First Presbyterian Church of Savanna

First Presbyterian Church of Savanna has seen many changes as a result of the corona virus and public health measures in 2020.


The virus has affected worship:

  • We no longer sing hymns, pass the peace, or hug on another when we enter the sanctuary.

  • Hand sanitizers and masks are place in the entrance to the sanctuary

  • We restrict access to a single set of doors.

In place of hymns, I recite a Psalm or another reading from the Scriptures with the congregation responding with a short verse from the reading. This is not ideal – we miss Gloria Miner’s hymn-playing very much. (Occasionally, she is able to do a prelude and postlude – which helps.)


On the other hand, I am happy that people do feel safe enough to show up to worship in person. Our small attendance in pre-virus days has turned out to be an advantage. We are able to maintain safe social distance and to carry on as usual.


One good result of the virus has been more use of social media. During the early days of the virus – when we were unable to meet at all – I got into the habit of posting worship services on Facebook. Now that we have gone back to worshipping in person, I have continued the practice of posting sermons on Facebook. I also post devotions during the week. This has turned out to be a good way of reaching unchurched people.


All Presbytery and Committee on Ministry meetings take place via Zoom. So have session meetings up to now. I am also doing continuing education through Zoom. In general, the virus has helped me use social media more proactively to connect with old and new friends.


Facebook, however, can be tricky and mysteriously uncooperative at times. Attempting to post things on line took – and still takes – a lot of trial and error. I still remember the early days when I attempted to use my cell phone in order to post devotions. I would sit, trying to hold the cell-phone still, and record myself. Dennis, Liz, and I spent many hours trying to figure out how to make the technology work.


Another good result of the virus was forcing us to do outdoor worship on Father’s Day. When the weather is good, we should probably consider doing more of this.


MY MAJOR CONCERNS WITH THE VIRUS ARE TWOFOLD:

  1. Keeping the congregation together.

  2. Misinformation on social media.


I try to call people each week – especially those who are not coming to church for any reason. We are now six months into the virus and trying to keep in touch is becoming difficult – we can’t give up, though.


My other concern has to do with two individuals – fortunately, not congregation members – who keep sending me various conspiracy theories, usually relating to Bill Gates being the anti-Christ and how Bill Gates, along with other shadowy figures, have created the virus crisis. No good can come out of this sort of thinking. This is a confusing and fearful time, and it’s really testing some people’s faith in God (not to mention their faith in our political institutions).


I remain confident, though, that we as a nation and a community will pull through this. In spite of everything, I see a wonderful spirit of self-help.


I AM GRATIFIED

That so many people were willing to make masks for Big Meadows and Sullivan’s Grocery Store. I am also gratified by the people who continue to participate in the Facebook prayer page. Finally, the Great River Outreach has continued work to begin a Christian-outreach ministry on Main Street, at the former Tangles site. Even as things are up in the air, many people in our community are still looking forward rather than backward.


Just seventy-five years ago, our nation pulled through World War II. Imagine facing the Great Depression and then a world war! If an earlier generation rose to that challenge, certainly we can rise to the challenges of 2020 and beyond.