Coronavirus - Our Response
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Hey Waite Park Church Family,
Things are getting stranger all the time. I suspect by now you’ve seen that the CDC is recommending gatherings of no more than 10 for the next 2 weeks. Of course, we want to do our part to cooperate with our neighbors and country. But at the same time, it’s critical for us to maintain the community of faith, to encourage, support and help each other.
Interacting with many of you, I see a number of responses to what’s happening right now. Some are afraid. People in the community (maybe even you) have bought enormous amounts of toilet paper and have stockpiled food just in case we’re in for a long haul. For those who are afraid, I pray for courage and trust that God will work things out in the end. I don’t think God is causing this trial, but I do know he can use it for good. So, rather than give in to fear, ask how God may use you during it.
Some are confused and astonished at what’s happening. Indeed, most of us have never been through anything like this. So, we’re just trying our best to comply with the experts’ recommendations. We should not be surprised when events like this take place. We live in a fallen world. In fact, we are blessed to live in this particular place at this particular time in history. For much of human history, threats like this were commonplace. Now, we have the opportunity to recalibrate our expectations.
Others are defiant, even to the point of cynicism about whether all the measures we’re taking are overkill or even a grand (“progressive” or “conservative” or “government” or “Trump”) conspiracy. I am not an expert in communicable diseases. While it doesn’t seem like much right now, I must trust those who have studied the spread of viruses and are making their best recommendations. The hope is that with the aggressive measures our society is taking, in the end, it won’t be as bad as it could be.
But I also believe that our role as followers of Jesus is to do more than just comply with CDC recommendations and hunker down in self-preservation. Throughout history, the greatest days of the Church have been the times when believers have stepped forward in times of crisis.
In fact, the sociologist Rodney Stark, tell us that perhaps the Church’s finest hour came during the plagues of 160 and 260 AD, which some historians estimate may have killed as much as 30-40% of the population. The plagues were so severe that even the best doctors ran for the hills to save themselves. But the Christians risked their lives to stay. They pulled dying people out of the gutters they’d been thrown into and nursed them back to health. Historians tells us they might have saved literally millions of lives just because they believed that everyone was made in God’s image and deserved care.
Because of the blessing of modern medical technology, hygiene, and waste management, this pandemic won’t come anywhere near those numbers. But the point is that it’s in the DNA of the Church to step up in times of crisis. I don’t know what kind of opportunities this pandemic will afford us, but Christ is most glorified in his Church when it is serving others. Sometimes God leads his people into times where they need courage. That doesn’t mean we don’t take precautions, but as followers of Jesus and part of his Body, so it’s critical that during this time, we live as his Church. So, what does that mean?
It means we do not fear because God is with us.
It means we find ways to continue to gather, even if it looks different than it normally does.
It means we are intentional about serving one another, and
It means we actively serve our neighbors, especially those who are most vulnerable.
So, what does this look like practically speaking?
First, we will continue to hold worship service by livestream as long as the CDC recommendations are in place. During the service we’ll give regular updates about what we’re doing as well as encouragement
But, while the livestream is a great tool as far as it goes. There’s nothing like meeting together in person. Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” While you may not be able to do this the way you would like, make sure you take the time to reach out to friends and family and people who might be in need. We believe it’s critical to maintain our connection to each other over these next few weeks.
Second, we will be sending out a form that we would greatly appreciate you to fill out. The form asks about your needs, your wants during this time as well as ways you would be willing to help your church family and our neighbors during this time. We will regularly make you aware of the needs of people in our own congregation. We have some who are elderly or immunocompromised who may need help with basic needs or just a friend to talk to. And finally, we will monitor the neighborhood to look for needs we may be able to meet and pass those along to you.
Third, we are encouraging small groups to meet throughout the week, preferably via video chat. We recommend using Zoom for the video chats because of its ease of use and versatility. Each small group leader would need a Pro plan, which costs $15/mo. If that cost is prohibitive, the church can cover the cost of the plan for as long as the CDC recommendations are in place. We will also continue with Wednesday night prayer at 8 pm each Wednesday, via Zoom video chat, but we will also have a shortened prayer time at 8 pm every night. If you don’t have the ability to join us by Zoom, you can also call in to the same meeting. Here is the information that will allow you to access these gatherings.
Time: 8pm Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/937189056 Phone Dial in: 312 626 6799 Meeting ID: 937 189 056
Watch for more details as they become available. Continue to pray for one another, our neighbors, country, and world.