Many voices are pushing to "get back to normal," and Texas businesses are reopening. And we miss each other. I miss your hugs and handshakes and fistbumps. I miss holding your babies and dancing with the children. I miss hearing the choir and feeling the sacred energy when we are all gathered in our worship space. I even miss sitting in in-person committee meetings! However, it's more important to me that we protect one another and our community by staying home and staying safe, for now.
It's no secret that we live in highly polarized times. The novel coronavirus has only amplified the deep divisions and poor communication that are already rampant in our society. Especially in an election year! It can be discouraging, and frustrating to know whom to trust and from where to get information. As you will read in the note from the Board below, we at First Community Church, United Church of Christ are committed to listening to epidemiologists and healthcare experts and discerning how and when to safely regather in person. Be sure to read their letter below.
First Community may have suspended in-person gatherings, but we have not closed. We remain open for worship, for connection, and for nothing short of transformation of ourselves and our world. The Holy Spirit is not bound by buildings or by space or time - She is alive and moving, showing us where our priorities have been disordered, teaching us to appreciate the simple joys in life, and spurring us to work for wholeness for our whole society.
We don't know how long this will last, but I am confident that we will, in the not-too-far-off future, be with one another in person again. We are Easter people, which means we always live in both the now and the not yet. We take precautions and do what must be done now, while looking with faith for what is yet to come. I am so very grateful for each and every one of you, and I pray that you stay well - in body, mind, and spirit. Please don't hesitate to reach out if I can offer any support to you in this time, and know that you are in my daily prayers.
With love, Pastor Manda
Dear Members and Friends of First Community Church,
The Board met via Zoom on Sunday, and we discussed this current moment and how to discern when and how we will look to regather in person. With Texas opening up, and with many faith communities doing the same, we wanted to express our commitment to you that we will watch the data and follow medical expert guidelines in order to protect both our congregation and our community. Last week, Dallas County proposed a color-coded COVID-19 risk level, which is currently at Red: Stay Home, Stay Safe.
While we did not take a formal vote, there was general agreement among the Board that we will not plan to have in-person gatherings until we are at least at Yellow: Proceed with Caution. Even at that stage, until there is an accessible, effective vaccine, we will need to take measures to protect one another. When we do regather in person, worship will look different from what we are used to. To that end, the Board will be exploring possibilities for how we might have meaningful, spiritually-enriching worship in safer ways.
At First Community Church, we are committed to being accessible to all. This means that we won't have worship services that are safe enough only for younger, healthier people. We will ensure that everyone is welcomed, valued, and protected to the best of our ability. We don't yet know when we will regather in person, but in the meantime, we are working to provide virtual opportunities for us to connect with one another, worship together, and serve the community. Below, you'll find information about those opportunities, and we welcome your ideas and input.
Contact us for Zoom invitations for the following:
Sunday worship and coffee hour - we'll continue livestreaming on Facebook and meeting for coffee hour on Zoom every Sunday
Wednesday Prayer Time on Zoom - Roberta leads a 30-minute prayer time every Wednesday at 7pm
Friday Prayer Breakfast - Join the FCC Breakfast Group at 9:30am every Friday.
Justice Team - Meets on Thursday at 7pm on Zoom with Faith in Texas to continue our work on eviction protection. Contact Gina for more info.
Upcoming Game Night - Bentley and Caleb are putting together a Zoom game night - stay tuned for details!
Our mission is to open whatever is closed. We will continue to find ways to open the church (which is not the building, but is all of us) to all people, hearts to God's love, minds to God's story, and lives to be instruments of change. We remain grateful for each and every one of you, and hope you will reach out if you have concerns, questions, or input. Please keep us in prayer as we seek to lead the congregation in these challenging times.
Blessings and peace,
While courts hash it out, you can go ahead and apply. As the Travis County Clerk discussed in the interview included here, you do NOT have to prove you are disabled or what level of disability. They must take you at your word. Stay safe and expect a hangnail if you usually vote in person. There are also the poll workers to consider. This is offered in a purely non-partisan way.