UPDATE March 17: Due to restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, all public events at the church are hereby postponed indefinitely. We are trying to figure out how to worship online. The church itself is still open as needed, so the instructions below still apply. Thanks for your patience.
Friends in Christ:
The ordinary rhythm of American life is being disrupted by the Coronavirus in a way that hasn’t been seen for a century. Whether this is an appropriate reaction does not matter for our purposes. Time will tell. In the meantime, we have to be prepared for unprecedented disruptions.
But we do know this: fear is not the way of the Christian. We are not to be afraid of school closures, or disease, or even death: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1st Corinthians 15:19) We have “a better possession and an abiding one” (Hebrews 10:34) in our true country, the eternal Kingdom, where death shall be no more. (Revelation 21:4)
Furthermore, we have two great responsibilities. One is to proclaim as loudly as possible, and in as many ways as possible, the hope found in Jesus Christ. The other is to pray. In keeping with those responsibilities, we plan (for now) to take the following actions:
First, we intend to meet for prayer and worship for as long as that remains possible. We are following state and federal guidelines. Should we be instructed to cancel services, the Session of the church will consider whether to comply. Exercise basic precautions. Don’t come to church if you are sick. Wash your hands. Try not to touch one another. That sort of thing.
Second, if you are over the age of 70, and especially if you have underlying medical issues, we would encourage you to stay at home and pray along with us. We will try to make sermons (at least, and maybe whole services) available online as soon as possible. Check www.fpcbent.org for updates. The Pastor most likely will not visit you. This is for your own protection. A lot of pastoral care will be done via phone.
Third, if you are not able to come to church, please consider how you might give to support the work of the congregation. We don’t have an endowment to fall back upon. We rely entirely on the tithes of the people of God. You can mail checks to PO Box 198 Main Street, Bentleyville, PA 15314. We are in the process of putting together options for online giving as well. Again, check the website and our Facebook page.
Fourth, it will be your responsibility to check on others, especially those who are elderly and otherwise at risk. Take this as a challenge. You have an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ. Call folks you haven’t seen for a while. Pray with them over the phone. If they need food, pick some up at the church (our pantry is well stocked) and drop it off.
Every crisis is also an opportunity. We have a great opportunity to be faithful and to demonstrate the love of Christ to the world. Take heart, and do not be afraid.
Yours In Christ,
J. Andrew Scott, Pastor