March 17, 2020

Dear siblings in Christ,

It has been a bizarre and unsettling week to say the least. In less than a week we have gone from looking at the possibility of putting more precautions in place to nationwide closures. We have been confronted with an event and we’ve been forced to react and respond.

We know these are difficult times. For many people, these are anxiety-provoking times, full of uncertainty. Or these could feel like very isolating and lonely times. Others still are worried about financial security when jobs are shifting and the markets are affected.

Yet, in all of this, we have seen and heard stories of goodness, joy, light, generosity, and blessing. People have reached out to each other to check in. People are concerned about children and families in Loudoun County receiving the food they need on a regular basis and working to make that happen. You are encouraging each other and being salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) in the world. It’s been really beautiful to experience.

Following guidelines from the CDC, WHO, government, and Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod, the staff and council have made the difficult decision to suspend all activities including worship until the end of March when we will reevaluate. We are also seeking to ensure our hourly staff are paid in this difficult time.

In the meantime, we are working to stay as connected (while practicing social distancing!) as we possibly can. This means:

  • WORSHIP: We will continue to live stream one service at 10:00am on Sunday mornings on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/clcsterling/ If you do not have Facebook, you will still be able to access this. These services will be simple in format and we invite you to participate by commenting or asking question on the page. While there were some kinks to work out last Sunday, we are excited to continue living into this new way of being together, worshiping in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23) across technology.
  • WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY: The Bible Study will take place at 10:30am Wednesdays, but will now be live streamed on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/clcsterling/ Please have a Bible handy and add your comments and questions as we go along.
    • LENTEN COVENANT GROUPS: Each covenant group member has received an invitation via e-mail to participate in the groups via Slack (https://experimentaldevotions.slack.com/). Slack is an online group where you can type or arrange calls. You can also use the Slack app on your phone or tablet.
  • DAILY EVENING PRAYER: Pr. Annabelle will be leading brief evening prayer at 7:00pm opportunities on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/clcsterling/ These might be a led meditation or simply a post with a written prayer, but be on the lookout for these opportunities to pray with and for each other.
    • CALLING MEMBERS: The staff and council have called through the directory and checked in with everyone. If you are someone who might benefit from some assistance in the next weeks (e.g. having someone run errands, pick up groceries, etc.), please let us know via email. If you’d like to offer assistance, please let us know that as well. We would also encourage congregation members to be checking in with, praying for one another, and reaching out as you are able (in a safe way).
    • SERVING OUR COMMUNITY: We are always called to love our neighbors as ourselves and a time of heightened anxiety does not change this call, rather provides another opportunity to serve. There are many in our community who will not have access to food due to the closures (e.g., Backpack Buddies recipients). We seek to continue providing support and compassion to those in need in this time. We are awaiting word from our ministry partners to see how we can be of assistance.

We are in a time of flux, but perhaps it is in these times of questions and challenge where we can learn the most.

As poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

We will continue to diligently monitor this situation. As we live the questions of this time, let us give thanks for the many gifts we have been given, stay faithful to God, each other, and our ministries to the least of these, and practice grace and compassion for ourselves and others.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Pr. Annabelle at [email protected].

In the name of our Healer and Redeemer, Jesus Christ,

The Rev. Annabelle Markey, Pastor
The Rev. Greg Durig, Bridge Pastor
Jennifer Quiñones, Director of Music
Marie Adkins, Office Administrator
Becca Shelor, Youth Leader
Kim Byrum, CKCP Director
Peter Jones, Council President
John Cherundolo, Council Vice President
Ellen Ashurkoff, Council Secretary
Jeff Biber, Treasurer