A word from our church about the rising concern about the corona virus (COVID-19). This is a quickly evolving situation and what follows below is what we think is appropriate for the situation as it exists today.
The World Health Organization has officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a global pandemic. As the President said in his address recently, while the virus is not a mortality risk to most of the population, it is still a very deadly disease, and we all have a responsibility to take basic precautions to hamper its spread. Governor DeWine banned gatherings over 100 people excluding religious gatherings. We will continue to monitor any recommendations from the Franklin County Board of Health regarding gatherings guidelines.
The plan we outline below was developed after seeking the counsel and guidance of medical professionals in our community, as well as our own prayerful reflection on the Scriptures.
We want to do all we can to love and serve our neighbors. We want to be wise, adopting best practices from medical professionals as well as always operating with the hope and confidence that comes from faith in the risen Jesus. Our conviction that God is in control mitigates panic and fear. We want to do all we are able to help and protect our church members, neighbors, and community members, especially those who are vulnerable to disease.
To that end, we have been told by our doctors and health care professionals that reducing large group gatherings for a few weeks will help to minimize the risk of transmission. This can slow the spread of the disease, as well as help prevent the hospital system from being overloaded by a quick outbreak. At the same time, we want to obey the command of Hebrews 10:25: “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
So, in general our plan will be to continue to gather in smaller groups (hopefully even more frequently), while suspending our large group gatherings for at least the next couple of weeks.
Here is what it will look like:
- We will NOT gather at the church building for the next two regular Sunday morning worship services (March 15 and 22). We encourage you to gather on Sunday mornings either with members from your growth groups, or folks in your neighborhood. Or, if that’s not possible, to gather with those in your household for worship. We will still be sitting under God’s Word together, offering our prayers and praise together, even as we gather remotely in smaller groups.
- If you don’t have a Growth Group, join the Robson Group in the church’s cafe Sunday morning, 10:00 am, or contact our other Growth Group leaders (Lays, Courlas, Resch, Kong/Morris).
- We encourage growth groups to gather per usual.
- Women’s and Men’s Bible Studies will not meet for the next two weeks.
- If you need someone to shop and deliver life necessities, please call WCPC with your request.
During a time of need, fear and isolation, it is all the more important for us to gather as a community of faith and to welcome those who are looking for hope. This will look a bit different for a few weeks, but it will also be a chance to experience worship and community in a different way, and perhaps open our eyes to the experience many Christians have had throughout the centuries. Many of the practices we are planning have been utilized successfully by the church in China over the last few months.
If you are ill with viral symptoms (i.e. fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc.), please refrain from coming to even these smaller gatherings while symptomatic. The wisest course of action is to stay at home until you’re are well. If you are vulnerable to this virus (if you are over 60 years old, if you have an impaired immune system, or if you have serious medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, etc.), please use wisdom in your participation in church gatherings. Know that your presence will be missed and we invite you to follow along with the materials we send out.
Historically, Christian presence amidst illness has been a powerful witness to faith. We practice wisdom and seek guidance from medical professionals, but we do not cower in fear nor do we isolate ourselves out of sense of self-protection. Instead, we continue our practice of meeting together and serving one another and our neighbors. As Rev. Scott Sauls says, “Wash hands for sure; then wash feet.”
The Elders, Deacons, and Staff of WCPC