Latest Update Regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19
For Immediate Release: March 14, 2020
Grace Baptist Church - Charlottetown Prince Edward Island
Your elders have spent time reading, listening, praying and discussing what our response to COVID-19 should be. After meeting together with the deacons, here is a summary of our thinking:
1. We believe we ought to do all we can do to meet together.
Hebrews 10:24–25 "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Church is not a building, and it is not an event. It truly is the people of God, and a big part of that is the regular gathering each week. That said, a temporary suspension of services is not new to those of us who live in Canada. We have cancelled services many times over the years for things like inclement weather.
2. We do not ever want to succumb to fear.
Philippians 4: 4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Any decisions we make must be careful but never fearful.
3. We also believe in prudence.
Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."
We want to always listen carefully to medical experts, specialists and other church leaders. We are aware that there has been misinformation all around us, thus, since we are not experts in the spread of a virus, we have sought to read and listen to all the reliable sources available to us.
A few points about COVID-19 seem to us to be important considerations.
- A person can carry the virus and be actively spreading it through droplets (sneezes, coughs, unwashed hands, etc) even when they show no symptoms of being sick.
- Studies of the Chinese incident rate have shown that on some days when hundreds of cases were being reported, there were actually thousands of people infected. The approach of the authorities to limit almost all contact is likely the key factor in what has led to a containment.
- The Government of PEI has not yet forbidden gatherings, but strongly warns against any gathering of 250 or more persons. We currently exceed that number on a Sunday morning.
- The Government of PEI has advised residents to maintain a two metre distance in any social gathering. It is difficult to impossible for us to maintain a two metre distance between one another in our current set up for Sunday gatherings.
Finally, we are trying to be very mindful of the command to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). For example, a religious sect in South Korea ignored government recommendations against meeting and became one of the worst sources of the spread of the COVID-19 in that country. We do not believe they were acting in love.
There will be No Services at GBC on Sunday, March 15, 2020
For all of these reasons and more, we have decided to treat this coming Sunday, March 15, like a “snow day” and cancel service. We will monitor the situation carefully over the weekend and adjust as necessary in the coming week(s). We also plan to abide by the recommendations of Heath Canada officials. In large measure, that will direct our future response.
As Pastor Francis Grimke said after the Spanish Flu epidemic in Washington D.C. in 1918,
“There has been considerable grumbling, I know, on the part of some, particularly in regard to the closing of the churches. It seems to me, however, in a matter like this it is always wise to submit to such restrictions for the time being. If, as a matter of fact, it was dangerous to meet in theatres and in the schools, it certainly was no less dangerous to meet in churches. The fact that the churches were places of religious gathering, and the others not, would not affect in the least the health question involved. If avoiding crowds lessens the danger of being infected, it was wise to take the precaution and not needlessly run in danger, and expect God to protect us.”
Live stream will be available on Sunday, March 15, 2020
We will still livestream our morning service and you can watch that just like any other Sunday on our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/gracebaptistpei or link through our website https://www.gracepei.com/live.
Our musicians will direct our hearts and minds upward and there will be a very timely sermon from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Our hope is that you will gather with your family and worship God with us at that time.
Your elders will meet again next week and have a further update for you as far as where we go from here.
5. Prayer and Care
Let’s use the void left by cancelled sporting events, worship services, and even work as a time to seek the face of God. Pray for your country. Pray for all the healthcare workers (many in our own church) that will likely be exposed to the virus and stand in higher risk. Pray for God to show us mercy and to spare lives. Pray for one another.
If you become ill, suffer income loss, or experience other needs during this time, please let us know. The elders and deacons want to be sure you are properly cared for and we are eager to help. The best way to coordinate that help is to call the church office or email the office manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thankfully, we have nothing to fear. In our Bible reading yesterday we were reminded from Job that “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
God is in control of all things and He is working all things according to the council of His own will, for His purposes. We truly have nothing to fear.
So, let’s live through these uncertain days both wisely and winsomely. Using caution, but being bold for Jesus, as those who know for certain that they are immortal until the day God calls them home.
With much love for you all,
The Elders of Grace Baptist Church
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