Dear Soma Church Family,
With the rapidly changing COVID-19/Coronavirus situation, we wanted to make you aware of the precautionary measures we are implementing. At Soma, we are mindful of the current concerns and want to assure you that we are taking the health and well-being of our church family and our community seriously.
Through much prayer and talking with area pastors/officials, we are going to take it week by week. For this week **WE WILL BE MEETING** at a modified worship time of 10:00am. This is in response to Lincoln University’s decision to “extend” the students spring break given that they make up approximately 1/3 of our congregation. We will be learning what God’s Word says about the hope we have in the midst of crisis while continuing our Journey through the Life of Joseph.
We do NOT want to operate out of fear, but at the same time, we DO want to exercise wisdom. We’ll be taking the following steps to help keep everyone healthy.
Here are some measures we will temporarily implement:
- Reminders to wash and sanitize our hands: We ask everyone in our congregation to be diligent in washing their hands, and if available, utilize personal hand-sanitizer. SomaKids ministry leaders will direct all children to wash their hands as they enter their classrooms. Leaders across departments will be wiping down surfaces/toys/equipment.
- Limiting Communion: For the time being, we will offer Holy Communion less frequently. On weeks when we offer Communion, we will leave it up to each congregant to receive or abstain. Each week, we will regularly review the best option to take regarding Communion.
- Changes to the greeting portion of our service: For the time being, (introverts rejoice!) we will suspend the in-service “meet and greet” portion. When it comes to greeting each other (in the sanctuary, lobby, etc.), we encourage you to use a wave or elbow greeting. We want everyone to avoid the pressure of having to shake hands. As always, we all have the freedom to say something to the effect of, “I’m not hugging at the moment.” Additionally, we encourage everyone to ask for permission if they want to greet someone with a hug. If someone responds with a “no,” please take no offense, as this is an appropriate response.
- Option to stay home: For those who are sick—or are concerned that these steps are insufficient—we want to encourage them to stay home and listen to the podcast/stream the video of the sermon.
- Adhere to guidance from MO-DHSS and the CDC: If it gets to the point where the city prohibits large gatherings, we will comply with city and state recommendations.
- Encourage our congregation to remain calm and be respectful: It’s important that facts outweigh fear, and the reality is that, currently, the general risk remains low in Missouri. We encourage everyone to listen to local health authorities and follow common sense precautions to protect themselves and their communities. Additionally, we are aware of racist and discriminatory acts against people from Asian backgrounds—particularly those from Chinese and Korean communities. We want to demonstrate the love of Christ and reject any kind of xenophobia that often surfaces during times like these.
For future updates on our response to the Coronavirus situation, follow us on Facebook for the latest information. Please join us in praying for our national, state and local leaders as they process decisions and for all those affected by the situation. We know as we pray, God is going to go before us and God is with us. If you are fearful, we encourage you to read and meditate on the promises of Psalm 91 today. Verses 1-4 says:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.”
Our spiritual enemy desires to isolate people and elevate their fears this weekend, but our doors will be wide open for the fearful to experience the overwhelming love of Jesus in such tangible and powerful ways. Let us be in prayer for those affected around the world, and for the vulnerable among us. We believe that even in the midst of global challenges like this, God is present among us.
Soli Deo Gloria
Jon C. Nelson