In light of concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we want you to know the council and pastor are seeking to be wise in keeping our church family healthy while also continuing to focus on our mission.
UPDATE (March 18): Based on latest recomendations, we are suspending large gatherings, to include both Wednesday night and Sunday morning (effective March 15-30). For more on this see this page
As you are aware COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus) has been spreading throughout the world including the United States. President Trump recently declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic. This declaration allows the rapid distribution of federal funds to help slow the spread of the disease in order to minimize infection and loss of human life.
Central to our mission as people brought together by the death and resurrection of Jesus is to bring glory to God through our words and deeds. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus responded that the greatest is to love God and love for neighbor is second with none greater than these (Mark 12:29-31). These commands must be forefront in our minds as we consider our actions.
First, we ask you to Pray.
Pray for an end to the outbreak; for those who are ill and for their families.
Pray that the Gospel will advance and the world will see the love of Christ in the church’s response.
Pray for those who are leading and serving: from healthcare workers caring for the sick to the government and agency leaders making decisions and providing guidance.
Pray for those who are particularly vulnerable: elderly, those with respiratory conditions.
Pray for a calm spirit in the face of uncertainty and worry.
As noted above, we will gather for worship this Sunday, 3/15 for worship.
We are asking you to help us in taking precautions to keep yourselves and others safe and healthy as part of loving our neighbors.
Please stay home if you are sick (or exposed to sickness) If you are sick (fever, cough, colored nasal discharge), please stay at home until you have gone 48 hours symptom-free (without using drugs to control them). No one will judge you for staying home. Guarding the health of your neighbor is a way of loving God and them.
Practice good hygiene.This is critical in helping to stop the spread of infection. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or your arm.Minimize touching your face.
Touchless greetingsInstead of shaking hands or hugs, offer a wave, friendly smile or perhaps an “elbow bump”.
No nursery or children’s church Children’s ministry areas can be some of the most challenging areas to control a virus as children love to explore, touch, and taste.
Change in offering procedures We will not be passing offering plates during the service but instead will have plates and baskets placed at the rear of the sanctuary. You may also give online (see instructions here: http://fruitlandcovenant.org/give/) or mail your offerings to the church. Remember that our ministries as well as those of all those we support here and around the world continue. Your continued generosity is critical to our life as a congregation. If you have questions about online or electronic giving, please contact Pastor Carl.
No coffee/cookie time after worship We will not be having a time of coffee and cookies after the service.
Other weekday gatherings Small groups will continue to meet at the discretion of the leader. The council will decide on Monday night about our Family, Fun and Food and youth group meetings.
Cleaning We will be working extra hard to sanitize and clean highly touched surfaces.
Caring for one another We recognize the spread of COVID-19, health concerns, and measures being taken by other agencies will have an effect on many in our community. Some will be burdened financially as work is reduced or in some cases ended. Others will have to determine how to care for children with schools being closed. Still others will be more hesitant to frequent public places like the grocery store due to compromised immune systems. And the list goes on. In light of these concerns, we are asking you to help us love one another by
– letting us know if you have a need. FCC has a food pantry as well as a benevolence fund that exist for exactly these kinds of things. And there may be other ways we might help, to include helping you with your shopping. Please contact Pastor Carl or Sharon Barnhardt, our leader of the congregational care team if you are in need of help.
– if you know of others in need, please direct them to us or let us know.
We are also working on other ways we might serve our broader community. If you have ideas, please contact Pastor Carl or a member of the council.
Stay informed The situation is rapidly changing and it can be overwhelming to keep up on everything going on. Don’t feel that you need to know everything that is going on; sometimes the volumes of information can be overwhelming. Don’t let fear drive decisions. When you have questions, look to sources such as
the state government https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus
the Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Extend Christian patience and understanding.Mocking others’ fears, political posturing, or harsh indifference to the concerns of our neighbors is not the way to show love for our neighbor.There is much we do not know but we do know the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). This is a time for love, the love Jesus showed as he laid aside his rights and privileges for the sake of others (Philippians 2:3-11)
QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, concerns, questions, or ideas, as we navigate our response to this situation, we want to hear from you. Your input and feedback are important to us.
Please understand these guidelines are based on our best understanding of the current situation in our community. We will continue to monitor the situation and update you as things change.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we demonstrate love for God and each other through these coming days. Finally, remember these actions we take are an act of faith (living out love), not acts of fear. In closing, consider these words of John Wenrich, president of our denomination, “In the face of fear, we remember that we are people of faith, hope, and love. Our help and trust are in the good Creator of heaven and earth. May we continue to demonstrate the compassion, mercy, and justice of Christ.”
Grace and peace,
The Church Council and Pastor Carl