Some trust in chariots and some in
​horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7
Re: Anniston Bible Church’s response to COVID-19, the Coronavirus, March 14, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters,

By the grace of God, we want to respond wisely and compassionately to the spread of the coronavirus and the concerns that our families have. There are biblical principles that can help us, so that we do not give in to anxious thoughts or consuming fears. We walk by faith. Fear leads to selfishness and disobedience. Faith works by love.

We decided to cancel based on the biblical principle of loving our neighbor. We estimated that if we came together for worship that even this diminished group would still include some people who may have been exposed to the virus and some people who are at risk for the virus. It was a difficult decision but we think it is wisest not to meet. However, we now have a YouTube channel now that you can access for live video streaming on Sunday mornings for our 9 AM Bible Study and 10:15 AM Sermon. This is the addresswww.youtube.com/channel/UCY0Y23BmYtWmuKJ-p1ITEBg

Here are some other ways to think rightly about this crisis:
·       We need to be realistic. We recommend reading the frequently asked questions about the coronavirus at the TGC website. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-we-know-coronavirus/  A pastor/infectious disease doctor provides a faithful account of the history, nature, and dangers of the virus.
·       Let truth and faith condition your conversations about the virus. The Bible warns against the sin of spreading a false report, Exodus 23:1. Presently, the confusion of rumor and actual news overwhelms our culture with fear. People love gossip and spreading stories that induce panic. Proverbs 11:9 says that the godless destroys his neighbor with his mouth. As you discuss this situation with your neighbors and coworkers, remind them of God’s unstoppable sovereignty and goodness that designed this very trial so that we would put our hope in him. Speak the gospel: Christ died for our sin, rose from the grave, and will come again to deliver us from the curse of disease and disaster that human rebellion brought into the world.
·       Be wise, compassionate, and kind. Hebrews 13:16 commands us to “not neglect doing good and to share what we have.” Our deacons recommend purchasing sufficient supplies as you would prepare for any coming storm. Hoarding supplies and inordinate buying is selfish and sinful. Share your goods with your brothers and sisters in Christ and with your neighbors.
·       If you would like someone to pick up your groceries, prescriptions, or other supplies so that you do not need to leave home, or if you need something that panic buying has made unavailable, contact our deacons and we will seek to facilitate sharing what we have as God’s people. Do not be afraid to ask for help. It will be easiest if you will email our deacons or pastors with your request. The church office phone number is 256.236.3072 and we do have voicemail set up.

For the duration of this pandemic, as a congregation we encourage you in the following ways:
·       Avoid physical expressions of love with one another (such as handshakes and hugs) but affirm one another through affectionate words.
·       Anyone who is exhibiting any signs of illness should refrain from attending services for now.
·       Anyone who has traveled outside the country recently, that they and their direct families refrain from attending services for at least 14 days after returning to the United States.
·       Those who are at risk due to immune disorders (and their immediate family), or who have decreased immune systems due to disease or treatment processes, should refrain from attending the worship service. Please use the internet to listen to the service streamed live on Facebook.
·       The BEST defense is regular, thorough hand washing with regular soap.  Soap bars or regular liquid soap have proven more effective than the liquid antibacterial soap and better than alcohol based hand sanitizer. We are stepping up efforts to disinfect all surfaces, handles, knobs, etc. in our building twice a week.

We also urge you to pray earnestly. Thorough handwashing takes several minutes and provides a perfect opportunity to pray for the healing of the sick, and for opportunities to turn conversations about the virus to the gospel. Pray for the many fearful and anxious people in our community who need Christ, for our local and national leaders, for those in our congregation who serve in medical professions, and for wisdom to know how to love people well during these troubled times.

In August 1527, the bubonic plague struck Wittenberg, Germany. Although urged to relocate for their safety, Martin and Katherine Luther stayed to minister to the sick. The Luther house became a kind of hospital until the plague receded in November. The question arose about whether it was proper for Christians to flee such deadly peril. Johann Hess wrote to Luther about the matter. In his reply, Luther offers much practical wisdom. Luther says that if our house is on fire, we all have the wisdom to preserve our own lives by fleeing outside. However, love might require you to run into your neighbor’s burning house to rescue him. Wisdom and love must inform our response to mortal dangers. May the Lord fill us with compassionate understanding for such a time as this.

Prayerfully,
The elders and deacons of ABC