Corona Virus (COVID-19) Update
What Has Changed?
As we noted in our communications this weekend, the Coronavirus pandemic is a dynamic situation that will require monitoring and revisions to our plans. Sunday afternoon, March 16, 2020, the Governor of South Carolina called for limiting of large group events to 100 or less. By evening, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines for mass gatherings, which requested that mass gatherings be limited to 50 or less. Less than 24 hours later President Donald Trump requested that gatherings be limited to 10 or less for 15 days in order to help stem the tide of infections.
Should We Comply?
While some may debate the wisdom of these measures, the Scriptures are clear that the government has a God-given role to preserve, protect, and promote its citizens’ health as well as the systems and infrastructure that supports it. In Romans 13 Paul exhorted believers how to respond to their leaders. He writes, “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God” (Rom 13:1 CSB). As leaders of Old Fort Baptist Church it is our desire to comply with the spirit of the measures being taken and to encourage you to do so as well as an act of allegiance, not merely to our government but to King Jesus.
We believe that compliance with our officials at this time is an appropriate application of Paul’s mandate in Romans 13. Our officials have not applied this stricture to Christians only. They are doing what they think is best for the public’s well-being. As with submission to authority within the local church, we want to allow them to fulfill their God-given role “with joy and not with grief” (Heb 13:17). If the gospel of Jesus Christ were being treated as a virus to be eradicated our response would most certainly have been that of Peter and the apostles when they were forbidden from preaching Christ: “We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
While we are working to structure our life together in ways that comply with the guidance of our public officials, we have no intention of slowing down in being the body and bride of Jesus Christ at OFBC. In fact, leaning into our covenant life together is more urgent now than ever. The guidelines and parameters we have been given are strict, but they will not keep us from pursuing the core ministries that God has called us to as a church, namely, worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. Temporary changes need to be made, but our mandate to Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples remains unchanged.
What Does this Mean Practically?
This is all hitting us very fast, so some of the following measures will hopefully change and grow for the better. Nonetheless, we believe the following format will help us get started.
- Sunday Schedule:
- All on-campus activities and services will be postponed until it is deemed fitting to resume them by the church leadership.
- A video service will be added each week to our webpage complete with . . .
- Sunday School Lesson video link
- Sermon (Pastor Eric will pre-record)
- Worship Resources
- Family and Children’s resources (messages and activities) will be linked on the webpage as well.
- Weekly Schedule:
- All in person small group studies or activities on campus must comply with safety regulations defined by the CDC until further notice.
- We strongly encourage small groups to connect in ways that are responsible and compliant with the requests made by public officials.
- Sunday School teachers are being asked to reach out to their classes via their normal means of communication.
- All members are asked to intentionally communicate with at least two to three members a week. Phone calls are better than e-mails. Be intentional. An agenda for the conversation might be as follows: How are you? Do you have any physical/health needs? How is your time in the word and in prayer? How can I pray with you? Can we pray together over the phone now?
- Families are encouraged to take up the challenge to have family worship with their spouses and/or children. A simple structure for family worship is simply (1) Read, (2) Pray, and (3) Sing. That is, (1) Read the Scriptures together (you could use a narrative passage or use a children's storybook bible and read an accompanying passage with it), (2) Pray over our prayer requests (esp. as it relates to the pandemic), and (3) Sing a hymn or song (see YouTube for words and accompaniment if need be). For a helpful book on this topic see Donald Whitney’s Family Worship (this is a review of it).
We do not take the above measures lightly. These changes are weighty and have major implications for our church body. Know that the church leadership has agonized over what God would have us do in light of the present circumstances. We believe that the above approach is right for the time being. Perhaps there is some solace in recognizing that we are not alone. Many sister churches in our area (e.g., Summerville Baptist and East Cooper Baptist) have also taken similar measures. Nonetheless, this plan was not developed by looking to the left and to the right. We plan to continue monitoring the situation, praying for God’s wisdom and mercy as this epidemic plays out. May he help us to love him, love others, and make disciples together no matter the circumstances.
Grace & Peace,
The OFBC Elders
Bobby Bailey, Randy Burns, Guy LaCoss, Eric Lethco, Charles McCallum, Jason Taylor, Rod Tyler, Jonathan Watson and John Williams