Worship during Coronavirus Pandemic

Letter to congregation concerning coronavirus.

March 13, 2020, Addilynn UMC

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Every hour information is changing on the developments and response to the coronavirus pandemic.  At this point, in solidarity with our community, the request of our Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor and the Cabinet, and the state of National Emergency declared by our US President, we will cancel worship gatherings for the next two weeks.  We are exploring some alternative ways to worship online and will let you know as soon as we have made determinations on this issue. We will reassess in the coming two weeks and see where we are and go from there.

It is a difficult decision, as we love to gather as God’s people to praise and worship God each Sunday.  Congregational worship is so important to our lives as followers of Christ.

Many thoughts go into this decision, including a compassion that I'm sure you share for our elderly and our vulnerable populations, as well as consideration for our healthcare workers.  I am persuaded that our church can play an important role in limiting the surge of diagnoses that could and will come. We can help model for our community an approach that the epidemiologists, healthcare workers and scientists are urging organizations to follow, and respond based on what we do know. As you probably know, it is not just a matter of what we see in terms of current diagnoses, but what we do not see now that exists. We know that our country does not have the level of testing that has taken place in other countries like China, South Korea and Italy.  We know that we do not have enough testing kits in our country. We know that the virus can be present in a person for up to 14 days before they show symptoms. We know that a vaccine is probably 1 to 2 years away. I'm not suggesting I am an expert in all this, but offering thoughts on what I've learned and you may already know -- thoughts that factor into this difficult decision.

We also know that our country's medical infrastructure cannot handle some of the worst case scenarios being projected by the CDC and other epidemiologists.  For example, we do not have the needed ventilators or hospital beds. Here's a good article from today's Washington Post.  

The sooner the chain of transmission is interrupted, the better.  Our President, relying on the advice of experts, has noted that the next 8 weeks are critical for our country.  Social distancing can make a difference if done early. But if we wait until the disease is widely spread, we have waited too long.  If we can slow the transmission of the virus from person to person, we give our hospitals and healthcare workers a better chance to help people who contract the disease.  This is not just an issue for the people who attend Addilynn, but for all people in our community and country, including people who have limited resources and will turn to our hospitals for emergency care.  Slowing the transmission may mean life or death for some people. The church can help lead our community in doing the best we can to give life.

While we deeply value congregational worship on Sunday morning, we also recognize that the Scriptures call on us to live a life of worship every day.  Worship can take place on Sunday mornings, but also throughout the day to day moments of our lives. We encourage you to consider ways that you can worship within your household, looking forward to a day down the road when we will gather again in our Sanctuary.

We urge you to observe the recommendations of the CDC for good health care.  www.cdc.gov.  Wash your hands often, singing a verse of Holy, Holy Holy.  We urge you to pray for Godly wisdom to prevail among our leaders and throughout our community.  Pray especially for those who suffer from coronavirus, and for our elderly and vulnerable populations.

We trust in God’s grace, mercy and presence with us throughout these challenging days.  May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

Pastor Dan

 

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