Dear Church Family,
As you know, we have been monitoring the situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) now for several weeks. Earlier this year, we had to cancel our plans to host several students from Southeast Asia. At the time, that was a very difficult decision because very little was known about this virus. While indications were that it was very serious, it seemed to be relatively contained to a specific geographical region. Unfortunately, that is now no longer the case. What was once a serious epidemic primarily impacting Southeast Asia, has now spread to Europe and is now here at home in the US. While there are currently no known cases here in Watauga County, the virus has now been confirmed here in North Carolina and has been reclassified as a world-wide pandemic.
In a report released yesterday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) noted that community and faith-based organizations are at increased risk for possible outbreaks. As a result, they issued a recommendation that “organizers of events that draw more than 100 people cancel, postpone or modify these events.” While God has not called us to a spirit of fear, He has called us to contribute to the welfare of our community and to obey our governing authorities (Romans 13).
I want to be transparent here, I have struggled greatly with this request. I recoil at anything that hints of a restriction of our religious liberty. In those cases, my heart echoes the words of Peter in Acts 5 when he said, “We must obey God rather than men!” However, after much prayer and after many conversations with other pastors and religious leaders, I do not believe that this is in any way an attempt to infringe upon our religious liberties. Also, after speaking directly with several medical experts, I believe that this is a reasonable request from our local health authorities and one that we are obligated by scripture to meet with compliance.
As a result, effective tomorrow, March 14, we will be canceling all on-campus activities until further notice. While we do pray that this will just be for a very short season, we do understand after consulting with medical experts that this may be necessary for more than just one week so we are hesitant at this point to put a specific time frame on this. For now, our focus is to help assist our local health officials in their efforts to help contain and manage what could be a very dangerous situation if an outbreak were to occur.
We will be monitoring this closely and will be vigilant in seeking to restore our normal schedule as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we will be streaming our services each week beginning this Sunday morning, so please help us in promoting those broadcasts.
Thank you for joining us in worship ONLINE at mvbcb.org/sermons. And let us be much in prayer for the sick, the containment of this virus, and for our governing authorities and medical personnel who are leading and responding to this public health event.
By His Grace,