CORONAVIRUS: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CHURCH TO BE THE HANDS OF CHRIST
THE RIVER & CORONAVIRUS
Dear Church Family,
I am sure that you are now aware that President Trump has declared a National Emergency in our country. Our community is experiencing a crisis as schools cancel classes and the Air force Academy is sending students home early. I have personally witnessed Wal-mart and Sam’s being stormed by customers where fights have erupted by people living out of panic.
The reality is that we are facing a crisis like I have not seen in my lifetime. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), in the form of respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
An individual who attended last Sunday's worship service at the River became sick two days later, and was suspected to have contracted Coronavirus. This person believed he had all the symptoms of the virus, but his doctors did not authorize a test, claiming he did not meet the criteria for testing. He felt fine and showed no symptoms when he checked his child into our preschool. However, our preschool worker's husband has late stage cancer, and the Coronavirus could have compromised his immune system. The person that was suspected to have Coronavirus is now feeling better and has received no confirmation that he actually has the virus.
I share this with you, not to cause panic, but to inform you that it is not good enough for us to say, “only show up if you don't have symptoms.” In this scenario, showing no symptoms would not have mattered, as a person with Coronavirus can be infectious days before symptoms appear (we have had other scenarios as well).
I have had numerous conversations, received research, and even talked to our family doctor who advised, “do not be in a closed room with more than 20 people.”
Our host church, The Church at Woodmoor, has canceled all services for the near future. The River Elders and Staff met Friday, March 13th and came to the unanimous decision to be proactive and cancel Sunday services effective immediately.
The health and safety of our River family and community is our top priority. We do not want to further the spread of COVID-19 by hosting services or gatherings of any kind at the River. We anticipate resuming regular services on April 5th (Palm Sunday) or April 12th (Easter Sunday). More information about resuming services will be provided as the situation progresses.
Our Mandate - Our Response
I know people have experienced a wide range of emotions in regard to this outbreak - from fear to doubt to disbelief. One thing I am confident of is this: we have a mandate from Christ to care for the vulnerable in our community. Now is our chance to love well and do what Jesus asked when he said, “love God and love others.”
Our staff is passionate about continuing to support you and foster a sense of community, even when we can't physically be together. To this end we will be offering:
- On-Line Sunday evening worship music and teaching. Just go to therivermonument.com or wearetheriver.com on Sundays at 5:00pm and follow the instructions on the home page.
- Student Ministry via Social Media.
- Care packages delivered to the sick who cannot obtain food or supplies.
- Prayer and Support - If you have a need or would like someone to pray with you, we have pastors available. Call Annette Becker, our prayer team leader at 719-232-0443 or Pastor Mike at 719-651-5683.
You are dearly loved.
Dr. Michael B. Jiles
River Hands and Feet
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:15–18).”
Why Churches Don't Close
Some churches are afraid of canceling their services because they fear losing members, offerings or momentum.
However, the River knows that, “love drives out fear!” (1 John 4:18) We will not be afraid of losing momentum, compromising our faith, or reduced offerings. We will be the “church” in our community and love our people well, while keeping our family safe.
Basic protective measures against the new Coronavirus
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least (6 feet) distance between yourself and anyone especially those who are coughing or sneezing.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.