Why are we taking the step to cancel services?
Our primary motivations to cancel services are two-fold: first, submission to governing authorities and second, love for our neighbor.
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown worldwide and in our country, public health officials have encouraged measures to slow the spread of the disease. One of the keys to containment of this disease and limitation of community spread is the practice of social distancing. In particular, the risk of widespread transmission of this disease is increased when large groups of people gather. Even if the risk of infection is low in our local community, when strong methods of intervention are adopted widely there is a greater opportunity to lower the total number of infections and the overall death rate in our country.
Additionally, while the full extent of the dangers of this disease are still being uncovered, it is clear that COVID-19 presents a significant health danger to vulnerable members of our community – namely the elderly and immunocompromised. A quote we resonate with from The Austin Stone Church, “As Christians, we are called by Jesus to care for and defend the vulnerable. In cancelling our worship gathering, we can actively fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cancelling our worship services can give health professionals more time to prepare and care for those who are most at risk from the virus.”
How long do we anticipate cancelling public services?
All data provided by public health officials points to more widespread transmission of the coronavirus throughout the U.S. in the coming weeks. We are praying that our time for cancelling weekly gatherings will be a few weeks. But realistically, we anticipate gatherings will need to be held online-only for a longer period of time.
What ministries are impacted by this cancellation?
To limit large group gatherings, beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020, all public ministries of The Vine Church will be cancelled and will be made available online where appropriate. You can refer to our website and social media pages for more specific information as to how each ministry will function.
At this time, our church offices will be open and the we will strive to keep regular discipleship and counseling appointments with tele-conferencing options available on request.
How can I continue to give to The Vine Church while we are not gathering for services?
Your giving continues to be an important act of worship. You can continue to faithfully give online or by mail.
If you prefer to give by mail, you can send checks payable to “The Vine Church” : The Vine Church, 906 Ann Street, Madison WI, 53713.
Where can I get solid information about the Coronavirus?
Informing yourself accurately about the Coronavirus and its spread is an important task. However, with so much panic-induced overstatement and the opposite problem of ill-informed downplaying, you need to filter your information through trusted sources.
The following websites publish responsible and helpful information:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Page – cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-
• Wisconsin Department of Health: https://www.dhs.
• Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map – coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
Additionally, several major news organizations have made their Coronavirus information pages free online:
• NY Times Corona Virus Coverage – nytimes.com/news-event/
• Washington Post – How Viruses Spread and Why Social Distancing is Important – washingtonpost.com/graphics/
How should I respond personally to this crisis?
On the level of personal physical health, we would urge you to follow the normal health precautions encouraged by the CDC, to wash your hands regularly and stay home if you are feeling ill. In particular, you should strictly follow these guidelines if you are part of an at-risk population.
On the level of spiritual health, we need to lean on God’s truth to settle our hearts and guide us in trying times. Several truths can be a helpful reminder.
First, Romans 8:18-23 reminds us that all of creation is infected by the disease of the sin curse.
The sobering reality of this pandemic is a reminder that we live in a sin-cursed and fallen world. Suffering reminds us to cry out for Jesus to return to conquer the curse fully.
Second, Revelation 21:1-5 reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s guarantee that one day He will fully conquer sin and death! One day Jesus will come again and there will be no suffering, no sickness, and no death. We have a hope beyond the trials of this present age.
Third, in moments of anxiety and worry, Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us that we have a Father in heaven who knows our needs and cares for us personally.
Fourth, 1 Timothy 2:1-4 reminds us to pray. We should pray for the sick and for endurance for medical professionals who will provide care. We should pray for wisdom for government officials. We should pray for one another in the body of Christ. We should pray that God would use this crisis to call people to Himself.
Finally, work to stay connected to one another in spite of social distancing. Even if we’re unable to gather as a full church body, we can stay connected to one another through calls, texts, and small group gatherings where appropriate.