Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14
You are no doubt aware of the emergence of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, as a potential major public health threat. As is often the case early on in infectious outbreaks, there is some confusion regarding COVID-19. This is due, largely, to the fact that we do not have enough information yet, and some of the information we have is often misunderstood or incorrect. What is clear is that 1) the virus is spreading, 2) there is real danger (especially for the elderly and people whose immune system is compromised), and 3) our church and preschool are potential sites for spreading the disease.
That said, we believe that we act out of faith, not out of fear. It is our intention to continue our worship, Bible class, and meeting schedules unless factors dictate that we move to “online only.” We intend to be proactive in cleaning our facility. And we will pray, focusing on faith instead of panic. Remember, God is in control and responds generously to the prayers of His children.
BETHEL’S PUBLIC WORSHIP – If you are uncomfortable coming to worship, please remember that Bethel streams three events each week. Our 8:30 Sunday morning service, Pastor Bard’s Sunday morning Bible class, and our Tuesday morning Ladies Bible class. All of these are recorded for you to watch at your convenience if you are unavailable during the live broadcasts.
THE LORD’S SUPPER — We acknowledge people are concerned about the virus spreading during Holy Communion, with some specifically concerned about the common cup. Because of this concern, and in order to minimize any possible risks, we encourage you to use individual cups during this time. The Common Cup will be used in the Consecration of the Elements and available to all who specifically request it. Additionally, our pastors and elders assisting with the Lord’s Supper will be vigilant to sanitize prior to serving us.
DOING THE OFFERING DIFFERENTLY – We will receive our offerings and attendance cards at the end of each service. As you exit worship, an elder or usher will be holding a plate at our sanctuary doors. Additionally, this might be a good time to explore online giving. To do so, simply go to https://www.blcbcs.org/, scroll down the page and click on the ‘Online Giving’ button.
SANITIZING SURFACES – We will be wiping down surfaces with sanitizing wipes. Our Facility Manager and custodial staff are wiping down doorknobs, crash-bars and handles, the bathroom water faucet handles, the drinking fountain, etc.
Many of you already know Dr. Heather Clark, one of our members here at Bethel. Dr. Clark holds a doctorate of public health and is an Assistant Research Professor at the TAMU School of Public Health. We are very blessed to have her consult with us. She has written much of this letter and offers us a commonsense guide to all of this, which is included at the conclusion of this letter.
As you can see, there is much to think about here. Perhaps you think we are overreacting. And perhaps we are, but as we think about the potential risks, it seems prudent to take precautions borne out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And honestly, nothing would please us more than to realize a month from now that all of this was completely unnecessary. May you stay healthy and blessed!
Dr. David Ellis, Bethel Board of Elders
Dr. Heather Clark, Bethel member
Rev. Randall Bard, Pastor