Dear beloved St. Philippians:
We are writing to inform you that at the November 10 meeting of the St. Philip Church Council, the leadership body voted to postpone a return to indoor worship.
This decision was not made lightly, as numerous communications have already gone out and preparations had been made for the planned November 15 return date. Unfortunately, since council met and approved the November 15 plan at the October meeting, the coronavirus situation in our Roanoke area has changed. Roanoke and much of Southwest Virginia are now “hot spots,” and our local positivity rates are now running between 10-12%. Roanoke Memorial Hospital has its highest numbers of Covid19 patients yet and now has two floors dedicated to treating Covid patients.
This was a weighty decision. Council is aware that every single one of us longs to be back to worshipping in the sanctuary. We are certainly all feeling the frustration, fatigue, and sadness of not being able to gather in our traditional ways. But, we are called to care for our St. Philip community and our neighborhood community and gathering in groups in an enclosed space, even briefly, risks those we love. Again, this decision was not made lightly. We – your pastors and your church council – very much miss worshipping as we did prior to this pandemic season. We miss you and eagerly await the time when we can gather again!
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, remember always that we continue to be a community of faith. Our mission has not and does not stop – we will always seek to Live Like That, like Jesus, as we love, feed, and serve. At this time, we plan to continue to worship in creative ways using our online resources and conference calls, as well drive-up options. While worship brings us much comfort and joy, worship is primarily about God, who is the audience. So while worshipping in these formats may not be our preference, we are indeed still giving thanks and praise to God. If you have not yet connected with the worship options available, we do encourage you to do so.
As we continue through this season, feelings of isolation and loneliness are so prevalent. We all very much need each other and ask you to connect with one another. The St. Philip family is such a gift and we encourage you to check in with one another. We, your pastors, also want to connect with you and encourage you to connect with us. Most importantly, as challenges and disappointments are prevalent, remember always you are not alone. Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
In God’s Promise,
Pastor David and Pastor Laura