In response to the most recent coronavirus developments, we have decided to cancel all church services and weekly meetings. We cherish our time together as a church, and our Sunday corporate worship is extremely important. But after carefully considering the health risks to our church and community, and after listening to our church and civic leaders on the matter, the CEC and CPC sessions have agreed to temporarily close the church doors.
Friday night youth group, weekly studies and small group meetings, gym activities, and Sunday worship services are all cancelled for a minimum of four weeks. During this time, and Lord willing as early as this Sunday, we will be able to worship through a CEC streaming video feed. Details about this and other ministry alternatives will be forthcoming.
Please understand that this is a difficult decision. It is in many ways regrettable, having lost already so many lives and so much livelihood, but now in the midst of this calamity to also lose the nourishment of worship and fellowship. Our prayer is that God will mercifully bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic. And our goal is to meet together again just as soon as it is safe to do so.
Many of you have answered the call to pray over this situation. Many have also contributed their wisdom and expertise to this discussion. We thank you all. We have tried to address some of the anticipated questions below. If you have other questions, please ask the elders, staff, deacons or small group leaders.
With much love and concern,
Q: Does this apply to all church activities?
A: While it is true that smaller gatherings pose smaller health risk, at this time all church activities are cancelled, including small group meetings held outside of the church.
Q: For how long should we expect this to last?
A: We are saying four weeks for now, and we would of course like to worship together on Easter Sunday. But we will take this one month at a time and will try to communicate with regularity.
Q: How did our church leaders come to this decision?
A: Our goal was to be thoughtful, prayerful, informed, responsible, collaborative, exemplary, God-honoring, and compassionate. The smaller meetings were considered less essential compared to Sunday worship, but then the Sunday worship is the most hazardous in regards to health risk because of the sheer numbers of CEC and CPC congregants. We found ourselves wanting to be faithful as believers and also responsible as citizens. In the end, especially after finding like-mindedness with CPC and with other churches in our community and presbytery, we decided it best to cancel all meetings.
Q: Will this affect staff office hours and visitations?
A: Our staff will have the option to work from home, but can be reached during regular office hours by phone. The pastors and elders would like to make themselves available for visitations so long as it does not invite unnecessary health risk.
Q: Has a decision been made about EUC summer missions or about upcoming retreats?
A: At this time we have not cancelled any events in May or beyond.
Q: What about baptism, confirmation, and communion?
A: The administration of sacraments will be postponed until we are able to meet together in person. Pastor Seiichi will reach out to those currently participating in confirmation/baptism class.
Q: How should we as Christians be responding to this health crisis?
A: As believers we should not panic or despair. We trust in God who is sovereign, who is in control even in times of uncertainty. We ought to pray for our community and for those throughout the world who are suffering as a result of this pandemic. We should be responsible citizens and should abide by the recommendations of our local authorities. We should not neglect worshipping God nor should we give up “meeting” with one another; we should stay in fellowship with God and with one another even if it is through virtual worship services. And while it is important to socially distance ourselves for public health purposes, we should avoid the tendency to be selfish or prejudiced. Instead we can be looking for ways to serve those in need and to love those who are hurting.
Lent Devotionals: can be found online at https://www.calvaryec.net/resources/lent/
Bilingual Bible Study: Friday, 3/27 at 7:30 p.m. through video conferencing.
Future Dates: World Religions Seminar II: 4/24. CEC Summer Retreat: 7/10-12. EUC 2020: 7/14-7/25. ICI: 7/19-24. VBS: 8/3-7. Women’s Retreat: 9/18-19.