Today your Session met in prayerful response to growing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic that has continued to spread. At present (3/13/20) there are no verified cases in the High Country, but it is still likely that the coronavirus is either here already or soon will be.
Given the encouragement of national, state, and local health officials to limit gatherings over 100 people, the NPC Session has decided to suspend all church functions, including corporate worship for two weeks beginning Sunday, March 15. This would include worship on 3/15 & 3/22.
Our elders will continue to monitor the situation, and will reconvene corporate worship when they deem it appropriate.
You will remember that the prophet Jeremiah instructs God’s people to seek the welfare of the city where we live (Jeremiah 29:7). And we, in an effort to reduce the spread of this virus, especially to high risk people groups, believe that it is a faithful response to refrain from gathering during this time of rapid community spread.
This was certainly not an easy decision, given that our worship of the Triune God is at the heart of all we do. But given the number of people in our own congregation and larger community who fall into those higher risk categories, we felt that suspending events for two weeks was wise, prudent and faithful to our calling to love God and neighbor.
In the meantime, I want to encourage you to be in prayer for our church, our community, our local, state, and federal healthcare officials, all those who are sick and those who are caring for the sick. This is certainly the time to live out of the great hope we have in Jesus our Lord, rather than the fear that shapes much of our world.
So care for your family, staying home when you are able, and being conscious about washing hands and basic hygiene. Care for your neighbors, even if that means following a very basic rule of doing no harm by risking their exposure. And care for your church family!
God has given us one another to love and care for one another, to carry each another’s burdens, and to be there in time of need. So if you have need of basic supplies like food or medicine or toiletries, and are unable to make it out to get them, please don’t hesitate to give Michael a call at (828) 292-0094, or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do everything we can to care for you during these uncertain times.
And finally, in regards to worship, be expecting an email with a sermon in it for you to read on Sunday morning, and some other materials that might be helpful for your home worship. One of our Sunday school classes has recently been considering what it looks like to share in times of family worship with our children, and perhaps this is the perfect time to engage more deeply in that practice.
Perhaps these words from the Heidelberg Catechism will be of comfort to you as we wrestle with a global pandemic finding its way to our own community:
|Q.|| What is your only comfort|
in life and death?
|A.||That I am not my own,|
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life
and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
We’ll continue to monitor this situation moving forward, and I’ll be praying for you all.
With love, comfort, and hope in Christ,