For the past week or so, our elders have been informing themselves about the Covid-19 virus and listening to recommendations from the various local and national health agencies. (It helps that one of our number works in the administration of the Kansas City Veteran's Affairs hospital and so is on the "front line" of this issue.)
Each of us has been wrestling within our own minds as to the best course of action, and we've had amicable discussions among ourselves as to the relevant issues and different approaches to take.
None of us want to behave like "lemmings" and engage in behavior fed by fear and hype rather than prayer and facts.
Epidemics tend to follow something of a bell curve, starting with "patient zero," then spreading through the population infecting more and more. It eventually reaches a "peak" in terms of the number of people infected as well as the number of fatalities, then it begins to taper off (not stop, but slow down in terms of spreading). But what happens if a virus spreads more rapidly than a community's health infrastructure can handle? (Think available hospital beds, respirators, medicines, etc. Liberty hospital has 226 beds, most of which are already occupied by people with other health issues.)
Drawing on a lesson from the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic, health authorities have been pleading with people to practice "social distance" (about 4 feet from the next person) and avoid gathering in relatively large groups (most of the declarations of emergency ban groups of 250 or more). The purpose of these practices is to "flatten out the curve"--slow the spread of the virus so that the "peak" comes later in the cycle and is not as intense. This is so that infected people don't overwhelm the hospital system and also buys time for researchers to find a potential response to the virus itself.
In a communal setting such as our church gatherings, where there is hugging, hand-shaking, public restrooms, drinking fountains, doorknobs and hundreds of hands young and old touching everything and everyone, a virus can have a field day. Counseling basic preventive hygiene is essential.
At the end of the day, each congregation's leadership must decide for themselves how best to be a "good citizen" and respond to the requests and concerns of the health departments. Some of our sister congregations canceled services today, others did not, still others went to modified services.
After much discussion, the Liberty elders made the decision to cancel all classes and assemblies at the building until further notice. For those with access to Facebook, sermons will be streamed. facebook.com/LibertyMOChurchOfChrist
And Wednesday Bible classes will be uploaded to our YouTube channel. Please also take advantage of the daily devotionals Carl Jenkins works hard on and sends out every weekday.
With schools and other business and entertainment venues closing, perhaps now is the perfect time to "binge" on quality time with your family: devotionals, marathon Monopoly games, etc. Phones still work. Call your brothers and sisters in Christ and check up on them, see if they need anything.
May God bless and watch over each and every one of you and give you peace.