March 13, 2020

To our FCC Church Family,

As you are undoubtedly aware, the situation in our country with the spread of the respiratory disease known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to evolve, with new developments daily. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the immediate health risk from Coronavirus Disease 2019 for the general American public is considered low at this time. The latest information for Kansas indicates that there have been five confirmed cases of individuals with COVID-19 in the state: four in Johnson County, who contracted the disease elsewhere, and one in Wyandotte county, who was infected while in the nursing home where he was staying. The latter individual died after contracting the disease, though he also had other serious health issues. Our church leadership and staff are doing our best to stay abreast of developments and to consider carefully how we should respond.

First, it is important that we do not give in to anxiety, fear, or panic. In times of calamity, the church of Jesus Christ has a unique opportunity to share our faith. We are followers of Jesus Christ, who promised us that he would never leave us or forsake us. He promised that though we would face difficulties in this life, we could be more than conquerors because he has already overcome our greatest enemy–death itself. He has promised us eternal life through his resurrection, so we need not fear anything that we face in this life. When people around us are panicking, we can offer them a hope that is more than an illusion.

Second, it is equally important that we do not resort to presumption or recklessness. Prudence and faith are neither opposites nor enemies. We always want to be sensitive to the needs of those around us, particularly those who are vulnerable or have greater risk of exposure, especially to anything that is potentially life-threatening. So, we are encouraging everyone to take some simple but effective precautions at home and when gathering together at church (or elsewhere). The CDC recommends the following safeguards as the most effective precautions for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 and any other contagions, such as the flu.
(1) Wash your hands with soap and water often, or use a hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol).
(2) Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
(3) Clean and disinfect ‘high-touch’ surfaces frequently.
(4) Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
(5) Stay home if you are sick.

***If you are experiencing any respiratory illness symptoms, fever, cough, runny nose, sorethroat, body aches, shortness of breath, or known exposure to Coronavirus, do not come to church. If possible, do not go out in public. Instead, call your personal healthcare provider and discuss your symptoms with them over the phone. They will direct you at that time.

We will also be making some adjustments in our worship services that health authorities are recommending to aid in the containment of this pandemic. Here are the main changes we will implement immediately:
• When greeting one another, we will avoid handshakes and hugs in favor of other gestures (fist/elbow bumps, waves, smiles).
• Instead of passing communion plates, servers wearing sanitary gloves will be standing at prayer stations in the corners of the sanctuary with the elements, and will hand the bread and cup to worshipers. Those who are unable to walk to the corners will be served in the same manner.
• Instead of passing the offering plates, we ask that you place your offering in the plates at the prayer stations when you take communion, or at the rear of the sanctuary when you leave.
• We also encourage you to make use of the hand sanitizer that is available in various places throughout the building, such as the welcome center.

Finally, please remember that we are first and foremost called to be disciples of Jesus and commanded to love and serve one another rather than seeking to have our own preferences fulfilled. If we can have grace toward one another and faith in the one who promised to be our healer and provider, we can smile in the face of this present challenge with genuine joy.

Our church website will have regular updates with information as it affects our church. For the latest updates on the status of the pandemic, we recommend that you consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Because of Jesus (in spite of the pandemic),

Pastor Barry and the FCC Elders

First Christian Church website

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

You may also want to view these informational videos from the CDC: