An eNote from Pastor Chris
Sent March 13, 2020 at 3:00 pm.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in science.
I don’t know everything… far from it.
An important confession now-a-days for any pastor.
We are living in extraordinary times, which calls for extraordinary people as well as peculiar action in unprecedented circumstances.
May God’s grace continue to be with us in a mighty way.
The Staff and I have been discussing the Coronavirus situation for weeks now trying our best to stay ahead and stay prepared. You might remember that we had hand-sanitizer in the pews on Sunday, March 1st!
We have discussed various contingencies plans which included taking extra precautions leading up to worship this weekend. We have spent hours upon hours thinking through how to provide and subsequently communicate the safest environment possible.
My plan was to share those measures with you while also encouraging those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and those who are sick for any reason to stay home and catch the sermon online on Sunday afternoon.
However, the last 30 hours have been a proverbial whirlwind. Things have changed and have updated rapidly.
In short, public health officials are strongly urging us to stay home to mitigate the spread of this virus. There is serious concern that a great number of people are potentially infected and don’t realize it or haven’t qualified to test for it.
As I’m sure you know, Catoosa public schools have been closed and will not be occupied for the next three weeks.
The Governor of GA yesterday asked specifically that persons sixty-years-old and older stay home, avoiding public activities including religious services.
Our Bishop has subsequently asked that all UMC’s offer online worship services only.
With this in mind, after a great deal of prayer, research and conversation we are cancelling all regular RUMC activities immediately until Monday, March 23.
We will however, be offering online worship. I am changing my message specifically in light of the great anxiety and “turbulence” we’ve witnessed (and maybe experienced) this week. I want to share with you how God might call us to use our faith in these uncertain times.
More details will be following regarding online worship and other opportunities as we try to respond as a church to the needs of this community.
I and other Staff will be in contact with you through email and social media, both in word and video.
Let me tell you, this decision has been very difficult for numerous reasons but it is not about fear.
It is about a sense of duty to be part of the solution as our community and nation struggles to get ahead and mitigate the effects of this virus.
It is an attempt to minimize the number of people who transmit the virus (even unknowingly as some persons who are infected have not shown any signs they were sick) and ultimately prevent the worst outcomes of this illness.
One way to “love our neighbor” in an unprecedented time as this, is to not “infect” our neighbor.
Please remember those in the medical field in your prayers, especially those who are in our own congregation who are putting themselves in harm’s way in order to offer the healing ministry of Christ and protect the rest of us.
Remember them as they endure long hours and potentially very difficult circumstances.
We remain in contact with various leaders and officials in order to respond as best as possible in the days and weeks ahead. We are praying in Jesus’ name to do so with both wisdom and courage.
I appreciate you checking on others by phone to make sure they’re ok and to keep them informed especially if they don’t have internet access. Use the CDC and/or WHO websites to keep up-to-date regarding this evolving situation.
May we be prudent. May we be faithful.
We will get through this. This is temporary.
I fully expect RUMC to be the great and leading church it has always been through and past this moment in time.
Rev. Chris Bryant