COVID-19 Our Response
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
See the VIDEO version of this announcement HERE.
Dear Cottondale Family,
We all know there is much alarm at present concerning the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). I, as your pastor, have been prayerfully considering what steps we should take as a church family to exercise godly prudence, love of neighbor, and fear of God in this season. First, I want to share with you how the deacons and I, as your appointed leaders, have decided to proceed. Then, I want to lay out some biblical principles that inform this decision as well as remind us of the hope we have in Christ.
UPDATE: (3/18/20) Until further notice we are CANCELLING ALL GATHERINGS and trying to facilitate as much as possible online. See THIS VIDEO for more information and see our FACEBOOK PAGE for the latest updates.
We recommend that we institute the following changes beginning this Sunday (3/15/20) until we learn more about the spread and impact of the virus (recognizing that the great fluidity of the situation may call for day by day re-evaluation):
We will CANCEL all church functions EXCEPT the 11:00am Sunday Morning Service and the Wednesday Night 6:00pm Prayer Meeting. This means we are canceling Sunday School, Sunday Evening Worship, and all Wednesday Activities EXCEPT Prayer Meeting.
Furthermore, we ask ALL members and attenders are who are at higher risk of severe illness (due to age or other health conditions) to worship in their homes, joining us in spirit while not in body. I am presently exploring options now concerning how to stream our service live through the internet so that we can still worship together as a church family at the same time if not in the same place.
Additionally, we are asking everyone who feels sick or physically unwell in any way to remain at home. ALSO, if you have any reason whatsoever to believe that you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, please remain at home as well, and worship with us online.
Lastly, for those who feel physically strong and have no reason to believe they’ve been exposed, we will still take some basic precautions when we gather. These precautions include-- (1) Thorough disinfecting of high contact surfaces (doorknobs, etc.) before and after the service, (2) refraining from shaking hands, and (3) generally limiting physical contact.
WHY initiate these measures?
Among many, one of the most urgent reasons is because a large proportion of our beloved church family members, whom we know and love, are among those more at risk for severe illness. These are our friends, parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and neighbors. It seems to me that the Golden Rule of “love your neighbor as yourself” behooves us to protect the more physically vulnerable in our midst.
EVEN IF most people who contract the virus don’t experience severe symptoms, love of neighbor demands we take all precautions against being carriers of the virus and spreading it to the more vulnerable.
A few weeks of precaution until we learn more about how this situation is going to play out is a small price to pay if means protecting our loved ones from serious illness.
Further, various national, state, and local government entities are encouraging or calling for limits on various gatherings. Per Romans 13, we should be model citizens, serving our nation and society as best we can while maintaining ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ.
What is NOT motivating these measures: fear.
I want it be clear that we are not responding out of fear, but out of love. I don’t fear death. No genuine, born-again believer in Jesus Christ should fear death. What I do fear, however, is the death of those who sins haven’t been forgiven in the Lord Jesus Christ. I tremble with fear at the thought of those who might enter a Christless eternity, so that should factor into our decisions as well.
My Bible says Jesus Christ is Lord of sickness. He is sovereign over all. My Bible says the wind and the waves obey him (Matt 8:27). My Bible says that he is before all things and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17). My Bible says he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3). My Bible says all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matt 28:18). So, we don’t have to fear. We don’t have to be afraid. God’s in control—even over suffering. Jesus showed what the Christian life is like. Following Christ is the way of the cross. That salvation doesn’t come without suffering, it comes through suffering. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
Every day always has been and always will be a gift from God. While neither being fatalistic nor dismissing about the present situation, mature Christianity should sober us to the reality that any and every day could be our last day. We are and have always been in the palm of Christ’s hand. If he wills for us to live tomorrow, we will, and if he doesn’t, we won’t. Coronavirus, car wreck, or cancer, we belong to Jesus Christ, and he will fulfill his purpose for us through us. Regardless of how long that purpose is, we only need to be faithful.
This is our chance, beloved Cottondale brethren, to exercise godly wisdom while refusing to give into fear. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) Let us seize the opportunity to point others to Jesus Christ. He is our only hope in life and in death. We tremble at Jesus words when suffering struck Israel in his day, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2-3) THUS “…God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Repentance and faith and Jesus Christ is the only true and lasting security to be had on earth. Bow the knee to King Jesus, and you’ll never have to fear again.