The Corona Virus - COVID-19 - continues to bring daily changes to life and ministry in the church. I wanted to take a minute to bring us up to speed on the changes here at the church.
As I get started here, I want to mention a couple of things so you can see that we have been taking precautions, staying on top the available information and government guidelines, and are making sure we can keep worshipers safe, and being available to minister to those in our church family.
This morning I participated in phone conference with the American Baptist Churches of New York State. There were about eight different ministry leaders, plus the two representatives from the state, Jerrod Hugenot, the NYS regional Associate Executive Minister, and Dr. Jim Kelsey, the NYS Regional Executive Minister. Joining me at the church or this call was Mike Davis, representing the Diaconate Board, Mike Fritzen, representing the Praise Team, and Richard Bean, representing the Trustees. After the phone conference, we talked about further changes at the church, and what it would take to trigger those changes.
While we are staying on top of the issue, we need to remember that in our area, this virus has not gotten a foothold. As of this morning, there is still only one confirmed case of the virus in Tioga County, and no confirmed cases in Chemung County, or in Bradford Co, PA.
So due to that, we will continue to hold church service this Sunday, March 22, with the following changes:
- Sunday School will be cancelled
- Cafe will not open to avoid people congregating in the hallway
- No Ushers - bulletins will be available for pickup on a table.
- There will be offering plates on tables in the church, individuals can put in plate before or after service.
- Seating will be limited to every other row, to insure separation between rows.
- We strongly suggest the elderly or sick to stay home and consider viewing the service on your computer.
- The Service will be broadcast live in its entirety on Facebook Live, with a video link on our Website following the service, to give people an opportunity to participate in the worship from home.
If (or maybe when) the number of cases in our area increases, then we will discuss further, and would cancel services. Again, I want to emphasize that we strongly urge those who would be more seriously impacted by this virus to stay home. That would include elderly and those with other pre-existing health considerations. And if you have concerns about coming to worship, please don't. Stay home and stay safe.
During this time, if you are not with us in service, and you have prayer requests, you can call the church phone (607-565-9593) and leave a message before 10:30 am on Sunday, and we will have it for the service. And if you have any comments or questions of me, please feel free to call me direct at 607-242-3722.
Again, things are changing quickly, so I will be giving some daily updates, along with a short video devotion, at 1:00 pm daily as long as this crisis continues. You can find these updates and devotions at these places:
These daily updates will originate as a Facebook Live event, so to see it live at 1:00 pm, go to our Facebook page. As soon as the update is complete, we'll move it tot he other locations as well.
I think I'll move on to a short devotion at this time, again, if you have any questions, call, text or email, and I will respond. I had just finished Sunday's sermon message yesterday, it was the next in the series that I had put together on Lent. This morning I feel like I should move away from that message and talk about the idea of identifying those things that are ultimately important in our lives. We are bombarded in news broadcasts with things that many feel are very important, but in the long run, not the most
important. How do you tell? Is there a guide? What is really important. Here are some thoughts I've been thinking about..
What is important? I mean really important? I suspect that for most of us the answer to that question might depend the situation. It might depend on where we are at the time, or what we’re doing. Let’s face, there are times that it’s really important to get dinner on the table at a certain time because you have a meeting that night. Or if the kids are running late, it might be really important to get them going and off to school. If we’ve lost our jobs, and have been looking for while, it might be really important to find something, anything, to bring in some money and put food on the table. All those things are important. And they all seem really important at the time, but in retrospect, I wonder if they are the most important.
With the corona virus, a lot of those things we thought were really important have been moved to the back burner. Most of our evening meetings have been cancelled, so the need to have dinner on the table isn't is serious as it was a few weeks ago. Schools have been cancelled, so the need to get kids out the door isn't gong to be an issue for while. What we thought was important a few weeks ago, isn't as important as it was.
But even now, when you listen to the news, you hear of things that they tell you are really important. Currently, this virus is the most important thing ever. We’re being told daily how serious this is, and how important it is to take precautions to limit our exposure and reduce our risk of getting infected. And this is important. But it's still not the most important?
As Christians, our most important thing is our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our hope, our joy, our comfort, ultimately even our provisions and our health, largely stem from our relationship with Jesus. That relationship is the most important.
This virus is important, take precautions, be careful, wash your hands, keep some distance from others, but most of all, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith - that's the most important thing.