Eric Youngblood: Why Rock Creek Fellowship Is Reluctantly Canceling Services

Friday, March 13, 2020

Rock Creek Fellowship is canceling its services at both the Hinkle and the Durham campuses on Sunday due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Pastor Eric Youngblood wrote:

Friday Greetings Rock Creek Fellowship,

 

Here, at last, is the correspondence I promised you via text earlier today.

I’m awfully sorry it’s so late in arriving.

Today has been an exhausting whirlwind, filled with myriad conversations, texts, email and essays as I deliberated with our session, pastors from around town and other parts of the country, and even receiving some medical input.

All this while our son and I drove 8 hours back from Charlottesville where we’d gone yesterday afternoon to get his books and such as he readies to begin online learning next week as many of your children will soon be doing.

 

If you’ve been around Rock Creek at all, you will have heard me recite that lovely adage by Archbishop William Temple where he insists “the church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”

 

It is precisely that sentiment that has compelled us as a session at Rock Creek Fellowship to make a decision that none of us wanted to make, but which we have increasingly come to believe we couldn’t fail to make, namely that we will be reluctantly cancelling all worship services and church activities at RCF Lula Lake and Durham this coming Sunday, March 15, 2020.

 

Of course we realize that there may be other Sundays where this will prove necessary as well, but we will deliberate about that next week as we learn more and see what materializes. As you realize, so much is changing so swiftly. 

 

Giving Up for the Protection and Gain of Others

I’d like to assure you that we are not making this decision flippantly, lightly, or out of fear. 

 

Quite to the contrary, we make the decision motivated by love---for the members of our one-anothering community of course, but also for our non-members--on this mountain, in our city, and in our country. 

 

It will be a loss, and significant deprivation for all of us to give up the needful, nourishing joy and shelter of togetherness we experience in public worship where our Lord meets with us. But it is a loss we are willing to sustain for a time, for the gain of being able to care for those who are in the orbit of care, attention, and even acquaintance with all of us, most especially the immunosuppressed, those with chronic conditions, and the aged, who are disproportionately vulnerable to the most dire impacts from this dread virus rapidly making its rounds. 

 

You all read the news. Or listen to it. 

 

Given the unknown nature of so much of this, we have decided to err on the side of caution for the sake of protective love and a careful valuing of life that God calls us to adore and guard. And in so doing, we are deferring to the judgment of those with expertise in these matters. It seems clear that the one of the easiest way to ameliorate the rapid spread of this virus is to curtail the gathering of large groups. 

 

For example, one computational biologist, and Christian, Patrick O’Neill working with New England Complex Systems to fight the OVID-19 pandemic has suggested that at this point:

 

“Given what we know about this outbreak, any large gathering of even apparently healthy people still constitutes a grave public health risk. Already we are approaching the point where there is a non-negligible probability (about 7 percent, according to my estimates, and rapidly rising) that any gathering of 100 people will involve at least one person infected with Covid-19. Therefore, I argue, it is not enough that attendance at large public gatherings be made morally optional; there is a moral duty to avoid even holding large public gatherings whenever possible.”

 

 

So we won’t be gathering for now out of care for our most susceptible neighbors and in prayerful hope that the world whose ruin our Lord Jesus has propped himself up against will be benefitted as we do our part not to unnecessarily (if unwittingly) spread the virus.

 

Scott Sauls has reminded that:

 

“Because the Everlasting God and Savior is our peace, we have a resource that enables us to say “no” to our fears and “yes” to trusting God and loving our neighbors. Whatever external threats may loom, those threats for the believer are temporal. Indeed, our long term worst-case scenario, according to Scripture, is resurrection from the dead and everlasting life. With this future having been secured for us at the cost of Jesus’ life, we are now free to serve others, even at the potential risk of our own.”

 

We will be in touch with more information and with suggestions for what we intend to do in the meantime. And of course there will be a number of opportunities in the coming days for us to serve our neighbors in various ways. 

 

Let us be active in prayer, hope and service.

 

Thank you. It is a privilege to be church with you all.

 

Warmly, 

 

Pastor Eric for the Session at Rock Creek Fellowship

 


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