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March 17th, 2020

To the Church Family at Westminster,

With the advent of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, the Church has to make some significant decisions on how to go forward over the next few weeks.  The situation is fluid with things changing quickly.  On Sunday, Governor McMaster closed public schools until at least March 31st and encouraged groups of 100 or more not to meet.  On Monday, the CDC recommended groups over 50 not meet.  Later Monday, President Trump set out guidelines for us to avoid social gatherings involving groups of 10 or more.

Because of all that is happening, we need to respond wisely and well.


First and foremost, any and all actions we take, we want to come from a stance of faith and love not from fear and selfishness.  We are God’s people who have been given everything we need for life and godliness through the Lord Jesus Christ (even what we need to go through a pandemic).  We want to walk by faith in our God and love our neighbors well.


From that stance of faith in Christ as our Lord and out of love for the people around us, we want to modify significantly how we do church life over the next few weeks.  The proposal outlined below is a temporary measure for our current situation.  The leadership of the church will evaluate when we believe church life will go back to a normal schedule.  In the meantime, here is what is being proposed:

  1. Starting this week, Sunday School and Worship Services will not be held at the church building until further notice.  We are doing this so that we can be a part of the goal of trying to slow down the progress of the virus.  This is how we can love our community well . . . by not inadvertently exposing members and visitors to the virus and contributing to a possible outbreak here in Sumter.

    • We encourage individuals and families to worship in their homes.  Pastor Stuart will prepare a SS lesson, a worship guideline, and a message from Scripture to share with the congregation via an online source.  The worship guideline will contain the elements of the regular worship service (songs, readings, prayers, sermon outline, etc.).  We’re providing the guideline and the recorded message so that each household will be able to worship on their own with the helps provided.

    • Additionally, the church building will be closed until public worship resumes. The staff will work and minister via telework and they will remain accessible by text, telephone, and email. The staff will continue to answer the office telephone and email during the office closure.

  2. For the next couple of weeks, all other church activities are being suspended.  This includes Youth Group, Ladies’ Bible Study, Life Groups, and other events such as the Ladies’ Tea that was scheduled for this Saturday and the M2M Campout.  In the meantime, Nathan is reaching out to Youth Leaders and parents to get a better feel for what may be helpful to stay connected and engage with our youth well.  Cheryl has reached out to the women of Westminster to see if there will be any need for childcare since schools will be out at least until March 31st.

  3. Life Group Leaders are encouraged to talk with their group about how to navigate the coming weeks.  Various questions need to be addressed by each group such as how the group can pray and care for each other, how the group will communicate any needs that arise, and how the group may adopt Westminster folks who are not currently a part of a Life Group to help care for them. 

  4. Our deacons will be checking in with our senior saints on a regular basis.  They also encourage giving to the Samaritan’s Fund so that we will be better equipped to help any financial needs that may arise among our members.

  5. Because so much is in flux right now, the leadership of Westminster will communicate to each other via group text messages.  We will communicate to the congregation through the website, email, and through Life Group leaders.    

  6. Pastor Stuart’s Sabbatical was scheduled to begin April 13th.  Given what is happening, his Sabbatical will be rescheduled to later this year.

  7. Because we will not be meeting for a formal worship service for a few Sundays, we are working on ways to continue receiving offerings and contributions.  Our hope is to set up a process for online giving.  More information about this will be forthcoming.  For those who want to give non-electronically, we ask for you to send a check in the mail. Michele will continue to make deposits each week

  8. If there are any of our elderly or immunocompromised members who need assistance in getting groceries or other supplies, please contact the church office.  We want to be a help to you all as much as we can during this time.

  9. Regardless of what else we might do, let’s commit time to pray.  Praying is the most important thing we can do!

Grace and Peace,
The Officers and Staff of Westminster


March 13th, 2020

To the Church Family at Westminster,

The Officers and Staff at Westminster continue to monitor the updates to our community regarding the COVID-19 virus.  At this time, we are planning to continue worship services as scheduled throughout the week of March 15th, but this may change as more information is made available to the community. We will notify you of any changes to these plans through a follow-up message to this email and through a posting to the church website.

As of today, we encourage you to observe the CDC’s recommendations while out in public, which include:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then disposing of the tissue in the trash.

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Furthermore, if you have concerns about the virus’ impact to your own health, we encourage you to consider staying away from public gatherings, including church services.  If you are already sick or have a compromised immune system, please play it safe and stay home.  If you have traveled to an area where the virus is prevalent, please stay home.  If you do decide to stay home, would you consider letting the church office or a church officer or a staff member know so that we can check in on you throughout the week.

We are providing this guidance to our church community with a spirit of hope, not a spirit of fear, knowing that the Lord is sovereign. We have the peace of God which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. His provision in all things lifts us up, even in the midst of trouble.

Grace and Peace,

The Staff of Westminster

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