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April 16, 2020

A Pastoral Word. . .

By Rev. Mark Adams

April 16, 2020
I can imagine what History books will say about these difficult days:
“There was a global pandemic caused by a virus. The number of infected people grew daily. Officials recommended frequent hand-washing and quarantining of the sick.  

Several cities went so far as to ban public worship services and other public gatherings! In the end, the pandemic killed 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans.”  


Actually, history books ALREADY say this, but not about the current pandemic. No, these sentences describe what is commonly known as the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

Chris Gehrz, a history professor at Bethel University, recently wrote about how churches and church leaders responded to that 1918 pandemic, as reported by local newspapers:
“Some pastors were creative and lead outdoor services, encouraged home worship and even reading sermons published in newspapers.  

An interim pastor in San Francisco preached that many Christians had caused the pandemic as a result of being ‘cowardly’ and ‘worldly’ and only repentance of these sins would stop the spread of the virus.

At the other spectrum, A Methodist leader wrote that ‘… the pandemic should convince “Intelligent Christians” to trust science rather than seeking to “tempt God to perform a miracle in the preservation of our health.”’

Some pastors refused to close their doors, held services in protest, and in at least one city a pastor was arrested for refusing to cancel services.

The Daily Telegram, of Worchester, Massachusetts, reported on how Christians were responding. Women from three local churches were taking care of “epidemic orphans.” They not only gave food and clothing, but ‘[supplied] them with plenty of healthful recreation and a little systematized instruction, too.’” 


I’m so thankful to hear how YOU are responding to the current pandemic.
  • I’ve heard numerous reports of church members calling to check on each other. 
  • Many have brought groceries to our elderly members to keep them from having to venture out into the potentially virus-laden public. 
  • Several of our Grace Groups started studying the Bible via Zoom, without even being urged to do so by staff. 
  • Many more people are “tuning in” for Wednesday Prayer Meeting than ever came physically. And they’re not just logging on, they are praying for one another sincerely and from the heart. 
  • Worship attendance has not lagged -- and considering the fact that many have lost jobs -- our giving is pretty good. 

Keep up the great work Redland. This too will pass. And when it does, let’s be proud of what the history books say about how WE responded!
 
Keep the SON in your eyes!
Mark
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