In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, James Emery White of Mecklinburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, sent this announcement out today. I don’t think I can say it any better. So, with a few changes that are particular to TVCC, I’m sending this to you as well.
 
“We are canceling all of our weekend services and events for March 22nd and March 29th. And, of course, this includes Celebrate Recovery, FUEL Youth group on Wednesday night, and American Heritage Girls. As we continue to monitor the ever-changing situation, we may very well cancel them further.
 
To my surprise, some churches have resisted the national call from health care leaders and government officials to limit our gatherings. Some feel it is a wrongful assault on our freedom of religion. Others feel it succumbs to fear instead of faith. Some simply do not feel their church could survive such a move, so they continue to meet out of a sense of self-preservation.
 
I do not feel the call was an assault on religious freedom, but a heartfelt request for help. Further, following CDC guidelines for public health and safety does not seem like caving in to fear but using common sense. And as far as churches not surviving, as Seattle’s mayor replied to people who criticized him when he closed all meeting places in 1918 in response to the Spanish Flu, “Religion which won’t keep for two weeks is not worth having.”
 
Yet there is a deep and compelling reason why churches should not only willingly close their doors, but joyfully.
 
We are called by God to treat others as we would want to be treated, and to serve and love those around us. While most of us are not at serious risk from COVID-19, we have many in our community who are—namely the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions. If the spread of the virus is not quickly contained, not only will it put many we know and love in danger, but our medical system will be overwhelmed and unable to serve the vulnerable in need.
 
To provide the necessary social distancing for the spread of this virus to slow, the White House has asked for all gatherings of 10 or more people to be cancelled or postponed. The gathering of the TVCC family on any given weekend brings together approximately a thousand people. We have a responsibility of love to our neighbors to gladly comply.
 
But just because a church takes a break from physically gathering together doesn’t mean it ceases to be a church! We all know that a church is more than bricks and mortar, and while called to gather for worship it is vastly more than weekend services. During this time, we will continue to offer services through our Online Campus. Sunday morning, beginning at 8 a.m., you can go to our Website or TVCC app and select Watch Live to join us in song, prayer, and the Word as we continue our series on Dangerous Prayers. There will be links for sermon notes and announcements, so we encourage you to gather your family and treat this as a great opportunity to worship together. What greater way to “lead your children in the way they should go.”
We are continuing our ministry to families and children by sending out suggestions for activities, home devotions, Bible stories and more. Individuals will continue to be encouraged to honor God financially through online giving, we will receive any and all prayer requests submitted online, and we will stay active and connected through social media.
 
At this moment, our culture needs something it doesn’t have. No, not simply more test kits, but the peace that surpasses understanding. We are surrounded by anxiety and fear. Yet as followers of Christ, we must not give in to fear—instead we are called to meet all things with faith. As missionary, Corrie ten Boom, once offered, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”
 
We alone can offer the world these words:
 
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7, Msg)
So, even though we will not gather for large group events for the next two weeks, live out your faith with other acts of love, compassion and service we will likely be presented the opportunity to bring to bear in the coming days. One way we are already doing this is by working with the Henry County Medical Center, offering our TVCC Annex for hospital employees’ younger children since schools are shut down and parents of school age children may not have anyone to care for them while they are work. We’ve also offered to be readily available to assist with other services with schools or our community that may arise in the coming days and weeks.”
 
As the great church God has planted and grown here, we have the privilege and responsibility to lead as examples to other churches as well as those who are looking to us to exhibit the love and heart of Christ in the middle of this crisis.
 
And to quote Pastor White once again:
 
“All to say, by closing a physical door,
 
… we may just be opening a spiritual one.”
 
We love you, TVCC family! And we’re PRAYING BOLDLY for an open door of opportunity as God does what He always does…
 
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)  
 
Pastor Steve