Thursday, March 12, 2020
I am a bit of a skeptic, and I confess that the posture of skepticism has colored my personal response to the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus). Nevertheless, I have paid close attention to what other organizations and churches have done in response to this outbreak. Conversations and research over the last 12 hours have convinced me that we must cancel our worship and programming until further notice. The church is not closing; the offices will remain open during normal business hours and the Ellipse chapel will be open for prayer throughout these two weeks, including on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
The four most persuasive arguments for doing this include:
1. The importance of slowing the proliferation of its spread so as to not overwhelm our hospital and medical resources. If we slow its progress we will be better able to treat the most vulnerable. This is often referred to as “flattening the curve.” A good article regarding this issue is found here:
“How canceled events…save lives”
2. One of the three initial outbreaks in China is associated with a place of worship. One of the two major outbreaks in the U.S. (New Rochelle, NY) is associated with a place of worship. We want to be part of the solution, not adding to the problem. A good article regarding this issue is found here:
“How coronavirus moved in a matter of days”
3. That we make decisions not for the healthy among us, but rather for the most vulnerable among us. And our congregation has quite a few people in the most vulnerable categories.
4. Our state, via its governor, has asked that we comply with the decision to cancel all large gatherings of people (250 or more).
I believe canceling our worship and programming for the next two weeks is the best way to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is not a panic reaction or a flippant response, but rather a way to care for our community. We will have a lot more information as the days pass and I will keep you informed.
Specific events canceled:
- Sunday morning worship and Sunday schools
- All Wednesday night programs, choir, and dinner
- Church Service Day (3/21)
- Monday morning Women's Bible Study (All other small group and committee gatherings will continue at the discretion of the group)
Church offices remain open and the Ellipse Chapel remains open for prayer. We will be sure to keep you informed of any further changes to scheduled programs and events. Please contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions, or contact me at email@example.com.