When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.
– Psalm 75:3
It seems redundant to say this, but the progression of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to change the situation for Atlantic Canadians each day. Meanwhile, churches are making crucial decisions about their own response and operations moving forward. I want to share an update and recommendation with you.
We are trying to do everything we can to help “flatten the curve.” We’ve seen a significant number of CBAC churches cancel all gatherings in response to the situation, and our office has fielded many calls from pastors, who are asking what they should decide for their church services this coming Sunday.
Of course, every church is autonomous and has the right to make the decision on whether to hold services, and we want to support you as you seek the best way to minister to your congregation and neighbourhood.
With that being said, our recommendation is that wherever the provincial government has issued an advisory to cancel public gatherings, CBAC churches should also refrain from gathering together in person—including Sunday services.
In Atlantic Canada at the time of this statement, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have both issued recommendations for public gatherings to be limited in number or cancelled altogether. Prince Edward Island has declared a state of emergency, which could lead to an order to cancel public gatherings, and we expect similar statements from Newfoundland and Labrador. All four provinces have each reported at least one case of COVID-19. Each province has their own advisories regarding public gatherings and the risk of spreading the virus. All health authorities are strongly urging people to practice social distancing.
At this point, it seems the government recommendations will become stronger and more urgent over the coming days. Now is the moment when your church needs to consider a shift to different practices for worship, community, and ministry.
This recommendation is not based on fear. As ironic as it may seem to some, this is an act of love. We want to heed the medical authorities’ statements and assist in limiting the spread.
And we know that there are a multitude of amazing and innovative opportunities for followers of Jesus in this time. We’re seeing churches partner with other congregations for online services. We’re seeing churches trying to fill needs in their neighbourhoods, such as safely providing food for low-income children. We’re seeing churches set up a system of regular check-ins for seniors.
If your church has decided to meet together this Sunday, we urge you to at revisit your decision later this week to see if you should continue with that plan. Please remember this situation can change rapidly. If and when your people gather together, take all of the recommended precautions and practice physical distancing of six feet between individuals in your building. Stay home if you are unwell.
We will keep you updated regarding important updates for churches and pastors via:
- Social media (primarily our Facebook page)
- Email (for pastors and churches on our email list)
- Our new page for COVID-19 updates at baptist-atlantic.ca/coronavirus
This is a time for Christians to demonstrate both caution and courage, without diminishing either one. May God be with you.
Dr. Peter Reid
Executive Minister, CBAC