March 15, 2020

Dear First Parish,

I hope that you all are well and safe. This has been a very dramatic and uncertain week. The downturn in the stock market and the evolving news about the COVID-19 virus have been very worrisome concerns for many.

The PC has been emailing and calling each other and it is in close contact with Rev Rankin. We will meet by phone this Wednesday to review our public health situation as well as current church business. If you have something of importance to discuss, please send it along to Gert for the agenda.

The church has been very well-served by its staff during this time. These professionals have been charged with evaluating our members’ needs for safety and pastoral care; protecting our facilities and maintaining a healthy work and prayerful environment; anticipating needs in the absence of policy; continuing with transition responsibilities; and they have found time to arrange a creative response to our spiritual needs with a streaming service. This has required a good deal of discussion and creativity. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and creative staff.

Rev Rankin asked for a Task Force to advise her on immediate actions that must be taken on behalf of the parish. Thank you to those members who have stepped forward.

The PC has been asked to vote on certain major changes, but it has empowered Rev Rankin to do what she and her consultants deem to be prudent regarding day to day activities of FPL.  The urgency of this situation requires leadership and quick decisions; her judgment and problem solving talent have been spot on. FPL is very fortunate to have this experienced and thoughtful pastor.

Looking ahead, we will find time after addressing the first wave of this challenge to address ongoing needs. We will remember that this church and our country have weathered many significant challenges and we will manage this one as well. It is unusual to do so by keeping distance and sheltering in place; we ski to church in blizzards and gather on the Commons. But, this  situation calls for us to use technology to maintain a connection and to trust those whom we have empowered to lead us by taking thoughtful, quick and effective action on our behalf.

Remain calm and connected to each other. There is a First Parish, even if it is serving ‘virtual’ cookies on Sunday for awhile.

Nick Covino
for the Parish Committee

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