March 31, 2020
To our Cornerstone Conference IPHC Family and Friends,
Let me take a moment and tell you that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
Also, I would like to thank you for your courage and faith during these unprecedented times. I am hearing powerful stories of salvation, healing and deliverance as many of our pastors and congregations have moved outside the walls and beyond their usual means of ministry to find new ways of exalting Jesus and bringing hope to a world griped by fear. These are not days to be fearful, but to be fearless!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I want to ask you to continue to pray for the men and women who are the first responders, heroes on the front lines of this pandemic. Their selflessness and sacrifice does not go unnoticed. We honor and uphold each of these brave men and women in our prayers.
Coronavirus Guidelines & Executive Orders
As you know by now, the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America (15 Days to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus) has been extended to April 30, 2020. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (Executive Order No. 121) and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (Executive Order No. 53) have banned all gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered residents to stay home. This is in effect for residents of NC until April 30, 2020 and for residents of VA until June 10, 2020 unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order. The Orders have the force of law.
What this means for Cornerstone Conference IPHC
Due to the present circumstances of COVID-19, our Cornerstone Conference Office will remain closed through April 30th. Our staff will continue to work from home. We are available to assist you during this time. Please visit our website for resources, sign up to receive our regular emails to stay informed, participate in our hosted webinars and Zoom Calls.
What this means for IPHC Pastors and Congregations
Ministers must observe all the requirements of the State Executive Orders. When traveling to your place of worship (for limited ministerial duties as described below), ministers should carry their Cornerstone Conference IPHC ID Card.
Churches should not meet for in-person gatherings onsite or offsite (in a building or a parking lot) due to the public health ban on gatherings. Our members are also citizens and they have been ordered by authorities to stay at home.
Although the “drive up church” option has been previously used by many innovative churches to accommodate the requirements for social distancing – this is no longer an option with the current ban on gatherings and stay at home orders in place. Cornerstone Conference strongly advises against continuing this practice.
Churches can (and should) continue to provide online services, online small group meetings, digital congregational care and creative community outreach opportunities as long as they maintain the guidelines of social distancing. According to health experts, this means limiting contact with individuals that are not in your family.
The current Executive Orders permit 10 people or less to gather on a limited basis as long as they maintain the strict guidelines of social distancing. There is also a travel provision to and from places of worship. These allowances would permit a limited number of ministry personnel to prepare and provide the ministry services as described above. Weddings and Funerals can be conducted with ten or less people. Church Food Pantry’s can continue to serve the public with ten or less people serving.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of our Executive Council, a Regional Pastor or a Cornerstone Conference Ministry Center Staff member. We are here to assist you.
A Final Thought To Consider
I probably don’t need to say this, but I will anyhow (unapologetically): As much as we ought to value our religious freedom and uphold our first amendment rights, let us not forget that there is a much greater law that exists. It is the law of perfect love.
Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
The restrictions placed on us by our government are not to deny us of our first amendment rights or to protest a biblical truth. The restrictions are in the consideration of public health. Our observance of the law doesn’t dishonor God but rather it honors Him since He is the one who established all authority (Romans 13:1). As for our sacrifice in staying at home on days when we are compelled to be in church – we are actually preferring one another above ourselves. By socially distancing ourselves during this time, we are demonstrating love by showing concern for the (sometimes unseen) needs of others. (Romans 12:10).
We may be required to give up several weeks of gathering in our places of worship. No doubt this will be difficult. But let’s not miss out on this incredible opportunity to be the church outside the walls. As believers, let’s take this opportunity to love like Jesus, care like Jesus and serve like Jesus – selflessly and fearlessly. Let’s let the world see Christ in us!
During the war a church in Strasburg, Germany, was totally destroyed; but a statue of Christ which stood by the altar was almost unharmed. Only the hands of the statue were missing. When the church was rebuilt, a famous sculptor offered to make new hands; but, after considering the matter, the members decided to let it stand as it was—without hands. “For,” they said, “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work on earth. If we don’t feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, entertain the stranger, visit the imprisoned, and clothe the naked, who will?” Christ is depending on us to do the very things which He did while upon earth.
P.S. Please take a few minutes to review the Cornerstone Conference COVID-19 Response and Action Plan. The Executive Orders have affected our Conference Ministry Center Offices and Ministry Event Schedule. Please review the list of resources and training opportunities that will assist you during this time. Please don’t hesitate to call on me. We are here for you!