COVID-19 Church Closure Update

These last few weeks of social distancing and staying at home have been challenging for all of us. I am thankful that so many of you have joined together to help prevent or at least delay the spread of COVID-19 and I am heartened that the effort to “flatten the curve” seems to have had some success. Unfortunately, the fight is not over and the risk for becoming infected and infecting others remains high.

At its May stated meeting on Tuesday, the Session of Overbrook Church took a considerable amount of time to consider the current situation and our response to it. Session received a report from the Task Force it appointed last month to study the possibility of reopening the church for worship and other activities. The Task Force took into account a number of sources, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and the New York Times, information from the Ohio Department of Public Health, and guidance provided by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Presbytery of Scioto Valley, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, and the Florida Conference of United Methodists, among others. After much thoughtful consideration, Session decided that the situation remains too dangerous for us to try to meet together in the OPC building or at the Beltz Center. With that in mind, Session approved a measure to keep both facilities closed through Labor Day.

I know this is a bitter pill to swallow for some of you, especially considering that some churches in our area are already returning to in-person worship. But your Session seriously considered this issue from many angles and agreed that pushing back our return to in-person worship at least until Labor Day is the best decision for our congregation.

I pray we can all continue to be patient and faithful as we wait out this dreadful disease. In the meantime, your Session, Commissions, and Staff are committed to developing new and creative ways for us to be the church in these strange times. We are exploring ways to come together online and perhaps to meet in small, safely convened, socially distanced groups for prayer and fellowship. Keep your ears open and check this space each week for these opportunities as they are announced. Let us know if that’s something you might be interested in being a part of or helping us create. And of course, we will continue to worship together online and host our Sunday morning Zoom Coffee Hour each week.

Remember, though the property is closed for now, the church is more than buildings and we continue to be the church as we love and serve God by loving and serving God’s people. I look forward to the time when it will be safe for us to gather together in person. But until then, please know that you all continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Stay safe, only go out when you need to (and wear a mask when you do), stay informed and wash your hands. You’re not just keeping yourself safe, you’re protecting others, too.

Grace and Peace,
Bill Gause

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