Rev. Doug Stratton at Hatboro Baptist Offers Thoughts Preparing for the Coronavirus
The following editorial was prepared by Pastor Doug Stratton, Hatboro Baptist Church
Are You and Your Church Prepared?
On Saturday, I went to COSTCO to get a kitchen mat, a pork belly (for bacon) and charcoal. When I walked into the store, I thought it was the Saturday before Christmas. There were lines from the cashiers almost to the meat department. After getting my few items, I waited and waited until I could check out. Only after I left did I discover that I had walked into a Covid19 panic/hoard location. People were preparing for an unknown pathogen that was slowly moving around the world.
After I got home, I had a little chuckle at the “foolishness” I had witnessed, and then I began to think. What would happen if Hatboro Baptist was told we could not meet for 4 weeks or more if the virus struck our community? How would we stay in contact with one another? How would we be able to help our most vulnerable?
We don’t have answers to all these questions yet, but we are asking them now because once a quarantine is put in place, we won’t be able to answer the questions.
As citizens, the suggestion is that everyone have two weeks of provision in our homes. The reality is that most of us have that right now. But in our communities, there are neighbors who don’t have those supplies. We are being advised to wash our hands many times each day. We are to avoid touching our nose and eyes. These are common sense things.
But what about churches and ministries that work with people every day? The food pantry in town has decided to provide a list of food available in the pantry, invite the consumers to select what they need from the list and then they pack it up for them to prevent spread within the pantry. Another church has suspended the passing of the peace in their liturgy. Several pastors in town have stopped shaking hands. One congregation has a parish nurse who is sending a letter to the congregation reminding them not to panic. These steps will be helpful.
But what are some other steps? Are you prepared to stream your worship service if large gatherings are restricted? Can you receive electronic contributions from those who want to continue to support their church? Do you have volunteers in place to shop for older more vulnerable members of your congregation and community? Do you have a list of people who can drive ill folk to the doctors or hospital? Is your church willing to provide emergency housing if needed? Are there members who would offer their homes?
This is not Ebola or The Plague, but during those times of danger and death, it was the Church that provided care and love and mercy when many others fled. As a result, the church of Jesus Christ flourished through the love that was shared. Today, we have the chance to offer the same in a time of need. May we be found faithful.