Dear Church Family,
This Sunday and next Byfield Parish will continue to offer worship digitally on Youtube, Facebook Live, and Instagram at 10:45 AM. Lyrics for the praise music can be found on the church’s Facebook page, and will also be emailed out the morning of through our church directory.
This week Governor Charlie Baker issued additional orders to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus. Byfield is taking steps to follow those orders by ensuring that no more than 10 people are in any room of the church together, while also maintaining appropriate social distancing. This Sunday the Main Meeting Room will be limited to those who have a responsibility in leading God’s people in worship from the platform. There will still be spaces available for worship with others on the church grounds for those congregants who choose to do so. The Fellowship Hall and Parish House have been set aside for this purpose. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know.
The Deacons and Elders fo BPC have made an effort to check in with all congregants. If you personally have any physical or spiritual need, or are aware of anyone who does please let the church know.
Dear Byfield Parish Church Family,
This week I have spent a lot of time trying to plan for an unknown future due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is comforting to remember that God was not taken off-guard like the rest of us. He knew this disease was coming. We can trust that God has a purpose, and that His purpose is good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). We need not fear (1 John 4:18).
I was inspired this morning by a quote from Martin Luther that Carolyn Grifoni shared from her devotional. During the Black Plague Martin Luther wrote:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order to not become contaminated and not per-chance inflict or pollute others and so cause their deaths as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but shall go freely as stated above.
Luther’s approach is an excellent one. During this time of unforeseen crisis, Christians have an opportunity to exhibit the love of Christ and the confidence we have because of him. This is what we are called to as Christians, both individually and corporately.
This week I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find answers to the question of how Byfield Parish can continue to operate as a church with the limitations that exist. As most of you are probably aware, due to government restrictions, we will be unable to gather for Sunday worship or other events for at least the next 3 weeks.
The restrictions that exist don’t mean we can’t be the church. For us, the people of Byfield Parish, the current reality is an opportunity to faithfully live out the Gospel. It may not be as easy as our normal routine, but I suspect that if we are faithful, this might be a time that we look back on as a highlight of how the church is supposed to actually function in the world. Below are specific ways that BPC is responding to the current situation.
Worship: Regular corporate worship is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian(Hebrews 10:25). Due to the limitations we cannot gather physically. However, in an effort to still worship regularly together, Byfield is offering several different avenues for participation.
*Live Streaming – Each Sunday the service will be live streamed from the sanctuary. You may access this through our BPC Facebook page or go to our Website, byfieldparish.org, and click on Live Stream.
*By Phone – Not everyone has access to a computer. Those who don’t can listen to the worship service through a conference call. Call (712) 775-7031 and when prompted, type in meeting number 372041#. We are trying this on a trial basis. When you call, please put your own phone on mute.
*In Person – There are several options for worshipping together physically with other Christians in groups smaller than 10. Groups are gathering in homes as well as on the church campus in different locations to participate in digital live streams of the service together. To ensure these groups are not opportunities to pass on any sickness, all social distancing recommendations should be followed. Nobody with any symptoms should come, everyone should wash hands, and participants should stay at least 6 feet apart. If you would like to be part of one of these in-person gatherings, please call the church at 978-352-2022 or email me at email@example.com.
Community: Byfield Parish recommends everyone respect the recommendations the state and federal authorities have made during this time(Romans 13:1-2).
*With that in mind, all congregants should assume that all regular gatherings, events, and programs are on hold.
Some small groups may choose to continue to meet at the discretion of those involved.
*While we are limited in our ability to gather physically, that doesn’t mean we have no responsibility to care for one another. Phone calls, email, Facetime, and other means of connecting digitally are all great ways to connect.
Pastoral Care: The leadership of BPC takes very seriously the spiritual and physical needs of the congregation.
Efforts are being made to reach out to all congregants by phone.
*We would ask those congregants who have any spiritual or pressing financial needs to please let us know.
*We are attempting to initiate a shopping program for anyone that might be especially medically vulnerable. If you do not feel safe leaving the house to shop for groceries, please call the church office(978-352-2022) to let Jacqui know, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be assigned to help you.
Communication: During this time of crisis communication is particularly important. BPC is trying to use all available means to keep all congregants in the know.
*Prior to this event the office at Byfield was planning on doing a database update at the end of March. This situation has shown how important this is. We can only communicate if we have up-to-date information. Please fill out the database update form included in this letter and mail it back to the church at P.O. Box 335, Georgetown, MA 01833.
*If you have not received any emails from the church through the Realm system, it means we don’t have an accurate email for you in our database or that those emails are going to your junk folder. If this is the case, please let the Jacqui know by phone or email.
Finances: Various individuals that care about Byfield have expressed concerns about the financial implications of not being able to gather corporately and give our offerings. While we trust God to provide, we also recognize that God provides for the church through the generosity of His people. There are multiple means available for giving of tithes and offerings.
Checks can be mailed to the church at P.O. Box 335, Georgetown, MA 01833. Do not mail checks to the church’s physical address, this is where the Boylan’s personal mail goes.
*Use your banks’ online bill pay feature to have them send your donation to the church.
*Cash can be dropped off at the church during regular business hours, Tuesday through Friday from 9 AM until 3 PM.
*Efforts are currently underway to temporarily offer giving through online portals. We should have more information on this by early next week.
Times of crisis are an opportunity for God’s people, the church, to differentiate ourselves from the world. This was true for the early church; it was true during Martin Luther’s day; and it is true in the present. The more we come together by showing the love of Christ to one another and the world in general, the more God will be glorified. We may not be able to come together on Sundays as we normally do, but that doesn’t mean we cannot be the church. Church is happening wherever God’s people are living out the Gospel.
Dear Byfield Parish Church Family,
The Elders of BPC and myself have decided to conduct this Sunday’s worship service through digital means out of an abundance of caution. This caution is not tied to our own personal well-being or a spirit of fear, but is born of a desire to prioritize the health of our friends, neighbors, and families who are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus due to age or preexisting infirmity. This decision is in line with what Gov. Baker’s request: (https://patch.com/massachusetts/andover/s/h1r6z/ma-coronavirus-most-gatherings-of-250-prohibited?utm_source=alert-breakingnews&utm_medium=email&utm_term=lifestyle&utm_campaign=alert). It also fits with the decision made by area schools across the North Shore to cancel school for the next two weeks. Here is the letter explaining that decision: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jsBE3w6I_kU2EdG-QkQh2E30IEktq6_CvZStGi9xJUg/edit?usp=sharing
I personally agree with much of the sentiment expressed in the above letter. Right now there is a lot of information available, but also a lot of uncertainty. It is important we understand why these actions are being taken so broadly in the United States. Medical professionals seem to be universally recommending social distancing to “flatten the curve”(https://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2020/03/13/why-everything-is-closing-for-coronavirus-its-called-flattening-the-curve/#3b625126e2b1), and save lives in the process.
Some of these actions may turn out to be an overreaction, but we are making decisions based off of the advice of experts and out of a desire to be good neighbors. The current situation is unique in recent history due to the lack of any sort of vaccination or immunity that has developed naturally within the population. This makes Coronavirus different from the common cold or seasonal flu.
This is not a decision I take lightly or make out of fear. As Christians we need not fear sickness or even death. My hope is that by doing church digitally this Sunday we are loving our vulnerable neighbors well, even if they are not aware of this act of love. There are several ways to connect to Byfield Parish’s digital worship service this Sunday which will begin at 10:45 AM. The service can be accessed by going to Youtube and searching for Byfield Parish Church. Most smart TV’s are equipped with a Youtube app. The service will also be available through our website, byfieldparish.org. We will also post a link to the service on Youtube on Facebook, as well as in an email that will be sent out shortly before the service’s start time.
Other programs have also been cancelled at Byfield in the coming weeks. These include the Mission’s Dinner, the Mission’s Seder, the Tuesday morning women’s group, and the Senior Lunch that was scheduled for this Tuesday. Hopefully this situation will prove to be not as dangerous as the experts predict and we will return to normal worship next week.