Greetings congregation,

There has been much discussion about the best way to be faithful to the gospel in the midst of this coronavirus scare.  Some have decried the responses as panicked and overblown, saying we should show others how not to be afraid, and how to have faith, by continuing with life as normal.  Others have stocked up on toilet paper, of all things, and filled their pantries with every imaginable item, as if hunkering down for the winter.  Perhaps the best solution is somewhere in the middle.  Either way, where does that leave us as a church body?

I am always hesitant to cancel our services on Sunday, and this is no different; if anything, I’ve been even more hesitant given the time of year, with Easter approaching, and the enjoyment I’ve experienced in going through this series in Matthew with you.  But I have come to the conclusion that the best thing to do, given our aging congregation and a desire to “flatten the curve,” if you will, would be to cancel our services for tomorrow, March 15th, and quite possibly for the 22nd as well, though the elders still need to have some time to discuss this possibility.  A confirmed case of Covid-19 has been found in Harrisonburg at RMH, and there have been reports that while only 1 case has been verified (because of the current extreme difficulty in testing and resistance to finding greater numbers), there are other suspected cases at RMH currently.  Given how people travel now, I think it would be safe to assume that it will only be a matter of time before there are confirmed cases in Staunton as well.  Also, while I do not believe I am coming down with the coronavirus specifically, I have acquired some sort of illness in the last day, and given the risks, I have to ask, do you really want to shake my hand or be around me at this time?  I wouldn’t.

I am looking into ways to hold worship, or a devotional, online.  The daily series I’ve been doing for Lent, available on the church’s Facebook page and the webpage, will continue.  The current software I use for uploading this has a time and size limit that is much shorter than a sermon, so I do not know if I’ll have anything available for us tomorrow morning, but I will continue to research and look.  In the meantime, please do have church at home tomorrow.  Pray.  Read scripture.  Perhaps watch a service on tv or over the internet.

Lastly, if any of you has a need, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, please let me or an elder know.  We will be happy to make grocery runs or deliver other supplies to you, to the best of our ability.  You are not alone in this time.

Thank you,

Evan R. Smith