News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
Things have changed a lot, at least in the public psyche, in the last few days. I want us to be wise, but not give into to panic thought nor forsake our values. Jesus tells us those who follow him over and over again to not be afraid. I take that seriously. I know you do to.
Today has been another day of great change in terms of responses to the expanding COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, we our canceling our worship service for the next two Sundays: March 15th and 22nd.
Today Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts have all canceled school as of Monday. The Alameda County Office of Public Health has recommended, in alignment with the CDC to cancel and postpone public gatherings of more than 250 people or in spaces that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person. While we aren’t as large as 250 people we do have marginally adequate space to spread out and we do have a number of people, if not the majority, of our congregation that might be considered to be people at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
Because of this, as I’ve said, we our canceling our worship service for the next two Sundays: March 15th and 22nd. We will postpone the celebration of the life of Biruta Vinerts. We will endeavor to provide remote spaces and places for meeting for sharing, testimonies, prayer and music. These might be online and/or via conference call. In this emerging time of challenge and recommended social distancing we are aware that isolation is a life-draining force, one that is the opposite of what God wants for us.
We will pay our non-salaried contract employees throughout this time who count on the little, but substantial income the make working with us as musicians. This is our way of committing back to them.
We will continue to serve our Friday Night Meals as the poor and hungry are always the first to suffer in times of crisis. We will not fear, and we will be as wise as serpents and as kind as doves – as Jesus exhorts us to be. We will serve the meals in to-go boxes on the sidewalk area of our property. The downstairs room where we usually do the meal has inadequate ventilation that would increase the potential of contagion. We will set up a few tables in our garden for those who wish to sit and eat their meal. They may have nowhere else to go. I visited with all of our neighboring merchants today, they unanimously supported our desire to feed the hungry and to do so even in the public space that we share along College Avenue.
Our building is used by many people each week. Those groups have to decide for themselves on what they will do in terms of gathering. They will be reminded that we do not have a full-time custodian to constantly disinfect the site. We cannot guarantee anything for them. We will also continue to reflect and ponder around when and if we may need to close our entire campus to use to protect our common health.
Remember that all of these closings are not to stop the virus, but “to flatten the curve” as they say. It’s a matter of slowing down the contagion so that our society is not overwhelmed by a massive infection rate that paralyzes our hospitals and social structures.
I’ve been in stores the last few days to shop for my family and for the church. As you probably know in the mass panic many store shelves are empty. I could not find any bleach, rubbing alcohol or other materials to help provide for our disinfecting resources at church.
We want to be church together. We want to be the body of Christ with one another. So slow down, breath, and think of others who may need some extra attention or care, or a call in this time of social distancing, isolation and panic. May we be rooted in the words of Jesus who said to his disciples in their darkest hour: “Peace I leave with you; 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.” John 14:27
I’m using our website, and a new page there, to provide up-to-date-info for our community about developments and also about church on the go and conference call meet-ups You can access it on our homepage at www.capcoakland.org
A big thank you to Elders Beth Beatty, Marge Harvey and Dr. David Kittams for helping us think through and act calm, with wisdom, in this challenging time.