As you may have figured with all of the other prohibitions that have been mandated due to efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the United States, Bishop Mark J. Webb has recommended that we suspend all congregational activities until at least the end of March. Specifically, to quote Bishop Webb, “While I know it goes against the nature of many to cancel worship and other activities for any reason, I want to urge and encourage you to suspend in-person worship and other church gatherings for at least the remainder of March, if you have not already done so.”
As Bishop Webb mentioned, the idea of not worshipping together may go against what our hearts may be telling us but there is justification for such measures. This strain of virus seems to be far more dangerous to older adults. Because I have been called by God to serve North Ridge and Ransomville as their pastor, a good shepherd does what is most good for the flock. I cannot justify holding services when the potential to harm members of my flock exists, especially since both congregations are composed primarily of older people.
This will be a temporary (hopefully very temporary) until the people who track the epidemic are confident it is safe to return to normal practices. Until then, I am working on having an online worship experience via Facebook and YouTube. I am currently pondering how to reach those who have no internet access. If anyone has any idea how best to reach those who aren’t connected to the internet, I would appreciate it. I would also appreciate input from all of you regarding the online worship experience as well as prayer joys/concerns to share during our time online. To say this is a novel situation would be an understatement so we will have to work together to remain a church family in a time of “social distancing”.
I will leave you with a Biblical quote that Bishop Webb put in his official letter to the UNY Conference from Deuteronomy Chapter 31:6. In it, Moses is telling Israel that they will be crossing into the Promised Land without him. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Imagine losing the leader who had been your leader for decades. Indeed, many would have never known another one. Worse still, they are going to be facing some very strong enemies without Moses, who had always seen them through things. But Moses reminds everyone who the real leader is: God. God is not going anywhere. In fact, he tells them this twice as he repeats it in verse 8.
This is what we need to remember. God has not forgotten his children. We may not be worshipping in person together, but we can still spend sacred time together. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me via email, your respective church office phone, or my cell phone. See you Sunday; in Spirt and in truth if not actually in person!
Pastor Matt Worley