We know that many of you are desiring to know how we will respond in regard to services on Sunday.
Most of you are aware that the federal government is discouraging meetings of large groups at this time. This is in response to how the coronavirus has affected people in Japan, South Korea, and, most recently, Italy. This has resulted in the suspension of many major league sporting events, concerts, the rodeo, and even public schools and universities. It’s important to understand why these recommendations are being given. The purpose in giving these recommendations is not to keep everyone from ever getting this virus. This is a virus that many of us will likely get at some point. It’s just a matter of time for many people. The reason why they’re discouraging people from gathering in large groups is because there are certain demographics within the society who will struggle greatly with this virus. When elderly people get this virus they are more likely to require a ventilator and spend some time in ICU. However, if this virus spreads too rapidly then it will lead to an over abundance of people trying to get into the hospitals and they will not be able to take care of everyone at one time. Therefore, many will die because they can’t get the help they need. This is currently Italy’s struggle. Discouraging people from meeting in large groups allows the virus to spread more slowly.
The means of preventing the spread of this virus is very similar to most other illnesses. Washing hands is one of the most important things that you can do. Also, using hand sanitizer, being careful about washing your hands after you cough or sneeze, and making sure that you wash your hands before you eat are important steps to take. Sanitizer will kill this virus and washing your hands well will remove the virus from your hands. This is an important way of loving our neighbor.
We want to be reasonable and wise in how we respond to this situation. Being an alarmist and being dismissive are both extremes that we need to avoid. There seems to be very real danger for certain higher-risk groups of people. We don’t want to be dismissive of others’ legitimate concerns over this situation and we don’t want to automatically assume that the leaders we have are acting contrary to our best interest. However, we also don’t want to be an alarmist in regard to this situation. There is nothing about this that should make us believe that we’re going to run out of toilet paper and dog food. Our trust is not in an abundance of hand sanitizer. Our trust is not even in our ability to keep ourselves from catching the coronavirus. From what I have read it seems that everyone is going to end up getting this disease at some point. And for the vast majority of people it’s not going to be a big deal. Some people get it and it doesn’t really affect them at all.
Our hope is not in any of these areas. Even if this virus was worse than it is, even if this virus was much more fatal for a greater number of people than this one is, our hope is still not be in these areas. Our hope is in Christ and the inheritance that he has in store for us.
The economic impact of society’s response to this virus is likely going to have some very far-reaching effects on many people. Many of us within this congregation are going to feel the effects of these decisions. All of you will know people that are affected economically. We need to be in prayer one for another and be mindful about how this is affecting a great many people. We need to be very cautious about how we speak of this to other people and on social media. We need to be cautious that we don’t fall into either camp. We should not be alarmists and we should not be dismissive. And we should be grieving with those who grieve.
We do intend to have our regular worship service at Grace Family Baptist Church on Sunday. We will also have Sunday school at our normal time. We do not believe that we count as a large group meeting. They have recommended people don’t meet in crowds larger than 250 and we fall below those numbers. However, we also recognize and want to be understanding of those who might not be a comfortable attending on Sunday. You can access the stream here. We will put both Sunday school and the service on the Internet. We would encourage you to participate along with us to the best of your ability if you are not comfortable attending in person. We also want to take special precautions prior to the taking the Lord’s table. We would encourage everyone to either wash their hands well or use hand sanitizer prior to passing the plate and taking the elements. This is a reasonable caution and both hand washing and sanitizer will eliminate this virus.
If you have flu-like symptoms it would be wise for you to stay home.
Additionally, we think it would be wise that we hold off on the fellowship meal for the time being. The opportunity for contamination during this time is higher than it is at other times. This is a great disappointment to us. The fellowship meal is something that has been a regular part of GfBC life as long we have been a part of the church. We will resume this as soon as it is prudent. We also intend to have our monthly women’s meeting next Wednesday.
We pray that all of you will make the best decision for your family and pray that your hope will continue to be in Christ since we know that we are merely journeying through this world and our home is with him in glory.
Soli Deo Gloria,
The Elders of GFBC