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Greetings Friends and Family of Mountain View Hope,

I’d never heard the term “social distancing” before this week but my father-in-law may be right that it’s clearly going to be the term of the year in 2020. 

So much news and information is coming in rapidly about COVID-19 Coronavirus. To slow the rate of infection public health officials and government agencies in many places are recommending the postponement or cancellation of large public gatherings as well as practicing “social distancing”.  The idea behind these measures is to help slow the rate of the spread of the virus, especially among the most vulnerable populations.

I have sought input from leaders like my coach Brian, our Superintendent Curtis Ivanoff, and the Leadership Team of our church as well as others within our congregation about whether to meet for communal worship.  While the opinions were mixed, we have decided to cancel our corporate worship service both this Sunday March 15th and March 22.  (ASD has cancelled ALL facility rentals for the week of March 22 and they will let us know when our regular rentals may resume.)  We will notify you if the cancellations continue beyond these dates when that decision has been made.

This was not an easy decision as worship is central to who we are and is one of our six core values as a church.  But another value of ours is that we “seek the good of the neighborhood”.  While chances are that we could meet and not likely spread this virus, we simply cannot know for sure; and while most of the people in our demographic are young and healthy and would likely only experience mild to moderate symptoms if we were to contract the virus, we do not want to participate in the spreading of this virus to others who may not fare as well.  With that in mind, we chose the good of our neighbors. 

Let me be clear.  We are canceling these gatherings out of love and compassion for others, NOT due to fear or anxiety.

Which leads me to the next thing I want you to know.  We may not be able to “do church” on Sunday for a couple weeks, but I suspect that we will have ample opportunities to “be church” in the coming weeks - perhaps in even more meaningful ways than ever. 

We are currently trying to develop alternative ways for us to still encounter God together over the next couple weeks and I hope that you will choose to lean into that process with us.  I know that for this Sunday’s sermon, I will pare down what I had written and turn it into more of a devotional that can be shared in your home with your family.  I may still record and share a part of it in video form and post that to social media as well.

We will be inviting you more deeply into a space for sharing with one another in our Hope Cares Facebook group about what God is teaching you and how God is working in your life.  That would also be a wonderful place to share prayer requests so that we can support each other during these strenuous times.

Lastly - and perhaps most importantly - I want to remind you of our call in Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We have added a new page to our website, inviting people in need and people who would like to help, to click a link, fill out a form, and then we will do our very best to try to pair people up and demonstrate together how the body of Christ can still function amazingly well - even when we are unable to gather for “church as usual”.

It is my heartfelt prayer that God would use these unusual days to grow our faith in new ways and that we would proclaim an even stronger message to our neighbors of the love that God has for them.  I pray that each of you would be encouraged and filled with faith in God - may we all be beacons of light and life to a worried world in need of hope.

Please share this far and wide with other people in our community who may not receive these emails to make sure that everyone gets the update. The place to sign up to receive these emails is HERE.

Always feel free to reach out with any cares or concerns or questions you might have.  It is very difficult to know if we have covered all our bases and at the rate the news is coming in, things may change very quickly. 

These can be anxious times and we seek to live with grace and wisdom, trusting in God of abundant mercy and peace. 

Pastor Phil Cannon

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