Recently the leaders of FBC have been asked about any plans the church has in light of the spread of COVID-19. There is still a lot of uncertainty concerning this epidemic (there’s even disagreement as to whether this is a pandemic or not), thus making it difficult to say with certainty what we will do. However, we can speak to what we are doing and what we recommend. Some people’s questions we can answer; others we will need to refer you to other sources. We hope this helps. First, let me take just a moment to remind us all that when faced with a crisis – big or small – we can respond with faith or fear. May we all choose faith! The enemy traffics fear…and so does much of the media! God, who knows the beginning and the end of all things, knew all about this virus and He knew that we had mission trips planned in faith before the virus emerged. We are walking by faith in this and trusting in His care. But neither do we want to be foolish. The places our mission teams are going – Ethiopia and Lebanon – are on the lowest threat level according to the CDC (you can look at their global map by clicking on this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html). The airlines they will be using are United (for both groups) and Ethiopian Airlines (obviously for the team going to Ethiopia). You can check the websites for both these airlines to see the measures they’re taking to ensure the health and safety of all passengers. As for their return and possibly being detained, so far flights from the countries they’re visiting are not on a “banned” list and there is no indication at this time of them encountering any problems. All that to say we don’t believe we are being foolish in the exercise of our faith!
As for life in Gardner and Baldwin City, the threat of contracting COVID-19 is something nobody has a good handle on at this point. It seems that every day, even multiple times a day, you hear or read something different. Some believe that once testing becomes more readily available we’ll find out that more people have the virus. Nobody knows for sure. Until the CDC or even our local government actually ban large public gatherings (one such ban expected to be announced today, Wednesday, in Washington state includes limiting gatherings to 250 people or fewer) in order to minimize the spread of the virus, we will carry on as normal until “normal” is considered unsafe. We are preparing, if necessary, to take the following steps:
Greeters and ushers refraining from shaking hands
Discouraging hand-shaking during greeting time or eliminating it for a time (all the introverts said “Amen!”)
Please know in the meantime that we certainly encourage the normal precautions issued by the CDC and other organizations:
If you feel sick, stay home! If you think you’re sick, stay home!
If you are concerned about contracting the virus, stay home (no judgment here)! At present, the greatest threat of COVID-19 is to those 60 and over, especially those 75 and above.
The Baldwin campus sermon is available live online on the Baldwin Facebook page and the Gardner campus sermon is available on the campus website usually the next day.
Wash your hands! I’ve heard, and so have you, that we need to be washing our hands thoroughly around 7-10 times a day.
We will have as much hand sanitizer available as possible, though currently, that’s hard to find right now. Know that the toys in the kids’ area are cleaned weekly and that the door handles to all classrooms are sanitize each week (something that has been done for several weeks due to the influx of people with influenza). If, and only if, things become critical, we will certainly consider other steps to ensure the safety of everyone at FBC.
Thanks for your understanding. I’d like to close with the thoughts one pastor shared with his church:
“Finally, as you watch the world react to this crisis—itself a stark reminder of our mortality—don’t neglect to share the hope you have in Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15). Share how he rescued you from the universal epidemic of sin and the penalty of death. Share that your hope is not found in remaining healthy this side of heaven. We’ll all face death eventually. Thanks to Jesus, we can come to that day with confidence. Like Paul, we can remember that to live is Christ, but to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). We truly have nothing ultimately to fear—not from the coronavirus, the Ebola virus, natural disasters, or anything else. Press on, friends. Pray for the sick. Walk in God’s strength. Love the brotherhood. Do good to all men. Use your health to serve, not to hide. Jesus is sovereign over it all.”
After much prayer and deliberation, the elders have decided to cancel worship services tomorrow, March 15. The very last thing the leaders want is to be responsible for any medical emergency that might arise as a result of congregating in close proximity to each other. None of the elders are medical experts, so we have decided to follow the “spirit” of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, even though by the “letter” of the law we could have met. You can connect to the FBC-Baldwin City Facebook page tomorrow morning at 10:00 to watch the preaching of Elder Greg Nadvornik so that we can keep on schedule in the study on Abraham and so that you and your family can worship together. Further decisions will be made in the coming week regarding services for the remainder of the month.
This decision gives the elders no joy, but it does bring us peace knowing that our decision wouldn’t be the reason for someone getting sick. Thanks for your patience and understanding. You are a great church with deep faith. You know the promises of God and you know his character. Rest in those! Rely on those! And keep praying for our church and community. We love you and thank God for you!
We miss you! We miss shaking your hand and talking about how your week is going. So much has been said by so many. Most of it really good. Some of it not so good. We won’t go on long here, but one thing comes to my mind and that is that God doesn’t waste our sacrifices and there is purpose in pain. We can’t say how or what it will look like, but God is right now working things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose!
Because of both mandated and recommended precautions for social distancing, here are a few important points to know about what we’re doing and working on at FBC:
The blank sermon outline can be downloaded at https://bit.ly/2IYGuAV for you take notes on during the service.
There will be no groups meeting in our facility of any size during this period.
All Life Group meetings of any size are canceled during this period of time.
We are working on ways to connect with each other and exploring the best options.
We will work on creating discipleship/bible study videos
We will explore ways for groups to connect in other ways
We are also working on putting a system in place where people can indicate a need they may have and for those who can respond to meet those needs. Stay tuned!
This period of time, like all periods of time, is a call for the church to be steadfast in prayer! Nothing new there, huh? The one constant in changing times is our relationship with the Father who tells us to watch and pray with thanksgiving. I don’t know when this crisis will end (and I believe it will eventually), but I do know that I don’t want to look back on it years later and say, “I prayed harder then than I do now.” May we always be diligent, constant and habitual in prayer. Let’s listen to the Lord and find strength in his word. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:147, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.” That is a hope that will never fail us!