Pastor Nicoletti’s topical sermons regarding the pandemic can be found here.
Portions of Dr. Ryan Gross’s letters to his elder group regarding the coronavirus from a medical perspective can be found here.
Announcement: Outdoor Worship to begin June 14, 2020
Pastor Nicoletti announced on Sunday Morning that we will begin hosting outdoor services on June 14, 2020.
Letter to the Congregation: COVID-19 Update #2 – May 30, 2020
To the Congregation of Faith Presbyterian Church,
Many thanks to those of you who have written with your comments to the pandemic planning committee. We are reading them all and encourage you to continue sending helpful comments, advice, and questions to the dedicated e-mail address. (Note: We sent this out to the congregation by email. If you did not receive it, please contact the church office.)
We met again for 2-1/2 hours on Thursday evening, May 28th, and we are in the process of updating the Session this weekend. We will continue to advise you immediately about specific plans as they become available.
The committee has asked me to respond to your input as well as update you in general. Without quoting your comments and questions directly, the following paragraphs address the common themes in the e-mails we have received so far.
As you know, the situation is changing rapidly, and in Tacoma and Pierce County, the news regarding viral cases and hospitalizations continues to improve. There is a reason for thanksgiving to our merciful God!
As we move forward in response to this disease, it is going to be vitally important that we act in unison, in love for one another, as the Body of Christ. We can diminish the likelihood that one infected person will spread illness to one or two others. But more importantly, we must take the steps necessary to prevent one person from spreading this illness to 30 or 50 others at one time. Whatever our response looks like in the specific details, it will almost certainly involve masking, distancing, hand hygiene, and an individual willingness to stay home and away from others when we are ill. Alone, each step is insufficient but, taken together, they are a powerful deterrent to viral spread.
The officers are working hard preparing to deal with this viral disease and the attendant risks to our congregation. There is much to be done, and we will need many willing hands to help.
The frequent comparisons of COVID 19 to influenza have obscured the fact that this viral disease is unique, dangerous, and remains very incompletely understood. You need to know that the medical professionals caring for and studying COVID patients are generally quite alarmed. The comment, “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” is becoming common.
You should be aware, for instance, that (quite unlike influenza) roughly 5% of folks in their 50s who develop COVID-19 wind up in the hospital. That rate goes up further with increasing age. I did a quick run through the church directory and counted over 125 people whom I know are over 50 years of age. In the directory, I counted over 30 people who are either over the age of 80 or have serious high-risk health problems, or both.
As the virus has become better understood, it is more apparent that the primary mode of transmission is respiratory, and that people who are still a day or so from developing the symptoms are often highly infectious. And at this point, we have no way to identify those asymptomatic carriers who will put others near them at risk.
It is also more clear that a very efficient way to spread the virus widely is to pack large numbers of people into an enclosed space, have at least one symptomatic or asymptomatic carrier, and then sing or speak together for an hour or more. The reality is that congregational worship is a much higher risk event than shopping at Costco.
Like you, the officers of FPC are extremely desirous of resuming our worship and all aspects of our lives together as soon as possible. We are not operating in fear. We have not placed our confidence in science, but rather in the God whose orderly creation makes scientific study possible. We are not burning incense to emperors, but we are acknowledging our obligations to the civil authority God has established over us and to sacrificially love our community neighbors as the Scripture instructs us to do. And we have not forgotten our obligations to worship together nor are we unmindful of the losses we are all suffering in this time.
For those wishing help to find the right balance and wisdom as they face some of these same questions in their households, we encourage you to contact an elder directly to talk through the spiritual implications. We don’t have “one size fits all” solutions for you, but we would love to be of service to you in that way.
As we live through this pandemic we will need, together, to observe universal precautions for the coming months, for as long as SARS-COV2 is a threat. We will gather again, soon (the Lord willing), as soon as we can all learn, together, how to protect one another and especially the most vulnerable among us. Again, more details will be coming, but we want to encourage you to be mindful about masks (my mask protects you from me, and yours protects me from you), distancing (6 feet isn’t magic, but it is reasonable), hand hygiene (wash, wash, wash…this virus dissolves in soap and water), and staying home when ill (no one will ever criticize you ever again for staying home with a mere cold).
We cannot eradicate this virus, and so we will have to learn to live with it. In reliance upon God’s grace, we will learn together, and fast.
Blessings to all,
Ryan Gross M.D.
Elder Dr. Ryan Gross’s remarks during morning announcements – May 24, 2020
Elder and member of the planning committee Dr. Ryan Gross gave a few brief remarks regarding the congregational letter and current plans during morning announcements on May 24, 2020.
Letter to the Congregation: COVID-19 Update #1 – May 19, 2020
May 19, 2020
To the Congregation of Faith Presbyterian Church,
This is the first of what the Session anticipates will be a regular series of updates to you regarding our operations during the current COVID-19 pandemic. As you have heard, the Session and Diaconate have formed a committee of the pastors, the church administrator Mr. Whaley, two elders (Drs. Darby and Gross) and two deacons (Mr. Lawty and Mr. Skrivan) to supply recommendations and plans to the officers as we move through this public health emergency. That committee met on May 12, reported to the Session on May 14, and will continually reassess the evolving situation and our response to it.
We want you to be aware that our primary concerns remain fidelity to God’s Word, a firm commitment to our communal worship and sacraments and prayer, and the demonstration of love to God, to our neighbors, and to one another. The Session must seek balance between our Lord’s command to worship together with His command to care for the most vulnerable among us. We wish to restore in-person worship and the Lord’s Supper as soon as it is medically advisable and wise to do so.
At this moment, we think it is prudent to continue our current approach, with online worship on the Lord’s Day and online prayer meetings each Wednesday evening. We expect this will be our approach for several more weeks at the least. Church services, gathering as they do large numbers of people in enclosed spaces speaking and singing together, serve as efficient vectors of respiratory virus transmission. We judge that the risk of community spread of this deadly infection remains quite high at this time.
Much remains unknown about the nature of the pandemic virus (SARS-COV-2) and the disease it causes. There are yet many active cases of COVID-19 in Pierce County, and particularly in Tacoma. Worse still, the known cases probably represent only 10% or less of the actual infections in the community. 17% of the known cases in Pierce County are in health care workers. Pray on for those most vulnerable among us.
We are establishing a dedicated email address for questions and insights from members and adherents of the congregation. (Note: We sent this out to the congregation by email. If you did not receive it, please contact the church office.) We will gather those together intermittently and attempt to periodically address relevant questions and helpful advice with these updates over time. Also, we will establish a dedicated page on our church website for the publication of these updates.
We recognize that any decisions we reach will invariably come as welcome news and relief to some, and significant frustration to others among us. In the face of this calamity, and the reality of human uncertainty and ignorance, we call the congregation to prayerful humility both in public and in private. We will all, together as the Body of Christ, seek His wisdom for us.
Pray on for God’s continued great mercy to us in this time of trouble.
For the Session,
Ryan Gross M.D.
Letter to the Congregation: What to Expect in the Weeks Ahead – March 19, 2020
Dear FPC Family,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It has been an eventful week since my last letter to you on March 13th. It has been a time of adjustment and change for everyone, with shifting practices regarding work, new homeschooling tasks and responsibilities for students and parents, disconnection from our church and communities for all, and anxiety and uncertainty for many. This is a challenging experience for everyone.
And yet, as we remind ourselves again and again, Christ is Lord. He loves us and is sovereign.
At the church, our leadership has been working on how we can best continue to minister to you all under these challenging and unusual circumstances, continuing to do the work of the Church as best we can, while loving our neighbors through best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
I’d like to update you all on what to expect from the church in the weeks ahead:…
Letter to the Congregation: Cancelling of In-Person Worship – March 13, 2020
Dear Faith Family,
After a lot of thought the session has decided to cancel our gathering for worship this coming Lord’s Day, March 15th. We have also decided to cancel all mid-week church events from March 16th through
As an alternative to gathering together for worship, we will offer a streaming service available at 11:00 on our website.
Under the video there will be a link to a PDF with the order of service. We’d encourage you to join us at 11:00 through the streaming video, with the PDF open before you either in another window, or on another device. The PDF will include scans of the hymns that we will be singing from the hymnal.
This is, of course, not ideal. It’s not the same as being together, in any number of ways. This was a difficult decision for the session to make for that very reason. We rightly value the gathering with God’s people, on the Lord’s Day, to worship. We can worship God individually and with our families of course – and that is very good. But it is not the same as being together with the gathered congregation. Nonetheless, we are still united as God’s people by his Spirit, and the technology of the livestream allows us to worship at the same time, even while in separate places. We are thankful for that…