A Special Message From Our Elders
This will be a long message, so I'm going to give you a summary first and then I'll give you some more detail later in the body of the message.
* Except for a small group of musicians, technicians and elders, we will not be gathering for worship on Sunday for at least the next 4 weeks.
* While there will be no Sunday School, the worship service will be live streamed at 10:30 through the church's Facebook page and another service such as YouTube. The service will be the normal format, though abbreviated. Once we get some feedback, we may adjust accordingly.
* We will also provide some other opportunities for electronic teaching, Q&A during this time.
* Other gatherings:
- Prayer meetings are suspended for the foreseeable future.
- Wednesday evening teen meetings are also suspended.
- Tuesday evening Training Center will continue for now.
- Community groups are cautioned about meeting but have the discretion to decide what is best for the group.
* You will be receiving a word document with each Sunday's hymns and confessions so that you may participate in your home.
After much discussion and prayer, we think it's best to follow suit with other churches and temporarily suspend public worship in our building. You are fully aware of the nature of this virus and that someone can be infected without knowing it, and by coming into close contact with others spread rapidly. The large concern right now is to not overtax the medical industry (as has happened in Europe). There are only so many hospital beds, ventilators, and medical workers. People still have heart attacks, broken bones and cancer and they must be treated. We can't completely eliminate the risk, but we can show love for one another and our neighbors by trying to mitigate it. We are fully aware that there's a wide divergence of opinions in our church and the rest of the world about the real danger of this disease. As in all things, please show charity with those who might take a different view on this and understand that we wouldn't cancel services unless we judged it prudential. We hope we're wrong and that in a few weeks we'll look back and think we were too cautious. But we also would hate to think that we exposed our congregation unnecessarily to this virus.
There is so much information available to you that we don't see the need to discuss the medical issues here. Our concern is to give some direction about how to face this as a church.
With that in mind, here's a start:
* There is no substitute for gathering publicly as a body. Technology will help us during this time but we are meant to be a visible unity. We pray that after this is all over with we'll have an even greater appreciation of the sight and touch of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the meantime, we will all be given a lesson in what Christian shut-ins must go through every day. Let's pray that the Lord will make us much more empathetic with those who must miss regular worship and do what we can to minister to them. With that in mind, we may ask for volunteers to check in regularly with members of our church.
* Once again we are given an opportunity to live in this world as those who don't belong to it. Let's be different in a way that witnesses to our hope (as Matt reminded us Sunday).
- Be cautious but don't yield to panic or anxiety.
- Don't hoarde, isolate, or ignore. Instead share your goods, serve and love.
- Pray for opportunities to witness to a coming age won by Christ's work that will fully eradicate all disease.
- Don't succumb to the temptation to politicize everything about this.
- Remember those in prayer who are already susceptible to serious health issues, especially those in our church whose immune systems are already compromised.
- Be careful with social media. Your Facebook and twitter pages can be tools of good or evil. Use them in a sanctified way. Use them positively to stir one another up to good works.
* As for community groups: use your discretion. We've been asked if the groups can get together to watch the service together. We understand why people might want to do that and we want you to make those decisions. Just remember that the CDC is asking for social distancing and that you run the risk of unknowingly infecting others. Be charitable with one another if some in your group have disagreements about this.
* You are going to learn of many believers around the world who are being infected and will want our church to pray for them. Please send those requests to Faith at the church email. We'll aggregate them and send them out a couple of times a week. We don't want to overload you with emails every day but we do want to share prayer requests regularly.
Please let us know how we can minister to you during this time,
Tony on behalf of the elders.