In response the COVID-19 virus sweeping through our nation, the Governor of our state announced that all public schools in Arkansas will be closed for two weeks. On the heels of this announcement, the Centers for Disease Control announced that for the next eight weeks groups of more than 50 should not gather. Both our Governor and the CDC made these announcements in order to promote the well-being our communities, states, and country.
When I heard these announcements I was reminded of the command found Jeremiah 29:7 which says “Seek the peace of your city.” When we hear the word “peace” typically we think of comfort or calm or on any emotion that puts us at ease. However, in Jeremiah 29:7 “peace” could better be translated “well-being.” In light of COVID-19, it is the responsibility of every church to seek the “well-being” of our local communities. In obedience to Jeremiah 29:7, we should do everything in our power to flatten the curve of COVID-19. To do our part, the decision has been made by the staff of First Baptist Church in consultation with our Deacon Officers to cancel all on-campus groups, meetings and rehearsals for March 16-28. This closure also impacts our Child Learning Center. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 the Preschool and Daycare of our CLC will be closed. Our campus will not re-open until El Dorado Public Schools resumes on-site instruction.
Let it not be lost on us that this moment in time presents our church with unique opportunities for ministry. First, our staff has compiled a list of those within our church who are elderly or have an underlying health condition. We will divide these persons among members of our Deacon body, Stephen Ministers, and other volunteers, so that contact can occur and assistance can be offered—even if it is just prayer. If you are reading this message and need assistance, I encourage you to call our church office at 870 863-7177. At this time our office will maintain its normal schedule. Second, our staff is actively seeking ways our church can impact our community. If you know an opportunity or need within our community, please call our church office and we will do our best to meet the need.
Finally, when schedules are disrupted it does provide an opportunity for spiritual growth. We awaken from the lull of the everyday and we see the goodness and presence of God all around us. To foster spiritual growth on Wednesday, March 18 and Wednesday, March 25 at noon I will lead an online devotional that will be broadcast over Facebook Live. Additionally, on Sunday, March 22 at 10:15 AM I will lead a time of prayer and devotion. This will be broadcast over Facebook Live and broadcast over the radio on KIX 103.3.
These are uncertain times. We do not know when schedules and schools will resume. But, always remember that in even uncertain times there is someone who is always certain—GOD. As you are quarantined in your home always remember nothing can separate you from the love of God. In times like these let us cling to the promise found Romans 8:38-39.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For a few weeks we may be separated from one another, but during these few weeks always remember that NOTHING and I mean NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.
First Baptist Family, please know that your pastors love you and we are praying for you. Please let us know how our church can serve you over the next several weeks.
~Pastor Jonathan Kelley