March 28, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of Davidson College Presbyterian Church-

I pray that this message finds you safe and healthy, wherever it finds you, and that you are in possession of the faith of which Paul writes in his letter to the Romans in chapter 5.

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

As we weather these difficult times, here are four things that may be of assistance to all of us in terms of emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

Find purpose- serving others can bring focus and peace

Find people- connect with others by phone, email, letter, etc. and be open to them reaching out to you.  Social distance does not have to be emotional and spiritual distance.  Loneliness is not good for any of us.

Name your sadness- we are all losing things in this situation.  Naming them and grieving them is part of dealing with our losses in a healthy way.

Name your gladness- we are also finding things in this situation that are life-giving.  Be thankful for those things which are a blessing.  Gratitude makes for healthier lives, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

I also have an update on our worship life.  This last week Mecklenbury County issued a stay-at-home order.  After consulting with the chairs of our Administration and Personnel Committee and an elder who is a former high-ranking public health official, I made the decision not to ask our staff to come in to live stream worship on Sunday mornings.  This is for three reasons.

  • Faith and hope are essential and worship is an expression of those gifts, but worship leaders gathered to lead worship in real time is not essential.  We have other ways to offer worship resources, including ways to enhance the sense of worshiping with others (e.g. Facebook’s watch party feature).
  • We have staff members who are in a high-risk group and all of us will, by necessity, interact with other members of the public while buying groceries, etc.  Health officials have made it clear that minimizing trips out of our home and limiting contact with others will help slow the spread of the virus.
  • Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.  In I Corinthians, Paul uses that argument when cautioning his fellow Christians not to do things that may lead others to stumble or harm.  In this case, we have a chance to show our members and our community that our collective public health is more important than having 6-7 people meet in the sanctuary to live stream something we can record and share.  This decision to limit our freedom for the sake of others is part of the way we show that we love our neighbors as ourselves and as Christ loved us.  Not meeting says, “We love you and one another too much to take risks with your health.”

We will have recorded worship services at Facebook and You Tube and pray you will be a part of worshiping this way.

I also wanted to let you know that the elders, deacons, and other care givers at DCPC will be calling every one of our households over the next few days to check in.  If you need assistance, perhaps a call from a pastor, before we contact you can call the church office at (704) 892 5641 and someone will call you back.

As we continue to respond to the changing circumstances of this situation, I am so grateful for all the acts of love and kindness shown by our members.  From calling one another to running errands and asking about mission partners and so much more, you are part of the hope we have during this time.

Your acts of love are a reminder of a final passage of Scripture that I want to share with you.  Also by the Apostle Paul, it is written to the Philippians at the end of his life as he gives them a guide to dealing with loss and uncertainty.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

May the peace of Christ be with you, indeed.

Grace and peace,

Peter J. M. Henry

Pastor

March 20, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of Davidson College Presbyterian Church-

I pray that this email finds you and your loved ones secure in the promise of the psalms: wherever you are, God is present with you.

In the Old Testament book of Esther, when Mordecai is asking his cousin, Queen Esther, to intervene and help others, he poses the following thought to her: “Perhaps you have come into royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

Scripture says that we who follow Christ are a royal priesthood.  Perhaps we have come into our royal dignity for just such a time as this?  After all, as members of the Reformed tradition, which says we are a priesthood of all believers, we are uniquely equipped to be the church (the body of Christ) for one another and the world at a time when we cannot come to church (i.e. the building).  As you read the list of updates about the life of our church, please remember that none of them, not one, prevents us from loving one another and our neighbors.  Not one of our responses to the coronavirus outbreak stops us from worshiping.  There isn’t anything among the changes we are making that keeps us from living our faith with and for one another.  Instead of fearful and anxious, we are choosing to be faithful and attentive to doing what we can to love as Christ loved us.  In fact, everything we are doing right now is, in some ways, an answer to this important question: are we the church or not?  Christians have lived through  oppression and other difficult circumstances in the past and have had to worship in secret or apart.  And they did it!  We are talking about social distancing, not spiritually disconnecting.  As we continue to serve one another and the world, may we know ourselves pulled closer by the Spirit’s tether.

With that in mind, here are some things you should know about our life together at DCPC.

  • Pending any changes in recommendations from the Mecklenburg County Health Department, the Session of DCPC has suspended all in-person worship, including weddings and funerals, at our campus through May 10, 2020. The Worship Committee and the staff will work on ways for people to worship electronically.  In addition to WDAV (89.9 and org), and our Facebook live stream (https://www.facebook.com/dcpcpres), we will also be posting to our You Tube channel and providing links at the dcpc.org website.  You do NOT have to have a social media account to join us electronically.  Spread the word!
  • All in-person events and activities have been suspended or ended for the school year or have gone online. This includes our pre-school, our Sunday morning faith formation for all ages, Wednesday activities and outside groups.  Your Faith Formation Committee and its sub-committees have a number of ways for people to connect with one another.  Contact John Ryan (jryan@dcpc.org) to learn more or look to our bi-weekly email updates for links and information pertinent to your particular group or interests.
  • Our staff is working almost exclusively from our homes. You can always reach a pastor on call by dialing the church office and following the prompts.  You can also email any of us. Please be mindful that like you, the staff is trying to balance competing home and work life.  In other words, I have told them that they are not to work twenty-four hours a day and that they should not be accessible at every moment.  Put the phone down.  Stop checking email compulsively.  Breathe and be present to your family and friends.  That goes for all of us.
  • Lingle Chapel is now only open from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Members and committees are actively working on ways that we can make a difference in the lives of neighbors in our area who are really struggling during this situation. For instance, your Mental Health Ministries Team is collecting resources and your Missions committees are working on ways to support local agencies.  Be on the lookout!

Our weekly email and other communications will expound on some of these bullet points in coming days and give you more information about ways to join online classes and be the church.

There are two other items of importance right now.

  1. We are doing our best to keep everyone connected, not just those who are on social media. We are not only organizing ways to reach out to people by phone, but also insuring that those of you who have internet access can access information and resources without social media accounts.  With that said, if you have yet to download the new Realm Connect app, it is a great way to keep up to date.  Contact Stephanie Malushizky for help: smalushizky@dcpc.org
  2. It may be that the activities of the church have slowed down or been suspended but most of our expenses have not. Your giving matters more than ever as we fulfill our responsibility to continue the mission of our church through our personnel, programs and mission giving.  You can give online at https://onrealm.org/dcpc/-/give/now, through Realm and you can also mail in your pledges and offerings.

As I close this letter I have two requests of you.  First, please let us know if you need anything, including a phone call and prayer.  Someone will call!  Contact Robert Alexander (ralexander@dcpc.org) or Larry Lyon (llyon@dcpc.org).  They are co-coordinating our responses to members and friends who need help.  Second, let us know if you are willing to be a helper: make phone calls, deliver some groceries, check on a neighbor, etc.  We are in this together.  Again, contact Robert or Larry.

Last night during our Lenten Bible study, one of the participants noted that as truly life-altering and threatening as this situation is, she takes comfort from the expressions of love that are springing up all around her.  “Neighbors calling, friends writing, kindness shared… even as we are told to keep our distance it seems like we are remembering that we aren’t that far apart from one another after all.”  By the grace of God, may it be so for you in the coming weeks.

I hope to see you… well, I hope to be seen by you on Sunday!  And I am glad I am writing to Presbyterians, a priesthood of all believers.  Perhaps we came into our royal dignity for just such a time as this.

Grace and peace,

Peter J. M. Henry

Pastor

March 20, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of Davidson College Presbyterian Church-

I pray that this email finds you and your loved ones secure in the promise of the psalms: wherever you are, God is present with you.

In the Old Testament book of Esther, when Mordecai is asking his cousin, Queen Esther, to intervene and help others, he poses the following thought to her: “Perhaps you have come into royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

Scripture says that we who follow Christ are a royal priesthood.  Perhaps we have come into our royal dignity for just such a time as this?  After all, as members of the Reformed tradition, which says we are a priesthood of all believers, we are uniquely equipped to be the church (the body of Christ) for one another and the world at a time when we cannot come to church (i.e. the building).  As you read the list of updates about the life of our church, please remember that none of them, not one, prevents us from loving one another and our neighbors.  Not one of our responses to the coronavirus outbreak stops us from worshiping.  There isn’t anything among the changes we are making that keeps us from living our faith with and for one another.  Instead of fearful and anxious, we are choosing to be faithful and attentive to doing what we can to love as Christ loved us.  In fact, everything we are doing right now is, in some ways, an answer to this important question: are we the church or not?  Christians have lived through  oppression and other difficult circumstances in the past and have had to worship in secret or apart.  And they did it!  We are talking about social distancing, not spiritually disconnecting.  As we continue to serve one another and the world, may we know ourselves pulled closer by the Spirit’s tether.

With that in mind, here are some things you should know about our life together at DCPC.

  • Pending any changes in recommendations from the Mecklenburg County Health Department, the Session of DCPC has suspended all in-person worship, including weddings and funerals, at our campus through May 10, 2020. The Worship Committee and the staff will work on ways for people to worship electronically.  In addition to WDAV (89.9 and org), and our Facebook live stream (https://www.facebook.com/dcpcpres), we will also be posting to our You Tube channel and providing links at the dcpc.org website.  You do NOT have to have a social media account to join us electronically.  Spread the word!
  • All in-person events and activities have been suspended or ended for the school year or have gone online. This includes our pre-school, our Sunday morning faith formation for all ages, Wednesday activities and outside groups.  Your Faith Formation Committee and its sub-committees have a number of ways for people to connect with one another.  Contact John Ryan (jryan@dcpc.org) to learn more or look to our bi-weekly email updates for links and information pertinent to your particular group or interests.
  • Our staff is working almost exclusively from our homes. You can always reach a pastor on call by dialing the church office and following the prompts.  You can also email any of us. Please be mindful that like you, the staff is trying to balance competing home and work life.  In other words, I have told them that they are not to work twenty-four hours a day and that they should not be accessible at every moment.  Put the phone down.  Stop checking email compulsively.  Breathe and be present to your family and friends.  That goes for all of us.
  • Lingle Chapel is now only open from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Members and committees are actively working on ways that we can make a difference in the lives of neighbors in our area who are really struggling during this situation. For instance, your Mental Health Ministries Team is collecting resources and your Missions committees are working on ways to support local agencies.  Be on the lookout!

Our weekly email and other communications will expound on some of these bullet points in coming days and give you more information about ways to join online classes and be the church.

There are two other items of importance right now.

  1. We are doing our best to keep everyone connected, not just those who are on social media. We are not only organizing ways to reach out to people by phone, but also insuring that those of you who have internet access can access information and resources without social media accounts.  With that said, if you have yet to download the new Realm Connect app, it is a great way to keep up to date.  Contact Stephanie Malushizky for help: smalushizky@dcpc.org
  2. It may be that the activities of the church have slowed down or been suspended but most of our expenses have not. Your giving matters more than ever as we fulfill our responsibility to continue the mission of our church through our personnel, programs and mission giving.  You can give online at https://onrealm.org/dcpc/-/give/now, through Realm and you can also mail in your pledges and offerings.

As I close this letter I have two requests of you.  First, please let us know if you need anything, including a phone call and prayer.  Someone will call!  Contact Robert Alexander (ralexander@dcpc.org) or Larry Lyon (llyon@dcpc.org).  They are co-coordinating our responses to members and friends who need help.  Second, let us know if you are willing to be a helper: make phone calls, deliver some groceries, check on a neighbor, etc.  We are in this together.  Again, contact Robert or Larry.

Last night during our Lenten Bible study, one of the participants noted that as truly life-altering and threatening as this situation is, she takes comfort from the expressions of love that are springing up all around her.  “Neighbors calling, friends writing, kindness shared… even as we are told to keep our distance it seems like we are remembering that we aren’t that far apart from one another after all.”  By the grace of God, may it be so for you in the coming weeks.

I hope to see you… well, I hope to be seen by you on Sunday!  And I am glad I am writing to Presbyterians, a priesthood of all believers.  Perhaps we came into our royal dignity for just such a time as this.

Grace and peace,

Peter J. M. Henry

Pastor

March 13, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of DCPC,

I have a few updates for you in terms of our life together at DCPC over the next week. As you already know we have cancelled in-person worship and faith formation for all ages this Sunday, including youth group and confirmation.

During this next week we will not have any in-person meetings or faith formation classes for adults. Those will all be done by Zoom (an online meeting platform). Staff members will be in touch with committee chairs and class leaders will reach out to class members with information about how to connect electronically.

Our pre-school will remain open and our midweek classes for children will happen as long as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools remain open. If they close, our activities for children will also shut down.

Our staff will be working primarily from home with just a few staff members in each day. They will be using email and phones to be in touch with you and to hear from you.

Lingle Chapel will only be open during business hours, 8:30-4:30, when we can wipe down door handles and pew backs regularly.

We will be using Constant Contact, Realm, Facebook and Instagram to update you with changes. Are you on all of these?

We appreciate your support as we navigate uncharted waters. But the good news is that our God is one who tames the waters, bringing life out of water, calming storms, and raising people from the waters of baptism into new life. I have already been buoyed by members telling me what they are doing to check on neighbors and how they are seeing God at work in some of the changes they are forced to make. As Jesus said, he does not give as the world gives. His peace- even in the storm- is his gift.

One way to share the peace that God gives is by checking on neighbors and with one another. Show loving kindness in phone calls, emails and running errands for those who need it. And if you need help, contact the church office. We have members who have asked how they can help people. Here is a list of other ways to help the wider community; it was provided by Mecklenburg’s Metropolitan Interfaith Network.

Please remember that what we do is out of our love for neighbors, which means doing what is best for their health and safety. While it forces us to adjust how we do church, we are still the church and the Spirit will enable us to keep our relationships strong and supportive. Physical social distance does not have to be spiritual and emotional distance.  We can be as close to one another as our voice and love!

Grace and peace,

Peter J. M. Henry