If you have a concern to be addressed or an idea for fostering fellowship while avoiding transmission opportunities, please let Julie or one of the clerks know!
All across our world, Friends are discerning how to faithfully respond to outbreaks of COVID-19. As faithful members of local communities, we want to do whatever we can to slow the spread of infectious disease. As faithful Friends to one another, we want to gather in ways which are safe and appropriate, and which allow us to worship together and care for one another. As faithful followers of Christ, we want to pursue these goals not out of fear, but as a way of living into mercy and justice.
Here’s what that is looking like at Wilmington Friends Meeting, including precautions already being taken, plans for this Sunday, and how we will move forward together:
We’re paying close attention to briefs from the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health, and the Clinton County Health District. Currently, churches have not been advised or ordered not to hold services, so we will continue with our regular 10:00 a.m. worship service this Sunday. If that advisement changes, we will notify Friends through email and through our Facebook page, as well as calling Friends who are not regularly online.
You’ve all received advice to help keep everyone safe by washing your hands thoroughly and often, and by staying home if you are running a fever or have a dry cough. We are also making the meetinghouse safer by closing off the kitchenette, so there will be no snacks and coffee. You are welcome to bring your own beverages, but we don’t want to task anyone with handling and washing dishes.
We are making a few changes to the worship service, as well, geared toward reducing hand-to-hand contact. For instance, we will not have paper bulletins; that’s a simple way to stop handing items back and forth. Instead of passing microphones around during our times for announcements and praises/concerns, we have set up two microphones toward the front of the meetingroom and will ask Friends to come forward to speak. Anyone who would prefer not to come forward will be welcome to send their announcement or prayer concern to Julie ahead of time to be shared from the pulpit.
Additionally, we are going to collect the offering in large glass jars at the back of the meetingroom, rather than passing plates between people; this eliminates another source of germ-sharing. Feel free to leave a contribution before or after the service. You are encouraged to space yourselves out through the meetingroom, rather than sitting in clumps, in order to avoid possible transmission.
We are also asking Friends to refrain from shaking hands at the end of the service. That’s a hard one, since Quaker services are traditionally closed with a handshake. It’s a way of silently indicating the end of the meeting, for Friends in unprogrammed meetings, and it’s also a sign of equality; everyone, regardless of age or gender or status, gets the same handshake. Let’s strive, though, toward responding to that of God within one another without passing along our germs.
After the rise of worship this Sunday (3/15), the Nursery and Primary Sunday School classes will meet as planned. Adults and teens will remain in the meetingroom for a discussion session. This discussion session will have several parts: information from Doug Woodmansee about COVID-19, an explanation of precautions we’ve already taken, sharing of questions and concerns about how we will move forward, and waiting worship and prayer. Following that discussion time, committee clerks will meet to review the discussion.
Finally, we have an exciting new volunteer opportunity! For the protection of Friends who may be immunocompromised, we will be scheduling a Meeting for Cleaning with Attention to Commonly Touched Surfaces at 8:30 every Sunday morning. If you’re willing to help us disinfect, bring your rags and buckets and vinyl gloves. We’ll be focusing on handrails, chair and pew backs, faucets, light switches, and so forth. Lysol will be provided.
Thank you, as always, for your deep and Christ-like care for one another. Friends who do not feel comfortable attending Sunday morning worship can contact Julie or Bob about other avenues of fellowship, including phone calls, facilitating video calls, exchanging cards, and home visitation. Please hold those who are especially susceptible to this virus, and our healthcare workers and political leaders, in the light of Christ.
Grace and peace,
Becky Bowman, Clerk of Hospitality
Jennilou Grotevant, Clerk of Meeting
Bob Henson, Clerk of Ministry and Counsel
Julie Rudd, Pastor
Doug Woodmansee, Clerk of Trustees
March 12th, 2020