Amidst the reality surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to let you know how Southeast is continuing to respond.
MAY 6 UPDATE
- Loving God and loving others drives our decision making. If we gather to worship together it should be with our whole community, not leaving out those who cannot participate and not creating a path toward more suffering.
- The state and school officials have made a decision that the buildings and grounds we rent are closed through the end of June.
- July 5 is the current target date to consider in-person gatherings based on the information and circumstances within our control.
In Galatians 6:2, the church planter Paul instructs new churches in the region of Galatia to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus answered by telling the person that loving God and loving others stood equally above the rest. In fact, he said everything that was taught depended on these two equal commands. I think this is what Paul is telling us in this passage. By carrying each other’s burdens, we are loving God and loving others.
We’ve seen that the relaxing of social distancing is leading to a spike in hospitalization and deaths. We’ve also been told that those most vulnerable should continue to isolate. To show social solidarity is to show love to others, putting the needs of others first. If we gather to worship together it should be with our whole community, not leaving out those who cannot participate and not creating a path toward more suffering.
To say we love our neighbors must mean a disruption to our own desires, carrying their burdens above our own. This love led us to shift to online-only back in March and continues to drive us to stay in that posture for the foreseeable future, while we pray and discern the next steps.
We also have a unique partnership with our school system, as we pay rent to them for the use of their facilities. They have made the decision, with state officials, to keep the school buildings and grounds closed to extracurricular groups through the end of June.
We will stay in constant communication with school officials as we look toward the future, but we support that decision as they have the responsibility to process and make difficult decisions for their future as well. They have been very forthcoming that the earliest we could make a plan to use their buildings and grounds is July 5.
We will continue to evaluate when it makes sense to return to in-person gatherings, but July 5 is the current target date based on the information and circumstances within our control.
I know this isn’t easy to hear. July seems like a long time away. I’m sure it’s hard to hear because the thought of not gathering until July is also hard to communicate to a church family I love and want to see.
I know we can trust in God and He will continue to lead us into our mission and vision as a church. Let’s continue to pray for that future and know we can put our trust in Him. Most importantly, let’s continue to pray with those whose suffering extends well beyond our social distancing.
I’m thankful for the technology that is allowing us to meet virtually as a church community. Now is a time to use resources like this to lean into our faith, not away from it. The ministry of Southeast continues on, regardless of the circumstances, as we pursue our mission to explore the way of Jesus as we learn to love God, love others, and bring life to our community, and we do that during this time by staying vigilant with our social solidarity.
While not everyone will make the decisions we make, we are responsible to do what we can do. I do know we aren’t alone in our concern and approach. All leaders are under incredible pressure and scrutiny during this time, navigating information and hard choices. Your prayers and support mean so much to me, and to our family, as we navigate the uncertainty and do the best to plan and lead accordingly.
These decisions continue to be driven by our mission to love God, love others, and bring life to our community.
Grace and Peace,
What does this mean as a person of faith?
- Trust in God as the good and sovereign Creator and Sustainer of life upon whom we all depend.
- Pray for mercy for the sick, strength for doctors, insight for researchers, and wisdom for officials.
- Look for opportunities to love and care for others, whether they are sick, isolated, marginalized, poor, or oppressed.
- We are unable to gather physically as a church family. In the weeks and months ahead, gather with smaller groups as appropriate, and as you feel comfortable while being safe. Join our Facebook group for discussion, participate in worship gatherings online, and above all share the love of Jesus with your friends, family, and neighbors.
- Continue to faithfully give financial offerings online HERE or by mail so that the ministry of the church thrives all the more in the midst of difficult days and into our future as a church community. We have invested in our online platform, which will be able to be utilized in the future, but we also can look to the day we gather physically in our own space. Let’s continue that goal!