Tuesday, March 17, 2020

This past Sunday the Administrative Council met and discussed various concerns related to the pandemic impacting our society. We agreed to cancel all programs with the possible exception of our Sunday services. However, in the last 24 hours we have received guidance from the CDC and other important agencies to limit gatherings to no more than 10 persons. This has prompted the decision to cancel this coming Sunday’s (March 22nd) services. There is a strong probability that the following Sunday will also be cancelled, however, we will continue to monitor the situation and will report either way via email, our FUMC website (fumcbennettsville.com) and Facebook accounts.

Suffice it to say that our primary concern at this point is the safety and well-being of every member in our congregation. We must NOT endanger anyone with the possibility of this illness. As you may realize, this virus has the capability of seriously and quickly harming those who are infected.

This means that we all have some responsibility to follow and maintain the wise guidance offered by our public officials. This includes;

-avoiding large gatherings and close situations where contagion can occur

-properly washing your hands with warm water and soap (for twenty seconds or more) and using hand sanitizers when possible

-monitoring your own health in terms of flu-like symptoms and reporting any concerns to your primary physicians

-covering coughs and sneezing

-avoiding panic and instead taking time to pray-with God’s help we will get through this!

We also can utilize our technologies to check-in on one another. We need to be witnesses of Christ love to our neighbors as necessary. This requires sensitivity to the plight of others. I especially want our older congregants who live alone to be cared for and your involvement is most welcomed by reaching out through phone calls, texting or communicating in responsible ways.

The FUMC Office and Day Care Center will be officially closed until further notice, however, there will be someone present at the church through the day to receive and send messaging. We need to continue to financially support our church through our giving, tithes and offerings. This will be especially critical should we not be able to congregate for Sunday services over the next few weeks. Please mail your tithes (FUMC, PO Box 456, Bennettsville, SC 29512) or come by the church office and drop off any regular gifts that you would normally present during a Sunday service. As you realize, the bills still need to be paid and your generosity is needed. Call the church at 843-479-3231 before coming to ensure that someone will be there to properly collect any monies you might give.

A written devotional will be posted on the FUMC website (http://www.fumcbennettsville) and on Facebook as well as other communiques in place of our Sunday service. I encourage you to utilize these and other appropriate resources for your spiritual edification. I recommend making this Lenten season a time of reflection on the meaning and work of our Savior and Lord, and taking time to read your bible and pray.

In speaking with others about this present crisis, many have questioned whether or not the Lord may be using this pandemic to get our attention in this very busy and broken world.

As an illustration, this pandemic has forced an unwanted quarantine for the majority of us. In some sense, this is similar to the quarantine God placed upon humanity due to the infection and subsequent death caused by sin. We are isolated and separated from God because of our sinful condition. The bible tells us that it is sin that causes death (see Romans 6:23).  Scripture identifies Jesus as the ‘Physician’ of humanity (see Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 4:23, 5:31) and it is through the ‘vaccine’ of His blood that sin and death are nullified (Leviticus 17:11). Because of Jesus we have access to eternal life with the living God (see John 3:16)!

If you’ve taken time to look these scriptures up in your bible you have already begun a significant bible study on the meaning of Lent and Easter! I hope you will examine your spiritual life during this time and that your soul will prosper in the things of our Lord.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long message. Let’s remain positive by remembering that our Lord is sovereign over every circumstance and as His children we have the confidence of His love and grace-

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   (Romans 8:35-39)

Mark

PS-and don’t hesitate to contact me should a concern, question or need arise.

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