FBCO Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Response and Plan
Update 3/20/2020
FBCO will not be gathering at the facility located at 201 West Main Street for the next two Sundays (March 22 & 29). BUT, we are not cancelling church, because you can’t cancel church. Church is not a building or programmed meetings/services (though these things are truly blessings of which we are temporarily deprived). The church is us. We are salt and light wherever we are. You can’t cancel that! I can’t wait till we can gather together again, and I hope you are looking forward to that celebration.
Why are we canceling? There are many churches, even some in our community that are planning to press on with services in defiance of the request made by governmental authorities. We aren’t going to do that. We will submit to the governing authorities as we are commanded to do in scripture. I appreciate that Governor Abbot has not ordered churches to physically suspend all operations. We are still working in the office, ministering to widows, praying for people, keeping in touch with members, handing out food, and meeting needs. We are ramping up our online ministry to help people stay connected during these strange times. However, we are working within the guidelines from several levels of government suggesting that we should not gather folks at our facility at this time. Our County Judge has asked us to suspend worship services. The Olney Emergency Manager also asked us to suspend services as well. I do not believe there is Biblical warrant to rebel against their authority. I believe to do so would be sinful. I did ask if we could hold a small prayer meeting each week, and that was permitted. The prayer meeting does comply with all government requests.
Christians are trusted with many things. We are trusted with the gospel, we are trusted with the very oracles of God (the Bible), we are trusted by the community to care for children and the elderly, we are trusted to preach the truth to a lost and dying community. We are trusted and even expected to do the right thing, even by those in our community who refuse to obey Jesus. We are also trusted to be submissive to God, His Word, and by those who rule over us. Unwarranted rebellion against authority generally leads to bad and unforeseen consequences (Just ask Adam and Eve).
Those of us who lead this church are like everybody else. We all have different opinions about the severity of this virus and the threat it poses to the population. We are distressed that our normal patterns of worship and practice are being disrupted. We know this is causing a financial hardship for many of our members. More than likely it will affect giving and the church budget.
However, our opinions and concerns, though possibly valid, do not give us the right to disobey our civic leaders unless they are asking us to disobey God. They have not done that. Thus, we will comply with requests. We will trust that if we are obedient to the command’s that God has given us, we are doing the right thing. Just as your children, though they may not understand the purpose behind everything you ask them to do, can trust that when they obey you, they are obeying God- because he has made you an authority over them.
It is true that Jesus is the King of Kings, and He is not subject to any human Government. Yet, we, His people are subject to the earthly governments He has established until He comes to reign on the earth. We are blessed to have great leaders who care for us and our well being. We should thank God for them, not defy them.
This crisis will be short-lived. In the mean-time, as you are able, please continue to give toward our budget with your tithes and offerings, please continue to support local businesses, and do not hesitate to ask for help if you are in need.
FBCO will offer some special content online this week and next week to spiritually nourish you and your family.. This will be offered on Facebook and YouTube. It is our hope that we will be able to meet again as a gathered body in our physical location on April 5. However, we will continue to monitor the situation for changes.
In the meantime, use this opportunity to grow in Christ and to pray for an end to this crisis.
Romans 13, 1 Peter 2

FBCO & Coronavirus
As the Coronavirus situation unfolds, we will be constant in prayer for those who are suffering from this illness.  Your staff and deacon body are monitoring this situation and thinking about the impact it may have on our church in the weeks and months to come.

As of March 12, there are no confirmed cases in Young County, or in the surrounding counties.  Things are very unclear and uncertain at this point as to exactly how severe this illness will become.  The temptation seems to be for people to either panic or throw caution to the wind.  We don’t want to overreact or and ignore the seriousness of the disease.  The correct response to take a measured approach of precaution. 

If you want to know more about coronavirus, you should visit the Centers for Disease Control website. Naturally you should always seek medical advice from qualified medical professionals.

As your leadership, our purpose now is simply to let you know that we are thinking ahead about ways we can mitigate the spread of illness during our weekly public gatherings, and to ask for your help in a couple of ways.

First, please make an effort to wash your hands and sanitize regularly. Medical experts advise that handwashing is the best way to protect yourself and others from disease-causing microbes.

Second, please be aware of your own potential risks and health condition. If you are immunocompromised, if you are generally at a higher risk, or if you are sick, then please be prudent and take precautions.

All of us should be as helpful and understanding as possible during these interesting times. We certainly don’t want you to be worried about this. We are also not interested in unhelpful opinions, conspiracy theories, and silliness that seems to accompany things of this nature.  We should strive to be sensible. And we want you to know that we are thinking ahead and taking some easy, common-sense steps as the situation dictates.

Above all, even as we try to exercise wisdom in these circumstances, we trust in our sovereign God that He is working all things according to the counsel of His will, and that He is in absolute control. Here are some things we can do.  

1. Sanitation: We have hand sanitizing pumps located throughout the church buildings, and every restroom is equipped with soap. Please make use of soap and hand sanitizer regularly.

2. Handshaking: We will not be shaking hands at church for the time being. 

3. Children: Parents, please monitor your child’s health and temperature. If your child is sick, then please do not expose him or her to others. If church members or leaders notice your child exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath), then you may be asked to take them to the emergency room or, at the very least, home to rest and recover.

4. You: If you are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, then please do not expose yourself to others by attending the church’s public gatherings or activities. Please consider getting tested for COVID-19 by a healthcare provider, and please notify FBC Olney staff immediately if you become aware that you have contracted the COVID-19 virus.

Going Forward

At this time, we see no need to cancel any of our current activities or gatherings. As a matter of fact, there are still many good reasons to continue meeting together, just as normal. We still trust in the Lord, and we still need one another.

As new information becomes available, and as the situation unfolds, we realize the possibility that we may need to make further adjustments. We will be sure to keep you informed of our rationale and our plans.

For now, please pray for those suffering from COVID-19 and please pray for God to be merciful in containing the further spread of this virus. More than this, please pray that such a reminder of human weakness and mortality will cause many rebellious sinners to cry out to Jesus Christ.

We know that one day Christ will renew all things, doing away with all suffering and disease, but until that day, may our Master find us busily serving Him in our broken world.