After prayer and discussion among our congregation's staff and leadership, we commit to the following. This is not only a response to the threat of the coronavirus, but also to outbreaks of influenza in our community.
We will refrain from hugs and handshakes for a time. Regrettably, we will forgo our typical greetings for the time being. Human contact is an important part of our life together. A hug has the ability to convey the love of Christ. For now, an elbow or fist bump will need to suffice. And this always remains true: If you’re sick, stay home.
We have careful procedures in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Pastors and communion preparers/distributors will wash hands incessantly just prior to their service. We use individual communion cups. As always, bread will be handed to you.
We will maintain an exceptionally clean building. We have professional cleaning services for our church buildings and childcare center.
We will continue to go to people in need. Your pastors will visit the sick. Members who are medical professionals will carry out their duties. Our people will go about their God-given callings in confident faith.
Christ went toward lepers and the sick, not away from them. In plagues, Christians have been known to walk into the burning city, not away from it. We take all necessary precautions, but refuse to abandon our neighbors in need. The call to “love your neighbor as yourself” always incurs a level of risk.
We will pray AND sanitize. It is not either/or. It’s both/and. We do not practice a careless piety that says “pray,” but then acts recklessly. At the same time we do not overestimate our precautionary health measures. Calamity is beyond our ability to control. The chaos of epidemic drives us to prayer and obedient trust.
We will not fear. There’s a time for concern, but we refuse fear. The stock market may crash, but we remain generous. Sickness may spread, but we remain faithful. Our trust in God is not dependent on circumstances. We don’t claim faith only in times of blessing. God gets glory when we cling to him in death’s face and at the taunt of the devil.
“Therefore I shall ask God to mercifully protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it . . . If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he expected of me. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid person or place but will go freely.”
- Martin Luther, Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague