Dear South Mainers—
Grace and peace to you.
As your pastor, I am reaching out to you concerning our upcoming plans at South Main given the most recent developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to be in ongoing contact with community, medical, business, and faith leaders in our area as we navigate this situation. As we continue to be church to one another, our primary aim during this season is the safety of our members, our neighbors, and fellow citizens. In this regard, we want to be a part of the strategic community solution to reduce the effect of the virus. You may be familiar with recent decisions to close the Houston Rodeo, several school districts in the area, and other events and meetings which would bring large numbers of people into close proximity with one another.
As a result of these recommendations, we have decided to close the South Main campus beginning tomorrow, Friday, March 13, for two weeks through March 27. Because the campus will be closed and because we are fortunate at South Main to have livestream capabilities, we invite and urge South Mainers to worship online at www.smbc.org at 11:20 AM the next two Sundays, March 15 and 22. We do not make this decision to refrain from gathering in person lightly, but we feel this is an appropriate measure to take given Christ's instructions that we are to be good neighbors. Given our technological capabilities and our concerns for the health of our congregation, especially its most vulnerable members, we feel this is the best action to take at this time. We will continually be re-assessing the situation and, in conjunction with leaders of our community and leaders of our church, will plan accordingly. As is our practice, we will of course advise you as these decisions are developed and made.
The goal of these efforts is, as experts in these fields say, to flatten the curve, in order to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system as the situation develops. If the healthcare system is overwhelmed, an array of negative consequences cascade from that leading to a much more serious crisis. I've included below a simple graph that illustrates this phenomenon.
As your pastor, I also want to ask for your help in regard to the following two subjects, both of which are vital to our church and its continuing missions and ministries:
Our staff will be working remotely during this time. Please communicate with any minister as needed. If you encounter a need with respect to life safety, nourishment, medication, anxiety, or the like, please contact Greg Funderburk. I am also encouraging you to reach out to those you may consider most vulnerable and to remain in touch with your Sunday School communities and small groups.
During these weeks of uncertainty, one of the best ways you can help our South Main church family is to give online, or better yet, to automate your giving.
We will continue paying all of our employees and maintaining their health insurance even when they are not physically working at the church. Our staff will not be required to use any vacation or sick leave during this time. We want to make sure our employees' lives are as stable as possible during this unstable time.
As you worship with us online, bringing God's house into your house, as you continue to sustain our church with your resources, and as you keep in touch with and encourage one another, please join me both in praying for God's world, our nation, our city, and all our leaders, as well as remaining the steadfast presence of Christ in your neighborhoods and communities.
Grace and truth,