Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Many churches have reluctantly closed their doors to congregants for the moment as COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe through close personal contact.

It is an action that can draw criticism. Some say that it throws a shadow of doubt over their professions of faith in a higher power that protects them. If people truly believe, some challenge, they shouldn’t be afraid to congregate. Not meeting, some say, is playing into the hands of evil forces.

But the faithful have answers to that. Over at Rivertown Community Church, leadership has prepared a few statements that their congregation members can consider pulling from when confronted by such suggestions.

“If someone asks why your church chose to respond to this health crisis by not meeting in our buildings, here’s my response,” wrote Senior Pastor Paul Smith. “We are loving our neighbors by protecting our neighbors. We are not being fearful. We are being responsible. This is what love requires of us in this season. This is what love requires of us in this season.”

RCC’s Kevin Yoder echoes those words. “We’ve asked ourselves, what does love require of us?” he said.

“It’s that we not contribute to the spread of this disease.”

Yoder said the technology is a great tool in that challenge. Using it provides one more way to touch the soul. Handshakes, hugs and face-to-face contact are great, he acknowledged. But there’s more than one way to reach out.

Instead of gathering for services, RCC has a team of worship leaders conducting those without its congregation present, and is live-streaming those on Facebook and its website on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. And the small-group study sessions that are usually held at someone’s home on Wednesday nights have temporarily ceased. Instead, the church has started offering an “on-line experience” at 6 p.m. with singing and a message that people can plug into on Facebook and the church website,

Yoder added that the core people conducting those services work together in observance of the distance guidelines and other protocols that are recommended and required to help prevent the spread of the virus.

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