Elmira Baptist Church's response to the growing COVID-19 crisis
The coronavirus is a very real danger to our community. And the situation is changing rapidly. Every day new government orders about the virus come out. Solano County, California is the one of the epicenters of the current crisis. I want you to know that the physical health and well-being of each member of Elmira Baptist Church is important to me. I do not want to endanger the health of anyone. Make no mistake: the emergency is very real. How we view this time is important. We can see this as a crisis to be endured or as an opportunity to grow and minister to others.
At Elmira Baptist Church, we have been taking precautions to protect our health for some weeks now: extra cleaning that involves wiping down the surfaces of frequently touched places and providing hand sanitizer. I want to urge everyone not to be careless in taking precautions to protect one's health such as washing one's hands regularly. We are not called to foolish living or to take careless risks.
A smaller group of us met this past Sunday. After the new guidelines that came out at the federal, state, and local level on Monday, the deacons and I decided to suspend all meetings until further notice. We will not be meeting on Sundays or Wednesdays at one location. Instead, we will meet online.
In place of meeting at the church building and because it is important to stay connected, during this time when the government has limited all non-essential gatherings we will do the following:
Daily updates using Facebook Live about 11:00AM. Even if you have not signed up for Facebook, you should be able to watch a recorded version of each day's updates using the link on the church's website. We have chosen daily updates because the situation is changing so rapidly. Those updates should be live about 11:00 each day and you should be able to watch a recording by noon.
During each daily update I will share prayer request and teach a short devotional from the Bible. Let's use this time of uncertainty and inconvenience to draw closer our God.
Wednesday evening at 7 PM, I will also be on Facebook Live. At that time, I will share prayer requests and teach a Bible lesson. Bring your Bibles. The church office will send out by email an updated prayer request sheet.
Sunday morning at 11 AM, we will Facebook livestream a worship service including songs, Bible reading, and prayer. The church office will send out a modified bulletin by email so you can follow along.
Sunday evening at 5 PM, we will Facebook livestream a second worship service including songs.
If you cannot access the livestream or you know someone who cannot access the livestream, please call me at 707-297-2259. Although I cannot guarantee anything, several of us will be working this week to make it possible for all church members who wish to connect with us online to be connected. If you can help with that, please call me.
We will not be meeting in one location as a church during this time. As I mentioned previously, all church meetings are suspended until further notice. The Thursday night visitation and Saturday morning visitation are going to be suspended for the time being. Please use that time for prayer and to reach out by telephone to each other and to neighbors.
Specifically, the food & fellowship that was scheduled for this Sunday is canceled. The Scandia Golf Challenge that was scheduled for Saturday, March 28 has been postponed indefinitely. Harold Pierce, missionary to the military with BIMI, and I talked Monday and agreed to re-schedule his visit. He will not be with us on March 29. We will look at the other events on our schedule as we get closer to them. Remember, I will be updated you daily during this time.
Here are some ways to stay connected to each other.
Call each other. Our President and our governor has asked not to congregate, but we can still use the telephone to talk to each other daily.
Set aside the Wednesday and Sunday meeting times. Do not get distracted. Know that if you tune in Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night that others will be watching at the same time.
Check the church website daily: elmirafamily.com.
If you are a member of Facebook, watch the church's Facebook page.
If you are on Twitter, I will be posting to my Twitter feed @mongoldean.
Set aside regular time to pray for each other. Let me suggest a few things for which we should pray:
1. For those who have the coronavirus
2. For their caregivers, for first responders and medical personnel who will put their lives in harm's way for our safety
3. For our government to have wisdom in handling this; for those in leadership to have wisdom in handling this
4. For the peace and comfort of those who are in the grip of fear and panic
5. For God to be exalted
During this time of uncertainty, God is our refuge and strength. He is our Rock. We can trust Him, pray to Him, receive His grace. This is an opportunity to reach out to others and minister to those who do not have our confidence.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
Scott Dean | firstname.lastname@example.org | 707-297-2259
Pastor, Elmira Baptist Church