(3/16/20-3/22/20) from Pastor Jake.

Dear SVPC,

Grace and Peace to you. As I mentioned during worship yesterday, our Session met following our service and we voted to cancel our corporate worship gathering at SVPC on Sunday, March 22nd. We also voted to suspend all other public meetings, gatherings, rehearsals, and Bible studies that happen throughout the week in our building. During that meeting, we decided to just take it one week at a time. However, it is likely that we will extend the suspension of our services and gatherings. Just last evening, the CDC issued a recommendation to cease all gatherings of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks. This recommendation does not apply to schools, universities, or businesses and many believe this should not restrict the gathering of faith-based communities for that entire period of time. As we have all noticed, new information about COVID-19 flies in by the minute and our Elders are trying to keep up with the information, follow official recommendations, and consider the impact and direction for our Church family. At this time, Barri, Becky, and I will still plan to have some limited time at the Church office but that could become minimal. At the end of this letter, you will find all of our cell phone numbers, encouraging you to call us at any time of the day or night.

I believe it is imperative that we take this seriously and follow the recommendations of self-quarantining and when it is necessary to leave your home that we would consciously maintain adequate distance from others. This will require a tremendous change for most of us but as this virus continues its course, these efforts may serve to tremendously hinder its spread. Of course, I am not an expert to any degree but as a Pastor, husband, father, son to aging parents, and neighbor I have tried to gain as much insight from reliable sources as I possibly can.

Even though we will not meet together in person this upcoming Sunday, we will have a chance to meet together through an online service of some form. I will plan to lead us in prayers, confession of our faith, and a time of teaching from Scripture and it will start at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. You will be able to tune into this service by going to Shepherd of the Valley’s Facebook page. Many of you have already tuned in to our Facebook Live services when you have been out of town or home sick and have experienced the value of being able to connect with your church family from a distance and I so appreciate Ted Pratt and Keith Jinright for pioneering this over a year ago. We all agree that it is not the best way to worship together but we can still give thanks for it in these circumstances. I also realize that there are some in our congregation that will not have access to this medium and for you we will gladly deliver a printout of our service and manuscript of the modified sermon. I will also plan to post some additional video devotionals over the coming weeks that will hopefully be a source of encouragement.

Yesterday, our sermon was a reminder that in a world of uncertainty and unpredictability, Jesus invites us to count on a steadfast and trustworthy God. Only then can we truly free ourselves from the anxiety of an unpredictable tomorrow. Throughout history, people have experienced uncertainty, loss, calamity, disease but some of those people have been able to experience peace and assurance in the midst of frightening scenarios because of their faith in a God worthy of our trust. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1).

Peace of Christ,
Pastor Jake