A tiny strand of RNA, smaller than the human eye could possibly see, has brought almost the entire world to its knees. Our hearts go out to those in China, Iran, Italy, Spain and the number of countries seriously affected by this virus.
And we have closed our church doors. Who would have thought it possible? But, last Friday, we made the decision, in an abundance of caution and in compliance with increasing directives of the governing authorities (since made with even greater clarity), to close our church doors. In part, we did not want the community to turn around and blame the church for allowing the virus to spread in Columbia had we proceeded. We want to be good neighbors to our rattled community. It was the right thing to do.
Praise God for live-streaming capabilities! And thank you for the kind words you sent to Dr. Fluhrer and me. We plan to continue “doing church” this way for as long as it is necessary. Thank you, too, for the kind words expressed about the daily devotional. Please thank Josh Squires for his amazing technical expertise. Putting these together is a lot more work than you think!
Some have asked whether we run the risk that folk will come to prefer live-streaming to actually being present. I really don’t think so. Many of you have already expressed how much you miss the church coming together for worship. I think the first Sunday back will be a celebration in more ways than one. But first, we need to get through this. Our church staff has been anticipating future needs that may arise — how can we reach out to the seniors? How we can help shut-ins receive groceries or prescription drugs? There are some even more delicate matters to think about. What will our funeral policy be during these days when we are not to gather in groups greater than ten? As answers to these and other questions become clear, we will be communicating with you by email or other means. The Session has formed a COVID-19 Ad Hoc Commission made up of eight people who can rapidly respond to issues as they arise. As well, the Session, in its desire to expeditiously address matters before our church, held its first ever conference call on Tuesday evening. Once again, amazing technology and expertise made this possible!
One very disappointing issue is upon us already: we will be postponing the 225 celebrations. We could not possibly do that right now. We will have the celebration at some point for sure. Perhaps, 225+1! Lanny Lambert valiantly chaired a very hard-working committee to put together a very exciting five days of celebrations. I think it will be possible to simply drop it down in exactly the same place next year. We will let you know.
If you have any needs, or learn of needs within your community, please reach out to us. Our deacons stand ready and willing to do whatever needs to be done.
Above all, stay safe. Be wise, and urgently pray that the world will be humbled, that sinners will be saved, and that we might be spared from the worst of this pestilence. And remember, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).
Derek W.H. Thomas