Tuesday, March 17, 2020
As mentioned in our first statement last week concerning COVID-19, the fluidity of the current situation our society finds itself in causes us to continue to reevaluate and reassess the schedule and activities of Ridgewood Church. In respect of the recommendation from the office of the President of the United States, the elders feel it is prudent to voluntarily heed the guidelines set forth yesterday by the administration which calls for no gatherings of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. This means that all gatherings and activities at the campus of Ridgewood Church are cancelled through the end of March. Another update and decision will be made about future gatherings on March 31 knowing that the declaration from Jefferson County of limiting gatherings to under 50 for 30 days will still be in effect.
Do know the decision to not gather for at least the next two weeks is not taken lightly and is not out of a spirit of fear “for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control (sound mind)” (2 Timothy 1:7). This decision is made prudently with informed minds, purposefully with love for our neighbors/community, and prayerfully relying on the power of God’s Spirit to guide us and see us through these days.
Unlike many churches in our country, this is not the first time Ridgewood and others in SETX have had to wrestle with decisions to cancel services and activities. Ridgewood and churches in SETX have been here before and have followed government declarations in the past in regard to evacuation orders, travel restrictions, and curfews causing churches to cancel services during Rita, Ike, Harvey, Imelda, and TPC. God has faithfully gotten us through each one of those scenarios, and He will faithfully get His people through this trial as well (cf. James 1:2-4, Romans 5:2-5).
For the next two Lord’s Day, we are asking for individuals and families to hold a time of household worship and devotion. We will send out a simple outline for all of us to participate in and to unite our hearts in faith by God’s Spirit. We also have a brochure that gives instructions on how to give electronically, so we can continue to give faithfully our tithes and offerings. This is also a good time for members to take advantage of your free subscription to Right Now Media.
We are praying for you, our community, our nation, and our world. Please be the church by checking up on other members and by making your home a hub for the Gospel for your family and neighbors. Let us know how we can minister to you during this time.
Be prayerful. Be prudent. Be purposeful.
Some helpful resources:
Episode 119: On When the Church Can’t Gather | This is a good podcast by 9Marks to listen to that addresses our current issue with biblical wisdom and sound ecclesiological theology.
Should Churches Submit to Government Demands to Shut Down Services? - LifeWay Voices |This is an article by one of our SBC Seminary professors.
Tuesday Southeast Texas COVID19 Updates: First Texas death; Orange, Jefferson Counties enact curfews for teens | This is a short video explaining the importance of flattening the curve of an epidemic by social distancing.
Friday, March 13, 2020
A lot has happened since we met last Sunday as you all are aware. Knowing that the Lord is sovereign over all things and that He guides and directs the affairs of men, the elders have decided to continue to gather as a body of believers at our normal times for both Sundays (10:50a) and Wednesdays (7p). However, we think it is best during the declared state of emergency by our government at national, state, and county levels to suspend the Sunday fellowship meal as well as the Wednesday night dinner. The schedule of Ridgewood Church meeting only for Sunday service and Wednesday Bible study without meals will continue until the health emergency is declared to be over and/or the fluid situation changes causing us to reevaluate this adjusted schedule. Also, during this time the Fellowship Hall is available for folks to hang out and fellowship if they like after the service on Sunday and before Bible study on Wednesdays.
We are also asking that each of us take into consideration the following three things during this time:
Be Prayerful | May this time of uncertainty be an igniter for all our prayer lives. Please pray for the sick affected by Covid-19 as well as all the medical personnel and responders on the front lines of this outbreak. Pray for our elected leaders. Pray for one another, our community, and for the advancement of the Gospel. This Sunday we will be joining our sister Southern Baptist Churches around the country in a called special time of prayer.
Be Prudent | We simply ask that each of us exercise prudence and discernment during this time. Listen to the advice of the medical officials and take note of the instructions of the governing authorities the Lord has put in place over us. The facilities at Ridgewood already have and will continue to be cleaned and disinfected before and after all gatherings. Another measure we will enact is that the bread for the Lord’s Supper each week will be served in an individual plastic cup just as is the wine. Let us all wash our hands and be wise and respectful in how we greet each other when we gather. We also ask that if you or someone in your household is ill, or is feeling under the weather, to please stay home and spend time in household worship. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those concerned about attending may freely choose not to gather with the body during this time. If you will be missing the main gathering on Sundays through out this time, please let us know so we can stay in contact with you and minister to you appropriately. As a reminder giving of our tithes and offerings can now be done through the Breeze Church Management phone app or by texting. Email for giving details.
Be Purposeful | Although this season might disrupt our lives a bit, our focus and commitment as a church body must remain on the Great Commission. We are to continue to be the church even amid confusion and calamity around us. Love of God, love of each other, and love of our fellow man should guide us during this time and should keep us from fear. Perfect love indeed casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Many of you might have seen the words of Martin Luther posted all over social media these last few days. They are words spoken by Luther in 1527 when the Bubonic Plague was ravishing the population and was at the doorstep of where Luther resided. His words were for those who decided to face the plague head on as well as for those who would decide to flee and run. There was not a right or wrong decision; rather, Luther admonished the believers to be purposeful for the Kingdom in whatever course they would take.
We leave you with Luther’s words:
“We must pray against every form of evil and guard against it to the best of our ability in order not to act contrary to God, as was previously explained. If it be God’s will that evil come upon us and destroy us, none of our precautions will help us. Everybody must take this to heart: first of all, if he feels bound to remain where death rages in order to serve his neighbor, let him commend himself to God and say, “Lord, I am in thy hands; thou hast kept me here; thy will be done. I am thy lowly creature. Thou canst kill me or preserve me in this pestilence in the same way as if I were in fire, water, drought, or any other danger.” If a man is free, however, and can escape, let him commend himself and say, “Lord God, I am weak and fearful. Therefore I am running away from evil and am doing what I can to protect myself against it. I am nevertheless in thy hands in this danger as in any other which might overtake me. Thy will be done. My flight alone will not succeed of itself because calamity and harm are everywhere. Moreover, the devil never sleeps. He is a murderer from the beginning [John 8:44] and tries everywhere to instigate murder and misfortune.”
We are praying for you all. Let us know how we can minister to you.