Response to Coronavirus
March 13, 2020
New Light Family,
Because of the recent developments with COVID-19. The elders and I have decided to cancel all of this week's church-related gatherings. It is also highly likely that we will need to postpone or cancel some of our future meetings. Should that be the case, we will aim to provide some alternatives so that you continue to receive the encouragement, spiritual nourishment, and care that you need.
Please read the information and list below for an overview of the significant impacts on small gatherings.
On Wednesday, the Governor and the King County Public health officer issued orders legally prohibiting public gatherings of over 250. They have also prohibited smaller gatherings of less than 250 unless the people organizing the events follow their guidelines. The guidelines can be found below:
Events with fewer than 250 attendees are prohibited unless event organizers take the following steps to minimize risk:
- Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions that are at increased risk of serious COVID-19 are encouraged not to attend (including employees).
- Social distancing recommendations must be met (I.e., limit contact of people within 6 feet from each other for 10 minutes or longer).
- Employees must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic; and
- Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees.
- Environmental cleaning guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently).
Currently, the Governor's Emergency Proclamation goes through March 31, 2020, and the Local Health Officer Order has no specified end date.
As you apply these orders to our context and congregation, you will notice it would drastically change the nature of our meetings. A significant portion of our congregation would need to be discouraged from attending our large public gatherings. Everyone 60+, the pregnant, and those who have significant medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and several other serious medical conditions are considered highly vulnerable. It will also mean that I would have to be screened for symptoms daily and that our elders would be strongly advised not to attend. Additionally, a failure to comply with the health authorities would be considered a misdemeanor.
From a scriptural perspective, a temporary suspension of large gatherings in order to stop the spread of the disease and save and protect life is not prohibited. Nor is it the same as abandoning the gathering (Heb 10:25). In this case, it is actually a way to love our neighbor by slowing the spread of a potentially fatal disease. It is also a way to protect and care for the sick among us. Beyond this, Scripture repeatedly commands us to obey the governing authorities which God has ultimately placed over us. This means we must obey the laws established and handed down, so far as they don't contradict scripture (1 Pet 2:13-17; Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3:1). To temporarily suspend large gatherings is not a violation of that.
In Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea, it has been reported that some religious bodies and churches continued to gather despite recommendations to the contrary, and they soon became known as "the center of diseases." In so doing, they damage their name and the communities in which they reside. In times of plague, we (Christians) ought to be examples of resolute faith, sobriety, wisdom, and good disease management. Doing these things will enable us to preserve and possibly enhance our witness.
That said, we will still seek the opportunity to gather but we want to make every effort to ensure that our meetings are safe and submissive to the mandates we received. Canceling service in the short term will enable us to regroup and plan for the way forward.
Every Lord's day, we gather, pray, and thank the Lord that we can legally gather as a corporate body, hoping that this blessing would never be taken from us. Let's pray that God will enable us all to gather together again soon.
In the meantime, rejoice, knowing that we serve a sovereign God of immense love and care. Even though we experience trials, he will not abandon or forsake his flock but will continue to keep, strengthen, and meet us as we call on him. You will likely be hearing from me in the days to come. In the interim, Let’s stay connected. The elders and I are just a phone call or email away. Please reach out if you are in need. An update will also be placed on the website.
The Elders and I will be meeting soon to talk about the next steps and approaches to gathering. Please continue to pray for us and one another. As far as I know, no one has contracted the disease, yet some have been in environments where other infected individuals reside. Let’s pray and continue seeking the Lord.
For Christ and His Church,
Pastor Branden Brooks
Resources on the issues:
Here are resources available from a Christian perspective to read to stay encouraged and informed.
A couple of Scriptures to reflect and ponder on:
- 1 Pet 1:3-9;1 Pet 2:11-17; Rev 21:1-7; ; Ps 46; Philippians 4:4-9; 1 Tim 2:1-3