Important COVID-19 Information

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As of April 1, 2020

The Easter Holiday Meal Program provided by the Samaritan Homeless Interim Program (SHIP), scheduled for Easter Sunday, April 12th has been cancelled.  For more information about SHIP's programs, please contact SHIP at (908) 393-9545.    

As of March 26, 2020

United Reformed Church, like other houses of worship, is cooperating with Governor Murphy's Executive Order 107, which strongly urges houses of worship to refrain for the time being from public gatherings. You can find his order here:  https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20200320j.shtml

SHIP's Galley II Soup Kitchen continues to offer food to those who are in need on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Bagged lunches and to-go meals are distributed from the parking lot only, by means of SHIP's mobile food truck. We ask that all guests maintain proper social distancing, and refrain from forming a tight queue. There will be enough for all.

You may also be aware that many of downtown Somerville's businesses remain open for take-out and delivery only. You can find a list of those restaurants at:  http://www.downtownsomerville.com/  

This is a time of great stress for all. If you feel yourself or someone you love reaching a crisis point, please call 866-202-4357 immediately. Help is available!

If you, or someone you know, happens to have a disability and are having difficulty with access or functional needs, please register at www.registerready.nj.gov for assistance. Individuals can text NJCOVID to 898-211 for information.

We are trying to be a source for good and help in these difficult times, even though we are unable to gather for worship. Our monthly newsletter, InTouch, will contain a lot of useful information in the April issue, which will be available soon. 

And, by all means, please keep our health workers at the TOP of your prayer list, followed closely by all who are experiencing economic fallout. We, and other churches, will continue to be praying for our community. We'll just be doing it from our own homes, rather than from God's house at 100 West Main Street.

PBWY

 

Past Updates  (From Friday, March 13, 2020)

Earlier this week we communicated regarding the church's plans in light of the COVID-19 virus. We are trying to monitor developments as well as we are able, and making adjustments as seem wise.  Here are responses to our most frequently asked questions.

Will we be worshipping Sunday?

Yes, although order of worship will be somewhat shortened. We will also be setting out papers to urge people to sit at safe distances from one another. Families who come in the same car can certainly sit together, but we remind you that the CDC recommends safe social distance as 4-6 feet.

Are we having coffee hour?

No, not for now. It will be back when all seems well.

Is the church building safe?

Like everyone else, we're doing the best we can. Supplies are short everywhere, and like most places, we are exhausting our limited supply rather quickly. Therefore, if at some point if you are shopping and come across hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, toilet tissues, or paper towels, and you feel moved to donate some to the church, we would most certainly welcome your donation!

Is the church building closing down?

No. That time may come, but we're not there yet. Our regular office hours are still 8:30-2:00, Monday to Friday.

What about the groups that meet in the church building?

Three main groups meet regularly with enough people to be potentially problematic.

      1. SHIP's Galley II has contacted us to offer the options of either handing out bag lunches at the door, or having only volunteers come into the church in order to heat up food, which will be served from their food truck directly to clients. They will be able to make that choice, but in the best interest of their clients, the "everyone gather in Fellowship Hall" option is temporarily suspended.
      2. Alcoholics Anonymous meets in two rooms on Thursday nights, with a large crowd of over 75 people. Again, in the best interest of their own clients, large meetings like this are at present unhealthy. We are suspending the use of the church by AA until further notice.
      3. Iglesia de Dios meets Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. They have a small congregation, so they will be continuing their worship on Sunday. We are talking with them about Wednesday evening. 
      4. Virtually all other groups, like the Boy Scouts, are suspending operations temporarily.

Are we taking care of our staff?

Yes. We have spoken with each of our staff members regarding their sense of both their personal safety and their concern for the potential of passing along a virus to the congregation. We are respecting each one's personal decisions, and not docking pay or demanding the use of paid time to accommodate their decisions.

How will we receive pastoral care?

Where possible, Pastor Janssen will visit wherever he is welcome. However, many facilities are closing down to visitors. Please be aware that, as a public person, he has a reasonable concern for picking up a virus in a high-risk facility and then passing it on to someone else. For as brief as possible a time, it may be necessary to do pastoral care by telephone or through relatives of the person who is ill. Pastor Janssen regularly checks the church's phone line for messages, so if you have an urgent need for pastoral care, just call the church at 908-725-4545 and he'll be in touch as soon as he receives your call.

You may well have other questions. Please feel free to call us. We will respond as we are able, but be aware that sometimes the picture of what is happening changes by the hour. We DO want to keep everyone informed. We DON'T want to send so many messages that they will begin to seem overly repetitive.

None of us have ever weathered a storm quite like this one before. But we're all in the same boat, and we're not alone. Christ who calmed the winds and waves is with us, and we look to him for courage, strength, and wisdom. 

May his peace be with all of us as we ride this out together.

Pastor Janssen

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