Hey Church Family

I hope you’re having a good day! It’s been a few weeks since my last update and some major things have changed since we last spoke via email/blog post.

First, our third born child, Briggs Wendell Terry, was born November 5th near the end of the day. I have so much to say about this experience but it’s probably better said “offline.” It was a humbling and inspiring experience.

After enjoying that newborn baby for a few days, I ended up testing positive for COVID-19. (I felt symptoms on Friday November 12th and tested positive the following Saturday) Talk about a bummer!

In light of those events, Taylor ended up covering the pulpit last weekend and did an awesome job. (check out his message here!)  We also decided to cancel our Thanksgiving service and meal. It was the wise thing to do given my personal case and the overall COVID spike in the Big Country.

That brings us to today. As of yesterday, the COVID spike in Abilene reached a point that our healthcare professionals at Hendrick Medical Center made a plea that we partner together in slowing the spread in the Big Country. In the letter they made several requests.

As a result of that, I wanted to write this update and encourage us to do what we can to bless our city in this season. You can watch the video version of this update below.

Pastor Wes gives a video update about the COVID spike in Abilene.

In Person Gatherings

If you read the letter produced by Hendricks, they make several requests in light of our current situation. As it stands now, the exponential increase of COVID cases has eaten up most of our available medical resources. If the current rate of increase keeps up, economic shutdowns and similar drastic measures will be our only viable path moving forward.

The recommendation, then, is to voluntarily make some serious sacrifices now to stave off more drastic intervention later.

What are those sacrifices?

  • A mask mandate (unless you are outdoors and at a minimum 6 foot distance) .
  • The cancellation of non-essential activities/gatherings. (10 or more people)
  • Going virtual insofar as it is a possibility.

As Christians, we want to be a light for Christ in our community. Part of our vision is to be a blessing to our city. When there is a call to action by leaders in our community, we want to be attentive and sensitive to their requests.

Though this is not our city government nor a State sanctioned request, it is a serious one signed by various important leaders in our city. Many churches have also agreed together to refrain from “in person” gatherings for the next two weeks.

How Will We Respond? 

As for this weekend, we will not be cancelling any of our in-person worship gatherings. We will not be meeting for mid-week gatherings this next week due to the Thanksgiving break. As for next weekend, we are yet undecided. We will continue monitoring the situation and remaining sensitive to the input we receive.

We will be emphasizing and encouraging the use of masks when distancing cannot be achieved. Our volunteers will be masked at all times in preschool and children environments. If you’re inside and with a group that cannot distance then you should keep your mask on the entire time. If you don’t have a mask there are some available at each entrance. We should make every effort to honor the requests being made by our healthcare professionals.

As usual, we will make all three of our worship gatherings available ONLINE via our Facebook, YouTube, Church App or website.

That being said, the gathering of the church is an essential gathering. For this weekend, we will continue to host that gathering “in person” in addition to our virtual options.

The reason we have decided to keep our in person gatherings is not because we think other churches who shut down are wrong in their decision-making. Every church is unique. What makes sense for one doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense for everyone.

As of yet, our in person gatherings have not been linked to the spread of a positive case of COVID-19. To my knowledge, no church in the city of Abilene has been linked to such a case. Given our current set up, our in person attendance patterns and the policies and procedures we’ve employed since COVID, I believe we are able to safely conduct in person services for those who wish to attend.

Be wise and practice discernment! 

Given the spike in COVID-19, I do think it is WISE for people who are high risk to stay home and worship with us online. I will be worshipping from home this weekend given the level of risk I now pose to others. But not everybody shares the same set of circumstances. My personal circumstances will be different next weekend. Yours may change as well.

We need to be wise and practice discernment on what’s best moving forward. The best person to make a decision for what is wise for you and your family is YOU and YOUR FAMILY. So please put some thought and consideration into what you decide to do.

There are some who’ve gotten the virus and recovered. They are not at high risk to worship in person. There are some who are younger in age and lower in risk when it comes to serious complications from COVID-19. It would not be unwise for you to worship in person.

Some in our church family are uniquely susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19. Others in our church family live in close proximity to those individuals. It is unwise to expose yourself to that level of risk, especially when there are other alternatives available!

Given the spike in our city and the reasonable requests made by our healthcare professionals, many of you should probably choose to stay home. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”(1 Corinthians 10:23)

Closing Thoughts

I know some of you will read this and say, “Why don’t you just apply that common sense and cancel services all together? Just because we can doesn’t mean we should, right?” For those who feel that way, I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve heard you loud and clear.

This is not an easy decision. There are no easy decisions when it comes to these kinds of questions. I’m not even 100% certain this is the right decision. But I am confident this approach gives everyone the freedom to make a WISE decision for you and your family.

Like I said, we are keeping our minds open moving forward. But this is where we are at for right now.

In this season, we must learn to deal graciously with one another. We must learn to love one another even when and as we disagree with one another. What a wonderful opportunity for us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please continue to pray for those who are battling this disease. Pray for our healthcare workers and all of those on the front lines fighting this pandemic. If you know somebody in that position, now is the time to send them an encouraging word and let them know of your prayerful support.

Also please continue praying for the staff and other leaders in our church. Thank you so much for praying for me and my family. So far Audra and the kids have stayed healthy and I’m so thankful to God for that. If there’s any way I can pray for you please let me know.

We will get through this and God is in control!

Until He Comes,

Pastor Wes

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