3/18/2020 2:03:20 PM
COVID-19 Coronavirus Response
From Pastor Dave
Dear Members and Friends of the Vernon Baptist Church:
As much as we could wish it were otherwise, we cannot escape the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The first confirmed case in Oneida County was announced this morning by our county executive, with 30 more individuals under observation. Statewide, there are now roughly 1400 people who have tested positive. Some have died.
As I mentioned Sunday morning, we have at least 2 church members who have self-quarantined because of potential exposure. One of my own sons has been working with the fiancé of an individual who is employed in the same office as the confirmed case in Herkimer County. Mike has since lost his job due to the closing of his workplace because of virus related restrictions in the restaurant industry.
As a church, several individuals have expressed concern and made suggestions as to what our response to all that is happening around us should be. First, we need not panic or buy into the mass hysteria so evident in the media and manifest in the empty shelves of Walmart and our local supermarkets. After all, God is still on the throne and cares as much for us now as in times of ease –Mt. 6:25-34; Rom. 8:28, 35-39; Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:7.
However, for the sake of our loved ones and others with whom we interact on a regular basis, we do need to take prudent steps to limit the potential health hazards brought on by this outbreak. To do otherwise would reflect callous hearts, not the love of God. It would reflect indifference to the needs of our neighbors, not genuine love for them –Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:25-37; Rom. 13:9-10.
Governor Cuomo has mandated the suspension of all gatherings of fifty or more people across the state. Although most of what we do does not exceed that limit, President Trump and his team of advisors have recommended that we voluntarily refrain from gatherings of more than ten people for at least the next two weeks. This is in hope of slowing the spread of the virus.
In light of that, and in order to show due respect to those in authority over us (Rom. 13:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:13-17), and in view of Governor Cuomo's announcement today that his advisors do not expect the virus to peak in New York for up to forty-five days, we will be taking the following actions.
1. In consultation with both the Deacons and Trustees, we are suspending all public church activities for the next two weeks. This includes all regular children's and teen programs, Saturday's Pinewood Derby, the March 28 Women of Wonder (WOW) Luncheon, and Sunday services.
2. As mentioned above, Governor Cuomo announced today that his advisors are saying that they do not expect the virus to peak in New York for up to forty-five days. However, in keeping with the President's recommendations, we will reevaluate the situation around the first of April. We hope the Governor's team is wrong, especially with Easter being just four Sundays away.
3. Once the threat of spreading the virus has decreased, we plan to reschedule the Pinewood Derby, our Easter Cantata, "Behold the Lamb", and the WOW luncheon ans we resume normal activities.
4. I am thinking through ways to provide some kind of web-based worship experiences or messages, but have not settled on any particular format yet. It could be recorded or live, a video conference (Think, 'Zoom', for those who are familiar with that platform.) or 'Facebook Live' type of interface, something through our website, an armchair chat or church sanctuary event, or something else. We will let you know once we get the specifics in place.
5. Even though we will not be meeting at the church building, regular church expenses do not cease. They will continue. Therefore, we encourage everyone to continue their regular giving habits. If possible, please mail your offerings (check or money orders) to the church address at P.O. Box 254, Vernon NY 13476. We are also looking into the feasibility of setting up some kind of online donation option. Several different platforms are being explored.
Finally, please keep one another, our communities, our governing authorities, our medical personnel at all levels, and our coworkers, friends, and families in prayer, especially those with compromised immune systems because of other underlying health conditions (diabetes, cardiac and coronary problems, lung issues, etc.) and seniors (sixties, seventies, eighties, and up), because all the statistics seem to show that they have far higher mortality rates than those who are healthy or younger.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to email me back at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call or text me at 315-240-4899.
More to follow soon.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
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