Grace Harbor | Providence Church

Letter from the Elders Regarding Coronavirus and Our March 15th Gathering

In light of the measures being taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, please see the following letter from the elders:

Dear church,
We’ve been listening to those in the medical community and those in authority over us at the state level. Our desire is to care for the flock and our neighbors, both spiritually and physically. Different churches are making different decisions about whether or not to gather this Sunday. As Christians, there’s a lot to consider.

We don’t need to overreact with fear, panic, or aggression. We understand why people feel that way. Disease has a way of taking away our sense of control. It reminds us of our mortality. But as Christians, we understand that control and immortality are just illusions. God alone is in control of all things, and He is good. Our days have been numbered, and His plans will be accomplished. We want that truth to shape our response to the virus and to those around us. We don’t need to be afraid.

Not needing to fear trouble, however, isn’t the same thing as needing not to prepare for trouble. We should avoid being passive or dismissive about a global health issue, and the reality of people’s fears. If things get worse and the numbers grow, possibly in our area, we should be willing to do what we can to curb the spread of the outbreak. If we respond appropriately and wisely, we will be loving our neighbors well.

Based on the suggestions and guidelines of medical professionals, government leaders, and different voices in the larger Christian community, we’ve decided to take some precautionary measures. The concern is largely centered around large group gatherings, so we’ve decided to cancel our Sunday morning and evening services. Instead, we’ve asked each community group leader to host a much smaller gathering in their home this week. This makes containment much more manageable, and should allow us to safely reassess our situation on a week-by-week basis.

We’re encouraging these groups to sing, pray, read scripture, and listen to the sermon that would’ve been preached this Sunday. Morgan is going to send out a link to the community group leaders so that we can all listen together. It’s important to remember to make all of the same efforts for the safety of our health when we gather in our homes.

  • Wash your hands before you come and often.
  • If you are showing any kind of symptoms of being sick, then please don’t gather with your community group. Parents, please keep sick children home.
  • Not shaking hands or giving someone a hug is hard in our loving community. Praise God! But during this time elbow knocks, warm smiles, and head nods will be an especially loving way to greet someone.

We know it’s difficult to miss gathering with the whole church, and given the circumstances, we don’t think it’s a sin not to meet as a congregation in this case (Hebrews 10:24-25). We’re not doing this out of self-protection. We’re complying with what’s being requested of us out of our love for others, particularly the most vulnerable in our society.

But if you’re a healthy person who can get together with your community, then please come together and give God praise. Declare your trust in Him and His supreme worth. However, if you’re feeling anxious about attending, then please don’t feel any kind of unnecessary guilt or shame during this unique time. If you’re self-quarantined and could use some extra help taking care of your needs, then please let us know so that we can serve you during this time. This may include the use of our benevolence fund.

Also, please consider how God might be pleased in you continuing to faithfully give during this time. It’s always an opportunity to display your trust in God as you support the work here and abroad, but perhaps that’s especially the case now. You can give online through the website, or have a check sent through you or your bank to the church building at 47 Fenner St. Providence, RI 02903.

We are all likely going to be inconvenienced in the coming days, so let’s be wise, love and serve others, give grace where we think others might not be thinking about this rightly, and hope in God together.

In Christ,
Kevin, Travis, Chap, and Kyle

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