Our response to the growing concern surrounding the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes.
The COVID-19 situation is one that continues to rapidly evolve. While the wide variety of cancelations might seem like an overreaction, data from previous pandemics show that early precautions like these that prioritize personal hygiene, the sanitizing of common spaces, and social distancing prevent early spikes in infections that overwhelm healthcare systems and result in preventable deaths.
Because the virus is capable of infecting some without symptoms or without severe symptoms, it is capable of moving among some populations without detection before it reaches the most vulnerable among us. We are able as a congregation to participate in preventative measures by finding alternative ways of meeting together for worship and shifting how we fellowship with one another and how we serve our community. In doing this, we are able to follow Jesus’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22.39).
Therefore, here are the changes we are suggesting for our common life at Jacob’s Well Community Church:
- Suspending Sunday morning activities and Wednesday Evening Prayer, in -person, and continuing to monitor the situation as things progress.
- In lieu of meeting for Sunday worship at the church, we will provide an option to join in worship online. We are doing this because it remains vital that we continue our life as Jacob’s Well Community Church together. We are learning this as we go, and trying to improve as we move forward, so please be patient with us. Information about how to access this online worship experience will be available in our email newsletter, and on social media. You can always visit thejake.cc/worship-online to get the details.
- Small groups may decide for themselves the best way to gather during this time, as long as they are willing to follow proper precautions, any applicable Executive Orders from the Governor, and CDC guidelines.
We want to reiterate that we are making these decisions out of love for one another and for our neighbors (John 13.34-35, Rom 12.10, Rom 13.8), whether they are followers of Jesus or not. These are not decisions made in fear, for God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4.18). However, God’s constant word to us not to fear should not be confused for cause not to prepare. Jesus instructed us that we would face all kinds of trials and trouble (Matt 24.6, John 16.33) and he instructs us to be prepared to face this trouble (Luke 22.36), promising to be present with us at all times (Matt 28.20).
Let us then act redemptively, creating restoration and flourishing through our sacrifice, finding alternatives for worshiping God and fellowshipping together that puts the needs of others—especially the most vulnerable—ahead of our own (Phil 2.3-4). Let us not give up encouraging and supporting one another, serving one another and our community, and proclaiming the trust we have in God through our words and actions.
Let’s take care of one another during this time. If you belong to a small group this is the time to lean on each other. If you don’t belong to a small group, reach out to friends. Ask your neighbors if there is any way you can help them—buying and delivering groceries, watching kids, making meals. When this passes, what stories will we have to tell of caring for one another? What will our neighbors remember of us? This situation will pass, but we are aiming to take measures that allow us to be good neighbors, responsible parents and children, and faithful friends at this time. Let’s join together in it.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns you might have.
While the likelihood of getting the virus remains low for residents of the US, there is no reason not to exercise caution at this time. Churches in some places, like at Jacob’s Well, have suspended public worship services and other activities.
As we navigate this pandemic together, we are suggesting the following precautions:
The risk in the US remains quite low and nearly 80% of cases worldwide have been mild so far. Those most at risk are those over the age of 65, those with already-compromised immune systems, and those who smoke.
Cover Your Cough
COVID-19 seems to be spread through respiratory droplets which become airborne when someone coughs or sneezes. Please cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and make sure tissues get into the trash.
Wash Your Hands
Hand washing instructions from the World Health Organization have been hung in all bathrooms and in the kitchen downstairs. Wash your hands often, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
Use Hand Sanitizer
Use hand sanitizer when washing your hands is not readily available and your hands are not soiled. Extra bottles of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be placed in convenient locations both upstairs and downstairs. [Note: Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are effective against other known coronaviruses; alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not known to be effective against coronaviruses, but are better than nothing. Hand sanitizers of any kind are not as effective as washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.]
Avoid Touching Your Face
As much as possible avoid touching your face. The virus enters the body through the mouth, nose, and eyes.
Stay Home If You’re Sick
If you or your child have a cough, have had a fever in the last 24 hours, or are experiencing any symptoms of disease please stay home from church (or any other public place/event). Our sermons are available online and you can reach out to a pastor via email, text, or phone for pastoral care.
Specific to Our Church Context
- Rest assured that we are disinfecting high-touch surfaces often, including toys in the nursery and the 2-3’s classroom
- Consider low-touch greetings like fist bumps, toe bumps, smiles, peace signs, and the Vulcan live-long-and-prosper sign instead of handshakes and hugs—get creative!
- When we gather together, use the provided tongs for serving bagels to yourself or others on Sunday mornings and consider using a new cup when getting a refill of coffee or juice.
- Know that we are considering other options for serving Holy Communion due to the fact that intinction is the least sanitary method from accidental touch between fingers and the cup/juice
Finally, and most vitally, pray. Pray not only for your own health and safety, but for the health and safety of others—especially the most vulnerable; for the disruption of the spread of the virus; for wisdom and courage for world leaders, public health officials, and healthcare providers; and for the witness of Christ’s Church—to which we belong—as we resist panic and publicly place our trust in God (Psalm 27).
If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.