I’m writing to you all this evening to update you on our community’s plans, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Board and I have decided that as of Friday, March 13th, we are suspending all in-person WellSprings gatherings, until further notice.
In our conversations over the past week, I’ve heard how many of you are dealing with the changing environment around COVID-19 in your own workplaces, in schools, and with your families. The Board and I have also been taking this day by day – and sometimes, it has felt, hour by hour – as the situation evolves. What we shared in yesterday’s Weekly e-mail has not changed: at this time, there is no recommendation from the Chester County Health Department (CCHD) to cancel religious services, and the Montgomery School is open. According to CCHD, at this time there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chester County.
I also know that our commitment to beloved community sometimes means going above and beyond – taking extra care, both with and for each other – in service of the public good, for those outside our doors. In the past few days, the Board and I have come to trust the guidance of many, including those within our own denomination, who remind us that in the midst of a pandemic, canceling non-essential gatherings and keeping physical distance are vital ways to care for ourselves and our neighbors. I have been remembering that even though we are physically located in Chester County, our attendees on Sunday mornings regularly include residents of eight area counties (Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia, and New Castle County in Delaware). Things are rapidly changing – Gov. Wolf’s announcement about closures in Montgomery County, for example, happened during the Board’s conference call this afternoon, to discuss WellSprings’ plans. As much as I love seeing your faces each week, and as much as I know how vital a lifeline our community is, I believe we can find other ways to stay connected through this time.
Already, our community uses our podcast feed to listen to Sunday messages, and our WellSprings Oasis group to stay connected on Facebook. We have a YouTube channel for sharing video, and an account with Zoom for holding meetings and small groups virtually. Before Sunday, we will be in touch with you to share a variety of planned ways to help members of our community – of all ages – stay connected. If you are part of a specific, ongoing group (e.g. OWL or YouthSpirit, WellSprings 2.0, Mindful Recovery, or one of our Ministries or Teams), please stay tuned for info on either postponement, or alternate virtual plans, for your gatherings. We do not have an end date for this suspension – together with the School and local health authorities, we will continue to assess, day by day, when to re-open.
In the meantime, if you need support, please ask. Myself, our Caring Team, and our HeartWorks Team will do what we can, and may also be able to connect you to broader networks of support. If you anticipate needing assistance with deliveries of food, medication, or are struggling with lost wages, contact me to access help through our Emergency Assistance Fund. If you have resources to spare, you can also donate to that Fund here.
I hope that with these measures, we can all help prevent spread of COVID-19, and that all of us, and our loved ones, are able to stay well. No matter how long our in-person closure lasts, we’ll be ready to stay connected to each other, and to support each other, in whatever new ways the situation requires.
I’m so glad, as always, to be in community with all of you.
Rev. Lee Paczulla