A letter to our church regarding the coronavirus

Dear Holy Cross Family, 

Your leaders at Holy Cross desire to lean into the global conversation surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. There is so much to be said, but we believe a starting place for us would be to consider how this pandemic provides the opportunity to move towards God in faith and towards others in love as we seek the welfare of our church, city, and world. In this announcement we will outline ways in which we hope to lead us all to trust God and do our part to suppress the spread of the virus in our community.

Dependency, Not Self-sufficiency

As of this writing, 9 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Arizona, 1 being right here in Pima County. 32 tests are still pending in the state. While Arizona is not facing the number of cases seen in other states, state officials do expect to see an increase in cases in our state and city. For many, the likely reaction to the growing news of its spread and severity may be best described as anxiety, fear, and worry. We know that God’s love is not a guarantee of comfort or health in this life but may it never be said that God’s people are led more by fear than faith. Worry is never our friend. Rather than worry, Jesus invites his church to trust in our Heavenly Father who knows us, loves us, and will not abandon us. (Matthew 6:33-34). We are also instructed to “…not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). 

Worry is common to us all. But let us not give into the delusion of self-sufficiency. We often think that the value of our life depends on accomplishing our plans and the ability to control our circumstances. Sickness, and the threat of sickness, is often an instrument to remind us that we are completely dependant on God with every breath. Instead of being afraid of getting sick, we should be more afraid of finding our strength in our own self-sufficiency, apart from God. God invites us to remember his assurance that he is in our midst, he knows our struggles, and is powerful enough to bring about his good plans for us.

Consider Jesus--who willingly suffered and died, diseased by our sin--was afflicted, killed, buried, and is risen. The essence of faith is not the absence of worry, but our trust in God’s ability to hold us up. Because he took our fear and triumphed over death in the resurrection we can take our anxious and worried heart to him and find comfort.

Let this be a time to bring our prayers to God, moving towards him and seeking his will and favor for our health, family, and neighbor.

Outward-focused, selfless love

Jesus’ church, historically, has been a champion for the care of the sick, hurting, and marginalized among us. 

It is too easy to forget the call to love our neighbor in times like these—leading to the practice of thinking only of the self and asking “What’s the risk to me”? Some may be of the perspective that the hype is overblown and we shouldn't adjust our lives. Either way, the spread of the coronavirus creates abundant opportunity to share the love and care of Christ in the midst of so much fear and uncertainty. Jesus stepped into our sickness, sin, and death. So, too, we are called to show compassion and selfless love to those in our community. We must not only consider our own interests but look beyond ourselves to the interests of others. This happens as we lay down our rights for the good of others.

How can we do this? One way is to be more vigilant than normal. It’s common to come to church with mild respiratory symptoms like a mild cough or congestion, especially among young children. This is usually not a big deal. It’s encouraging to see reports that young children are not as vulnerable to this disease. However, asymptomatic and mild symptoms experienced by young children may still pose a serious threat to the most vulnerable—people over 60, those with lung and/or heart disease, pregnant women, young infants, and medically fragile people. A way to love your neighbor (and practical public-health wisdom) is to be more attentive and vigilant if you, or a member of your family, are experiencing even mild respiratory symptoms—and to stay home if that’s the case.

Practical measures

As with most things, there is both a pastoral and practical response. We encourage all to review our long-standing “well-child” policy at Holy Cross, found below. We encourage adults to also abide by this same policy.

Well-Child Policy

This states that if your child has experienced an illness or symptoms related to a contagious illness within the past 24 hours then they should avoid coming to worship and other church-related gatherings. These symptoms may include: 

  • Fever
  • Persistent cough
  • Runny nose
  • Pink eye
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme irritability or exhaustion
  • Or any others symptoms related to any contagious illness

We are also increasing the frequency of our cleaning and sanitizing of the toys and surfaces in our kids' rooms and common areas. Cleanings will now happen between and after worship services. Appropriate items will be laundered and items that cannot be cleaned will be removed from the classrooms for the time-being.

We encourage you to utilize the resources available to us all. Consider the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which include suggestions for practical hygiene. 

For now, all events are going on as planned. We will continue to evaluate current preparations for all ministry activities as a way to limit or suppress the spread of the virus. We will continue to be advised by health-care professionals within our church and keep a close watch on the progress and spread of the disease in our city. Any changes to our normal church activities will be communicated via email and posted on our website. If you’d like to get our email updates, please sign up here. 

*UPDATE*

The following temporary adjustments to our worship services will go into effect starting March 15, 2020.

Our elders & deacons are ready to care for your spiritual needs and alleviate any physical burdens as best as we are able.

And finally—take heart. Remain prayerful for those affected by this pandemic, healthcare professionals, local and government officials around the world, and others stewarding their gifts to aid in the welfare of others. Because of Jesus' Lordship over all creation and his love for his church, these things are certain: The bad things will not last. God’s good will never be taken from us. And the best things are always yet to come.

In Christ’s gracious care,

-Pastor Pete & the Elders of Holy Cross