UPDATED: March, 17, 2020
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During this health crisis, may we use this time to provide a clear and strong witness for Christ in our community; to truly be the Church.
I give thanks for the creative ways in which so many of you led online worship experiences on Sunday. With short notice, you offered words of hope and comfort to those who gathered for worship on their phone, computer, or tablet. This week, you are offering virtual Bible study, prayer services, and Sunday School. Some of you are even reading bedtime stories so that the community you serve will still feel connected to the church during this time of social distancing. I am proud of your extra efforts and faithful leadership in such a time as this.
I do ask that you continue to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and suspend public worship, as well as other group gatherings, at least until the end of March. Please follow the CDC guidelines, State guidelines, and the direction of county and city government. These precautions are not only important for your own safety but for the health and welfare of the entire community. Social distancing can and will slow the rate of infection in order to allow our health care services to respond appropriately.
Now is the time for the church to be the Church. The CDC and the Conference continue to offer resources for faithful and appropriate ways to respond. Please pray for all those who are infected with this virus and their families; for those who have lost loved ones; for medical personnel who are offering care to those who are sick; for scientists who are working diligently to create a vaccine; for governmental leaders as they make difficult decisions. Please connect with those who are most vulnerable in your community and help to meet their needs. In a powerful email which I received late last week, Matthew Till reminds us that we also have the opportunity to “use time in social distancing as an extended period of sabbath rest through reading, prayer, abiding in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and connecting with loved ones in your home. Your soul needs it and God will use it for God’s glory.”
Like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness, we find ourselves in unchartered territory. However, the God who led Moses and his people with a cloud by day and a fire by night, leads us as well. May the Lord, who is our light and salvation give us grace and strength for this and every time of need.
With gratitude for you and your leadership,
Paul L. Leeland