Bethany church family,
We would like to take a moment to communicate with you regarding concerns about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). There are currently no known local cases, but it is expected to arrive in our area at some point. We are and will continue to monitor recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local authorities. We are praying for those who have been impacted by this virus directly and indirectly and encourage our church family to do the same (1 Tim 2:1-6).
While we believe that physically gathering in space and time is an important part of worshiping together (Heb 10:24-25), out of a desire to honor our authorities (Tit 3:1), care for the most vulnerable among us (1 Jn 3:17-18), and love our community as practically as possible (Phil 2:12-16; Col 4:2-6), we believe the best way for our church family to glorify God this weekend is by canceling this Sunday’s physical gathering.
We will not plan to have a Sunday gathering and are canceling both services as well as all ABC’s and Sundays School on 3/15.
The PrimeTime gathering on Monday 3/16 is also cancelled.
We will also be canceling Wednesday evening activities of AWANA and youth group for 3/18 (We hope to reschedule Engage for a later date).
We will communicate any updates on future services and gatherings through email and social media. Please continue to check for updates, as the situation remains dynamic.
We will take the next week to review the situation and make plans for the future. During this season of precaution, we are reviewing our future operations and practices to identify ways that we can work to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus.
As we plan for future services, here are a few areas where you might see changes:
- Greeting – During this time of increased sensitivity, please avoid handshakes and physical contact. Instead greet each other with a warm smile, a wave, and a friendly hello.
- Offering – For a period of time, we will suspend the passing of the offering bags down each aisle. Instead, we will have the ushers standing at the sanctuary exits at the end of services.
- Communion – For a period of time, on communion Sundays we will be using the self-contained element packets to reduce the potential for contact.
One thing is not changing: our commitment to follow Jesus together.
This season serves as a powerful reminder for why Jesus matters. This fragile world remains in desperate need of good news. May we not forget that through him we have a gospel of hope (Col 1:21-23).
The account of Jesus’ close friend Lazarus’ illness in John 11 reminds us that even during times of sickness, we can draw comfort from both his claim to be the resurrection and the life (11:25-26) as well as his tearful compassion for sufferers (11:35). Our journey through life may lead us into deep valleys, but let us never forget that in the darkest shadows our God is with us (Ps 23; 27; 91), and in the fiercest storm he is our refuge (Mk 4:35-41). Let us live with confidence in the future we’ve been promised as we follow him wherever he leads (Josh 1:9; Jn 21:18-22; 1 Cor 15:51-58).
We say often that the church is not a place, but a people—a spiritual family following Jesus together. The past week reminds us of how special that togetherness really is. Christ’s community is a supernatural body that transcends earthly limitations (Jn 10:16; Eph 4:1-6). During this season, may that reality and the beauty of our hope shine brightly to those around us (Phil 2:14-16) as we show great care over what we choose to set our minds on (Phil 4:4-9).
Let us pray for those who are sick and suffering as well as for authorities and health care professionals to be wise and skilled in how they care for those in need, and may we be ready to show and share the love and hope of Jesus with every opportunity he provides (1 Tim 2:1-6).
Our leaders are committed to loving and shepherding our church family through this season. Please do not hesitate to let us know if there are ways that we can pray for and care for you.As we seek to show love and care for our neighbors, please consider the following recommendations from the CDC:
- Clean your hands often – wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (if soap & water are not readily available) use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoid close contact with those that are sick, sneezing, or coughing.
- Maintain distance between yourself and others.
- If you or anyone in your home is experiencing symptoms, sore throat, dry cough, fever, or shortness of breath, please stay at home.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow. – wash your hands or use hand sanitizer afterwards.
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch.
If you have questions or concerns about the coronavirus, please reference the info-graphic (below) from John’s Hopkins Medicine or follow this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– Bethany Baptist Church Leadership Team