[much of this information was taken from the Independent Presbyterian Church web site]
Members and friends of Trinity Presbyterian Church,
Greetings. I hope this finds you well. With the rising concern over the coronavirus, the Session thought it would be important to reach out to you with communication from your church, both with information and encouragement.
First, some information. We want to assure you that we are taking every step to protect the health of our church. Here are some of the ways we are doing this:
- Our facilities are receiving extra cleaning attention with repeated sanitizing of surfaces while we continue to maintain standards of cleanliness and sanitizing. John Quattlebaum has thoroughly cleansed the nurseries, including the toys, etc. He has also wiped down light switches and door knobs. We are continuing to look at what additional care we can provide.
- We encourage everyone to monitor your own health and to refrain from church activities if you have symptoms of illness. Also, remember that your personal care and hygiene not only impacts you but also your church community. Please be vigilant as a way to love your neighbors, particularly the elderly among us.
- All church activities are open to the possibility of cancellation, but we are still committed to having Sunday worship. In fact, it is in the hour of hardship that people most need the comfort and stability that churches provide. That being said, we do not want to bind anyone’s conscience if they feel they cannot attend.
- It would probably be best for the next several weeks and/or months to refrain from hand-shakes, hugs, etc. when greeting one another. I know that the Apostle Paul said for us to greet one another with a holy kiss, but perhaps we should suspend such greetings until this virus has subsided.
To our seniors and those with underlying health conditions: if it comes to the point where you feel uncomfortable attending worship services, we completely understand.
Second, some encouragement from a pastor who has extended this wise word to his congregation which we pass on to you:
Thoughtful precautions are good and helpful, but panic and fear are not. We serve a risen and reigning Savior who is completely in control, and that should be evident in the way we respond to a cultural crisis. It was our Christian brothers and sisters in China who led the way during the initial outbreak of this virus. They testified to the surety of their hope by loving, serving, and above all, not despairing. Confidence in the face of panic always has been a mark of God’s people, and let it be true of us. Besides, as our Lord himself reminds us, our fear accomplishes nothing. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to their life?”
Another minister, also a medical doctor, has added this:
If you are over 65, have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or chronic lung issues: Be prudent, wash your hands regularly, elbow bump religiously, avoid mass gatherings, and keep your distance (6 ft.) from people, especially those who are sick. Avoid gyms also and strenuous workouts (they lower your immune response significantly for at least a couple of hours). Take a nice long walk at noon (sunlight is your friend). Oh, and get plenty of sleep.
Let us pray for all those impacted and for the sustained health of our community, but as we pray, let us do so with confidence that God is sovereign and at work. When we are faced with the reality of our human frailty it is good for us to humble ourselves before our God. It is often in times of sickness that we are made aware of our weakness, sinfulness, and our need for the grace of God in Jesus. Pray that this sickness may be used by our Lord to draw many to Himself and to repentance and faith in Jesus.
Summary of Everyday Preventive Actions
(recommended by the Center for Disease Control [CDC])
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are at a higher risk, stay out of crowds, stay home as much as possible.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.