FGBC Update for March 19, 2020

Brethren,

Greetings in the Lord Jesus. Here is some information concerning FGBC during this coronavirus situation.

  1. We will cancel the prayer meeting/confession study on Sunday at the 9:30a.m. hour until further notice.
  2. We will continue to meet at 11:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. for morning and evening worship; however, we cannot exceed 50 people as per the guidelines established by the government of Canada.
  3. There will be no nursery services, so young children should stay at home with at least one of their parents, so this should limit the number of persons that attend.

If you are in a high-risk category with reference to the coronavirus, please stay home and use the livestream feature so you can participate in worship that way.

If you have any symptoms of illness (better to err on the side of caution), please stay home and livestream the services.

If the government changes the number of persons that can meet publicly, we will make changes accordingly which will most likely be me preaching at the church building with only Lucas or Isaac present to run the equipment. Thankfully we are already set up to livestream.

There are some things we should remember during this crisis.

First, we should be prayerful to our sovereign God that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In times like these, the believer has confidence in the Most High God and that confidence will be reflected in our approach to God in prayer.

Pray for those most vulnerable among us, for our government to lead with wisdom, and for those who are working to figure out how best to deal with this virus.

Pray also that this would be a time where persons ponder their mortality and their need for Christ and His glorious gospel.

Second, please remember the vulnerable among us – in prayer, and in terms of good deeds. The need for social distancing remains in place, but this does not mean we avoid one another and not manifest love for one another.

Third, our response to this crisis will proceed along the lines of Romans 13:1. The government’s calling for a reduction in the number of persons meeting together is not a form of persecution, but rather, a reasonable attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

While we may not agree with every jot and tittle of the government’s response to this crisis, that they want to stop the spread of the virus is something believers should be on board with: it is an application of the second great commandment (“Love your neighbor as yourself”).

Fourth, we should be charitable to one another, even if there are differences of opinion on how to proceed. There has been some condemnation of those churches that have canceled services and condemnation of those who have not.

This crisis is not an either/or situation; i.e., you either fear God or you do not. Believers should always fear God, but that fear of God includes responsible conduct in light of current concerns.

For instance, I do not worry about contracting the virus for myself, but the fear of passing the virus on to someone in the high-risk category, is of great concern to me. Therefore, we should practice social distancing (appropriate distance between persons [4-6 feet], no shaking hands, no hugging), if not for our benefit, for the benefit of others.

Fifth, if you are in a high-risk category and cannot get out to the store, please contact one of the deacons.

I have asked the deacons to maintain contact with those in the high-risk category, but please do not wait for their call if you have needs. Additionally, we are aware that some persons have offered to pick up supplies for others when they go shopping which is wonderful. If you plan to do this, let the deacons know so they can coordinate with those in need.

Sixth, be aware of what is involved with the coronavirus in the event that you contract it. There is new data each and every day and it often changes from one day to the other. Wisdom is necessary on the part of God’s people in times such as these.

Finally, here is something Martin Luther wrote entitled “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague” that contains a great deal of wisdom —

“Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it.

I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.

If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.

If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

(Martin Luther, “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 43: Devotional Writings II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 43; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 43: 131–132.)

May God Almighty be pleased to advance His cause in the midst of this crisis, and may He be pleased to protect His people for His glory and their good.

In Christ,

Jim Butler