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HMBFC COVID-19 Updates

March 13th at 6:30pm

Another Announcement: Cancelling Worship for Sunday, March 15

Dear Hot Metal Community,

The COVID-19 pandemic is an everchanging and new landscape. We have been keeping up to date with the latest news and developments, including Governor Wolfe's mandate to close all public schools for two weeks, beginning this Monday. After careful and prayerful discernment, the Council and Staff and I have agreed the safest and most loving thing for the community is to follow suit and cancel our in-person worship gathering this Sunday, March 15. We hope that this will encourage and support appropriate physical distancing and thereby limit the transmission of the virus.

A worship experience will be posted online on our Facebook and YouTube pages. Council will be meeting further this weekend to determine longer-term plans about worship, the Table ministry, and the best way to make sure all needs are met during this time.

While there is still yet to be a confirmed case of the virus in the area, we are learning from places that have dealt with this crisis already, and following the advice to begin physical distancing earlier, rather than later, to "flatten the curve" and reduce transmission as much as possible. We are planning on new ways to provide food for those in need. Please be on the lookout for how you can help us and your neighbor in concrete ways.

If you would like to continue to give financially, and help us make sure we can carry out our mission to "be a bridge to Jesus Christ" even in the midst of distance and pandemics, please consider giving online at here.

If you would like to contribute any tech or artistic talents as we move toward a creative worship approach for the near future, please reach out to me via email (pastorerin@hotmetalbridge.com)!

In 2 Timothy 1:7 (not a book I use often, but has some good nuggets of insight), Paul tells us, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We trust that cancelling in-person worship is not a fearful response to the challenges ahead, but a faithful one that is rooted in love of our neighbor. We trust that Christ shows up in our midst, even when we're not physically together. May God grant you peace and strength on this day and always.

Pastor Erin

March 13th at 10:00am

A Note about COVID-19

As the concern and information about the COVID-19 virus spreads even quicker than the virus itself, I want everyone to be assured that Hot Metal is monitoring the situation and discerning the best way forward. We want to walk the fine line between awareness and panic, all while making sure we still care for the vulnerable in our midst in the most faithful way possible. As I write this, no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Allegheny County. Nevertheless, we are exercising caution.

 

When the Bubonic Plague hit Germany in 1527, Martin Luther and his wife, Katie (pregnant at the time!), stayed in Wittenberg and cared for those who were sick and vulnerable. He did this because he firmly believed that the Gospel calls those who are able to care for our neighbors. He also said this, " God has created medicines and has provided us with intelligence to guard and take care of the body. … Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence" ("Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague," 1527).

So we attempt to balance our call to our neighbor, and our call to care for ourselves. We balance trusting in God above all, while recognizing science and modern medicine as a gift from God that informs our trust. Here are some steps Hot Metal is taking during this time:

 

1. Praying for those affected, and for world leaders to calmly, effectively, and honestly deal with the growing pandemic around the world.

 

2. Encouraging those who are in vulnerable populations or in high-risk sectors to stay home as you are able. We also support anyone who feels safer to staying home to do so, as a precaution to minimize the spread of the virus. We are working on technology that will enable those who stay home to still feel connected. Please be sure to follow us on Facebook and YouTube. Also, if you are in need of extra care or support during this time, please reach out to me or Autumn or the Compassion Team (compassion@hotmetalbridge.com).

 

3. Adapting our communion practice to ensure minimal contagion. We will still make the gifts of God available to all who hunger for it, while also complying with CDC and denominational recommendations.

 

4. Making hand sanitizer available in the worship space. We will also encourage appropriate social distance during worship, including in the greeting and passing of the peace. We ask that all remember to wash their hands frequently. Did you know the Lord's Prayer and many hymns take about 20 seconds, the recommended time we should take washing?

 

5. I have been in contact with our cleaning company and assured that extra precautions will be taken to sanitize the entire space. We'll also be diligent in keeping everything clean and sanitized.

 

6. Making additional contingency plans. Please keep a look out for additional ways we might care for one another during this time. We are especially mindful of those who are food insecure, and are formulating plans to make sure they can be provided for through our Table Ministry. It is also always possible that we will have to move worship to a fully electronic experience, pending an outbreak here in Pittsburgh. Please stay connected to the email list and Social Media for up-to-date announcements and calls to action.

 

I don't think it's a coincidence that Martin Luther penned his most famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," around the time he was confronting the Plague. We know that this is a scary time, and yet we also remember that God is our refuge and strength, a present help in time of trouble. We cling to that hope, and to one another (but not physically). May you find Christ's peace.

-Pastor Erin