Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NLT2)
Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus,
I want to inform you on how we are working through the Corona virus crisis. Let me first remind you that the number one command in the Bible from God is “Do not fear.” Remember that God is still in control and will guard you especially in this time where fear and anxiety is as high in our communities as I have ever seen it and the government is taking unprecedented steps. Jesus promises that, “I am with you.” So remember, contrary to what so many say, our world is NOT spinning out of control.
That being said, this virus has many unknowns, but what we do know is that it is spread easily from droplets in the air or on surfaces, and while the vast majority of persons infected will have mild or no symptoms, it has killed many persons, most of whom had underlying medical issues. This is not something to take lightly though. Since we are learning more every day, I want to measure our response week-to-week.
Let me share with you parts of two letters I have received yesterday.
An excerpt from Bishop Trimble’s letter: “You have been called to ministry, and that mission still exists. There are children to bless, meals to serve, and homeless people to house. People still need Jesus. None of that has changed because of this virus. I plan to keep working and serving and preaching and encouraging and communing until the CDC instructs me not to—because God calls us to not live in fear.” (03-12-2020)
A portion of a letter from our Conference Superintendent, Dr. Aleze Fulbright: “Friends, there are many unknowns in our current reality, so making decisions during this time is both challenging and intentional. In this, many have seen, and I would like to reiterate that we are still called to be faithful to the cause of Jesus Christ. It is during times of crisis that The Church can rise to its greatest potential to be a source of HOPE, LIGHT, and LOVE! As many congregations are making decisions for their mission-fields and members, I would encourage us to remember that people are needing to hear the GOOD NEWS!” (03-12-2020)
Sisters and brothers, we WILL gather for both worship services this Sunday morning at the regular times (9:30 and 11:00). However, we are modifying our Sunday morning routine in the following ways:
1. I am eliminating The Greeting in both services for the foreseeable future. There is PLENTY of space in the sanctuary and this is to allow people who wish to maintain the one meter safe space around them from getting too close to others. (The front row is still pretty much empty!)
2. I am also suspending celebrating The Lord’s Supper in BOTH services until we can design a way to greatly reduce the possibility of person-to-person cross contamination.
3. While we will still celebrate an offering in worship including the Offertory and Prayer of Dedication, we will NOT be passing a collection plate or basket. Instead, we will have the baskets and plates in the narthex (by the sanctuary exit doors) for each of us to DROP our offering and Connection Cards into as we leave. (Or before worship if you wish.)
4. Also, in consultation with leadership, we are suspending the coffee fellowship time between services. This is to allow for “social distancing” by greatly reducing the “mingling” in a confined space as well as eliminating the possibility of virus transmission by food or drink. This will also help us to comply with the ban on more than 250 persons in one space as first service people leave and second service people come in.
5. We are greatly increasing the frequency and manner in which common hand surfaces are being wiped down. Things like door handles and table tops are getting much more attention.
Finally friends, I encourage you to do what is safe and take the necessary precautions you need for your health and wellness. Also, PLEASE test and challenge the information you see especially on social media! Much of it is simply distracting and discouraging. Again, for your mental health, measure carefully your intake of such things. However, if you decide to miss Sunday Worship in order to protect your health, please know that we will certainly miss you, but we know that God calls us to be good stewards of our bodies, and certainly sometimes staying home is the best thing one can do to protect not only their own health, but the health of others. If you decide to stay home, please catch us on our YouTube Channel, available through our church website.
In all cases though, remember Jesus Christ is absolutely with you. He will not let you go!