University Presbyterian Church, San Antonio, Texas (UPC) is suspending all activities for both internal and external groups, for both onsite and offsite activities until further notice. This includes events at the Source of Light (SoL) Center and University Presbyterian Children’s Center (UPCC).
These are trying times, and we know that removing this physical “sanctuary” will take away a critical connection with others that many of us need in this moment. We know these actions may seem counterintuitive for UPC, a community of faith that seeks to nurture and support one another through life’s trials and triumphs while we minister to the brokenness in the world. It will certainly alter how we deepen our faith through service in the weeks to come, but it can also give us new opportunities to meet these challenges.
Please read the details below about the changes and the other options for connecting to our community. After reading, contact Anastasia Bernal at the church office with what else we can do to help you keep faith and get the support you need during this time.
Because of the threats to the vulnerable in our community, UPC is taking these strong measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In response to the San Antonio Mayor’s office and the Metropolitan Health District and in line with Mission Presbytery and other area churches, we have put the following measures into place:
- Suspension of all UPC, SoL, and UPCC activities for both internal and external groups. This measure includes Worship, Sunday School, Lenten Small Groups, choir, in-person meetings, support groups, and outside groups using our facilities.
- Worship will be streamed on Sundays, starting Sunday, March 22. Visit the website calendar for more information.
- The office at UPC is closed until further notice. In response to the new City of San Antonio and Bexar County directive to “Stay Home, Work Safe,” the staff will continue to work from home, responding to mail, writing checks, and paying bills as usual. The best way to communicate with staff members is by email, which they will check frequently throughout the day. (Dries Coetzee, Anastasia Bernal, Dhawn Martin, Dakota Kohfield, Cindi Catlin-Gaskins). For emergencies – pastoral care or others – please call Dries at his cell phone number, which is in the UPC Member Directory. You can contact the church office for the password.
How you can help
As a church leadership, we realize that these measures come with an enormous amount of inconvenience and sacrifice. Yet the reality we face is that we are all learning to adapt to our current fast-changing environment. While these measures are in place to ensure social distancing, we will not allow them to create social isolation within our church community. Our Session and Board of Deacons will continue to find new and innovative ways to cultivate community.
Now is not a time for any one of us to wait for someone else to take the initiative as we as Presbyterians strongly believe in the “priesthood of all believers,” which communicates within our faith tradition the central notion that we all are called to ministry. We, therefore, invite each one of you to be aware of the spiritual support we can give one another, praying for one another, talking to, listening to, and encouraging one another. During these times, please check in with your deacon, church friends, and neighbors by phone, email, or text. In the weeks to come, we will create opportunities for virtual group meetings on Zoom, and we will share that information in the weekly InTouch newsletter as it becomes available.
We are committed to continuing our mission to minister to the brokenness in the world and serve our community. If you are in a position to donate to UPC’s coronavirus response, we invite you to do so by check or electronically here. Please identify the donation by including “coronavirus” in the memo.
UPC and UPCC are also committed to a just work environment. During this time, all full and part-time staff will continue to be paid and receive benefits. If closures should last more than two months, UPCC will face a challenging situation with depleted reserves. The UPCC Board has asked parents who are able, to continue tuition payments, or to make partial payments if financially possible during the closure to secure the well-being of staff. We are also asking you to keep up your pledges or your donation to UPC to sustain the church’s ministry financially.
We know that this pandemic will not last forever, but our response will forever define us as a community. I thank you in advance for your understanding and compassionate response as we further cultivate our understanding of a faith that is considered a process, not an arrival.
Pastor Dries Coetzee and the UPC Session