Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen

May 28, 2020

Dear Friends,

The President of the Montreat Conference Center, Richard DuBose, wrote in an emailed newsletter that our current situation feels like driving in the fog. We can only see a few feet ahead of us and if we turn our bright lights on, in an attempt to see further, it only makes things worse. I resonate with that sentiment.  As the information swirls around us – much of it conflicting and all of it evolving – decisions seem to be made best at a slow speed for only the few feet ahead of us. That is how I am approaching making decisions for our congregation.  I want to affirm that this congregation has already shown itself to be flexible, grace-filled and resilient! We are learning as we go, and have already done so many things that we would not have believed possible a few short months ago. I know we can make it through to a clearer spot together, but let me tell you how I and the Session and Staff are proceeding to make decisions.

At the May 17th Stated Session meeting, the Session voted to take a facts focused approach to decision making.  They approved using the information from a variety of objective markers in our decision making:  DHEC Data (especially new cases and the information from our nearby zip codes); Health Experts’ Guidance (National and State Level); Federal, State and Local Policies (esp. AccelerateSC, and the White House’s Opening Up America Again document); Vaccine Information; Guidance from our Hospitals and Nursing/Rehab Facilities; Guidance from Richland School Districts 1 & 2 and surrounding Daycares; and input from our Public Safety Officials (Forest Acres PD, Richland County Sherriff’s Office and the City of Columbia PD).

We are currently – as you know – worshipping only remotely via livestream.  We will offer a “Drive-In” option this Sunday at 8:30am in the Rockbridge Parking Lot (watch your email and our website for details) in addition to livestreaming worship at 10am.  And while we have relied mostly on video and phone meetings, we have allowed small group meetings of ten or fewer folks as long as safety practices are followed.  The Staff are all able to work remotely, and have taken turns being in the office.  Essentially, the church is closed except for essential business.  Despite that a lot is going on under the surface!  Ministries continue to meet.  The Congregational Nominating Committee is hard at work.  The Board of Deacons is doing an inspiring job of keeping in touch with our members! 

The Staff and Ministries are right now working on steps that will allow us to re-open in phases when the Session believes that we can balance both our need to be together and move back towards life together AND the health and safety of the most vulnerable members of our church and larger community. Next week, I want to write more about a theological frame that can help us make both meaning and decisions.  For now, I hope that you will all read the Apostle Paul’s image of the Church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:14-27).  1 Cor 12:26 says:  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Thank you for being the living, breathing body of Christ in Columbia!

See you either in the Parking Lot or online this Sunday!


Ellen Skidmore

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