Dear River Church family,
Over the last few days, we have, like all of you, been paying close attention to the Coronavirus situation. On Friday, we communicated our plans to have our normal worship services this coming Sunday, 3/15. Since that time, we have come to understand more about the situation here in Kershaw County as well as how we as a church family can best serve our community under the circumstances. Based on the information we have received, which I will go into more in just a moment, we feel that the wisest thing we can do is cancel tomorrow’s normal worship gathering. To be clear, the decision to cancel services tomorrow is NOT about fear of “catching” COVID-19. It is a matter of taking responsibility and care to not spread the virus.
As you know, yesterday, both President Trump and Governor McMaster declared a state of emergency. Both the CDC and SCDHEC have issued guidelines geared at slowing the spread of the virus (or “flattening the growth curve” as they say) in order to be certain that medical providers will be able to care for the number of people dealing with COVID-19 while still caring for all of the normal medical issues people have on a regular basis. With this goal in mind, it is critical to slow the spread of the disease early, since every day provides an opportunity for exponential growth of the pandemic. Our governor has asked that large gatherings of all kinds be avoided if at all possible since such gatherings provide opportunity for the rapid transmission of the disease to multiple people, each of whom can then transmit the disease even before they have symptoms.
Furthermore, this morning, Scott Bernshausen, who serves Kershaw Health as an “Infectious Disease Preventionist” and who is also the pastor of Bethune Baptist Church, explained on a conference call with local church leaders that his church will be cancelling services.
We have taken all these things into account and more as we have agonized over this decision. After praying for God’s guidance and much thought, we decided to cancel our physical gathering this Sunday. We will continue to monitor the situation and decide each week what we believe God wants us to do in terms of our worship gatherings. We are working feverishly to provide a way for us to still have a virtual gathering even if we can’t physically be together.
That said, virtual or online gatherings, even when “live” and not pre-recorded, should never, can never, and will never replace the saints of God gathering together in one place physically for worship, preaching, and prayer. But thanks be to God, technology does provide us with a lesser option under the circumstances. We are working on providing a shorter live-streaming option for Sunday so that we can pray together, keep updated, and get into God’s Word together. We want to challenge every one of you to make this a priority under the circumstances. We’ll be putting out more information in the next few hours. So stay tuned!
Finally, let me encourage you about another aspect of our faithfulness, worship, and stewardship. Our mission partners count on us and our financial support whether we have a worship service and pass the basket or not. The church’s fiscal responsibilities do not go away when we have a flood, a hurricane, or a viral pandemic. So I want to challenge you to join me in giving online. The reality is that this is what my family does every week, and so do about 50% of you. I want to ask all of you to be sure to continue to worship through giving this week. You may give online in one of two ways:
- Using the Church Center app from your phone (click the GIVE button at the bottom)
- Click here to give via the church website
Or if you prefer, you can mail in your tithes and offerings to the church at:
The River Church
PO Box 57
Camden SC 29021
As we face this challenge together, let’s be sure to remember and be guided by what God’s word says:
Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
On the journey with you,