As you know, the World Health Organization has officially designated COVID-19, or Coronavirus, as a global pandemic. This has resulted in the cancellation of many sporting events and a travel ban from Europe. The reality of this virus is real and confirmed cases have been reported in nearby Mecklenburg and Lancaster Counties. It is not a matter of  if  but  when  the virus reaches York County.
 
How do we, as followers of Christ, properly respond to this crisis? For me, personally, I’d like to borrow words from one of my dear clergy friends: “I’ve never pastored through a global pandemic, so I don’t have all the answers.” That said, I am listening to scientists and others who have more knowledge than me and praying to God for wisdom in my decision making. Three things come to mind in how I believe we can faithfully respond.
 
First, care for yourself.  By now it should go without saying—wash your hands; but also tend to your own needs. If you are feeling sick or you are concerned about the safety of your health, then stay home. If you are elderly or have medical conditions that make you more vulnerable, then stay home. No one should feel guilty for taking care of one’s self. You are of best use to our church and God’s kingdom when you are well.
 
Second, care for each other . It is important that we check-in with those who are at risk, particularly the elderly and those with health concerns. It is also important to check-in with those who live alone. Loneliness and isolation can be exacerbated during a crisis. I am calling on our Ministers, Deacons, Sunday School teachers, and Bible Study teachers to stay in constant contact with the people in their groups. This should be done through phone calls, texts, and emails. Personal visits, while appreciated, are not a healthy choice in this situation.   
 
Third, remember we are ones in whom Christ dwells.  Sadly, but predictably, not everyone agrees with the reports of health organizations that seek to provide accurate and reliable information surrounding this pandemic. This has led to xenophobia, scapegoating, and the use of poor humor directed at vulnerable individuals. We, as followers of Christ, should always act in a Christ-like spirit. Please respect the various ways this crisis affects those around you and do your best to honor Christ in how you treat them. This goes for social-media as well.
 
The CDC recommends social distancing as the best way to lower the spread of the virus and save as many lives as possible. For the sake of our most vulnerable and as proactive global citizens, the staff and Deacon leadership of Oakland Baptist Church are implementing the following actions: 
 
  • On Sunday, March 15, there will ONLY be ONE Worship at 10:30AM. There will be NO Sunday School. This service will be available to watch live by clicking the button below. As was stated in yesterday's email: If you feel it is in your best health to stay home, please do so. Also, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and take care of yourself.
At the beginning of next week, we will re-evaluate our Worship and Sunday School schedule moving forward. In all likelihood, we will move to a LiveStream format.
  • There will be no large gatherings through the remainder of March. This includes Lenten Lunches, Wednesday Night activities and Weekly Bible Studies.
  • All non-essential meetings, including Committees, are encouraged to use email, FaceTime, or other social distancing methods to conduct business.
  • We encourage you to continue giving tithes and offerings so that bills and ministries are supported. You may do this through our website, the Breeze app, texting "Give" to (803) 599-3738, and using automatic drafts. If you need assistance with any of these methods, please contact the church office.
  • Minister visitation will cease except through telephone, email, and text.
  • Ministers and staff will continue to be in the office, but office visitors will be limited.
 
While these measures may sound extreme, they are in our best interest to stay healthy for the long run. And remember, just because we are not physically together does not mean the spirit of our church and the love that binds us together has ceased in any way! We will always be the body of Christ, not given to fear, but given to the power, love, and self-discipline that comes through Jesus.
 
Prayers for this unpredictable journey ahead,
Pastor Jeff