Dear FCCW Family,
You are in our prayers every day even more now than normally. We take the privilege and responsibility of shepherding you seriously and have been in prayerful discussion together about our response to the Corona virus outbreak.
As a result we are temporarily suspending our Sunday morning and evening services and all other in-person gatherings. The morning service will be live-streamed at fccw.net/livestream.
We are also exploring other ways to get you resources for our spiritual nurture together as a church family. Please allow us to explain our biblical reasoning for this extreme measure.
First, our gathering on Sunday mornings to worship Christ as our King and Redeemer together is an essential, necessary activity of God’s people. God commands His people to keep His Sabbath holy and to not neglect meeting together in worship (Exodus 20:8-11; Hebrews 10:25). This is a sacred and indispensable duty and joy for all who claim to follow Jesus.
Second, we are commanded to love one another. It is possible to do good things, even morally necessary things, in ways that are still disobedient to Christ. The most common example of this type of dishonoring behavior is engaging in religious ritual with a loveless heart (Matthew 6:1-5; 23:1-12; Luke 10:25-37; 18:9-14). We find this expressed most pointedly in John’s epistle: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)
As we wrestled with the US Department of Health recommended practices and submitting to the governor and president’s mandates to discontinue public meetings (Romans 13:1-7), our responsibility to love one another and our neighbors through not risking infecting them with a life-threatening illness weighed heavily in our thinking. Yet, doesn’t the eternal command to not forsake our gathering together in worship take priority?
There is an instructive example in Second Chronicles chapter 30. King Hezekiah was leading God’s people in restoring the temple and reforming its worship. It becomes clear that the people have neglected observing Passover (the Old Covenant corollary to the Lord’s Supper). He doesn’t just dismiss it, but rightly works with the people and delays the feast so that they can all participate. While God commanded that it be observed in the first month (Exodus 12:2; Deuteronomy 16:1-8), Hezekiah made use of the allowances made for the unclean (Numbers 9:9-13) and applied them to the whole assembly so that they could gather together to worship God in the second month.
Why does this matter? We are a people bound to the Scriptures. We are not just free to do as we please. This is especially the case in regard to our gathered worship of Jesus on the Lord’s Day. It is our highest and holiest calling. It may not be set aside on a whim or even to avoid great danger. Our people have gathered for Lord’s Day worship at the risk of their lives for millennia. If it were just the threat of our own deaths, we would gladly gather no matter who told us not to do so. But because we risk taking part in harming or even killing others, we will yield to the authorities and suspend in-person gatherings for a time. FCCW will provide on-line services, not as a long-term substitute for gathering together, but as an emergency measure to demonstrate our love for God, one another, and our neighbors.
We hope that this Sunday at 10:30 am all of you who are able to do so will gather around your computer and take part in worshiping our King and Savior Jesus Christ together even while apart in person. Our prayerful plan is to resume in-person activities on Resurrection Sunday (April 12th) with a morning service, but that will depend on if we believe we can do so without unnecessarily placing our neighbors at risk. Additional information will be forthcoming and, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us with your questions or concerns. We will continue praying for you.
In Christ’s Love,
Your FCCW Elders