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Our Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020 | by: Ryan Joki | 0 Comments

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Cornerstone Family,

 

In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Clint and I have decided to suspend our Sunday morning services, starting this Sunday, March 15.

We want you to understand that we’ve come to this decision, not only out of concern for the physical health of the members of our congregation, but also for our community. We understand that, on the whole, the symptoms associated with COVID-19 are relatively mild for those without underlying health issues and that, even in extreme cases, patients can recover with sufficient medical treatment. However, in our study of the topic, it appears that the real threat to the virus occurs when there is a sudden “spike” of patients in a particular community. When hospitals are overrun with a large number of immunocompromised patients, they simply don’t have the medical equipment to effectively treat everyone. This has led health officials to encourage communities to do what they can to “flatten the curve” of infected so that hospitals are able to keep up with demand (links here and here for the curious). That’s ultimately what is driving our decision. In other words, we are not overly concerned that many (if any) in our congregation are going to get seriously sick as a result of coming to church. The fact is, from what health officials are reporting, it’s likely that a good many of us will get the virus (and recover) at some point, regardless of whether or not we’re in public spaces – and church members who are at greater risk could simply choose to stay home until the COVID-19 “wave” has subsided. Our concern, rather, is with relatively healthy members (with mild symptoms) contributing to the quicker spread of the disease by coming to church, thereby putting the immunocompromised in our community at a greater risk. In short, we do not think it would be prudent or loving to continue with services simply because we think the virus will not adversely affect us personally. Christians throughout history have made great sacrifices in times of plague to help the members of their community heal and recover. We believe that it is in the spirit of that tradition that we make this one (albeit relatively small) sacrifice.

We also want you to know that we realize that this decision may be a bit premature. We’re obviously still in the very stages of an outbreak (if there ever even is one here). We had already decided that there was probably a good chance that services would be canceled effective next week (3/22) when we were trying to decide what to do about this week. Given the fact that it could be several weeks before we have another Sunday morning service, we were hesitant to cancel what could be our last worship service together for some time. In the end, we decided that were we meeting in the more spacious fellowship hall this week, we’d probably proceed as planned. But given that we were going to be in the chapel this week (and with a guest speaker, no less), it is probably best to err on the safe side and just make the call now. Again, we understand this decision may be premature, and we’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. We hope that you understand, though, the heart with which we make it.

In the meantime, Clint and I will be discussing ways that we can still be in fellowship together as a body. We are not sure just yet what that will look like. We understand that while there is a rich catalog of sound teaching to be found online, it is very hard to replace 1) the corporate worship and 2) the corporate fellowship that takes place at church. We have had a very brief discussion on what some options may be, and we plan to continue this discussion Monday morning. Thankfully, we are a small church, and we anticipate that this will make it much easier for us to adapt and remain in-touch as we continue to encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Lord willing, the suspension of services will be brief.

If you have any questions about our decision, please don’t hesitate to ask. Meanwhile, we’d encourage you to continue to keep in-touch with one another. As I think you all know by now, church is not just something you do on Sunday. It’s a family. A community. We can maintain that fellowship regardless of whether we’re meeting together on Sunday morning or not – and I firmly believe that, if we approach this rightly, this trial can actually serve to better strengthen the bonds that we have in Christ (cf. Jas. 1:2-4). If you’re desperate for corporate worship come Sunday morning, you can also check-out the livestream from Grace Community Church at 12:30 PM. As far as I know, they are still planning to meet. Beyond that, we’d encourage you to watch your email closely over the next few days as we continue to provide you with updates on our plan moving forward.

 

In Christ,

 

Ryan Joki

Teaching Elder

Cornerstone Baptist Church

 

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5

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