To the Family of Hope!
In my letter last week, I called this one of the most challenging moments of time we have experienced as a church family under my leadership. I think it’s safe to say this is the most challenging time in the history of our 148 year old church, with the exception of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 that resulted in 675,000 deaths.
We have watched leagues suspend and cancel seasons, mayors order their cities to shut down, while a governor ordered the residents of his state to self-quarantine. At the time of my writing last week 1900 people had been infected and 41 people had died in the United States. At the time of my writing today 15,905 people in our country have tested positive for COVID-19 and 208 people have died. In addition, we are now experiencing the arrival of an economic tsunami that is minimally driving our economy into a recession. The stock market is recording record losses and as of today 2.25 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. Workers struggle to make ends meet as layoffs and furloughs surge, especially those in the hospitality and service industry. These numbers are growing every minute and we must do what we can to combat this virus. These are challenging times that will push us to discern how to best encourage and express our faith.
After spending much time in prayer, listening to health experts and looking at how we can practice social distancing and still experience spiritual connectivity, we have decided to have corporate worship this Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 8 & 10 AM. This decision was made because we believe, for some, an exercising of faith in this way is as essential an act for their spiritual, mental and emotional well-being as anything else. We will have our corporate service with the following guidelines in place.
First, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND PERSONAL HYGIENE PRACTICES MUST BE ADHERED TO. We’re asking you to liberally wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizers and maintain social distancing by greeting each other by waving from minimally 6 feet away and/or touching your heart to express your love for one another.
Second, we’re encouraging anyone who has symptoms, is part of an identified high risk group or just feels more comfortable staying home to JOIN US IN WORSHIP VIA STREAMING. The high risk groups who should stay home include seniors, those who are suffering with respiratory illnesses, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. The Center for Disease Control has reported that the older you are and the more high risk boxes you check off, the more susceptible you are to being infected with the virus. Additionally, we are seeing new evidence that millennials are also contracting the disease at a higher rate than previously thought, so if in doubt we encourage you to err on the side of caution, stay home and stream. You can access the streaming portal on our church website (www.goodhope.org), through our I AM Hope app and on Facebook.
Third, all non-essential church activities are suspended indefinitely. The only ministry activity that will continue uninterrupted is OUR WEEKLY FOOD PANTRY, WHICH IS OPEN EVERY WEDNESDAY FROM 2-5 PM. We served 110 families this past Wednesday, with our volunteers adequately protected. If you have any questions about volunteering or other ministry events or activities call your team ministry leader.
Fourth, if you are a member and in need of physical assistance (food, supplies, etc.) please call our Director of Membership, Rev. Bell, for assistance. His number is 832-217-3251.
Fifth, this is a time of growing stress and anxiety. Some of you are in the Cycle of Grief, not understanding why you’re experiencing the wide range of emotions you are going through. If you need counseling or want to talk to someone you can call our Director of Maturity and the Lead Servant of our Counseling Ministry, Rev. Rose, at 832-217-3274.
Sixth, if you have any questions about what to do to limit your exposure to COVID-19 please go to www.cdc.gov for answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Finally, if you believe you have symptoms you are encouraged to self-quarantine and, if necessary, call your primary care physician. TESTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN THE HOUSTON METRO AREA for those who are showing symptoms. Some tests can be billed to your insurance, while some are being offered for free or are priced on a sliding scale. If you have symptoms and do not have insurance or a primary care physician, you can call the Legacy Community Health Clinic (832-548-5100) or the Houston Corona Virus Call Center (832-393-4220) to get more information
We want to do our part to be responsible during this time of chaos and confusion by remaining calm and confident in The LORD. Because this situation is fluid and ever evolving, we will make follow-up determinations each week.
At times like these we need to pray, encourage and love one another. We will continue to pray and seek wisdom from God as we ask Him to lead and guide us during these trying times. We know that man shall not live by bread alone, and we want to do our part to encourage the faith of people in need of a Word from The LORD. Let’s do all we can to remain spiritually connected while we are socially distanced. We will keep the faith, stay strong and trust God to bring us through these challenging times. He’s done it before and He’s still doing it today.
LOVE to The Family,
Pastor D. Z. Cofield