March 13, 2020
(Updates for March 27 in red)
Hello church family!
Now that the
coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19 has officially arrived in Ottawa, we
want to make you aware of our plans as a church family. We would encourage you
to respond in the following four ways during this season:
Do Not Be Afraid
In a time like
this, it can be so easy to capitulate to worry and anxiety, or even panic. As
believers in the Sovereign God, we know this is not the way we should respond. Jesus
explicitly told us to “not be anxious about tomorrow… or about your body…”
(Matthew 6:25). God intimately cares for birds and lilies, and we are of far
more value than they are. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, a painfully apt description for today, we need fear no evil, for he is
with us; his rod and staff comfort us. Even death itself has been transformed
by Christ. So trust in the Lord and do not be afraid.
Exercise Wisdom and Prudence
Just because we
take courage doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take caution. Proverbs 22:3 says, “The
prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
Not being afraid of death doesn’t mean we should put ourselves or others
intentionally in harm’s way (Proverbs 14:15, 15:24).
- If you are sick or running a
fever, please stay home from church, small groups, and other church activities.
This is especially important if you have potential symptoms of COVID-19.
We do have a number of elderly members, young babies, immunocompromised people,
and healthcare professionals who attend Calvary. Let’s seek to consider others
more important than ourselves in this season (Philippians 2:3-4).
- If you are particularly
vulnerable to catching COVID-19 or developing serious complications from it,
please use your good judgment on whether to avoid large group gatherings until the
pandemic slows. We will not judge you if you believe the wisest course of
action is to lie low for a while.
- If you have been travelling to
areas of the world that have significant infection rates, it can be wise to
self-isolate until you are certain you are not infected, in order to keep from
unintentionally passing on the disease to others.
- Everyone, at-risk or not, can
practically love their neighbours by following basic steps to mitigate the
spread of disease: thorough and frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizer,
covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, etc. We’d also
encourage refraining from the usual kinds of greetings like handshakes, hugs,
or kisses for the time being.
This point about prudence overlaps quite a
bit with the next:
Love One Another and Love Your
What does loving
one another look like when we’re part of a church community that includes
people of all generations, many transient and globe-trotting people, and
individuals who have underlying health conditions? Yes, this is your pastor
saying this: It may very well involve staying home from church! Of course we
place a high priority on regularly gathering together as a church for worship.
But if you are feeling sick or running a fever, likely the best way to love
your neighbour is by avoiding them! You may also want to consider ways to still
reach out to others by calling or writing to check in on, pray with, or
The other side
to loving your neighbour is for those who are healthy: How might we care for
the suffering in our neighbourhoods and city during this season? How should we
“weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) or “comfort those who are in any
affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2
Corinthians 1:4)? Great questions! Historically, Christians have often not fled
the scenes of a crisis or hidden away in fear, but instead, sought to serve in
the midst of the distress. We should be less concerned with self-preservation,
and more concerned about the welfare of others. So if God blesses you with
health, how might you use that to check in on your at-risk friends or
neighbours, seeing how you might serve them? Can you make grocery or pharmacy
runs? Can you write them a card or give them a phone call to encourage them or
pray with them? Is there a way we can serve Ottawa’s healthcare workers who may
be exhausted and under-resourced in the near future? How might we witness about
the risen Christ to those around us who are more aware of and worried about
death at the moment? These are the types of questions we should be asking and
seeking to answer. (To that end, if you have practical ideas of how we might
put these kinds of compassion into action, please let us know!)
Pray and Worship Faithfully
4:6, the solution to anxiety is to “in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” There are many
reasons we could be anxious right now; therefore, there are many reasons to
pray! (See point #6 in this article for some great practical tips on what to
While we are canceling our in-person services until at least through April, we want to ensure that we are still regularly involved in community worship as much as we are able. We need to look to God as much as ever right now. We will be livestreaming our 9:00 service every Sunday on our Facebook page which will also be linked to the front page of our website.
Our weekly Small Groups will be meeting via Zoom calls. If you are already in a group, wait for instructions from your leader. If you would like to join in one, please let us know here!
Regular gatherings that will be cancelled or postponed include Sunday School, Fusion Youth, Newcomers' Lunch, Membership Class, and food preparation for the Ottawa Mission. We will keep you updated on May-June events as we continue to reevaluate.
If you are in
need of practical help or prayer, whether you are sick or at-risk, we want to
be there for you as best we can. Please email the church to let us know of your needs, and we will be in contact with you.
Trusting the Lord’s mercy,
World Health Organizations’s Q&A on
Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Update Page
Ottawa Public Health’s Pandemic
8 Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us (This is an especially excellent take)
Taking Church Online in a Coronavirus Age
Battling the Coronavirus Panic
The FAQs: Coronavirus Explained by an
Infectious Disease Expert and Pastor