The responsible brothers in the church in Philadelphia have been prayerfully monitoring the developments related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). There are a growing number of confirmed cases in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs. During this time our responsibility is to pray and stand for the Lord’s interests (Eph. 6:10-20), to watchfully shepherd the flock of God (Acts 20:28), to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), and to cooperate with governmental authorities (Romans 13:1).
As the health situation in the community continues to evolve, we need to seek the Lord’s mind and ways to match Him in His care for all the saints. Following guidance from local authorities and the pattern of other churches that have been affected by COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel the Lord’s day meeting, the Wednesday night (district 1) and Tuesday night (district 2) prayer meetings for the next 2 weeks.
While the risk of being infected remains relatively low and the vast majority infected will have mild symptoms, those who are older and those with chronic medical conditions are more vulnerable and can have more severe symptoms. In order to contain the spread of the virus, public health officials have issued warnings and directives to educate people about the coronavirus and instruct people how to practice good hygiene to lower the possibility of contracting the disease. In accordance with the recommendations by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), many business and professional organizations have instructed their employees to work from home and sizeable live public events and gatherings across the country are suspended. Many universities and schools have suspended in-person classes and those who have travelled abroad or who may have been exposed have been asked to self-quarantine for 2 weeks regardless of symptoms.
In these days of world uncertainty, we need to pray desperately for the Lord’s will and interest to be carried out on earth, especially in America, and not be gripped by anxiety and fear over the environmental circumstances. Let us put on the helmet of salvation to quench the fiery darts of threat and fear from the enemy aimed at our mind. Let us take the sword of the Spirit to pray for the saints. Let us trust and remain in the Lord who is our real peace, safety, and protection. He is the Sovereign One sitting on the throne.
As believers, we are a people who meet together, and we will continue to do so until the Lord returns (Heb. 10:24-25). Yet we must exercise foresight before both God and man for what is honorable not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men (2 Cor. 8:21).
While we will not be gathering together in the meeting hall, we should not be discouraged nor hindered in our fellowship. We should take this as an opportunity for more intimate fellowship in smaller groups of 2s and 3s and to contact one another via phone or video chat.
In addition, please review the following general guidelines related to COVID-19:
1. If you are over 65 years old or have any chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, liver disease), you should strongly consider remaining at home and minimizing your contact with others. We encourage these saints to actively remain in fellowship through phone or video.
2. If you are experiencing fever or shortness of breath, please see a doctor as soon as possible.
3. If you have recently traveled to an area that has a high prevalence of COVID-19, or if you have recently been in contact with anyone who has traveled to a high-risk area or has a confirmed case of COVID-19, please self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. As of today, the CDC has classified these countries as high risk (Level 3) – most of Europe, China, Iran, and South Korea. For more information, please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
4. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please notify a local leading brother.
5. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with others, particularly with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash and wash your hands. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
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The responsible brothers in Philadelphia