Brothers and sisters,
The Elders of Bedford Community Church have prayed and thought carefully about our church community’s response to the current coronavirus situation in WA. Known infections in Australia are doubling every four days, which is a rapid rate. Countries where the virus has been already have seen two different outcomes. In countries like Italy, where prevention strategies were inadequate, the virus spread so rapidly that the hospitals could not keep up with treating everyone. By contrast, a country like Singapore took strong, proactive prevention steps. In Singapore, the spread of the virus was slow enough that the hospitals could keep up with treatment.
In light of these facts, the Elders have decided to suspend all our public gatherings, including Sunday morning worship, until further notice. Please understand that this was a prayerful and careful decision, and not a blind panic. Our goal is to do right by our members and the wider community, by taking this step to slow down the spread of the virus in WA. The hope is simply to help our society avoid preventable deaths by giving our state’s hospitals a chance to keep up with the virus. Many other churches in WA, as well as secular workplaces, are doing the same. While our church service attendance surely falls below the government’s current ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, that number is sure to be revised soon by the government and we simply want to be a step ahead, and to err on the side of caution.
In the meantime, we will be taking steps to keep our church family connected in the coming weeks. We will try to have sermon messages recorded and available online or by email. We can even arrange to drop off a CD for people who are not able or accustomed to accessing things online. Larry and Ash are working on a possible online chat space for Sunday mornings, where our people could join for something like open worship and prayer. Again, for those who won’t be online, we also wish to organise elders, staff, and other volunteers to make phone calls in order to pray with church members, see how they’re going, etc.
It is likely that small groups are still fairly safe to meet. If your small group chooses to continue meeting, we encourage you to consider getting together on Sunday morning as a small group for communion, maybe listening to the recorded sermon, praying together, etc. If any members are already seeing each other regularly and planning to continue doing so, whether in a small group or not, please consider how you could make such meetings a time of Christian fellowship in prayer and the Scriptures.
If anyone has further suggestions about how we as a community can remain in fellowship without our Sunday gathering, please share your thoughts with Larry or the elders. Additionally, if anyone is in need of food or other supplies, please contact us so that we can figure out a way to help. If you have any questions or concerns about this situation and our response to it, Larry and the elders are available to contact.
For up-to-date information on the spread of coronavirus in Australia generally, and in WA particularly, please see https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-17/coronavirus-data-reveals-how-covid-19-is-spreading-in-australia/12060704
For the current state and national guidelines on infection prevention and other information, please see https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/coronavirus and https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert#current-status
Remember that we trust in a God who has all power over life and death, and we need not fear that this virus is outside the sovereign control of the God who loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son to die for our sins and to rise again. At the same time, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has commanded us to be wise. We can trust in our God to watch over us, and also trust him enough to obey his command to be wise. The better part of wisdom, for our sake and also for the sake of our non-Christian neighbours, seems to be to take steps like this for their health and safety. Thank you everyone for your continued prayers, and your love for one another and for God, his Son, and his Spirit.