Initial Letter to the Congregation

Dear Redeemer family,

We are aware of the attention being given to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Several universities in the United States have cancelled in-person classes for the foreseeable future. Some employers are encouraging employees to utilize virtual meeting technology. Some cities in our own country have restricted gatherings larger than 250 people. The NBA recently suspended the 2019-2020 season until further notice. The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. As of Wednesday evening, the Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed the first case of Coronavirus in Mississippi.

We wanted to write you as the leaders of the church to let you know we are neither ignoring this situation nor giving in to unnecessary fear and panic. Here are a few things we would like for you to know:

  • As believers, we trust the Lord with our safety. He is sovereign, good, kind and worthy of our trust. He calls us to pray instead of giving in to anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7). He calls us to cast our cares upon Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). As the Psalmist says, “We will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,” (Ps. 46:2). We know, this can be easier said than done. Yet, in moments like this it is comforting to know that we have a God who welcomes, hears, and attends to our prayers.
  • While COVID-19 is new, God’s people have walked similar paths before in church history. While it’s difficult for us to envision this in our day, the church has endured numerous wars, famines, plagues and global pandemics across the ages. Jesus reminds us that in Him, we have peace. In the world we will have tribulation. But, take heart; He has overcome the world!
  • God cares about human life. Our bodies and souls matter to Him. The 6th Commandment prohibits murder. But, it positively commands us to protect, save, and promote human life. Consider practices that health care officials recommend such as hand-washing, using hand sanitizer, limiting physical touch, remaining at home if ill or if you have been exposed to those who have come into contact with Covid-19.
  • God calls us to care for one another. In the early church, we are told that in the face of persecution, the believers opened their homes, shared their food, prayed together and had things in common. Now would be a great time to check on those in our midst who are most vulnerable.
  • God calls us to care for our neighbor. Eusebius, a bishop and church historian, wrote “During the plague, all day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them.” Julian the Apostate, who was not a follower of Christ, wrote, “When it came that the poor were neglected and overlooked by the pagan priests, it was the Christians who devoted themselves to philanthropy. They support not only their poor, but ours as well.” Christians are often first responders to physical disasters, may it be so with viral ones. Would you commit to praying for those who work in the field of medicine, at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies?
  • God calls us to not neglect the assembly of the saints. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not forsake the assembling of the saints. By looking at the broader context (verses 32-35), it is obvious that this exhortation was given during a time when believers were enduring an intense struggle with sufferings and hardships. In the midst of this, God called them to continue to gather together as the body to corporately worship Him. In times when the earth shakes it is a beautiful gift to continue to come to the One whose kingdom is unshakable.

At this point, the Session, Diaconate, and Staff are working through best practices for a way forward. However, we want to encourage you to be mindful of those safe practices recommended by health care officials.

  • Please adhere to proper hand washing techniques.
  • Thanks to MNA Disaster Response, we will have hand sanitizer throughout the entire building.
  • It is ok to limit personal touch during the service by simply giving a verbal greeting or “fist bumps” or “elbow bumps.”
  • Please monitor your own health and consider refraining from church activities if you have symptoms of illness or underlying health conditions that compromise your immune system. Please do the same for your children.
  • To our seniors and those with underlying health conditions: If you cannot attend for numerous weeks, please let the office know. Someone from our staff will personally come to visit, spend time in God’s word with you, and pray with you.
  • All church activities are open to the possibility of temporary cancellation except Sunday morning worship. In the hours of hardship, we (and the world around us) need the comfort and stability that God provides.
  • We are also considering live-streaming of services when and if it is appropriate.
  • We do not want to bind the consciences of our people. Some, after careful consideration, will feel led to remain home. Others will feel led to gather corporately, using protective measures. We encourage all to exercise Christian liberty in this matter.
  • We will continue to monitor this situation daily and will adjust our plans as things continue to change.

May Jesus advance His love, care and saving work even in times such as these.

Our Anchor holds,