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Updates On Southside’s Response To COVID-19

A Message from the Elders:

It has been several weeks since we did the survey to give you all a chance to have input into the issue of our future plans, so we wanted to get back to you and let you know about discussions that the elders and ministers have had since that time. First, we want to say thank you to everyone who participated. We received almost 200 responses, which is really fantastic. That level of engagement has been very helpful as we have continued to discuss these issues. As you can probably imagine, with that many responses, there were a wide variety of opinions. As a summary, we can tell you that most of our congregation seems to favor a cautious approach to moving away from online worship, but there are a significant number of our family who are more comfortable with risk.
After considering your responses, the input from the Medical Advisory Team, and further discussions among ourselves, the consensus of the leadership is that the wisest course right now is to continue with only online worship and classes until we see certain indications that coming together will not subject anyone to inordinate risk. We understand that if we wait until the risk is completely gone we would probably never come back together, and we're not going to do that, but right now we don't feel comfortable taking responsibility for exposing our family to the current risk levels. We are specifically going to be watching the Tarrant County figures related to total number of new cases, number of COVID-related hospitalizations, and percentage of tests that are positive. When we see a sufficient downward trend in those metrics, we will be prepared to offer some other option besides online worship.
To be completely transparent, we haven't made any final decisions yet about what that will look like. We have discussed several potential options, we are still weighing the pros and cons of each one, and we will keep you posted when we settle on more concrete plans. As much as we all wish we could snap our fingers and make things the way they used to be, it's probably going to be quite a while before 500 of us can sit side by side with each other at the same time.
There is one other thing we want to mention. There were several comments to the survey wanting to make sure that the online option would continue even after we start meeting again in person, and we want to assure you that is our plan. We have invested in the technology to stream our services, we have people who watch from across the country and across the world, and you will continue to be able to do that even after the option of meeting in person becomes available. And that's what it's going to be - an option. Even when we start to gather back together, we are never going to say anyone is obligated to be here. Each of you can make the decisions that you think is best for you and your family, and all the rest of us will respect that decision. The ability to participate virtually will continue to be available.
We hope that gives you the information you may have been looking for regarding the status of our future plans. We ask for your continued prayers as we seek wisdom from God and guidance from the Holy Spirit on how to best navigate these unusual times.

Partners in the Gospel at Southside,
We can all agree that these are strange times, but times like these are when the Church shines. Historically, crises have crippled the world but strengthened Christ's Church - during this time, we will follow Ephesians 5:16, "making the most of every opportunity" as we love and serve others as the body of Christ. In doing this, we have four key areas of focus:
1. The Plan for Worship Services & Bible Classes
2. Keeping the church together as a community
3. Taking care of the Elderly, Homebound, & Sick
4. Helping the poor of our city
Here is our plan going forward (which is subject to change as needed or instructed):

1. The Plan for Worship Services & Bible Classes

There will be no worship service or classes at the church building until further notice.

- Sunday morning worship will be available at 9:30am through Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/sscofc/live. This will include all components of worship.

- If you need supplies for communion, come by the church office Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-4:30pm. We will have pre-packaged communion emblems available at the north entrance, and you can pick up as much as you need to share communion in your house for at least the next two Sundays.

- Further information about these worship services will be shared as it comes available.

- Wednesday Night Classes will not meet this week (March 18), but beginning next week, on March 25, we will offer an interactive online class via Zoom at 6:30pm.
- Use the following link to join the Zoom class on your smartphone or laptop: https://zoom.us/j/412469151
- The Prayer Circle is going to pray together via Zoom at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings. Use this link to join the Prayer Circle on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/2996003210
- Children's Ministry Offerings will be available via Facebook Live and e-mail.
- Jana will offer a children's Bible class via Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 6pm (Starting on March 25)
- Jana will email ideas for children's lessons to use at home on Sunday mornings, as well as memory verses for children and families to utilize.

- For the Youth Ministry:

Thursday: On Thursdays at 7:00pm there will be a Zoom Bible Study class for our 6th-12th graders. This study will be led by Scott Bedichek and Jason Brewington.
Zoom link: zoom.us/j/97750849113
Sunday: Game Nights at 7:00pm for 6th-12th graders! Students and parents are encouraged to join Zoom for Jackbox games (you can play from your smartphone). Andrew Derton will be your host for the night!
Zoom Link: zoom.us/j/91026498015

2. Keeping the church together as a community

While responsibility dictates that we not be together physically, we can stay spiritually connected to the faith community through worship, prayer, and even technology.

- We encourage everyone to join the "Southside Shares" Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/sscofc - This is a space to share needs, prayer, and praise, and a way for the church to remain connected.

- You can access the church directory online with the link in the e-Bulletin - We encourage you to keep in touch with the faith community via phone, text, e-mail, Skype etc.

- Anyone can use Zoom for free to do video conferencing for small groups, Bible classes, or other meetings (up to 40 minutes in length).

- Even while the church is scattered, our financial needs remain. We encourage you to continue giving through Facebook (www.facebook.com/sscofc) or by mailing a check to the church building (2101 Hemphill St. Fort Worth, TX 76110).

3. Taking care of the Elderly, Homebound, & Sick

- The staff are working on a list of those who may be in need, or those who are unable to get out of the house. We may call on partners who are healthy to deliver needed goods or make calls to check in.

- Take a moment to look through the church directory and call someone who is older or shut-in to inquire about their needs. We can honor the need for social distancing and still check in with one another.

- Older partners in the gospel may need help connecting to services like Facebook Live and Zoom - you may offer to help someone in this way.

- Consider this perspective from Scott Sauls, a minister in Nashville: "In a time like now, Christian neighboring looks less like fearful self-preservation and more like servanthood toward the elderly, those with HIV, autoimmune disease, or no healthcare, fatigued and under-resourced healthcare workers, etc. Wash hands, for sure; then, wash feet."

4. Helping the poor of our city

- The food pantry will reopen next Tuesday with special precautions to continue serving and helping our vulnerable neighbors. Since most of the usual volunteers in this ministry are older individuals, extra help will be needed to continue feeding those in our neighborhood. Please contact us if you can help with pantry needs.

- If you are in need of groceries, please let us know so we can do our best to help.

- Explore needs in your local community, reach out to those who may be adversely affected, and seek ways to be a healing presence to our city during this chaotic time. Here are some great practical ideas for how to love your neighbor during this time: Tips for Loving Your Neighbor During Coronavirus

When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus responded, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
We never thought loving our neighbors would look like canceling services and classes, staying at home, or not shaking hands, but right now we can love our neighbors by protecting our neighbors. We are not being fearful; we are being responsible.
When the early church was unable to hold large gatherings, they met in homes, worshiped together, and cared for one another. During this time, we can live into our Christian heritage and thrive under uncertain circumstances.
"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
Southside leadership will continue to pay close attention to recommendations from the CDC, state officials, and local officials. If there are any additional things we can do to help slow down the spread of Coronavirus, we want to do it. We will communicate any future changes as soon as we know about them. Information and updates will be posted at www.sscofc.org/coronavirus
In Christian Love,
The Southside Leadership

 

A Message from Steve

It’s not a big surprise, but the Coronavirus is now here in Tarrant County. While we don’t want to be caught up in the media hype, we want to use good common sense while holding fast to our faith in dealing with this. As I mentioned in a sermon recently, the physical world and spiritual world are often connected, and we trust in Jesus as Lord over both. Given that truth, how should we navigate this outbreak of the Coronavirus in a faithful and wise way as followers of Christ at Southside? Here are a few points:

1. Don’t panic (Matthew 6:25-34) – Viruses come and go, so will this one as well. While we may be inconvenienced for a period of time because of possible exposure, eventually this virus will pass. Let’s choose not to buy into the fear and alarm that are often promoted. Jesus taught us not to worry but to seek Him first and He will take care of everything else. Let’s hold onto that.

2. Pray for the sick (James 5:15) – Still, our hearts are burdened about those that are ill. It could be that some of our own may get sick as well. Thus, we want to pray for God to heal those that are sick and for further protection against the spread of this virus. We believe that the Lord is the ultimate healer, so we want to call upon Him.

3. Care for the vulnerable (James 1:27) – So far, those that are elderly are at a little higher risk of not being able to fight off this virus. Thus, as a church, we understand if those who are elderly decide to stay home for worship gatherings for protection purposes. Sermons are logged online and available for those who are at home.

4. Be wise in interactions (Colossians 4:5) – The CDC is recommending that if you have fever or cough to stay at home and to call your primary care physician to evaluate your symptoms. These are good instructions to follow, and it is an act of grace toward others to stay home if you are sick. Washing hands, covering coughs, and disinfecting are all good practices as well. We should do our best to follow this advice.

5. Choose hope over fear (Romans 15:13) – When moments like this happen in our society, this is a time for the church to shine. The world cowers in fear and wants to stop everything, stockpile on all items, and hunker down. We will be wise, discerning, and healthy, but our faith also causes us to be bold, so we keep serving, loving, and worshiping because of our hope in Jesus Christ.

As we deal with this epidemic, we will try to stay in communication about events happening at the church. But above all, let’s pray to the Lord to use this frustrating viral outbreak as a chance for us to be a healing presence in the heart of the city. May God protect us, heal us, and use us for His glory as we deal with this virus.

Blessings,

Steve Cloer

 

We also ask that our Partners in the Gospel abide by the following practical guidelines:

  • If you have had a fever or cough within 24 hours of any gathering, please refrain from attending.
  • If you are elderly, or have pre-existing conditions or immune deficiency, avoid getting out of the house, running errands, etc. Let us know if you have a need.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Use hand sanitizer regularly as well.
  • Consider what it looks like to be a healing presence and to "love your neighbor" during this time. For some, this may mean staying home and staying healthy, for others, it may mean offering to bring groceries to an elderly neighbor or a family with a newborn baby. Extend grace with wisdom and discernment.
  • Remember, even if you do not feel strongly about the situation, there are many who do, and we should be respectful of one another, as stated in Philippians 2:3-4 - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

 

We will continue to pay close attention to the recommendations from the CDC, state officials, and local officials. If there are any additional things we can do to help slow down the spread of Coronavirus, we want to do it. We will communicate any future changes as soon as we know about them.

It is incredibly important in a time like this for us to let the facts outweigh our fear, and the reality is that, currently, the general risk remains low. We encourage you to follow common-sense precautions to protect yourself and your family, but also know that the Southside leadership is choosing to lead from a place of careful wisdom and prayerful discernment instead of fear and anxiety. We encourage you to try your best to live from that same place.

2 Responses

  1. WHAT ABOUT THE DAY OF HOPE? IS THAT STILL ON?

  2. Very well done Steve! I appreciate this so much!
    Connie

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