Dear Congregation and Friends of UCC Parker Hilltop:

 


Given the approaching certainty of a coronavirus outbreak in our communities, Rev. Sue Artt, Our Rocky Mountain Conference Minister called an emergency Board of Directors meeting yesterday. As the Southeastern Association representative to the Board, I was a part of that conversation.

UCC National has closed its offices through March and is restricting non-essential travel. Several Conferences throughout our denomination, including the Rocky Mountain Conference, have closed their offices and canceled meetings for the remainder of the month. Several churches along the front range, following the Board’s recommendation and request, have also closed.


Here is the text of the Board of Directors’ statement of March 12, 2020:


Given the World Health Organization’s call for “urgent and aggressive action”, to help stem the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, the RMC BOD encourages each congregation to take a proactive approach to prevention, and recommends that churches and associations – and particularly those in larger metropolitan areas – consider providing electronic worship services and/or postponing activities through the end of March.

 
Recognizing the independent and congregational nature of our churches and understanding the complex considerations in taking action, we recommend that you pay close attention to the guidance and wisdom of your local health and governmental agencies as you make your local decision.


Sue Artt added her own comments this morning:

 

Colleagues and Friends of the Rocky Mountain Conference:

 

I don't use this framing ever -- I think I've never used it before, but dear colleagues -- I am convinced that the best way we can protect our communities, and even the future of your congregation, is to employ social distancing now.  Using yesterday's words from the World Health Organization General Director Tedros, "We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough:  All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."  The key, Tedros cites, is "urgent and aggressive action."

 

If you as a clergy person have ever mourned your few opportunities to truly have impact in the larger culture, friends, again, I am convinced that this is that moment.  The stories coming out of Italy, where they didn't act fast enough, are heartbreaking, as their medical system is failing under the massive demand that they cannot accommodate.  Lives are [hanging in the balance.]  We do not want to be in that situation, and by the grace of God, we have been shown the future -- a future we can shift -- if only we have the courage to act in the moment.

 

And here's the thing -- if we do act swiftly to avert disaster, it will be a non-event, and there will be those who will stand firm in their opinion that "it was never that big a deal."  But as pastors, who of us hasn't known a time when we acted, and no one saw, but we knew we had made a difference?  This is our moment now to make a difference for our communities.

 

The decision is up to each of you, as leaders of your congregation -- and I know it is not an easy one.  The RMC Board and I recognize the difficulty of this time, and we pray this statement supports you and your community in ways that help to maintain health and vitality for you and each of your members.  I am encouraged that several RMC churches in the last 24 hours have decided to postpone services through the end of March and take a pulse then to determine the next weeks.

 

In the meantime, know that the conference staff and I are working as quickly as we can to get you resources and information.  Please continue to watch your email, Facebook, and our website, for the most up to date information.

 

I know that God is with us in this endeavor to safeguard our communities, and God doesn't move parked cars.

 

Praying for your wholeness and peace,

 

Sue

 

Friends, we are one of the churches Sue mentions. Following an emergency session with our church Council last evening, it was decided that we shall close UCCPH for worship and all activities through the end of March. Our offices are also closed to the general public during this time.

 

This is a proactive response to a deepening crisis. It is my hope, prayer and recommendation that you limit your large group social contacts during this time. I will be in contact with you—you will have information as I have it, sermons, devotionals, and opportunities to interact. You may also call or text me at 303-725-1494.

 

I will be out of town next week from Tuesday to early Saturday, but you may still reach out to me for support or to report any illness in our church family. If any of you come down with the virus, please let me know as soon as possible. Council, Paul Campbell and other key church leaders and I will be in close contact during this time to determine next steps.

 

There is a FaceBook page available through the Conference. Search “Authorized Ministers of the Rocky Mountain Conference.” Ask to join this group to get the latest updates from Conference leadership.

 

Please remember that although we have had to close the church to the public for these weeks in the interest of community safety, we still have a church to run and expenses to pay. We are paying all staff their regular pay for this month. They will be working from home as they can and at church for work that needs to be done here on our campus.

 

If you pay your donations to the church by check, please send them to our church address: 10926 E. Democrat Rd., Parker, CO. 80134. Mail will be picked up daily. This is the perfect time to switch to automated giving; simply set up with your bank on automatic bill pay “UCCPH” as a bill to be paid each month and your bank will send the church a check. It costs you nothing to take advantage of this easy way to make sure you keep current on your commitment.

 

Another way to make a donation is through the link below. Just click on it and you will be directed to our website and you can enter your payment or extra gift for the church.

 

donations gratefully accepted at https://www.uccparkerhilltop.org/giving/ 

or click the button below:

 


Now is also the perfect time to make a commitment and start donating to the church if you have not previously done so. Our staff appreciates your devotion to the church and to seeing that they can maintain their income derived from the services they provide to us all.


Feel free to make a special gift donation for general use during this difficult time. We don’t know what April will bring, but with two snow/ice closures in February and now this, our plate giving is down. It will take all of us to maintain this wonderful church that we can’t wait to get back to--and soon.


Finally, I am asking all of you to pray daily and to keep calm. Go into your church directory and pick out three names for phone calls each week. I will try to reach out to everyone, but there’s only one of me and 100 of you. Let’s all support each other as we go through this.


God is with us during this time. Breathe. Pray. Believe. Be part of the solution, be part of our proactivity in stemming the tide of Covid-19 virus. Let me know how you are and what you need. You do not stand alone.


I close this letter with a prayer…


God of all creation, we thank you for the researchers, health officials, doctors, nurses, and all those who are helping to find ways of treating this virus. We ask for your blessing on those in different parts of the world and in our own nation who are affected directly. Help us to come together as your people and to overcome fear. Help us to have courage and to be there for one another, knowing that you are with us. Amen.
 

Love and Faith,


Pastor Tracey ​​​​​​​