Over the past several days there have been increased concerns over the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and its impact on our community as well as our church body. Local officials have closed schools for the next two weeks and it seems our area will most likely be affected by this virus. The Elders of ECC want to be proactive and appropriately cautious as we enter this season. Acknowledging that we are not experts and that this is an unusual circumstance, we have been seeking wisdom and advice from others, including; first responders who are on the front lines, local church leaders, and other trusted sources.
We are primarily reminded of the fact that, as Christians, we have no reason to fear! We know that God is sovereign over all things, including viruses. This event is not a surprise to Him and He will use this circumstance for His glory. We know that fear does not come from God and (2 Tim 1:7) that God has ordained all the days of our lives (Psalm 139:16). Scripture repeatedly commands us not to fear, but to trust God in all circumstances. Conversely, we also need to use our God-given discretion and wisdom to avoid unnecessary risks, trusting that God will be with us in this circumstance, just as He is with us in everything else. We all trust God’s sovereignty, but that does not stop us from wearing seat-belts when we drive.
We, as a church body, need to be mindful of what is going on in the broader community. The global trend shows that the advent of this virus into communities quickly overburdens hospitals and doctor’s offices with a quantity of patients they do not have the capacity to adequately treat. Although it may seem unnecessary at this time, prudence dictates that we all take appropriate steps to limit the spread of this virus, just as we do with familiar sicknesses like the flu or the common cold.
Additionally, we need to ensure we are properly caring for our local body. We have several people in our congregation who fall into the high-risk category for the virus. It is our Christian privilege to care for them by first limiting exposure opportunities at this juncture and, if necessary, providing practical care should they become exposed elsewhere. Consequently, we find it prudent to temporarily modify our Sunday morning routine to exercise that primary care.
As a result, here are the changes for this Sunday based on the recommendations from those respected experts.
1. We will have Sunday Worship as scheduled. If you have any symptoms, please stay at home but be sure to let us know so that we will know to check-in with you in the following days. If you are healthy but feel safer staying at home please feel free to do so. We do encourage you to join our Facebook live feed and worship with your family at home. If you do come to the service, please be mindful to limit close interactions others and wash your hands with soap.
2. We request that you enter the church through the large doors at the rear of the sanctuary. We will have someone at the door to open it for you to limit contact to common surfaces. There will also be hand sanitizer available for use.
3. All classes, including nursery, children’s ministry, and Sunday school, are cancelled.
4. We have cancelled youth group for this week.
5. Small gatherings (men’s and women’s bible studies etc.) will be held at the discretion of the leaders of those groups.
The elders also want to be on the lookout for ways that we can boldly give aid to our community in this time, stepping out in faith to serve if this does become a significant event in Powhatan. Please be praying for ways that we as a church can care for those in this community who will be affected. We want to be an example of faith and not fear, and display a faith in God that will bring Him glory in this time when people are realizing how little control they have over their own lives. This is a time for the church to be the light on hill, so that all who are in darkness will see a people who are unshakable, and have full confidence in a sovereign God who controls the wind, the rain, and the Coronavirus!