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April 3, 2020 Update

A Message from Pastor Fitz

Dear Columbia,   

 

This Sunday is Palm Sunday which leads us into Holy Week.  Who ever thought we would be sheltering in place, working to outlast an invisible enemy in a virus that would spread so rapidly around the world in April 2020?  No one!  Not since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 102 years ago – in 1918 – has the world seen anything like this.  It is not unprecedented.  In other times and places there have been plagues, war, famine and sickness.

 

But it has been a long, long time, hence we are a bit off our maps and don’t know quite how to do this ‘shelter in place’ thing.  I hope that, as we journey through this time together, we will learn and adapt, but I also hope we don’t have to do it again for an equally long time!

 

That being said, I want to reflect on a few things that are increasingly obvious to me – and probably to you as well.

This is causing many to re-evaluate what’s most important in life.  Most things we’ve come to take for granted have been stripped away – health, shopping, regular work, freedom to move about as we wish, and gathering together for any reason — even to worship God.  Since all those are taken away for the time being, we are being forced to learn what we value the most.  I encourage you to talk about this with your loved ones and to write down and remember what you are learning about what matters most to you.  Then, arrange life around those things when the treatments and vaccine arrive and the scourge of this virus fades.  I hope our strengthened ties and values will remain, but I also know that they will only do so if we choose to keep them central when all is well.

 

The coronavirus crisis is exposing our false idols.  A false idol is something, other than God, on which we place our hearts, our focus, and our hopes as something that can deliver for us what we want and need. False idols are what people actually worship and adore, rather than what people say they worship and adore.  Sports are a false idol.  Right now, they’re gone.  Money and being able to buy and spend as we wish is an idol for so many in our consumerist culture.  Those assumptions are now very much in question.  Health itself – the assumption that nothing in the modern world can really harm us physically — is a false idol on which, especially young people, have placed their dreams and hopes.  That can no longer be assumed. I could go on and on.  The point is that what or whom we really believe in is being exposed as in no other way I’ve seen in my lifetime. 

  

As all we took for granted is stripped away, as much of what we value is questioned, as our false idols are exposed, we are being given a once in a lifetime chance to re-affirm our complete and total trust in God alone as our chief desire, our central hope, and the core of our lives.  The virus is a terrible thing and thousands are being hurt by it in one way or another.  I wish it had never happened.  Yet I also know that God will take this horrible thing and bend it to His good purposes for the whole world by causing many to turn from all that shall pass away and to Him – the Triune Lord, whose Word and love and salvation are eternal and shall never pass away.

 

So as we enter Holy Week, I ask that we do so with a renewed determination “to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding, but that, in every way we will acknowledge Him and let Him make our paths straight.”  Jesus’ triumph over sin and death and evil and injustice on the cross and the resurrection is the place where we place our trust.  May God be glorified by how we respond to this time in world history.

 

Worship & Activities Suspension Extended until further notice – When we first instituted this suspension, we did so through March 30.  At this point, in order to support the Governor’s ‘shelter in place’ order, the Elders decided to continue the suspension until such time as the Governor declares that we may all return to normal activities.  We will let you know when we can meet again! Until then, we are worshiping together each week online!

 

Worship Videos for EACH WEEK are available on the CPC Website and mobile app:  Either go to the home page and click on the upper bar that says, ‘Worship Videos,’ or click on ‘Media’ and go to ‘Worship Videos.’ 

 

Blessings to EACH of you in Jesus,

~Pastor Fitz

 

March 27, 2020 Update

 

A Message from Pastor Fitz

 

Dear Columbia,

Believers in Jesus are people of hope.  What that means at the most practical level is that we know the future is in God’s hands and that, whatever might be going on in the present, it is not permanent; there is good on the other side of all things — whether it’s sickness, a pandemic, a work challenge, a relationship struggle, or even death itself.

 

So I want to express my own hope that in the future this crisis will pass, the infection rate will diminish, and the world will get back to work and we will be able to gather again for worship and encouragement.

 

What this hope — and Christian hope in general — doesn’t mean is that believers need not be thoughtful or careful in the midst of something challenging.  Hope in Christ means that we take all proper precautions, diligently serve our neighbors, and take care of ourselves and each other.  Christian hope does mean that we live today as though the future will be good again.  We don’t know exactly when or exactly how, but we do know all shall be well.

 

So, once again, I encourage you to live into our hope in Christ as we work our way through this current upheaval.  That hope is one of the best gifts we can give each other and those around us. 

 

Here’s just one example of how we are able to provide hope to others right here in Vancouver:  early last week, we heard that the fine educators at our adopted neighborhood school MAC Middle School were in need of food cards to distribute to student families for groceries.  We were able to respond immediately through the Deacons Fund with 40-$25 WinCo cards and delivered to the staff there by Tuesday afternoon.  When Terry Hurley called the school to let them know we were ready to deliver the cards, the person on the phone was overwhelmed to the point of tears. I think that we were able to give hope to 40 families… 

 

How is Jesus calling you to give hope to those around you?

 

Here are a few other ‘news’ items for Columbia’s life together:

 

The Office is Closed until Further Notice – Along with the rest of the businesses in Washington State, we closed the church office to regular business last Wednesday.  As of Wednesday morning, the entire staff is working from home.  The best way to reach us will be through email.  BUT!  Our server went down on Saturday evening and wasn’t up again until Thursday.  Please be patient with us as we work on catching up on all our emails.  Pray for the staff as we change the way we do everything.  We are working harder than ever, but in totally different ways and places.

 

Worship & Activities Suspension Extended until further notice – When we first instituted this suspension, we did so through March 30.  At this point, in order to support the Governor’s ‘shelter in place’ order, the Elders decided to continue the suspension until such time as the Governor declares that we may all return to normal activities.  We will let you know when we can meet again!

 

Palm Sunday Lord’s Supper – During our worship on Palm Sunday, we WILL share in the Lord’s Supper together!  Please be prepared with bread and wine or grape juice (or, if you don’t have either, any appropriate fruit juice will do…).  After our time in the Word, I will lead us in celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the comfort of our own homes.  You can join in either individually, or as a household.  After all — EVERY meal is supposed to be a sharing in the life of Jesus as our risen Lord.  That’s what saying grace before meals is really all about.

 

The Bible Project – If you have been following the sermons on video, you may have noticed that I keep referencing an online resource for Bible reading and study called, ‘The Bible Project.’  I have found their resources to be some of the best I’ve ever encountered.  I strongly encourage each of you to register to be a part of Bibleproject.com.  Everything is free and is superbly done.  Here is the hyperlink:  https://bibleproject.com/. This week in particular, before you watch the worship video, I am asking you to watch a 5-minute video the Bible Project has produced called, The Tree of Life

 

Here is the hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=TJLan-pJzfQ&feature=emb_logo. If you can, watch this before you watch the worship video — it will deeply enhance your understanding of how Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches.  Every age group will enjoy this.

 

Blessings to EACH of you in Jesus,

~Pastor Fitz

 

 

March 25, 2020 Update

 

Columbia Presbyterian staff members are now working from home in compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.  To reach a staff member, please leave a phone message on the main church phone line, 360-694-7549.  We are checking messages multiple times each day.

 

Note: the church email system is currently out of service.  We are presently unable to receive or send emails using xxx@columbiapresbyterian.org email addresses.  Our technology support team is working to restore our system as soon as possible.   

 

March 20, 2020 Update

 

A Message from Pastor Fitz

 

Dear Friends of Columbia,

 

This is the first of a weekly ‘newsletter’ we will be sending out for the duration of the coronavirus situation.  The purpose of this is to keep our communication going.  We will try to keep this as brief and direct as possible each week.

 

For the meantime, we will suspend the publication of the Pilot Light, and go with this format. 

  • Office Hours – we are staggering the presence of the office staff in order to keep everyone healthy and functioning on behalf of  the congregation.  Office hours are 10-2, Monday-Thursday.  If you need to come to the office for some reason, just ring the doorbell and we’ll come find you.
  • Staff Duties – the staff is actually busier now than we were before, so keep us in your prayers.  The housekeeping staff is catching up on overdue projects around the church and keeping things in working order.  The Administrative Staff is busy setting up various details related to Zoom meetings, communications, and other support. The Program Staff is busy working on communication with families and individuals, working with the Elders and Deacons, and planning online worship and spiritual growth and fellowship resources.  We are belt-tightening in every way possible in order to marshal and allocate the church’s resources with excellent stewardship. We are cutting back everywhere we can, while also keeping the staff engaged and busy during this time.  Pray for us!
  • Website – during this time, please utilize the website as often as you can.  We will post updates there, as well as the worship services (every Saturday Evening), and other resources. 
    • Click on this link, to go to the worship videos page:  Worship Videos
  • Thank you for welcoming the phone calls and check-ins – you will be receiving from the Elders and Deacons and Program Staff.  We want to do a good job of staying connected and making sure everyone’s needs are being met as best we can.
  • Bless the world!  – I hear so many inspiring stories throughout our fellowship of ways that you are blessing your neighbors and Clark County.  There are so many who need your faith and encouragement, not mention your prayers…

March 14, 2020 Update

 

This week’s worship video is available now, for you to watch from home or wherever you may be gathered with family and friends. 

 

You can navigate to the video from our main web menu. 

Go to ‘MEDIA’ and then select ‘Worship Videos’. 

-or- 

Click on this link, to go to the video page:  Worship Videos & Resources

 

March 13, 2020 Update

 

The letter below was sent from Pastor Fitz to members and friends who have an email address on file with the church office.  To be added to the email distribution list, please send an email to info@columbiapresbyterian.org:

 

Dear Columbia,

 

As the coronavirus has continued to spread, the elders and the staff thought it best to make a reluctant, but important decision.  Please read this email carefully.  I want to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible. 

  • Sunday Worship Services and Regularly scheduled activities during the week, like Wednesday Evening are all suspended until March 30, at which time we will reassess the situation.
    • This means that we will not have worship services at the church, or Wednesday evening classes or Bible studies at the church
    • The reason for this is simple:  social distancing is the most effective way to slow down the spread of the virus, and churches are one of the few places where many people of all ages gather on a regular basis.  So, taking a break from gathering is a healthy thing to do.
  • We are providing an alternative worship experience each week on the Website.
    • Each Sunday You will be able to go to the church website and there will be buttons that says: “Worship Videos & Spiritual Growth Resources.”  Just punch either button and you will find:
      • A worship video that guides you through a worship experience that you can do at home or wherever you might be!  (You can even worship in your jammies…)
  • Spiritual Growth and Fellowship Resources for All Ages.
    • This will be put together on a regular basis by the staff – there will be suggested resources for families, kids, and adults.
  • Regular Phone Calls.
    • As a way of deepening our connections rather than losing them during this time, please expect and welcome a phone call from time to time from an elder or a deacon.  They will call just to see how everyone is doing, as well as to see if anyone needs assistance that we can help with.  The Deacons can’t do everything we might need, but many times they can help out…
  • Assess our Missional Presence in Clark County
    • It’s going to be an interesting time going forward related to economic needs, child-care, and other things.  We would hope that you would be prayerful looking and praying about where Columbia might be able to help meet needs in our community, and let us know!

 Above all, know that the Lord is with you and with our region, country, and the world.  God is working through medical professionals and researchers, as well as communities of faith like Columbia, friendships and neighborhoods to get through this time.  As a friend of Matt’s said, “This is a time for Christians not only to wash their hands, but to discern how God is calling us to wash our neighbors feet.”  Of course, that doesn’t mean literally, but it does mean that we can be those who minister to those around us and who are in need.

 

I also received this, from a member of Columbia who passed it along to me from her pastor at a previous church:

 

     Lent, the season of 40 days reflection leading up to Easter, began this year as usual with ashes imposed on our foreheads and hands to remind us that “from dust we came and to dust we shall return.”  And then COVID19 showed up in our city to underscore our vulnerability as human beings.

     Sorting out the practical from the sensational, balancing care with caution, listening to daily news reports (the latest today from WHO declaring that we are now in a pandemic) can take up a lot of energy.  It’s easy for our fears to grow large as more events get cancelled and institutions close down.  But sabbath, the spiritual practice of “rest” and “stopping,” is nothing new to us.  A worldwide economic, societal and institutional sabbath can stem the virus’ effects.

     Again, we’re in Lent – the time when we make space in our lives to become aware of God’s presence and God’s truths in our world.  So, here’s my suggestion:  As COVID19 imposes more and more “space” in our schedules, our face-to-face group interactions, and our thoughts, let’s not rush to fill the space with fear.

     Isn’t that good?  “Let’s not rush to fill the space with fear…”

 

Hopefully, as the country responds by taking this national sabbath from gatherings, we will be able to celebrate and rejoice together soon, saying “He is RISEN!”  He is risen indeed…

 

Please go the website for regular updates.  Enjoy the worship and spiritual growth experiences we will be providing.  And pray…

 

            Blessings,

 

            Fitz

 

Fitz Neal, Pastor

Columbia Presbyterian Church

www.columbiapresbyterian.org

 

 

 

March 10, 2020 Update

 

Columbia Presbyterian Church leaders continue to monitor the latest news regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in our local area.  At this time, no church staff members or members of the congregation have reported symptoms or close contact with an infected person. 

 

Columbia Presbyterian Church will continue to hold all activities scheduled for Wednesday (03/11/2020.) 

 

The decision regarding Sunday worship services and the Youth Work Camp Auction will be made later this week, based on the recommendation of the Clark County Public Health Department and conditions in our community.  Church staff are exploring alternatives for online participation, which could be activated, if we need to cancel Sunday worship services.     

 

We will update this notice, send an all church email, and send a push notice for users of our church mobile app, if there are cancellations.

 

Note: The Presbyterian Women have decided to cancel the Spring Sale which was scheduled for April 2-4.  Further communications regarding the sale cancellation will be included in the Worship Bulletin and Pilot Light newsletter.

 

March 5, 2020 Update

 

We will be holding our regular worship services on Sunday (03/08/2020), which will include conducting our Mission Study/Congregational Survey.   We look forward to seeing you all.

 

In an abundance of caution, due to COVID-19, we will abstain from shaking hands during our greeting time, and we will not pass the offering baskets.  There are hand sanitizer stations outside of the sanctuary and at the building entrance. 

 

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads in the United States, we at CPC want to do our part in containing it and maintaining health.  The health and well-being of our church family and community is not taken lightly.  Our leadership team is actively monitoring the situation, including current recommendations from the CDC and Clark County Public Health Department, and will take action as the situation evolves. 

 

We are following recommended sanitation protocols.  We’re taking extra steps to be diligent in cleaning frequently touched surfaces. 

 

We encourage anyone who might be feeling under the weather, or who has a member of the household who is feeling under the weather, to stay at home.  We will be providing alternative options for completing the Mission Study Congregational Survey.  If you’re concerned about missing the sermon, be aware that you may listen to a recording of the sermon.  We post the sermon on our website and mobile app on Mondays.

 

According to the WA State Department of Health: Currently, the immediate risk to the general public in Washington and the United States is considered to be lowChurches and schools do not need to take any special precautions beyond what is normally recommended to prevent the spread of viruses. 

 

You can help reduce the risk for getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, by taking simple steps which will also prevent COVID-19. These include:

  • Staying home when sick.
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose. Help young children do the same. If hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water to clean hands.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash and cleaning hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not readily available).