I’m sure you all have watched Governor Hogan’s press conference this morning. He did impose additional restrictions. So the question for us is, “How does this affect NWBC?” If you did not know, we’ve already
employed his additional restrictions before his press conference today.
Here’s what we’ve already done:
- Our church has been closed to the public since Sunday, March 8th.
- We’ve posted our COVID-19 Precautions in plain sight for whenever someone enters our facility.
- On Monday, March 16th, we purchased the Zoom video conferencing software application. We are now using this for our meetings.
- On Wednesday, March 18th, we limited access to our facility to staff only and communicated to others with access they must sign-in when they enter so we know where they’ve been and can disinfect that area after they leave.
- On Thursday, March 19th, the deacons and I had a zoom meeting to discuss a plan to safely, wisely, and lawfully care for our church community who are seniors, shut-ins, or any in need. I will be doing a zoom meeting with the staff to continue developing this church community plan and an outreach plan with my wife Morgan (who’s over the missions ministry) to discuss how we can safely, wisely, and lawfully serve any shut-ins in our neighborhoods.
- On Sunday, March 22nd, we had a skeleton crew of 7 people that ran our live-stream worship service.
As you can see, we have been abiding by the Governor’s mandates. But this morning’s press conference declared “all non-essential” businesses and organizations to shut down. He never addressed the established faith community as a “non-essential” and he did address “community organizations” as essential. So is the local church a “non-essential” or “essential” community organization? Are we not already closed to the public? Are we not already practicing the safety precautions for our office being open and also live-streaming the service? If we shut the office down completely how can we field requests to safely serve our members and neighbors who are in need and may not be able to help themselves? Who else can care for citizens at the neighborhood level? Who else can provide hope through worship and preaching in a time of isolation, fear, and worry? Are these things not an essential service to our community members and neighbors that a government agency cannot provide? We have done nothing in violation of the law or the temporary restrictions by the Governor nor as a threat to public safety, and we would do nothing of this nature if we continued what we’ve been doing. The Governor did not impose a “stay at home” or “shelter in place” restriction on the citizenry and maintained no groups are to gather over 10 people.
So what is NWBC going to do?
If our local church is considered a non-essential to our members and the communities around us, then we should not be a local church. I am advocating that we continue our limited plans to care and stream services to our members and neighbors. However, to ensure that our actions would not be taken as defiance to the state government nor empowering a rebellious spirit among people who disagree with the Governor’s directives, I will be contacting Dr. Kevin Smith, president of the BCM/D, for counsel from a denominational level.
What I hope you’ve heard from me is we are not taking the COVID-19 outbreak and our state government mandates lightly. We agree and understand how serious this is. We are submitting to the law. But as a local church we desire to be part of the solution and support efforts, not part of the problem. This is what we are striving to do.
I will write another update regarding if we will shut down completely or continue as we have been after speaking with our denominational leadership. Please be praying for God’s wisdom and direction as we seek to do His will and not our own.
Pastor Chris Davis