As you have been watching events in this world unfold around the COVID-19 virus, you have probably been expecting the elders at Kootenai to make some tough decisions. We have had to do that very thing in the last couple of days. Here is the bottom line: we have decided to cancel Sunday morning worship services for March 22 and 29.
Here are some of our reasonings and concerns that led to this decision.
First and foremost, this appears to be a judicious action for the safety and health of our congregation as well as our community. Though we do not buy into the hype and panic currently peddled by the media, we do not think that ignoring the situation is a good option either. Since governing agencies and health providers are recommending no gatherings in excess of 10 people, we are going to abide by that for the next couple of weeks. It very well may be that our action is an overreaction to a non-threat. At the same time, it is possible that it is not an overreaction and we would prefer to err on the side of caution.
Second, taking this action is not a denial of nor lack of trust in the sovereignty of God. We do believe that God is sovereign and also that He uses the means of wisdom and human action and responsibility to accomplish His sovereign purposes. We can believe in the sovereignty of God and still wear seat belts and lock our doors at night. This is a precaution of the very same kind.
Third, we are not guilty of “forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25). I have seen this hyper-critical response online to other church bodies who have opted to cancel services. That is not a valid concern. We are NOT in the habit of forsaking our assembly. We are not doing this because we fear persecution or because worldly attractions and priorities have captured our affections. Our concerns are not worldly or selfish by any measure. Rather, we believe that there could be a threat to the health of our congregation.
Though we are not meeting for the next two weeks, that does not mean that we are not “the church” or that we don’t have concern for or responsibilities to one another. We want to make sure that those in our church body who have physical needs receive the help or care that they need. If you are in need of help or assistance in some way, please reach out to one of our deacons. You can send an email through the church website and we will do what we can to mobilize assistance.
A number have asked about online streaming options in lieu of the worship services and we will do what we can to provide some teaching on Sunday mornings through our various online channels. Our twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/kcchurch) will be active these next two Sunday mornings. Jim will be at the church and will be live streaming some teaching at our normal service times (Sunday School – 9:30, Worship Service – 10:45).
As of now, we have to assess all our church activities in light of the most current events. We will continue to evaluate the situation and respond in a manner we believe will be in the best interest of the saints at Kootenai. Decisions about worship services beyond March 29 as well as Resurrection Sunday Breakfast, and our Spring Conference will be made as we get closer to those events. Check your email for updates.
Finally, we want you to know that this was not an easy decision to make. There is no good option in this situation. There is no decision we could have made that would not open us up to criticism from some quarter. We wish to assure you of our love for this church body and our love for our worship times together. We are praying for you, your families, and our nation during this time. We trust in a sovereign God Who, we are certain, will use this for His glory and our good. Take every opportunity you have to share the good news of the gospel. We don’t fear death and we should not respond in panic like those who do. Let our measured calmness be a testimony to our trust in God and love for others.
May the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be yours in the fullest measure.