This letter was sent out via email to CCC Members on Monday March 16, 2020 concerning the decision to cancel selected Sunday services.
Dear Central Members and Friends,
On Thursday, as our church leaders were debating whether or not to cancel worship, I was in communication with our regional staff and other clergy in the area. About an hour after we made our decision, Rick Spleth, our regional minister, sent an email to all clergy around the state recommending that we seriously consider cancelling worship. In his email, he offered the following
In making this recommendation I am persuaded by the words of former Indiana Disciples minister David Shirey, who now serves as Senior Minister of Central Christian Church, Lexington, KY who writes regarding his congregation's decision to temporarily suspend their services:
Our rationale for these decisions derives from principles grounded in our faith mandate to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Simply stated, "In this circumstance, what does love require?"
1. Love requires us to protect the vulnerable.
This virus puts the elderly and people with compromised health conditions at special risk. Like me, our congregation's senior members are motivated by a fervent desire and unwavering commitment to worship God together. I and they will make every effort, regardless of the risk or cost, to be present for worship, feeling guilty if we do not make such an effort. Cancelling corporate worship this Sunday and offering a service available for home viewing safeguards our most vulnerable and relieves the deeply ingrained impetus to worship weekly.
2. Love calls for us to seek the common good.
By voluntarily taking a sacrificial action such as cancelling corporate worship, we love our neighbors by doing our part to take an action that we hope will slow down the spread of the virus, thereby preventing as-yet-healthy persons from contracting the virus or making it easier for infected persons who may not yet know of the infection to spread it unknowingly to others.
3. Love calls for us to act in solidarity with persons of good will.
Heeding the Kentucky Governor's request and heeding the best wisdom of public health officials, we join a community-, state-, nation- and worldwide coalition of concerted caring whose cooperative efforts will the well-being of all people.
4. Love calls for actions that minimize regret.
If we were to proceed with events or activities that lead to the infection of persons or the unwitting spread of the virus, we would rue the decision to proceed with "business as usual" when we could have chosen otherwise. Though it is debatable whether faith communities cancelling their services this weekend will indeed make a difference for the good, we can proceed with this decision knowing we did not choose to disregard or ignore this call for vigilance and caution.
I agree. Love should guide every action we take. Over the next few days and weeks, we will be joining thousands of other congregations in discovering what it means to “be church” in this difficult and uncharted time. I pray that we will always default to love in our decisions.
I will be working with our church leaders to find ways to keep us connected, share the word, and offer grace and mercy in our community in the days to come. I invite your ideas and your dreams as we continue to serve in the name of Jesus.
Grace and Peace,