After an enormous amount of prayer, a great deal of agonizing over this issue, and consultation with nurses, doctors, retirement home officials and many others, beginning 3/15/2020 the church will be closed for two weeks due to the pandemic concerning the Coronavirus.
Prayer and Reasoning:
Please understand that this is not a decision made from worry, alarm, nor from panic. This decision is also not an act of fear and definitely not a decision made without faith and deep prayer. I simply offer God's word as affirmation that it is, among other things, a response to God's word and exhortation:
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:6-8
One of the most significant aspects of this decision centers on those beloved members of our congregation - and possible visitors - who fall firmly in the categories of "at risk," "highly vulnerable," etc., to the virus. Among our membership alone are those who have family in extremely delicate physical situations, infants to elderly. Many of our members have had very recent illnesses, surgeries, and flu, and the not so elderly who have had similar situations. The number would be very surprising.
For your thought and prayer:
Above all else, this is a decision of Christian care and Christ centered compassion for those who might be vulnerable and susceptible to a disease that we have a lot of information about but certainly not enough information. Outside of vicious terrorist attacks such as 9-11, this viral attack - at least for many of us - is possibly a once in a lifetime occurrence. Therefore, it would be far more preferable to err on the side of intelligent, faithful, informed caution than to err by possibly putting the lives of those we love in the family of faith in possible jeopardy.
God bless you all and thank you for your understanding in this most serious and unusual circumstance that is effecting, literally, the entire world. I leave you with words from a pastor friend in an explanation of his church's decision to postpone church activities for two weeks:
"If someone asks why your church chose to respond to this health crisis by closing its doors, here's our response:
- Our physical doors may be closed, but our church is not.
- We are loving our neighbors by protecting our neighbors.
- We are not being fearful. We are being responsible.
- This is what love requires of us in this season."
God bless all of you; and, pray for the health and safety of everyone dealing with this pandemic.
Rev. Ed Ayers
The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.