Christmas and COVID Update from the Pastor

On Tuesday morning, December 22nd, I met with our church staff via ZOOM to determine next steps for us as a church family. Several things have happened which impact us as a church and as a staff. I wanted to give you an update.

As you know, I tested positive for the COVID virus and am currently in isolation. Katrina has also tested positive for the COVID virus and is at home in isolation. Joanna is displaying symptoms and has learned she has COVID also.

With this in mind, the church office will be closed until January 4, 2021 (this includes holidays in which we were closed anyway). The Family Life Center will be open next week for church business only for December 29,30,31 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. You can also reach the church staff directly as you have need.

The next few worship services, including Christmas Eve, will be held online only. This decision was made in consultation with the Church Council due to the anticipated surge in COVID cases after the holidays as well as influenced by Governor Lee’s COVID speech. Last Sunday night, our Governor indicated that we are in a global pandemic and that Tennessee is ground zero for a surge in sickness. The Governor urged citizens to do their part in mitigating the spread of this virus; one of these efforts related to no gatherings of ten or more people in indoor settings. Churches are exempt from this mandate, but the church is also part of the community and can offer a show of support during this time.

As such, our Christmas Eve service will be at 5 PM and will be ONLINE only. There will be special music by Dogwood Strings, Christa Hylton, and Noah Hylton. The Christ candle will be lighted by Parker and Courtney Ford and their precious baby boy Hudson. There will be other music, Communion, and candles. You can participate in this by having your own elements ready and also a candle to light at the appropriate time. I encourage you to gather as a family for this occasion.

Our next two Sundays (December 27 and January 3) will be online only and will be one worship service at 10:00 am. Mike Aiken will be preaching on the 27th and Ben Neal on the 3rd. There are no Wednesday night activities scheduled during the holiday season. You will be notified of any additional changes or updates to our schedule.

I am fully aware that moving to online worship only will generate a variety of emotions. This whole year has been frustrating and disappointing on so many levels as we have dodged and weaved our way through a pandemic. It truly is “An Unexpected Christmas” but one that I hope will bring about God’s greatest blessings upon each of you and our church.

Finally, I do want to thank those who were part of the Food Box distribution yesterday. More than 200 boxes with turkeys were given away on behalf of our church. This is a great witness and a wonderful way to think about and help others in need this holiday season. Thank you for your labor of love. Also, thank all of you for your continued prayers, participation, and financial support of the church this past year. Your faithfulness is a blessing.

I am grateful for your prayers for me and my family, as well as our church staff and their families. It has been a tough year on many levels but our staff has been faithful and led us well this past year.

Keep encouraging and praying for each other so that we can marvel once again at the wonder of “Immanuel—God with us.” Merry Christmas to you all–DC

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