March 10, 2000 / Dear pastors … The coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting much of our world and much of our lives. Last night I watched President Trump announce new measures to attempt to respond to issues to what the World Health Organization is now describing as a pandemic.
Tuesday of this week I was in discussion with the President of MVNU regarding recommendations from the state of Ohio for universities during this time. Wednesday I fielded several calls from pastors regarding matters related to the ministry of our local churches and district events.
To me it seems without saying that recommended precautions from official medical and health leadership should be observed. This includes matters ranging from personal hygiene to the indoor gatherings of large groups to personal spacing and self-quarantine.
Earlier this morning I noted that Lifeway (an arm of the Southern Baptist denomination) has developed a resource to help churches think through how to respond to a pandemic. I have not seen it, but over the years I have found Lifeway to be a helpful resource in a variety of ways. You can find this resource at ministrygrid.com or by “googling” Lifeway and pandemic.
Inherent in the role of pastor is concern for the well-being of our people. What we say and do and how matters. While we do not want to contribute to panic or undue fear we should not be guilty of being (or appearing) to be dismissive of this significant issue. To respond thoughtfully and carefully in keeping with the direction of professional and governmental leaders is my recommended response and course of action.
Then, of course, let us remember who we are as the people of God. We are people of prayer and hope, so let us pray for those affected by this virus, both in our personal and public prayers. We proclaim and live in the assurance that “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Grace and Peace,