March 13, 2020
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
After prayerful conversation, and following the recommendation of West Ohio Conference Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, we have decided to suspend worship and church-sponsored activities here at Epworth United Methodist Church – effective today at 5pm – until such time it is declared safe to resume. This includes Bible studies, fitness classes, and small group gatherings taking place on site. Weddings and memorial services will be cared for on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the families involved.
This was not a conclusion that was arrived at easily. We know that in times of worry, the church is called to be a source of comfort and reassurance. While we may not be meeting in the building itself for the time being, God is still on the throne and we are still called to love our neighbors. Right now the best way to show that love is to keep each other safe and minimize personal contact. However, please continue to check in with each other and with your neighbors via phone, text, email, or social media private messages. Some of those most vulnerable to COVID-19 are seniors. Check on their overall wellness. In addition to physical concerns, loneliness from isolation can also be a concern.
The program staff and pastors of Epworth are working on creative ways to continue our walk with Christ for adults, youth, and children, even if we’re not meeting in the building. Sermons, prayers, study ideas, and other worship opportunities will be made available online at Epworth.com, via email, and on our Facebook page. These plans are still in progress and updates are forthcoming.
During this closure, we are sanitizing all common areas, including, but not limited to, counters and tables, light switches, and door handles. More details on this process will be posted soon, as will a list of community resources.
Finally, Epworth’s pastoral care team is always available. I will continue to maintain office hours Monday through Thursday, 9am to 5pm. There is always a pastor on call outside of office hours as well. Call the church office at 419-531-4236, and you will be directed to the emergency on-call phone by a prompt.
Again, even though we are not in worship together at the church, continue to worship. Pick up your Bible and read just five verses a day. Spend time outdoors and appreciate the coming of spring. Listen to your favorite spiritual music. And above all – pray. Give your worries to God, give thanks to God, and give glory to God.
I keep coming back to John 14: “My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” Let faith and wisdom walk hand-in-hand. We are still Epworth.
God bless you,
Rev. Beth Irwin