Dear King’s Cross and the community of Manchester,
After much discussion, prayer, and consultation with other church leaders and medical professionals, we are cancelling all church meetings for the next 3 weeks.
These are uncertain times, fraught with anxiety and dangers. What we want to do in this statement is provide you with the reasons with why we are making this decision, where we can direct our hearts during this time, how we are going to continue life together as a worshiping community, and when we intend to resume our regular life together.
Why are we making this decision?
We would strongly recommend reading THIS ARTICLE. The science behind this disease pandemic is that the reports of coronavirus are behind the reality of infections. While we may be tempted to say that the coronavirus kills less people per year than the flu, that is not the reality. Medical experts in this field indicate that this virus is 10-15x’s more deadly than the flu. It is also airborne, and people can be infected with coronavirus without any symptoms for us to three weeks while also being contagious.
In light of this, we do not have a real sense of how many cases exist in the United States. At the writing of this message, there are only 6 cases of COVID-19/Coronavirus in New Hampshire. However, we understand from the medical experts in this field that these numbers are likely drastically behind the reality.
I do not present these realities to scare us, but to sober us. The medical community is recommending social distancing and quarantine measures, not to prevent people from getting the virus, but to delay the virus’s impact to not overwhelm the medical system. You can see this reality in this graph. As we work with our neighbors and medical professionals to “flatten the curve”, we are serving our neighbors and ourselves in allowing those who do contract the coronavirus to receive life-saving medical attention.
If you are looking for a simple and accessible resource to explain the coronavirus to your children, I would recommend THIS PODCAST FOR KIDS. Additionally, excusing the language of this podcast, Joe Rogan’s interview with Michael Osterholm (transcript here), one of the premier infectious disease experts in the world, is extremely insightful and helpful.
Where we can direct our hearts during this time?
This is maybe the most difficult of realities right now. Do you feel anxious, fearful, panicked? That’s how many feel. It’s tempting in turbulent times. Jesus tells us “In the world you will have tribulation — but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We live in a world that’s uncertain, full of “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). But, this is not the end of the world. Jesus is still King, and coronavirus, while scary and likely to get worse, is not the king.
Though we should act responsibly in these matters, we should not do so out of fear and anxiety. Psalm 56:3-4says,“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whoseword I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Our hope isnot, ultimately, in hand sanitizers, vaccines, or the Center for Disease Control, but in God. We cannot be afraid when we trust in the sovereign God who reigns above all things!
Instead of worrying, the Bible calls us to entrust all things, by prayer, to the God who cares for us (Matt 6:33-34; Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:6-7). Job 14:5 says that “[man’s] days are determined, and the number of his months is with [God], and [God has] appointed his limits that he cannot pass,” and Psalm 68:20 assures us,“Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the LORD, belong deliverances from death.” God is able to deliver us from death, and no virus can arrest our lives from His sovereign will.
We should not have fear, but for those who do fear among us, we should have mercy. Some people are more predisposed toward fear and anxiety than others. We all struggle with different sins and weaknesses in varying degrees. Some of us are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. Some of us have medical histories and family situations that not everyone is aware of. The exhortation of Jude 1:20-22 is helpful, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt.” We should not put on airs of superior spirituality and patronize our brothers and sisters who are afraid. Let us instead have mercy on one another and pray for one another
How to care for each other?
In light of suspending our normal meetings together, I want to strongly encourage you to proactively reach out to each other. Texts, phone calls, video calls are all ways we can maintain our connections, care and love for each other. When you do connect with each other, use those times to “pass the peace of Christ” to each other. Remember together, Jesus is King, and holds our lives in his gracious hands. Maybe recite Psalm 23 together. Confess the great confession of Christ’s glory together from Colossians 1. Or, as I often say to my boys when they go to bed, “Why do we not need to be afraid? Because Jesus promised to be with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)”. But whatever you do, please reach out to each other and your neighbors with hope during this time!
How are we going to continue life together as a worshiping community?
As stated above, we are cancelling all church meetings for the next 3 weeks. For our community, that means our Sunday Worship service and Missional Community Groups.
For the next three weeks, we will be hosting our services online. We will email links for these live streams, which will likely include Facebook Live and/or a Zoom meeting. Please download these apps so we can continue our worship together.
While this technology is convenient, we must orient towards it as a necessary compromise for the time being. Worship and life together in Jesus is inherently analogue – we need physical presence together. However, under the circumstances, we are grateful for the technology that allows us to worship together and serve our neighbors with doing our part to prevent mass infections through our corporate gatherings.
Missional Community Groups
We are cancelling official small groups. Should you choose to get together with others in the church, please abide by medical precautions, and keep groups to 10 people or smaller.
When do we intend to resume our regular life together?
We are going to reassess what we should do for getting together for public worship the first week of April.
I will be contacting folks in the church simply to check in and see how everybody is doing. These are, quite honestly, strange times. I would ask for your patience and grace with the leadership as we lead through these uncharted circumstances. There are few playbooks to run on this situation. That said, as you know, my heart is for each of you and I want to make sure we’re all walking in Jesus together – happy or anxious, we are doing this together.
One last resource to put on your radar is an article on how the church in Washington DC was used by God to help with the Spanish Flue of 1918, one of the few examples we have of how to engage in this type of situation.
As the Heidelberg Catechism starts out with:
What is your only hope in life and death?
That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
Please contact me with any concerns, fears, anxieties or ideas. I’m grateful to walk through these days beside you. You steady my soul in Jesus, and I pray we can find ways “to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24–25).
With you in the Gospel,
~Pastor Jacob, Davide and Jay