Update to Members: Covid-19

Update to Members: Covid-19

March 18, 2020

Dear Trinity Family,

The Covid-19 pandemic, in God’s providence, is challenging churches across the country and around the globe. In addition to the wise and helpful guidance we are all receiving from local, state, and federal healthcare officials, the session is also assessing this extraordinary challenge in light of Scripture, confident in God’s sovereignty and saving grace.

Unlike most of our other meetings and ministries (Sunday School programs, fellowship meals, women’s circles and men’s groups, choir practice, and so on), gathered or public worship on the Lord’s Day is commanded in Scripture and vital to the health of the church and her ministry. God has set apart one day in seven for this purpose and calls his people together to meet with us and minister to us through his appointed means, which are the elements of worship (the reading and preaching of the Word, prayer, singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and the sacraments). We are not to neglect or forsake gathering ourselves together as a church family for the sake of his glory and our spiritual welfare (Heb. 10:24–25).

There are extraordinary times, however, when religious obligations related to public worship are properly subjected to moral obligations out of love for God and our neighbor. (One example of this is when David took the forbidden bread of the presence from the tabernacle to feed his hungry men who are fleeing with haste from Saul, an act which Jesus commended in reference to the proper use of the Sabbath [see 1 Sam. 21:1–6; Matt. 12:1–14]). Warfare and pandemics can create circumstances that rise to such extraordinary times. We do not fault the weak and infirm for staying home and urge infectious people not to attend under ordinary circumstances. There are times when those same principles apply more broadly. When we have good reasons to believe that calling the church together would contribute to the rapid spread of a deadly disease, we do well to refrain from doing so. While we fully expect this disease to spread widely throughout our community either way, civil officials are presently begging us to do all we can to reduce the rate of spread so that our fragile healthcare system is not overwhelmed. Compelling evidence supports their recommendations and suggest we may be able to reduce the fatality rate dramatically if we all do our part.

What is more, there are ways for us to continue to worship God and observe the Lord’s Day in smaller-sized gatherings, at the household level for example, while honoring our governing authorities and loving one another and our neighbor as well as we know how at this time.

In light of these considerations, the session has made several decisions for the present time:

1. For the sake of the gospel and welfare of our church family and wider community, we have decided to temporarily suspend all in-person meetings at the church facility till further notice. This includes both Sunday worship services as well as all Sunday School programs, Wednesday Night Fellowship, and other midweek gatherings. We hope this measure is only necessary for a brief time, and will reevaluate each week.

2. We are not suspending worship or the work of the ministry, just meetings and gathering at the church facility. We will be recording and posting abbreviated worship services for Sunday AM and PM. (More information on this will follow soon in a separate email.) These services will include Scripture readings, prayer, and preaching. They will not include singing, but we will recommend hymns to sing at home with each service.

3. Our intention and plan is that each household in the church will be contacted by an elder and/or deacon on a weekly basis so long as we do not have Sunday worship services at the church facility. If you need anything at all, please be sure to let your elder or deacon know. Lord willing, they will be in touch with you this week so you know who your elder and deacon are and know how to contact them directly. Of course you can always contact the church office at 601-977-0774 or office@tpcjackson.org or through the website here.

In addition to these actions, we also offer the following counsel:

1. We urge you to gather the members of your household to worship God and feed your souls on Sundays by using the abbreviated services posted on the church website and other trusted resources. Just reading Scripture and praying together will be a great help and blessing.

2. We urge you to pray and keep praying through this time. Please pray for one another and for the mercy of God toward us as a church and toward our city, state, and nation. Though we cannot speculate on why God has unleashed this threat at this time, we know that all such developments are reminders of his wrath against the sinfulness of humanity in general. Self-examination and repentance are always in order and especially at times like these. Please also remember the church throughout the world as well as your own church leaders and civil leaders, who need wisdom, compassion, and courage.

3. We encourage you to be creative in reaching out to and caring for each other. If you continue to exercise hospitality in your homes, we encourage you to adhere to local, state, and federal healthcare guidelines. Please exercise great care, especially for those who are at risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19.

4. We urge you to continue supporting the work of the ministry at Trinity through this time. As you know we have not been meeting budget for some time and so far March giving is down drastically. Please do not neglect to support the work of the ministry of Trinity or the missionaries we support through Faith Promise (which is also down significantly at present). Rather, please consider giving even more generously this month than usual if you are able. You may give online, to the general fund, right now, right here!

The session will continue evaluating the situation every week, looking for ways to enhance the work of the ministry under these trying circumstances. Please pray we can reconvene public worship at our facility as soon as possible. In the meantime, the work of the ministry continues. The nomination process will proceed as announced (this Sunday is closes the nomination window) and we are working on a contingency plan for our April 5 congregational meeting.

While we all face Covid-19 together, remember that you are living in hope of the glory yet to be revealed. Christ was crucified for you. Do not let yourself be driven by a fear of death. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom. 14:9). There is no condemnation to those who believe in Jesus Christ and no reason for any who do to fear anything at all—for there is no tribulation or distress or danger that can separate us from the love of God for us in Christ Jesus our Lord—not even death itself! 

Your Servant in Christ,
Bruce Baugus
Interim Pastor