A Message from Eddie Lowen, sent Thursday, March 12, 2020

Hello, friend. This message is from Eddie, lead guy at West Side. This Sunday, March 15, we will worship together ONLINE ONLY during three of our normal service times: 8:45, 10:10 and 11:30am.

Obviously, we are taking this step due to heightened concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Also, we desire to cooperate as much as possible with the guidance being given by local officials, who are working hard to guard the health of our community. While the orders and guidance we’ve received reflect an abundance of caution, we agree: it is wise to accept some limitations and inconveniences in the hope of stopping a virus that is dangerous for some.

Although there is much we don’t know, let me attempt to answer some questions below…

IS IT POSSIBLE WE WILL WORSHIP ONLINE-ONLY BEYOND THIS SUNDAY?
Yes, but we will make that decision week-by-week. Although some public health officials are citing a 30-day period during which large gatherings should not occur, there will likely be clarifications and adjustments to the guidance being given. Stay tuned.

ARE SMALLER WEST SIDE EVENTS ALSO CANCELLED?
All on-campus events for this Sunday are cancelled, but early next week, we will make decisions about smaller events and gatherings. Watch our social media accounts and check your email often for communication from West Side over the coming weeks.

SHOULDN’T WE TRUST GOD AND MEET TO WORSHIP ANYWAY?
While some are expressing this view, we believe decisions about our worship gatherings (during a public health crisis) are a test of our discernment, not our faith. Because thousands of people trust our guidance and gather with us each Sunday, the impact of our decisions is multiplied. Don’t misunderstand: we are not sending a frantic message intended to frighten you; rather, we are attempting to be responsible members of the Springfield community.

WITH OUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECT, COULD THIS CREATE FINANCIAL CONCERNS AT WEST SIDE?
If you and I do not utilize online giving tools and the postal service to give faithfully, of course, it could. But I have a lot of confidence that Westsiders are generous, not because we happen to be on-campus, but because we are on-mission. If you don’t currently give electronically on a schedule, can I urge you to begin now? Here’s a safe LINK by which you can do so.

SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS VIRUS AND ITS CONSEQUENCES?
You should be wise. You should practice discretion. You should be patient. You should avoid amplifying politically skewed information and accusations. But… you should also be hopeful – and you should absolutely refuse to panic, even if you contract this virus. In all things, trust God.

AREN’T WE STARTING A NEW TEACHING SERIES?
Yes, and one reason you should join us online Sunday (and invite as many folks as you can) is that God was far ahead of us as we planned: our new series is called LET IT GO. Want to guess Sunday’s teaching theme? ANXIETY. If you have friends who need encouragement about resisting worry during this crisis – or if you have neighbors and friends who can’t make it to their churches in-person, welcome them to join us online. Again, it’s TryChurchOnline.com.

Friend, I wish we were meeting in-person Sunday, but I’m not discouraged. You shouldn’t be, either. I am confident God is at work right now – drawing people to himself. The power of his Word and his Spirit will be evident as we “meet” this Sunday. Our church may not meet in-person this Sunday – but THE Church is alive and well.

My best advice to you (for however long this concern drags on) is found in Philippians 4:6. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Start your praying with thanksgiving. Pray for those infected. Pray for those gripped with fear. Pray for the families of those who have lost someone to the virus, not just here, but overseas, and even in countries that view us as enemies. Pray for those stranded while traveling abroad. Pray for the citizens of countries that lack medical resources and leaders who care about their well-being. Pray for our leaders (national, state and local).

See you online this Sunday. I am genuinely, incurably excited about this Sunday’s worship at West Side and the hope we will share!

Eddie

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