Friday, August 21, 2020

An Update From Pastor Doug:

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to influence our world, city, and our church life. We appreciate the adaptability and flexibility of our Bethany family during what is a very perplexing and trying time. Here are three updates on the use of our church campus:

  1. The Church Office
    The church office remains closed to members and visitors. Our staff is being encouraged to work from home. At the end of August, some of our staff will be working from the office a few days a week in accordance with our new Bethany staff safety guidelines. If a member needs to pick up something at the office or come in for a specific task, they must first clear this with their ministry lead/staff member. The staff member can then schedule the visit, ensuring that there is limited overlap in our shared office spaces, and notify any staff who may be in the office during that time.

  2. Worship on our Campus
    Some Seattle Presbyterian churches are announcing that Sunday campus worship is cancelled through the end of 2020. Although we do not anticipate Sunday morning campus worship at Bethany this fall, we have not yet made the decision to cancel through the end of the year.

    We are anticipating that any return to campus worship at Bethany would begin with something like midweek prayer services where people would pre-register their attendance to assure social distancing. This would give us an opportunity to put our toe in the water, so to speak, before moving forward.

    Please note: when the time finally comes that we are able to worship on campus together again, we will continue to livestream services via Zoom for those who are unable to join us in person.

  3. Group Gatherings on Campus
    While the weather is nice, we are encouraging ways to gather as small groups off-campus when it’s possible to meet outdoors in suitable, socially distanced ways.

    In accordance with state guidelines, no groups are permitted to meet on campus. Current exceptions are what we see as the essential service of Wednesday Night Dinner, which continues to feed between 80 -130 people each week with a take-out dinner or a home delivered meal. Also – Little Friends, the preschool that shares our facility, is anticipating opening this fall and will be using a few more rooms in the Ed Wing to allow for small class sizes and better social distancing.

If you have questions, thoughts, or concerns, feel free to contact Pastor Doug Kelly (dougk@bethanypc.org) or Worship Elder, Adele Drummond (fredadele@comcast.net).

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Friday, May 22, 2020

A Message From Pastors Doug and Danielle

Today, President Trump stated that houses of worship are essential and called on governors to allow them to open immediately. We want to make sure that there was no confusion in the Bethany community: we will not be worshiping in our sanctuary this Sunday. We will continue to gather remotely, in safety. We agree that churches and other houses of worship are essential, but also know that at Bethany we never stopped worshiping. And although we dearly miss being together in our building, we are so thankful that we have a way to safely gather during this time. Even as we worship online, the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in our midst, and we are experiencing a continued unity and inextricable connection as the body of Christ that transcends any physical barriers or distance between us.

As previously mentioned in our Special Edition E-News on May 13, we will worship again on campus when we deem it safe – in consultation with Seattle Presbytery and in line with Washington State policy and the recommendations of the King County Health Department. We want to do our part to contribute and support the public health efforts combatting the spread of this very serious illness. The prophet Jeremiah told us to “seek the welfare of the city…and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer. 29:7). So, on Queen Anne hill, in this season, showing up for people looks a little different – it involves helping people stay healthy by staying away from large gatherings and, in doing so, ultimately caring for and protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Update on Bethany Campus Closure & Summer Gatherings

As we continue to receive guidance from our local government and health officials, we want to keep you updated on the status of Bethany closures.  As previously mentioned, Session has empowered a task force to monitor the situation and make decisions regarding use of our facilities:

Office Closure

Being mindful of Governor Inslee’s four-phase plan, the Bethany office will remain closed until government and health officials change the shelter at home policy and Bethany leaders deem it is safe to return.

Summer Events/Gatherings 

Also in alignment with the four-phase plan, the decision has been made to cancel all summer gatherings where social distancing is difficult to implement.  This includes worship in the sanctuary, mission trips, all children’s ministry and youth ministry retreats, camps, and large gatherings on and off campus.  Although Governor Inslee’s plan may allow for groups of more than 50 people to gather in mid to late summer (Phase 4), there are many other factors for Bethany to consider and preparations to be made before we feel worshiping inside together is safe.  

Bethany leadership will regularly revisit these plans as we progress through the phases, and will remain in close contact with Seattle Presbytery and other worshiping communities regarding best practices for re-opening.  We will continue to keep everyone updated as further decisions are made and it is deemed safe for all to return to regular gatherings.

BPYG Parents’ Meeting this Sunday, May 17th

In follow up to this announcement, parents of youth are invited to attend a meeting with Danielle and BPYG leaders after worship this Sunday. Please go to the virtual Fellowship Hall and join the breakout session for further discussion and Q&A.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Finance Update – Paycheck Protection Program:
On Wednesday, Session approved entering into a forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program, which was authorized by Congress in response to the COVID-19 crisis, provides funds to help businesses and nonprofits pay up to 8-weeks of payroll and benefits. A portion of the funds may also be used for interest on mortgages and utilities. To qualify for forgiveness, Bethany must maintain current staffing levels and timely spend the proceeds on eligible expenses.

The total loan amount is $170,917. Proceeds will be spent mostly on payroll with a small portion also covering mortgage interest and utility payments. Members of Session will be closely tracking loan proceeds to ensure Bethany is eligible for forgiveness.

The church currently has a small surplus of $71,000. However, there has been a significant decline in weekly giving since the beginning of the crisis. April’s offering dropped by more than 20% compared to previous years. With current trends, the church may be facing a deficit by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Additionally, there are already signs of impact on budgeting for the next fiscal year. Our congregation has not been immune to the financial difficulties facing many at this time, and our estimated giving for 2020-2021 has declined.

More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks, so the economic impacts of the virus may linger long into the future. Session believes that the forgivable loan will provide needed financial assistance that could help Bethany avoid budget cuts including staff reduction or pay cuts if economic conditions continue to remain poor. 

There will be a Q&A Session after the service on May 17th, where members of the congregation are invited to hear a recap of the program and bring any questions forward.


Friday, May 1, 2020

A Note From Pastor Doug:  People have been asking me, “Pastor Doug, when are we going to be worshiping together and have different ministries meet on campus?”  I am frustrated in this waiting.  We all are.  As we heard from Governor Inslee in his press conference this afternoon, the state’s stay home order has been extended through May 31st and, based on the phased rollout he outlined, we will not be gathering in groups of 50 or more until Phase 4. With three weeks between each phase, we’re probably looking at sometime in July for that to occur. And even then, this is all contingent upon our ability to follow the stay home order and keep reducing our cases of COVID-19. We are all coming to terms with the fact that this is not a three week or even three month season of worship away from our sanctuary.  This is for a long haul.  As we continue to wait to hear more from our government and health officials about moving through the various phases, Session has empowered a task force to monitor the situation and make decisions regarding use of our facilities.  We will continue to keep all of you updated.  In the meantime, we mourn, we grieve, we wait – and in that waiting, we will continue to keep our eyes open for the surprising ways Jesus is showing up even in our time of lament, sadness, and frustration.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Please be advised that, in compliance with Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home – Stay Healthy” Proclamation, the Bethany church office closed as of midnight on Wednesday, March 25th. We are checking our voicemail frequently so, if you need to get in touch with someone, please call our main number at (206) 284-2222 and leave a message. One of our staff members will return your call. We are picking up the mail daily, and will continue to do our weekly offering count/deposit. If you normally send your Bethany giving by mail, there’s no need to change at this time.


Monday, March 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

Considering the King County Public Health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID–19, Bethany Presbyterian Church will be closing our facilities for any gatherings or events that will have 10 or more participants effective March 10–31. This does not include closure of our church office which, for the time being, will remain open and staffed during regular hours. However, thisdoes includes our Sunday morning Worship, all Sunday school and youth group meetings, and all outside groups using our buildings. Also, our Wednesday Night Dinner team will not have their regular gathering in the Fellowship Hall, but will instead be distributing to-go dinner boxes.

This was not a pleasant decision. It is so counter-intuitive for us to encourage people to stay away from each other and our facility. As Jesus followers, we believe the Reign of God that Jesus embodied, taught, and died for is all about showing up for people and bringing them together. This closure is simply not part of our DNA.

However, we want to love our city. We want to do our part to contribute and support the public health efforts combatting the spread of this very serious illness. The prophet Jeremiah told us to “seek the welfare of the city…and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer. 29:7). So, on Queen Anne hill, in this season, showing up for people looks a little different – it involves helping people stay healthy by staying away from large gatherings and, in doing so, ultimately caring for and protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

During this time, we encourage our members and ministries and others who use our facilities to meet in smaller groups in homes or to be in community online. We also encourage our members to reach out to neighbors and build community where you are.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns. And stay posted for more information coming this week about a modified worship service online, and other ministries of support.

In the peace of Christ,
Doug

______________________
Doug Kelly
Senior Pastor
dougk@bethanypc.org
(206) 284-2222, x11


Friday, March 6, 2020

Dear Bethany Family, 

I wanted you to know that a team of staff members and I have made the call to cancel worship this Sunday. We are following the recommendations of King County Health Department and our own Seattle Presbytery executive staff. 

The Bethany campus will be closed on Sunday and for all programs throughout the week. For those of you involved in Small Groups, we’re leaving the decision up to the individual groups to determine whether to proceed with gathering this week. Wednesday Night Dinner will announce their plans by 5pm on Monday (they’re considering handing out meals). We will continue to keep you updated through email and on the Bethany homepage.

If you are looking for ways to worship from home on Sunday, we have a few resources to recommend:

  • Bethany Sermon Archive:  You may want to revisit a few of the sermons from last year’s Lenten Series “When Faith Gets Personal” – just click on one of the following dates to link to that week’s sermon:  March 10, 2019March 17, 2019, or April 7, 2019. Or if you missed last Sunday’s sermon and want to catch up, you can find that here.
  • Find a Live-Streamed Service:  There are a number of churches live-streaming this Sunday – our friend, Harvey Drake, from Emerald City Bible Fellowship, will be preaching via Bellevue Presbyterian’s live-streams (click one of the following to connect) – Modern Livestream or Sanctuary Livestream.
  • Pray As You Go:  This podcast provides a framework for your own prayer time that is based on Ignatian Spirituality. Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection. The episode for this Sunday can be found here.
  • For Families (message from Kristin Wilhite, Interim Children’s Coordinator):  Home church with kids can be fun! Keep it short and simple. Try reading from Jesus Storybook Bible. I read the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert to the kids last Sunday in our First Sunday Gathering. Let them read to you if they are able. Take turns asking “I wonder….” questions. Maybe write a note or draw a picture to Jesus, putting it somewhere you can call the Prayer Jar; similar to our Wall in the sanctuary. Have them teach you one of the three Lenten songs Kyle taught us. Most importantly, relax and let the Spirit lead. There’s no format that works for everyone.

I’m praying with you and for you as we walk this unknown time together. Reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

Peace in Christ,
–Doug

______________________
Doug Kelly
Senior Pastor
dougk@bethanypc.org
(206) 284-2222, x11


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dear Bethany Family, 

We are writing to you with an update on our church’s response to COVID-19. Our leadership team is actively monitoring the situation and will continue to take preventative action as the situation evolves. For now, we are still planning to host our Sunday worship gatherings at 9am and 10:45am. We are committed to ensuring our church remains a safe place for all, so we are taking the following precautions:

  • We are being especially diligent with our cleaning efforts to ensure proper sanitization of all our facilities (especially the Children’s Wing, Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, Howe Houses, and all restroom facilities).
  • We are adjusting these aspects of our worship services:
    • Communion:  we are still working out the best way to serve communion safely, so for this Sunday, March 8th, communion will not be served.
    • Offering:  the offering plates will not be passed; a stationary placement of the plates will be available for discreet giving during prayer time or after worship (online giving is encouraged via our Giving page).
    • Passing of the Peace:  will continue, but waves and elbow bumps are encouraged in place of shaking hands.

If you are experiencing symptoms or feeling vulnerable due to underlying health conditions, we want to encourage you stay comfortable at home. Sermon recordings are posted on our website here every Sunday by end of day. You can also follow along with our sermon-based Lenten Study Guide created by our preachers each week. These are posted on our Small Groups page.

If you are homebound or quarantined during this time, and in need of support or meals, please contact our Director of Congregational Care, Linda Cutshall (lindac@bethanypc.org).Moving forward, and by God’s leading, our decisions will continue to be guided by information from the Washington State Department of HealthCenters for Disease Control and PreventionKing County Public Health, and local schools. We place a high value on gathering together and will continually assess the wisdom of physically meeting together. We will provide updates regularly on the Bethany homepagewww.bethanypc.org and via congregation-wide email communications.

Please reach out with any questions or if you would like someone to pray with you.

Peace of Christ,

Doug Kelly
Senior Pastor
dougk@bethanypc.org
(206) 284-2222, x11

Suzanne Mason
Communications & Systems Director
suzannem@bethanypc.org
(206) 284-2222, x20