March 14, 2020
The following email is adapted from a sister church in Memphis (Southwoods Baptist Church) to fit our needs at Providence Baptist Church. We believe there is much wisdom here and hope you find it to be balanced and helpful.
Dear Church Family,
Yesterday you received an email from your elders stating basically, “If you are sick or providentially hindered from gathering with us Sunday, we understand and we are praying. Otherwise, pray, use good hygiene and wisdom and we’ll see you Sunday.” Since then, so much has happened that affected the earlier collective thinking of your elders.
Earlier today, 3/14/20 our Governor, Brian Kemp urged that all churches halt their large gathering for the time being. We do not feel that this is persecution or the government trying to stop the spread of the gospel. So out of love for our neighbors, we happily cooperate with the recommendation in order to deny the coronavirus opportunity to continue spreading.
In light of the seriousness, the CDC, NIH, and state and local health organizations have instructed us to take special precautions, e.g. regular hand washing with soap and hot water, covering sneezes and coughs, disinfecting surfaces, etc. Additionally, we’ve been told and shown that one major way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus is through “social distancing.” Schools, conferences, and sporting organizations have responded despite the losses and difficulties cancelation brings.
The question is then raised, “What do we do about church gatherings?” Your elders have been in prayer and communication over this issue. Church gatherings are central to who we are and what we do. Even the name “church” refers to ‘a gathered people.’
While continuing with regular services is preferable, we realize it is not prudent, and can even be considered selfish with what we’re facing. Out of love for our neighbors and community, we’ve concluded that for the next two weeks we will not have our Sunday services (March 15th & 22nd). We will think through/discuss plans for a long-term solution if God isn’t pleased to weaken/contain the Coronavirus.
We do not make this decision due to fear of the coronavirus. We’re followers of Christ. We live in the hope of the gospel. We know the joy of eternal promises in Christ. Rather than fear, we make this decision out of love for others. We desire to be part of the community solution to stopping the spread of the coronavirus rather than a potential cause for its rapid expansion. Medical researchers confirm the only way to contain it is to deny the virus opportunity to spread, which means, gatherings like ours might contribute to the problem instead of solving it. So temporarily we set aside our gatherings to serve the needs of the community and nation.
Our great concern is that we do not lose heart and fall prey to fear, that we continue in faithfully walking with Christ, and that we maintain love and care for one another. Through our weekly gatherings, we’re able to foster corporate worship, spiritual disciplines, and spiritual encouragement. Without regular face-to-face interactions, we need to use other means to stay in contact, encourage, serve, and grow in Christ.
Here are the things we recommend:
1. Here are instructions to the view the live stream service: Tomorrow at 11, Brent and Byron will be reading scripture and praying for the church, the sick, our state and country, the world. Please click on this link to go to our Youtube channel. Join us Sunday at 11 OR go our website at a later time and worship with us.
2. Reach out to those in your small group/Sunday School class through texting, phone calls, emails, or other media sources. As long as the recommended protocol is followed for hygiene, getting together with a few of those in the body might be a good way to stay in contact. Obviously, be prudent if you’re in a risky health category.
3. Check on those who may not have a good support system around them/access to email.
4. Regularly pray for one another. Use your prayer guides to keep up with the body. (If you need an updated one, let Pastor Brent know).
5. Look for opportunities to serve your neighbors in the name of Christ. God is using this time of uncertainty to make people open to spiritual things. Let’s ask God to allow His gospel to spread through us much faster than this virus.
6. If you need to talk with any of the elders, please call or text us. You can always email us as well. We’re here to serve you.
In His grip,
Your elders at Providence Baptist
March 13, 2020
We are praying for our church family’s health and faith during this crisis.
God is good and God is in control. We are His people and He cares for us deeply. Therefore, let us not live in fear but let us walk in wisdom and use discernment.
With regards to sickness, if you or your child show signs of sickness (a fever, persistent cough, etc.) please inform us so that we can pray and please stay home for the time being.
Also hygiene. Please wash your hands early and often with soap and hot water. Carry wipes and hand sanitizer, if possible. Use common sense.
If you will not be joining us for the worship service this Sunday, please let us know so that we can know the pulse of our church and pray.
Pray for the sick, pray for our church, our country, the world. Let’s ask God to show mercy and to stop this outbreak. Let’s ask Him to use this crisis to make people open to gospel conversations and to use His people to spread the gospel faster than this sickness is spreading.
If anything changes as far as our Sunday gathering for worship, your elders will let you know.
We love you and we’re praying. Please pray for us to have wisdom and be led by the Holy Spirit to shepherd this flock well.
Lord willing, we will see you Sunday,