Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

It’s hard to believe it was just this past Sunday when we began our worship services with these words of Jesus,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25–27

Many people are deeply worried as we’ve seen unprecedented events take place in our nation as a result of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus. Life is being significantly altered at a rapid rate.

We’re all wondering but don’t know all the ways it may impact us here on Cape Cod in the next several weeks and months.

The stock market has plummeted. We’ve seen unimaginable steps taken by professional and college sports including the NBA, NHL, NCAA, and MLB. Colleges and Universities are sending students home across the country and have cancelled all winter and spring championships. All the most significant museums in Boston are now closed as is Broadway and Disneyland.

Federal infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testified this week that Americans should avoid large gatherings and warned that the worst of this epidemic is yet to come. “The outbreak and the impact of concerns over the spread are already being felt by everyone,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

The long incubation period for the virus means it’s often too late to wait to take significant steps until people in a congregation are confirmed to have COVID-19 because people may feel perfectly well and still be passing the virus to the people they come into contact with.

As a trusted institution in the community, modeling the behavior and level of caution that’s necessary to mitigate the impact of the epidemic helps individuals to take it seriously and, and helps leaders of other community institutions to follow the church’s lead.

We want you to know that the Brewster Baptist Church is committed to the health and safety of our church family including our volunteers and staff as well as the larger community.

There are several simple things we all can do to help us stay healthy.

The first is washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing a verse of Amazing Grace and you’ve got it). It’s important to get a good lather of soap, wash the front and back of hands and in between fingers, and dry your hands thoroughly.

The second is to try and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. It’s a hard habit to break but just being more aware of it can help us change our behavior.

A third important step is social distancing.

The Town of Brewster has taken the step of discouraging any Town events of more than 20 people.

Many officials at the state and national level have stressed the importance of avoiding groups of more than 50 or 100 people. In some of the hardest hit places in the country such gatherings including worship services are temporarily prohibited.

The group that is most vulnerable to serious consequences from the virus are adults over the age of 60. This group represents both the largest part of our community on the Lower Cape and the largest segment of our congregation.

As a result, our church leadership has made the decision to suspend worship temporarily. There will be no worship on Sunday, March 15.

However, while we want to follow the guidance regarding social distance, we want to maintain our spiritual connection as much as possible.

While we will not meet as a church for worship on Sunday, we will record a service including music and a sermon by Pastor Doug titled, Do Not Be Afraid based on John 6:16-24.

The service will be made available on the church website, Facebook page, and YouTube and we will produce DVD’s.

Pastor Barbara will be sending a link to facilitate worshiping together as a family. We encourage everyone to maintain or start doing the daily Bible readings and we would like small groups who are comfortable doing so to continue to meet.

As Christians, a crisis provides us with an opportunity to honor God, demonstrate our faith, and love our neighbors. That begins with a commitment to preparation, not panic, calm, not fear, service rather than selfishness.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) reminds us,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

I pray we will be faithful and vigilant in our prayer for our country and for all nations, communities, families and individuals most affected by this outbreak, and for the medical personnel and government officials seeking to respond.

Please use the phone and call and check up on your neighbors, especially those who are older or live alone. We also need to recognize how many millions of people who grieving significant losses in their life due to the disruption that is taking place.

For the latest information you may check with the Town of Brewster Coronavirus Information Page, or your own town’s website, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Center for Disease Control.

In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul tells us,

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

This is a time for us to use our power, love, and sound minds to act rationally but decisively to help keep those most vulnerable to COVID-19 safe and cared for by slowing its spread, thus buying time for our health care providers to meet the surge of need that is almost certainly coming.

Dr. Tedros, Secretary General of the World Health Organization, echoed this call saying, “Today’s declaration of a pandemic is a call to action – for everyone, everywhere. It’s also a call for responsibility and solidarity – as nations united and as people united. As we fight the virus, we cannot let fear go viral … Let’s overcome this common threat together.”

We recognize some members of BBC don’t have a computer or email so please call or otherwise contact people you know or in your small group.

Please make sure the church has your updated contact information so we may contact you if necessary. You can use this information form on the website to update your contact info.

The latest updates will be posted on our home page and on our Facebook page, and the Church Office voice message at 508-896-3381 will also be updated.

If you have any questions, please contact the Church Office. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we work to ensure good health for everyone involved with Brewster Baptist Church.

The season of Lent has traditionally been a time for Christians to engage of spiritual disciplines of abstinence – such as Solitude, Silence, Fasting, Frugality, Chastity, Secrecy, and Sacrifice. We have a greater opportunity to practice many of them in these days. The current situation in our country is a spiritual opportunity for us to trust God, grow in faith, and love one another. Let’s make the most of it.

Your BBC Staff