Please read this carefully as it contains important information regarding upcoming church events.
An email will be sent our tomorrow (Friday) morning with details regarding canceled church activities.
March 12, 2020
Dear River Road Church family,
We are all aware that the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread throughout communities around the world, even those communities close to home. As I write this letter, schools and community organizations, including churches, are cancelling activities. It’s clear we need to take this very seriously. In light of this reality, I am writing to you in an effort to share some ways that our church is responding.
First, like in most things, I believe it’s important to strike a balance. Just as it is inappropriate to model a leadership that gives in to panic and fear (the sky is falling!) and compounds the anxiety many of us are feeling, it is also irresponsible to be so cavalier (it’s no big deal!) so as to endanger persons.
Therefore, I want to encourage you to remember that just as Jesus compels us to stay awake and alert (Matthew 26 and Mark 13), Scripture counsels us not to be afraid: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). We also receive this promise: as we journey through life, in times of joy and sorrow, health and illness, Jesus will always be with us. In this promise, Christ embodies the true meaning of Emmanuel—God with us. What’s more, Scripture tells us that that there is nothing in this world—not viruses, not anxiety, not even death itself—that can separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8). I believe this love we have in Christ compels us to offer compassion and assistance to our neighbor—particularly during this time.
Second, I want to offer some practical advice. Let’s refrain from hugs and handshakes and instead greet one another at church with an elbow tap, a respectful bow, or a friendly smile or wave. Also, we must wash our hands regularly. When handwashing isn’t an option, there are hand sanitizing stations located in the sanctuary narthex, fellowship hall, lower commons, and porte cochère (preschool) entrance.
I realize that normally, we show our love by visiting one another and by gathering around one another in a time of need. In this case, however, I believe we love one another by staying home if we are feeling ill or if we have been exposed to anyone who might be ill. We love one another by respecting hospital and nursing home policies that may limit visitation. While one person may not consider this virus a concern, we love one another by respecting that others may feel differently, especially those whose health may put them at greater risk. And as always, we love one another by picking up the phone to check on one another.
Third, I want to share how we as church leadership is responding. Our deacon leadership decided to cancel receptions until further notice. We are considering how we may need to alter the collection of offering, whether to cancel upcoming Communion services, and what to do about Wednesday night dinners. Our building staff has been diligent about extra cleaning, including disinfecting common surfaces, door handles, and light switches.
Last, I want to point you to some reliable sources of information. Up-to-date information may be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at the Virginia Department of Health. There is also specific guidance for congregations here.
While we are all hoping that COVID-19 and its impact fades quickly, your church leadership is trying to think through scenarios and complications that may arise should the virus’ impact spread. Not only are we concerned about summer camps and mission trips, but we are also praying for wisdom in how we might continue to minister and care for our congregation should we need to consider changes to how we gather for worship, concerts, meetings, and other events.
Please join me in praying for our community and our world—for those affected by this virus and for those healthcare workers, scientists, and elected leaders who are trying to offer care and make decisions to limit the virus’ spread and impact. And please pray for our church as we seek to serve Christ and one another in love, in wisdom, and in grace.
I love you and I’m praying for you.
Daniel E. Glaze