NCEL Response to COVID-19
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
After much prayer and deliberation with the Session, we have decided to cancel church Sunday morning (3/15/20). This is a hard decision to make but in light of what’s happening with this virus, we believe it is the wisest and most loving thing to do. We are not in any way acting out fear but out of love for one another to avoid spreading the virus.
I've written a devotional for you to read, Gustavo has recorded his sermon for you to watch, and Laini has recorded a Children's Lesson.
For the Session of NCEL
Original Communication from 3/13/20
The apostle Paul reminds us to live by faith and not fear. He says, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)
In light of what's going on in the world, it is important for us a church to be grounded in our faith in Christ and not panic. A time for us as believers to demonstrate sanity, peace, and hope, recognizing that our lives do not depend on the entry of a microorganism into our bodies. Instead, it depends on the God who determines the beginning and the end of our history on earth. We serve a sovereign and powerful God who is not surprised or unaware of what is going on. Yet this also means that we must be prudent and responsible, both in observing the recommended measures and also maintaining our health. It is the loving thing for to do in order to protect those who are vulnerable to this virus. This is why we are taking the following measures beginning this Sunday until the situation is under control. If by any chance, there are infections in Chattanooga and we have a mandate from the government not to gather, the church office will communicate that information in a timely manner so that everyone is aware of any church cancellations. Here's our response to the current situation:
- Prayer – Let us pray for those running our countries and cities. Pray for the medical professionals who are equipped to deal with this situation. Pray for the sick who have been infected; those who are in fear of leaving their homes, those living in red-zones and those at high-risk with other medical conditions. Pray for the elderly in our community. Pray that God would protect and keep us and for Him to show His mercy.
- Church services – we are scheduled to have services for this Sunday. If anything changes, the church office will communicate. We are also planning on having a live stream during the 11 o'clock service if you would rather stay at home.
- Sunday School & Gatherings – canceled until further notice. We will communicate as to when these gatherings will resume.
- Communion – we are planning on celebrating the Lord's Table together but with some changes. Elders serving communion will wear gloves. They will also break the bread and serve it to you. Communion cups will be placed on the table for you to take.
- Greeting time – in order to minimize physical contact (shaking hands and hugging), we will use the greeting time as a time to pray for one another and healing for those who are sick.
- Tithes and offering – instead of passing the offering baskets during the worship service, baskets will be placed at exit doors for your convenience.
- Hand sanitizers – the church will provide hand sanitizers at exit doors and in the gallery area. The CDC recommends that the best way to protect yourself from infection is to constantly wash your hands with soap!
- Youth Group – cancelled until further notice.
- Children's Ministry – please click here for more information from our children's director.
- Let us call and check on those who do not get church emails or attend the worship services. This is also an opportunity to love the elderly in our midst by not bringing germs into their homes, but also helping them with errands so they don’t have to go out in public where they are vulnerable.
Finally, while it is wise to take these precautions let us also be encouraged that we are safe only in Christ our Lord who holds our life in His hand. In difficult times such as these, I find comfort in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, question 1. What is your only comfort in life and death? The answer? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
We will keep updating you regularly as needed.
On Behalf of NCEL Session.