COVID-19 SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE - MARCH 13
North Cincy Friends & Family,
As a Session we have decided to update you with a change to the plans we communicated early Thursday morning. Based on the new developments with COVID-19, including our governor’s order yesterday (which you can access here), and the recent identification of local COVID-19 cases identified at nearby UC West Chester Hospital (which you can read about here), we have decided to cancel our in-person worship service scheduled for this coming Sunday, March 15.It is with an abundance of caution, much discussion, and hearts that desire to honor God and to exercise wisdom in loving His people and our neighbors that we make this decision.
In place of our gathering together to worship on Sunday morning, I would like to encourage you to gather for worship as families or as groups of friends on Sunday morning in your homes instead, and we will be providing resources to assist you in doing so. While some of you have personal experience with this type of “at home” worship experience, we also recognize that many of you do not, and our desire is to help to resource you as best as possible as we all navigate what may be a new experience together.
By tomorrow evening we will make available to you a downloadable pdfthat will serve as a Worship Facilitator’s Guide. This will include the written elements of our worship service that we experience together, including: a call to worship, a confession of sin, an assurance of God’s pardon, and some suggested ways you can pray as a family or group. As many of you know, one of my favorite aspects of our church’s worship is our music. Due to the significant technological difficulty of recording and transmitting a live musical production, we are instead encouraging you to utilize either our church’s worship music playlist on Spotify, or the music of your choosing. In addition, I will be video recording a short messagethat I would invite you to watch as a group or family and will also be providing a discussion guide for further personal or group reflection as I normally do. This video will be accessible through the church website (northcincy.org).
While this decision may be unpopular to some, I hope you will understand that while we have decided to cancel our normal gathering at our building for worship on Sunday morning, we are not cancelling worship altogether but are rather modifying the way we facilitate it in light of our current circumstances and limitations.
As a church whose first value is being “Word-Based,” I think it is worth pointing out that I believe we are on solid theological ground in making this temporary, though difficult decision. As we see in the practice of the early church, and in the practices of our brothers and sisters around the world in places like China or Iran, churches regularly seek to fulfill the Scripture’s calling to honor the Lord’s Day and to “not neglect to meet together” (Heb. 10:25), and yet to do so in a way that does not unnecessarily endanger the well-being of God’s people. In places where that danger is physical persecution by the government, many of our brothers and sisters both ancient and modern, have chosen to meet in hiding in what are often called “underground” churches. Even in the Old Testament, God’s concern for the well-being of His people when threatened by disease can be seen in the numerous laws of the OT about distancing oneself from the larger community so as not to endanger the well-being of others. One’s adherence to these laws of the Lord are very simply an act of loving God and loving one’s neighbor (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19; Gal. 5:4). As we have considered the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recommendations of the CDC, and our federal and statement governments in the light and counsel of the Scriptures we have arrived at our decision to proceed canceling our in person worship gathering on Sunday and to facilitate worship among our families and in homes as outlined above.
I also want to share a brief word in regard to those among us who may feel especially lonely and isolated by this decision, including those who are single, widows or widowers. I want to ask each of you to reach out to those you know who may feel especially alone at this time, and to consider inviting them to join for this new adventure in worship if wisdom allows. Obviously, please exercise wisdom and common sense in doing so.
As an act of solidarity and remembrance, I’d also like to ask you to consider taking and sharing pictures of your in-home worship experience. You can do that by sharing it on our church Facebook page, and or by emailing us as well (firstname.lastname@example.org). Right now, there are many who taking pictures of things they want to remember and tell their grandchildren about someday: empty shelves at grocery stores, announcements of cancelations for major sporting events, etc. May we also encourage each other in this unique season to press on in encouraging one another and in praising our Lord together as we in solidarity press on in honoring our God.
This decision will be made on a week-to-week basis as we monitor any additional developments.
I am looking forward to experiencing this new – and temporary - adventure of worship with you.
On Behalf of the Session of North Cincinnati,
Your Servant in Christ,