As you imagine we have been monitoring the national and local pandemic very closely. We remain in contact with local and national field experts and doctors. We also stay close to the CDC, WHO, VDOH, and JCC websites, which we encourage. We are consistently communicating to over 50 other church leaders in order to consult one another for the greater good of God’s people and our city. The ongoing developments of the pandemic locally added an additional layer to our preparedness strategy and the precautionary measures to be enacted. Finally, our WCC Pandemic Discernment Community will actively work to discern and assess needs within WCC to ensure we care for one another well so together we can care for our neighbors throughout our city, especially those most vulnerable.
It seems to us that the two most unhelpful responses to this pandemic are to panic on the one hand (panic-purchases toilet paper, never leaving the house, etc.), and to minimize (tell people it's "no big deal," change nothing about how you live, and tease those who are afraid). Instead we want to take courage, remembering that having courage doesn't mean we are fearless, but that we will choose to not let fear control our lives and push us away from our neighbor who reflects the image of our God. We want to be motivated by love, not fear or self-protection—love of one another and love of neighbors, especially the most vulnerable.
There is a significant difference between the Church and other entities, such as colleges, businesses, and others who have already taken drastic measures due to the virus: the Church needs to continue meeting in some form. It is essential for people’s spiritual, emotional, and in the deepest sense bodily health, especially in times of anxiety and fear. Worship is essential for human flourishing and reorienting our identity to the One who loves and liberated us from all things. Together we are empowered by the Spirit to cultivate a non-anxious presence of self-giving love and faithful witness to the One who is Lord and Liberator, our Resurrection and Life, our God and Redeeming King. With that in mind, we feel it is wise to reorganize how we gather. We are also offering a Schedule of Virtual Gatherings and Connections (scroll to the bottom for details).
Finally, in an attempt to keep communication relevant and helpful (rather than always virus-centric), we are offering a host of resources below.