Your church leadership team has been closely monitoring the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to inform you of what has been happening this week as well as what we anticipate will be our plan going forward.

At 4:00 p.m. March 12, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a state of emergency. As part of that declaration, large gatherings are being suspended. Out of an abundance of caution, WE HAVE CANCELED OUR SERVICES FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 15th.

Before making this decision, we had already been in touch with Cinemark, the owner of the space where we meet, and we requested that our location receive additional sanitary cleaning. They assured us that they have added these additional procedures and increased all hard surface cleaning. Earlier this week, we canceled our services at the Pickersgill Retirement Community out of an abundance of caution for our friends who are most prone to the COVID-19 virus. While they were sad, they thanked us for our consideration. Later in the week, they went ahead and canceled all other outside groups as well.

Where To Go From Here:
As you may know by now, all schools will be closed between March 16th and March 27th. During these two weeks, you will likely have the opportunity to meet new neighbors and catch up with old ones. Please pray for opportunities to be a blessing. Practice great hygiene as you practice loving your neighbors.

I was asked this morning, “How do you balance safety with your faith in light of all you see on the news about this pandemic?” My answer to them is my answer to you:

1. During times of trial, our true theology shows up. During these times it is important that we are not led by our fear.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Power: We rest in the power of God. He is no less in control when we feel stress than he is when we feel success.

Love: We are compelled BY love and FOR love. We have to remember that if we are in Him, we will love others. Now is a great time to practice that whole “love your neighbor” thing.

Self-Control: Yes, self-control means not being led by the flesh, but part of that is not to be led by fear in the flesh.

2. What feels abnormal is actually normal for many people. There are literally billions of people on this planet who have more challenging daily lives than you and me, yet they are at peace with God. During times of trial, we can recall the promises of God and trust that He is in control. None of us make it out of this world without trials or tribulations. It’s who and how we trust in those trials that provide us with a life worth living.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

3. This too will pass. In the meantime, be a good citizen and pray.

This too will pass:
Remember the various times in your life when you felt afraid of pandemics? Most of us have seen many serious outbreaks such as SARS, Avian flu, Swine flu, MERS, Ebola, and Zika. We are blessed to live in a day when scientists and healthcare workers have a decent handle on how to slow, treat, and ultimately eliminate the threats, but they need our help. As citizens, we have to be responsible to do the things we can do to help “flatten the curve”.

Be a good citizen:
“Flattening the curve” is an expression that encapsulates slowing down the community spread of a disease by taking extra precautions like limiting large gatherings, washing hands regularly, staying home if we even think we’re sick, etc. Ultimately, the virus will run its course, and even if it affects the same number of people before a vaccine is developed, by using these precautions we can lower the burden on our medical facilities and likely save lives because more people will have access to adequate medical care. I’d say that’s practical “love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:30-31 stuff right there. That leads us to the final part: prayer.

Pray:
As you may know, we have many people in our church who are in the medical and scientific communities. Some of our people are working overtime to help the most vulnerable among us. We may not have the training, but we can pray; not only pray for a cure or for people to remain healthy, but pray about how we can help others. The elderly are especially hit hard by COVID-19. Some are concerned about going to crowded places like grocery stores. Pray for the Lord to bring to mind people who may need your help. When He brings them to mind, help.

So let us answer this moment with a faith that is calm, thoughtful, and considerate of our neighbors. Pray, take wise precautions, and help others in need. This too will pass, and we’ll celebrate on the other side.