Since the end of March, the Coronavirus Task Force has been meeting regularly (first weekly, then biweekly) to assess the pandemic’s impact on our capacity to be the church together. Over these months, our research has been thorough, assessing covid’s particular movement in Winston-Salem, the ways in which the virus is transmitted, and ongoing recommendations from the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control. Perhaps even more extensive than our research has been our particular focus on you, church family, asking God to guide us in a spirit of wisdom and faithfulness as we seek to be “a community … practicing bold love of God and neighbor and boundless compassion for all people.” Click HERE to see the announcement from our Coronavirus Task Force.
Back in May, we came to you with an update about when we could regather, saying that for a variety of reasons, chief among them the high risk uniquely posed by churches gathering indoors for worship, we would not be gathering in person “for several months.” Our hope had been that the virus’ spread could have slowed and dispersed over these summer months, enabling a fall return to our space and our in-person gathered community. Yet we all know that has not been the case.
Because of this, our Task Force unanimously concludes that large, in-person gatherings inside the church house continue to be suspended for the remainder of 2020. This conclusion comes after deep prayer and lengthy discussion among our pastoral staff, Coronavirus Task Force, and Deacons.
We grieve this reality, for we all long to be in gathered community with our church family! Yet we remain so encouraged to see all the ways you are being church with one another. We see your consistent engagement with Bible Study groups, we see your innovative leadership on committees and teams, we see your adaptable spirit and flexible muscles that are being exercised yet again, we see your faithful giving to God’s work of Love through First on Fifth, we see you showing up for each other, for our church, for the community around us. We see you, church, and you are a wonder.
Over these fall months, we’ll continue to find ways to be the church ‘for such a time as this.’ Our Task Force will add to the recommendations we recently shared about outdoor gatherings with deeper specificity on how certain functions of the church will continue to unfold. As a church, we’ll reinvigorate our care for one another, explore new conversations to deepen our authentic relationships with God and each other, start new studies and small groups, grow our public witness, extend compassion and justice into the community, and imagine another season of worship in a new way.
Should you have questions or concerns, we invite you to email the Coronavirus Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org; we welcome your feedback! Our Task Force’s work will continue, and we will update you regularly along the way.
As Paul wrote to the church at Galatia trying to find its way together, “let us not grow weary in doing what is right.” First Baptist, with every mask you wear, every call you make, every prayer you offer, every expression of care – however small! – you extend to your family, your colleagues, your community, you are loving God and loving neighbor with your very lives. So let us not grow weary, beloved church, and do as Paul exhorts, “whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all.”
Grace + peace,
The Coronavirus Task Force
Gary Stiffler, chair, Deacons
Roper Halverson, vice chair, Deacons
Matt Steen, secretary, Deacons
Scott Hudgins, chair, Finance
Joanne Henley, chair, Personnel
Joy Gambill, chair, Missions
Linda Lewis, co-chair, Senior Adult Ministry Team
Emily Hull McGee, pastor