Dear Grace Fellowship Family,

Thank you for your prayers as the elders met last night to discuss how we should respond to the corona virus situation. We have decided to cancel Sunday services for the next three weekends (22, 29 March and 5 April). This was a very difficult decision because we love going to church as much as you do! Moreover, accurate predictions as to how the virus might spread are, of course, complete guesswork.

Here was our reasoning. The statistics now being published suggest that those at serious risk from the corona virus are primarily the elderly and those with already seriously compromised immune systems. On that basis it probably would not be necessary for us to cancel our Sunday meetings: we would simply encourage those in the high-risk category to remain at home for a few weeks and meet in one hundred-person cycles. However, as we thought about our entire country and not just Grace Fellowship, we realised that, due to AIDS, TB, and other diseases, an inordinately large percentage of South Africa’s population is in the high-risk category for this virus. It is also true that, in regard to medical resources, our country is probably less prepared to handle a significant infectious outbreak than Europe or America. Therefore, while loving our neighbour (Matt 22:39) might not require us to cancel services for Grace Fellowship’s sake, we thought it would be an act of love for many in our country for us to assist the government in its attempts nip this outbreak in the bud.

Many people are making decisions in regard to the corona virus based on fear; we believe that love a much better motive.

For the next three weeks, here is how we’ll worship on Sundays. Rather than try to fast-track some kind of live-stream arrangement, Joel and Steve will record their sermons early on Sunday (hopefully both audio and video recordings). God willing, Joel’s morning sermon from Acts will be available by 9:00am each Sunday morning for download or on some platform like YouTube for you and your family to listen to or watch. Check the church website each Sunday for the link. Steve’s sermon from Matthew will be available later in the day for you to enjoy an evening sermon. Joel will also prepare short WhatsApp meditations during the week to keep us all connected.

We will inform you about other church events, whether they will be held or not, as we go along. Home Bible studies will meet at the discretion of those who normally attend those studies, respecting of course, the normal guidelines for limiting the transmission of infections. The deacons might also be asking a few of you to help run errands for some of our high-risk members: thanks for being willing to help in this way!

If we can start services again before three weeks, we will inform you by email. Undoubtedly, in a few weeks’ time it will be clear whether further cancellations are necessary, or whether we can all be reunited in joyful corporate worship. We certainly hope that reunion will be sooner rather than later—we’re missing you already. In the meantime, encourage one another, use this situation as an opportunity to preach the gospel to many fear-oppressed people, and keep your faith in Christ well nourished by spending regular time in God’s Word!

The Elders of Grace Fellowship