After much prayer, discussion, and consultation, we the Elders of Faithful Stones Church in Buffalo, New York, make this public statement on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for the church and the community. Throughout Scripture, God has instructed his people to live lives free from fear and to trust wholly in his sovereign decree. Let it be known plain and clear that we are in no way fearful of this virus. God is completely sovereign over these circumstances, and although we lack total control over the spread of COVID-19, we look to our Sovereign Creator, who is in complete control. He is the One who foresaw this virus before the foundation of the world. God knows who will or will not be infected. God indeed knows the eternal outcome of everyone and everything.
While trusting in Almighty God, we also desire to be wise and cautious as we take seriously the ramifications of an outbreak of such a virus. While trusting God, we also desire to love our neighbors. As Elders, we have been given a great honor and significant duty to shepherd the flock God has provided us. We recognize that shepherds have the responsibility of caring for their sheep spiritually as well as physically. There is a challenging balance to that charge in times like this.
We believe during the time of this pandemic as well as all other seasons, it is good, right, godly, and so important to remain open and function in the way that God designed his church, appropriately representing his kingdom. In a time of fear and panic, we desire to maintain as much normalcy as we possibly can. We praise God for protection over our city and state. To our knowledge, our church body is in no immediate threat, and so long as that is the case, we intend to continue to meet with some added precautionary procedures. We as Elders feel that is our duty before God to make this decision, separate from the State. As of now, we have in no way been mandated to cease from gathering, but if we were, our stance is that it is not their role to make that decision for us. We are aware of faithful Pastors across the nation that have made the decision to cease gathering for worship for a time in order to prevent further spread of this virus. That is their decision to make for their congregations. Our position is in no way a condemnation on these Brothers. If at any point we felt our congregation was at risk, we would re-evaluate our response. This is something that we are actively monitoring, but as for now we desire to function as normal, with the following precautions:
1) We ask that if you are feeling sick in any way that you love your neighbor and stay home from church.
2) For those that attend service, we ask that you come before the Lord and his people without fear or worry.
3) We will be taking precautionary measures for communion and the collecting of tithes and offerings, which will be explained at those times.
4) If you feel that you may have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone that has, please get tested.
We intend to be the hospital for the sin sick souls. A city on hill for the community to run into for refuge. We believe as the scripture says, The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Now is the time for reformation and repentance. Now is the time to lead calmly and peaceably, not fearing the virus, and trusting wholly in God. Now is the time to exhibit love for God and love for neighbor through our daily lives, attitudes, behaviors, and activities. Now is the time for the Gospel to go forth and to build Christ’s Kingdom one soul at a time.
Mark Hamilton, Curtis Hamilton, and Cyrus Hines
Elders of Faithful Stones Church, Buffalo, NY
This statement has been drafted by the Elders of Apologia Church and we, the Elders of Faithful Stones Church, align and agree and therefore, adopt.