Dear Seventh Day Baptists,
I wanted to take a moment to address the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and what our response as the bride of Christ (the church) should look like amid the fear, concern, and chaos that we are witnessing throughout North America.
As I am writing to you, we are receiving news of many event cancellations or postponements from schools, sports, conferences, and other gatherings. While this pandemic has struck a chord of fear across our countries, we want to still acknowledge that God is sovereign and in control.
What we want to make sure to do is to not play into this culture’s fear-mongering and political wrangling. Fear doesn’t stay as fear. It quickly turns into anxiety, stress, selfishness, and even anger. None of these glorify God. Instead of these reactions, what response is wisest? What responses can glorify God and show our love for our neighbors above ourselves?
- “Do not fear.” It’s the most common command in the Bible but yet one of the hardest to obey. Show others the trust you have in God and that the hope of this world is not found in the NBA or the grocery store but rather in Jesus Christ. Perfect love casts out fear.
- Be prepared but avoid hoarding supplies. Hoarding takes resources from others and only encourages panic.
- Learn about the facts of the disease from the experts. Visit cdc.gov or who.int for more information. We are learning more about its virulence, incubation, and contagion rate every day. Those who are elderly or immuno-compromised seem to be at the most risk of severe symptoms.
- Even if you do not feel as if you are at risk, please love your neighbors who are truly concerned and the medical professionals who are doing their best to stem the tide of not just this disease but the panic that the mobs have induced. Do not be apathetic about what is happening to others.
- Practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands and clean surfaces regularly. We can believe and trust in the power of God and still use his good creations, hand soap and sanitizer.
- Practice good public hygiene. Refrain from personal contact for this period of time during public gatherings including worship. Instead of hugging or shaking hands, elbow bump or air hug. Clean up after yourself.
- If you are ill, stay at home. If you feel that you would be at high risk or are uncomfortable with attending worship, consider staying home as a precaution.
- Heed the advice of your local government and health department out of concern for others when able to do so in good conscience.
- If you do cancel services, please make sure to communicate externally as well as internally.
- Pray. Pray for the sick and vulnerable. Pray for wisdom for local, state/provincial, and national leaders in dealing with public health issues. Pray for healthcare workers. Pray for moments to speak the gospel into the darkness.
The Directors of the SDB General Conference will continue to serve our churches in every way possible. However, we do encourage everyone to examine their responses to this crisis in light of their neighbor and in light of eternity.
For You and For Christ,
Directors Carl Greene and John Pethtel
If you are looking for some helpful resources for your church, you may find them HERE.