Friends and Family,
As you know, we’re in a health scare situation like few of us have been in before and things are changing day by day. Yesterday I watched the local news report that schools, sports leagues, and large public events were being cancelled until the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is brought under control. I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime. It is somewhat jarring to know that these large organizations have access to medical professionals who advise them on courses of action, and they felt cancelling their public gatherings was the best option.
Naturally, this would lead us to wonder how the church should respond in this situation. We gather publicly in large numbers because the Bible tells us that “we should not give up meeting together, but should encourage one another when meeting.” (Hebrews 10:25). With that being said, on Wednesday Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky recommended churches cancel their services and requested church leaders to discuss alternative service options with their boards. Some churches have cancelled, while others have decided to proceed with their services with certain precautions in place.
As of now Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has not made the same request, but I assure you that the elders of New Hope and I have been discussing our response to this virus for over a week. Our first course of action was to change the way we handled communion and offering in the worship service. We didn’t pass plates and we limited exposure on the handling of communion elements. Tithes and offerings were received in plates placed at the back of the sanctuary. As I mentioned earlier this week in another message, we will continue this for the remainder of the month, with a little more instruction on how to properly open the new communion cups.
Will New Hope Have a Worship Service this Sunday?
Yes. We will have our worship gathering at 10:00 AM this Sunday. All pre-service Connect groups and Children’s activities will continue as normal from 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM. It is Family Sunday this week so children will need to be picked up at 9:45 AM to sit with their parents in the sanctuary at 10:00 AM. With that being said, here are a couple of requests and options that we would like you to consider for this weekend’s worship service.
- If you are sick or showing symptoms of impending sickness we ask that you please stay home. This will not only be good for you, but also those in the congregation.
- If you are concerned for your health or well-being and feel you would be putting yourself or your children’s health in a compromising situation by attending a large group gathering, we also encourage you to stay home.
- New Hope Community Church will be offering a Live Stream option of the full worship service on the New Hope App, which can be downloaded on the church website. It will also be available on the church website and Facebook site: http://www.newhopechurchtn.org https://www.facebook.com/newhopechurchtn/
- For those attending church this Sunday, we have hand sanitizer in the gallery and plenty of soap in the restrooms. We encourage you to use them frequently. New Hope’s facility was cleaned and sanitized this week.
- We urge church attendees to avoid shaking hands and hugging. It may sound silly to some but let’s go with elbow bumps as a greeting.
- Please join us in praying for the entire situation. The leadership of New Hope will continue to pray for God’s wisdom, guidance, and peace during a time when fear seems to be running over. Remember, we sang No Longer Slaves (to fear) last weekend because we are God’s children. Let’s live this out in confidence each day.
I am not sure what the future holds, but I know God is with us. He heals the sick, calms the storms, and drives away fear. Let’s put our trust in Him!
Each new day brings an announcement of how the coronavirus is impacting and disrupting our daily activities. The leadership of the church will continue to consult each other with each new development and I will do my best to communicate how we will proceed as a church each week. In the meanwhile, let’s pray for the spread of this virus to STOP! in Jesus Name! Amen.
Blessings to you,