Announcement from Pastor Tim Philips
dated March 11, 2020
Dear Saint Matthew Family:
The staff and leadership of our congregation has spent a considerable amount of time in prayer and conversation over the past few days about the best course of action for our community with regard to public worship in the face of efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to protect the most vulnerable people in our community.
Yesterday, we received updated guidelines from Contra Costa Health Services (the county) recommending that we "cancel or postpone large gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, celebrations, conventions, religious services and community events where 50 or more people are within arm’s length of each other," for the next two weeks. This is part of a strategy called "Social Distancing" which is a data-driven approach to slow the spread of the disease and protect the most vulnerable.
We have wrestled mightily with what to do and today, we have decided that the best course of action is to follow the county's recommendation (and the recommendations of medical professionals from within our congregation) and to cancel our public worship services for the next two weeks.
This decision is based on love, not fear. It is based upon the clear biblical mandate to protect and honor the most fragile in our midst (See 1 Corinthians 13). It is a way for us to model love to our community as a "neighborhood church seeking to make a world of difference."
The staff is working on providing some kind of digital content that allows us to connect in a virtual worship setting. We will push out information on this as it is developed.
I recognize that not all of those who are a part of our community of faith will agree with or be pleased by this news. We are in strange and uncharted territory here, so I ask for your grace and understanding and your trust that we have the community's best interest at heart.
We are not issuing an edict to all of our small groups and the community groups that meet on campus to cancel your meetings. We ask each group to make decisions based on the well-being of the most vulnerable and to follow the guidelines put forth by the county (which include things to do and things to avoid if you decide to meet). You can find those recommendations here. For updated information, please visit the Contra Costa County Health Services website.
Please be assured that the ministry of our congregation continues in all of its other facets. The staff is still working, plans are being made for all aspects of our life in the weeks ahead. We hope, pray, and encourage that your support of the ministry will remain strong as well.
In the love of Jesus,
Pastor Tim Philips