Update: March 24, 2020
On March 23 Governor Whitmer issued an executive order requiring all people in Michigan to remain at home except for the performance of essential services and duties. Churches that gather are specifically exempted from prosecution, but we will comply with the order. Sunday services are cancelled for March 29 and April 5, as well as all other previously scheduled activities.
Update: March 17, 2020
On Tuesday, March 17 Governor Whitmer issued an executive order which prohibited all gatherings of 50 or more people in the state of Michigan. We do not anticipate attendance at any of our services to exceed that limit. We love our neighbors and our community, therefore we are committed to continuing to meet together on Sunday that we may minister to the spiritual needs of those who are hurting during this time of fear.
My firm conviction is the New Testament requires every Christian to frequently gather with other believers to sing together, edify one another, minister their spiritual gifts together, find encouragement from their fellow believers and hear the preaching of Scriptures. Listening to preaching or watching a church service is no substitute for gathering with believers. We gather together to do many things. We sing, serve, study, give and pray together, but to do all that we must first gather. While Christians have many legitimate reasons they cannot gather with other believers, the expectation of Scripture is that the church will gather together regularly.
Last week the first cases of the Coronavirus were reported in the state of Michigan. Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency and ordered there be no gatherings of 250 people or more until the beginning of April. Other state agencies have actively communicated safety guidelines which recommend decreasing the frequency and size of gatherings. Manistique Bible Church falls outside the scope of most of those recommendations.
The Coronavirus is a matter of great concern presenting many unknowns and prompting much speculation. No matter what the eventual impact of this virus turns out to be, let us continue to trust God. Especially trust God when it seems the world around us is panicking. The apostle Paul said, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
None of this is to suggest the virus presents no threat. The Coronavirus is a genuine illness spreading throughout our state, nation and world. However, we are not to be troubled by the fears of the unsaved world. We can and must trust God. He is fully capable of preserving us safe from any infectious disease. More importantly, He is perfectly capable of accomplishing great spiritual good in the Christian’s life by allowing the believer to contract this illness. Trust in God is not dependent upon the believer being free from trouble. Trust in God does not refuse wise measures and sensible precautions. Trust in God also recognizes the Bible calls the people of God to obey Him even when obedience is risky. No matter the potential threat of the coronavirus, the priority for the believer must remain on obedience to Scripture.
None of the above is meant to suggest a Christian who misses a church service is sinning. Nor is it meant to say Manistique Bible Church will never cancel services. Nor is our current plan intended to offer any commentary about what other churches may be doing. This statement is intended to communicate the Biblical principles which guide the church in thinking about this issue.
Please take the same kind of sensible precautions you normally take during flu season. If you feel it wisest to absent yourself from the gathering for a time, please strive to be away for as short a time as possible. Also, please make it a point to listen to the sermons online so you continue to follow along with the congregation as we walk together through 1 Peter. If you are unable to attend and would like to maintain your giving, you can mail your offerings to the church.
At this time we have no plans to cancel Sunday services or other previously scheduled events. We will observe the Lord’s Supper on March 22 as planned.
If it becomes clear the threat to our congregation is genuinely increasing we will begin to cancel extra events as needed. If we do have to cancel a Sunday service a closure notice will be posted on the homepage and the church will follow its snow closure notification procedures to make sure everyone is informed no later than Sunday morning. As this situation continues to develop, we remain committed to being obedient to the command of God to gather together every Sunday