Dear Church Family,
First of all, I’m reaching out to you with a word of hope and encouragement. None of us had any idea that a virus would stop us in our tracks the way COVID-19 has, but here we are experiencing a new reality that is impacting every single one of us. I am convinced that this is a moment unlike anything in our history as a global community, but nothing about it caught God off guard. Because that is true, it is also a moment for the church to be the church in ways we may have never tried, or even in ways we have forgotten. We need to be wise in the way we respond in this historic moment, but we do not need to give into fear or panic.
I am going to speak to the facts that we know as of today, Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
- Our President is encouraging a 15-Day window to “slow the spread of this virus” during which time he and his advisers have recommended that schools and non-essential businesses close their doors. Unnecessary travel is discouraged during this time. We are now intensifying the practice of social distancing and personal interaction.
- We have a significantly large number of “at risk” members. We have a large membership community that exceeds the number 50. We also have a level of influence that others watch. A pastor called me early this morning and asked how we were planning to respond, adding that what we did will influence other churches in our area. This only raises the significance of our need to set an exceptional example in moments like this.
For those two factual reasons, we have decided that it is best for us to close the building for fifteen business days which we will do effective Wednesday, March 18 – Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Deacon Chair Tom Clark and Trustee Chair Jimmy Hester have been a part of this decision and support it fully.
This does not mean the church is closed, for you are the church! This means that our building is closed to the public. We will gather for worship on Sundays, March 22 and March 29, all over the community as we worship via Livestream, https://nashvillefirst.org/streaming-and-sermons/. I pre-recorded a message for last Sunday (March 15) with Gary Morgan, but on these two Sundays the message will be live from our Sanctuary. There will be music. There will also be a Children’s Sermon. Our Ministry Staff will be present to lead this service and we hope you will tune in and participate with your whole heart.
In addition, an intensive effort of Pastoral Care is being made by our Ministry Team to our church family. We are going to attempt to call you in the days ahead so that we can pray for you and check in with each person in our congregation in this critical time. During this time, there will not be hospital or senior living community visits made by members of our staff or other church volunteers. We are trying to flatten the curve and those visits only serve to expose larger numbers of people to a potential infection. There will be no meetings at the church during this time as well to further cut down on the possibility of infection.
But there will be new opportunities for us to experience God’s presence and discover something new of His care for each of us. I will be emailing you a regular update from your church as we walk through this journey together.
This is all for now, and as you know, this information is based on the best information available to us at this moment. It can change as our knowledge of this situation changes. If and when that happens, we will communicate clearly with you.
Today, pray for our nation’s leaders as we seek to combat this new threat to life and the liberty we so often take for granted. Pray that God will use this “time out” to draw us closer to Him. Pray for those who are ill. Pray for those who have already lost loved ones. Pray for each other. Finally, pray that God will bring about a spiritual awakening in our world as people come to grips with the frailty of human life and the uncertainty of those things we may have come to trust in more than God.
I pray that the Lord will bless and keep you in these days.
Dr. Frank R. Lewis