(UPDATE AS OF MARCH 22): In light of the continuing recommendations of DHEC, the CDC, and the White House, we are extending our current protocol for the remainder of March. We will re-evaluate for April as we continue to get more information.
Original protocol below:
It has been a little bit hectic over the last few days. COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has had a great impact on the way we do life over the last little while. As this pandemic sweeps the globe, we must decide how to respond. It is in times like these that the church ought to respond by being what she is commanded to always be...the light of the world. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus tells us that we, His people, are the light of the world. We are to shine light into the darkness. We are to be a beacon of hope in times of confusion. We are to show the love of Christ with our deeds in a way that is powerful, caring, righteous, and helpful. In verse 16, Jesus commands the following: "let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." There are at least 3 callings in this verse. 1. We are called to shine light to others. We must model and proclaim who Jesus is to those around us. We are to love our neighbors. Share the gospel with our neighbors. Pray for our neighbors. Seek the welfare of our neighbors. Do what is best for our neighbors. 2. We are to do good works among our neighbors. We ought to be helpful and useful. We ought to be obedient to the commands of Christ IN OUR COMMUNITY. We ought to protect the health and well-being of those around us (especially those who are more vulnerable). 3. We are called to live in such a way that it leads others to worship God. All that we say and do should point to the wonder and glory of God. People shouldn't see how we live and say how awesome we are or how awesome our church is; they should simply be blown away by how great our God is!
This is what we have been called to do, and after meeting with our deacons, I (your Pastor Mike D'Avanzo), the deacon board, and the chairman of deacons (Paul King) have agreed upon what we believe is the best way for us to be the light of the world in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Because of the rapid rate at which data is changing and coming at us, we will plan our operations on a week to week basis for the time being. At this time, WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICES WILL NOT GATHER IN PERSON BUT WILL INSTEAD BE LIVE-STREAMED ON FACEBOOK LIVE THIS WEEK (3/25 and 3/29). ALL OTHER ON CAMPUS EVENTS SUCH AS SUNDAY SCHOOL, KIDS MINISTRY, YOUTH MINISTRY, ETC. ARE CANCELED FOR THIS WEEK. We will announce the plan for the following week during the Sunday live-stream as well as through other communication methods. We believe that the best way we can be the light of the world in regard to this week's gatherings is to abide by the recommendations of DHEC, the CDC, and the President of the United States to not gathering in person. This will be a way in which we can love our neighbors by helping to "flatten the curve" of the spread of this virus and protect the vulnerable around us from becoming seriously ill. We are told that this approach will also help ease the load on the healthcare system if all of us cooperate and neglect to have group gatherings in person, but we all must do our part. We believe that the most loving thing we can do at this time is to do our part and move our gatherings to an online only format for this week. I do not like that we have to meet online instead of in person, but I am ready and willing to set that aside for this week for the health and well-being of our neighbors and to be the light of the world by loving those around us and seeking their protection.
Most of our home groups meet on a rotation of every two weeks. While these are smaller than our on-campus gatherings, our President has asked people not to gather in groups larger than 10, and these groups also tend to involve more close proximity. Therefore, we will suspend home groups for the remainder of March and revisit them in April. This is again to be the light of the world by doing our part to "flatten the curve" of the spreading of this virus.
While we are having to change the way in which we gather, we are also moved to compassion by the tremendous need in our community. We are in active communication with our school district as well as administration in our local schools to come up with a plan for how we can best help. They are preparing specific needs for us, and we will make you aware of how we can meet those needs once we have all of that information from the schools. We are also talking with other area churches with regard to how we can work together to do far more than any one of us could do alone.
We are also creating a roster of people in our church family that are at a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19. We will be periodically checking in on them, their potential needs, and the best way in which we can help.
Additionally, we encourage all of our church members to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to serve. In times like these there are tons of ways in which you can reach out to your neighbors. This could be something like cards for people in the nursing home, providing childcare for those who must work, or providing a meal for someone that cannot leave their home due to risk of infection. Especially, PRAY for those around you, our schools, children that depend on school meals, people taking a financial hit during this pandemic, our healthcare workers, our government officials, those who are at higher risk, and so much more. There are many ways in which we can be the body of Christ in motion, and we plan to do so!
I know that this is a lot of information to swallow and to process. Please know that this plan was not arrived at lightly. I have been fervently seeking the Lord in prayer since more information has been coming regarding this virus. I know our deacons have done the same. While change in the way we operate is always difficult, we greatly appreciate your cooperation and your willingness to love your neighbor by doing what it takes to play your part in keeping them safe. Make the most of the opportunities presented to you this week. Share Jesus. Show Jesus. Speak the gospel. Live out the power of the gospel. Protect the vulnerable. Help those in need. This is how we respond to a pandemic.
Anderson County, we are here for you! Good Hope Baptist, alongside other churches in our community, is here to serve and to help in your time of need in whatever way we are able.
I love you all, and I appreciate your prayers and support. We will update this plan on Sunday during our live-stream.
If you know of anyone in need, please call our church office at 864-348-6385 or email me at
Much love in Christ,
Pastor Mike D'Avanzo