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The building may be closed but the Presbyterian Center continues support for Presbyterians

 

Technology allows for a smooth transition of service

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — It’s been more than three weeks since most of the employees of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) packed up their offices and left the building because of COVID-19. While the building may be closed, employees who work at the Presbyterian Center are actively engaged and continue to be available to assist Presbyterians across the country.

On March 24, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced he would sign an executive order closing all non-life-sustaining businesses to in-person traffic by Thursday, March 26.

In response to Beshear’s order, Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, said, “As members of this community, we will honor this request. Effective Friday, March 27, 2020, the Presbyterian Center will no longer be open.”

At that time of most of the PC(USA) staff were already working from home.

Kathy Lueckert is president of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation.

Lueckert says while the safety and well-being of employees was a paramount concern, “we also had to be attentive to the needs of the Church. Our Information Technology (IT) department has done an outstanding job of ensuring that the employees of the Center have all of the technical support they need to work from home. In fact, our Customer Service department is up and fully functioning from their homes. This transition has been seamless.”

“All hands were on deck to make working remotely possible for all employees,” said David Dinkel, director of IT services.  “Most of the employees already had company laptops but we had to provide over 25 loaner laptops for employees who normally worked on desktop computers.  We also provided over 20 MiFi devices that allow for mobile internet access and set up phones and computers in the homes of the Customer Service staff, which enabled them to take calls and reply to emails.”

Dinkel says the IT department utilized systems and applications made explicitly for remote work situations and installed Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections on many laptops, which allowed employees to connect to the PC(USA) network.  VPNs allow users to work remotely but function as if they are in the Center building.

Customer Service is available from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individuals who call the Center during these hours will get the same quality of professional service as if the building were open. Anyone calling after hours can leave a voicemail; the call will be returned the next business day. Callers may dial an employee’s extension and be connected directly to that employee or simply email any employee.

Customer Service is still available to assist with helping individuals find worship resources, help those wanting to make donations and direct callers to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members webpage, which includes information such as:

Livestreaming and Online Worship Resources for Congregations
Worship and Sacramental Celebrations
Resources for Mid Councils
Stewardship and Financial Resources
Documents and Helpful Information from the PC(USA) and the U.S. Government
Responding to Community Needs

Emergency student loan management information and resources from PC(USA)’s Financial Aid for Service office

Pastoral Opportunities to Stay Connected With Members and Colleagues
Guidelines for Online Services for Holy Week and Easter 2020 and much more.

Lueckert says that although the PC(USA) headquarters building is closed, staff is still present to support Presbyterians during the pandemic. “The Presbyterian Center building remains closed through Friday, May 1, at this time,” she said. “However, we will continue to assess the situation to make sure we’re doing what’s best for everyone.”

Friday, April 10 is Good Friday, an official holiday for the Presbyterian Center and staff will not be available.


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