March 24, 2020
On March 23, Governor Inslee issued a “Shelter in Place” order for Washington State for the next 2 weeks in response to the coronavirus. We are still planning to be online only through at least May 10, according to the CDC guidelines. We are working to live stream from the Edwards living room, with pre-recorded videos mixed with a live stream. The stream will be available on the usual platforms (Facebook Live remains the best medium for the Sunday morning stream). The situation changes daily; we will update you with any changes to our reopening schedule.
Events are cancelled through May 10, and we are working on a calendar with “drop dead dates” for cancelling events after that. No events after May 10 have been officially cancelled, but stay tuned for updates.
If you would like to support the church financially, all of the usual giving methods still work. (Steve and Beth will even be visiting the office to pick up mail.) We appreciate your support at this time! You can give online or use the mobile app.
The following sites remain the best way to stay connected during “Shelter in Place” measures.
Sunday Morning Worship Service (9:00 AM)
When will Sunday morning worship services resume?
As of March 15, the CDC is recommending no meetings of more than 50 people for 8 weeks. We are planning to be remote-only until May 10. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html
The situation is constantly changing, and we hope that we can meet before May 10, but right now it seems wise to follow CDC guidelines and prepare to hunker down for 8 weeks.
How can I stay connected to the church until then?
We are taking this opportunity to increase our online presence so that we can stay connected while it is unwise to meet face-to-face. Look for the following ways to connect remotely:
- Watch the Live Stream on Facebook Live. The service will broadcast live at 9:00 AM and then remain on the Facebook page for viewing after that. We strongly encourage you to watch live at 9:00 if you can. We will be shaping the service toward the live experience.
- Get into a Life Group. Life Groups are more important than ever! While our groups will not be meeting face-to-face, many will be connecting online through media like Zoom or Marco Polo. You can stay connected during this time, and Life Groups will be the best way to help one another. (Stay tuned for more information on how to join a group if you are not currently in one.)
- Connect on Social Media. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
What about Children and Students?
We are working to create material for you to teach your children over the next 8 weeks. The curriculum will be age appropriate and be a mix of video, print, and online resources. Material will be published on Thursdays, so check back then.
How can I help at this time?
We need your help more than ever. The biggest thing you can do is join a Life Group. The needs will be great—overwhelming to any one person. But if we all get connected to smaller groups, we can serve one another and help each other through this tough time.
You can continue to support the church financially by sending a check through the mail, by using the BF app or through online giving.
Like all of you, the elders and staff of Believers Fellowship have wrestled with how to respond to COVID-19. On the one hand, we have absolute confidence in God’s care for us and his power over illness. Jesus has defeated Sin and Death through his resurrection and we do not have to be afraid. On the other hand, faith is not opposed to wisdom and compassion. Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 ESV).
Given the risk of gathering in large groups, it seems wise to the elders to cancel our Sunday morning worship service on March 15. We will continue to live stream—go to https://www.believersfellowship.net/watch-live/ at 9:00 for both worship and teaching. You will also be able to access the live stream on Facebook Live, even after the service has ended (https://www.facebook.com/BelieversFellowshipGH/).
In Mark 10, Jesus tells his disciples, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42–45 ESV)
The heart of discipleship is service. Following Jesus means laying down our lives for others. So, what does that mean with regard to the decision of whether or not to gather on Sunday?
First, there are members of our congregation who are at high risk for the coronavirus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html). The compassionate thing to do is not expose them and not put them in a position where they have to choose between serving the church (as a greeter, Sunday school teacher, musician, etc.) and looking out for their own health. Cancelling the worship service will release them from the burden of making this choice.
Second, those of us who are not at high risk for coronavirus can do our part by helping to “flatten the curve” of infection. This means that our best option for facing COVID-19 is to flatten out the rate at which the virus spreads through our community. If too many get sick at the same time, hospitals will not be able to keep up with demands for care. But if we slow down the rate at which it spreads, our health care professionals will be better able to ensure that everyone receives the care they need.
At this point, it seems wise both for the high risk and the low risk to avoid large gatherings, even if it means missing a worship service.
COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time. It is difficult to predict what will happen in our community, so we want to be flexible with our plans. It is safe to say that all children and youth programs (including Sunday school) will be cancelled until April (and possibly beyond). Again, this is both out of consideration for our children and our volunteers. We hope to start meeting again for corporate worship in groups of less than 250 (with no volunteers for coffee, greeters, Sunday school, etc.), but we cannot say for sure when this will happen. In the meantime, not gathering will have a financial impact on the church, and I encourage you to continue to support the ministry. You can give at https://www.believersfellowship.net/give/.
Please check for updates frequently (at least weekly). The website (www.believersfellowship.net) will be the main source of information, but we will cross-post on Facebook, Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/believers_fellowship/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/GHBelFellowship), and the mobile app.
This is an opportunity for us to be the church outside of Sunday morning. There may be people in your neighborhood or Bible studies who are (wisely) quarantining themselves. Think of how you can be of service to them. Give them a call. Offer to go shopping for them. Find ways to help and encourage.
Finally, please pray—both for our community and for our church. Pray for health. We have seen in Mark that Jesus has authority over disease and we believe that this is true today! Pray for courage—that we would continue to trust the One who created us and has a plan for history. Pray for wisdom—that we would continue to trust, and that we would be wise in the way that we approach this outbreak.