Dear Sunset Family,
I want to let you know what we are doing at
Sunset to help our state health officials combat the spread of the coronavirus
(COVID-19)––and the anxiety associated with it. There’s a lot to cover in this
update, but PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE EMAIL so you have accurate information.
First, as your pastor, I encourage you to fix
your thoughts on Jesus. In the midst of this time, we have the peace of
Jesus—which is supernatural, unique and powerful. God is at work even now.
There is no need to fear or panic. Instead, live with expectancy for ways God
will work through this, even as we seek to make wise decisions regarding public
health and activities for our church.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. The peace
I give is a peace the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. --
With that important foundation in mind and in
light of the current public health crisis, we are sensitive to the threat of
the spread of COVID-19 in the Portland/Beaverton area. We have been actively
monitoring the recommendations from the CDC and the Oregon
Health Authority. We are taking preventative actions in response
to the evolving situation in our area.
To that end, we have decided to follow the
guidelines proposed by the Washington County Health Authority,
to have groups over 250 people."
After weighing our options, in an effort to
go “above and beyond” these initial guidelines to protect people and promote
peace in our community, the Sunset leadership has decided we will
follow their recommendation and hold church services ONLY VIA LIVE STREAMING THROUGH
April 8. In taking this extraordinary step, we want to communicate that Sunset
is committed to the health and prosperity of our whole community.
We will continue to monitor current events
and updates regarding the transmission of this novel virus and keep you
informed. As of now, we plan to maintain our current teaching calendar and
continue our series Highlights in Leviticus and encourage you to join
us from home using the live stream. We also will have available videos for children and
questions to ask as you lead your family during worship.
While we never want to respond to uncertainty
with fear, we do want to be a church known for deep compassion and good
citizenship. The Bible tells us, “Seek
the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you...”
It’s in that spirit that we are following the
health department’s recommendation. This is a Christ-like, sacrificial way to
show that we love the most vulnerable in our community above ourselves.
MAKE "DIGITAL CHURCH" YOUR MISSION OPPORTUNITY
Let me be clear: Church is not
canceled. It’s just changed.
For these next few weekends, let’s all
continue to gather—in our homes, with our neighbors, with our small groups—by
watching the livestream of our church services. I encourage you to do this as
kind of a “home church”––and possibly a new way to introduce friends and
neighbors to Sunset!
Our livestream services will be full of joy,
encouragement, and hope––what everyone needs in times of uncertainty. Whether
you’re joining us alone or with a group, send a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share it with everyone, or post directly to
social media on Instagram or Facebook.
We will be streaming on www.sunsetpres.org and Facebook at 10:00AM on Sundays.
Is this ideal? No. I can’t wait to get back
to in-person, live services! But it will still be fun. I am so grateful we
already have the infrastructure that enables us to provide this solution to
continue our mission to make disciples of all nations!
In our effort to go “above and beyond” these initial guidelines
on gathering of 250 plus, we have canceled all scheduled programs and events on
campus through Monday, March 30.
However, we will continue to reach out to the
most vulnerable in our community through Helping Hands, Pack the Pack, Family
Promise and the Red Cross blood drives.
In addition, we are working together across
our departments and redirecting staff energies on some creative ways we can
support you over these next weeks. More to come soon!
STILL BE THE CHURCH
Sunset is and always will be about proclaiming
the Kingdom of God. While the COVID-19 health crisis may change how we interact
with the world, it does not change our needs and the needs of our community. We
must continue to care for those around us - to meet the physical, spiritual,
and emotional needs of our neighbors and coworkers. So let us use this time to
care for those around us intentionally. Talk to your community about how you
can support each other. Ask about child care needs, picking up and dropping off
groceries, but most importantly, don't forget about your community's spiritual
needs. Offer to pray for and with them. Invite them to watch the live stream of
the worship service with you on Sunday.
One of the most practical ways
you can help is by remembering to support Sunset financially
during this time. We encourage you to be an online giver, preferably a monthly
recurring giver. Our staff is still working, and our local and global partners
who rely on our support are still serving. One of our extraordinary prayers is
that giving does not drop off during this season as we continue to be the Church.
You can donate in the following simple ways:
- To give a one-time donation, or become a monthly
recurring giver using our online giving platform
- You can give on your mobile device by texting “sunsetpres”
to 77977 and following the link
- You can also mail or drop your gift by check to Sunset
Sunset Presbyterian Church
Attn: Finance Dept
14986 NW Cornell Rd
Portland OR 97229
TIPS AND PREVENTION
In the meantime, please pray with us for the
containment of COVID-19 and for the protection of those primarily on the front
lines of service – EMS/first responders, doctors, and nurses. Let us remember
those who are particularly vulnerable – the elderly and those with compromised
immune systems. Take care of yourself and others by paying attention to the
best practices from the Oregon Health Authority, which includes some general
tips for prevention:
- Wash your hands often
with warm running water and soap for 20-seconds.
- If soap and water are
not available, use an alcohol-based hand wash product.
- Cover your coughs and
sneezes using your sleeve or a tissue, not your bare hand.
- Avoid touching your
eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home if you're
- Avoid close contact
with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect
objects and surfaces that are frequently touched surfaces at home and
work, including your mobile devices.
There are steps every household should take
to prepare in case they need to stay home for an extended time:
- Establish a child
care plan in the event your kids need to stay home from school.
- Make sure you have
the necessary food, drinks, medications, and pet supplies if you need to
stay home and limit your contact with other people for a couple of weeks.
- Also, please reach
out to your neighbors, especially those who might need extra help, such as
older adults or people living alone.
STAY HOPEFUL AND PRAYERFUL
I know God is going to work through this in
ways we can’t even imagine now. I have no doubt He will sustain and strengthen
us in the days ahead, and redeem this unique season for His glory and our
He can deepen your faith.
He can deepen your family’s spiritual life as
you worship together.
He can use the homes throughout our city
streaming our services to reach people who may never have entered a church
As Christians we were called “for such a time
as this," to be people who bring peace to a world full of panic.
So please pray for the leadership of our state.
Pray for those who are impacted by this disease. Pray that people all over the
world will draw closer to God.
I’ll leave you with some Scripture that helps
me refocus on God when I’m anxious:
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. Psalm 25:1
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Can
any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25a,27
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
God bless you always,
Pastor Steve Ruetschle