Latest information regarding Sunday Gatherings
Dear MBC Members and Friends,
As we all know, on Monday this week the government once again placed the country into lockdown due to rising cases of the virus, and in particular this new strain which spreads so much more easily, as well as the growing pressure on our health service. Unlike the previous lockdowns, this time they have allowed churches to remain open for public worship, providing COVID guidelines are followed.
This has given us as Elders of MBC a very hard decision, one that we have been thinking and praying about for much of the week. Is the right thing for us to do to remain open on Sundays, or would the best option be to close the church for public worship for the time being, and remain open solely to allow services to be live-streamed?
Ultimately we want to act in a way that is Godly, that brings honour and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, and so our decision has come down to what we think is the most Godly course of action at this time and in these circumstances, both for our church family whom we love and also for the wider community whom we want to serve and bring the gospel to.
The Bible has no direct passages of scripture that tell a church what to do in a pandemic! That makes it a very difficult decision. However the Bible does give us many words of wisdom and guidance that we need to mind whatever we do:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’
1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
It is passages such as these that we have applied to guide us to our decision.
We have therefore decided for the time being to close the church for public worship services on Sundays, and to broadcast/livestream only as we did in the previous lockdown before Christmas. We will re-evaluate this at regular intervals, assuming the government continues to allow churches to open.
There are a number of reasons why we think this is a wise course of action at this time:
Virus numbers are growing at an alarming rate. The more people that meet under the same roof, the more risk that someone will be there who has the infection and could pass it on. The fewer people there are the more the risk is reduced (but not eliminated). While many people may have light/no symptoms, we know this virus can kill and we just don’t know how anyone – visitor/member – would respond to the infection.
We also want to show a good example to our community and neighbours. The government’s instruction is ‘stay at home’ and we feel a degree of responsibility to set a good example.
We now have the means to spread the gospel, facilitate worship and a degree of fellowship using technology (streaming and Zoom). We are aware though that for people who can’t access this they are left out, and even if they can access this, it may not alleviate the loneliness if they are on their own. We will therefore continue to produce DVD or CD records for anyone who wishes one and will work to ensure that these can be distributed on the Sunday to allow those people who cannot access the livestream to to share the service on Sunday
We also know that even though we could meet in person we are not able to enjoy the richness of fellowship that we long for. We can’t sing, we can’t hug or shake hands, we can’t even talk after the services. In many ways we are able to do more of what God calls us to do when we meet online.
Daily we are seeing reports of thousands of people becoming severely ill and dying from this virus. But let us remember that many thousands more are already spiritually dead – and it will take more than a vaccine to revive them. Whether or not we agree with the government, it has taken radical steps to save lives and to preserve the means of saving lives (the NHS). And yet as much as we value life we know that eternal life has far more significance and value. We need to give serious thought and prayer as to how we can best, and radically, serve and love our church family, and how we can radically love and serve our community and nation at this time. This virus is many things, perhaps one of those is a spiritual wake-up call to the church.
So we would like to ask everyone therefore to please keep praying, both that God will stop this virus, and also that he would grant us wisdom and insight to see how we can best serve him, our neighbours and each other at this time.
Yours in Christ,
Jimmy, Stuart, Neil, Ray & Wayne