RBC Response to COVID-19

RBC Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Brothers and Sisters: 

I am writing to you all to inform more about how we at RBC can work together in light of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

1. State, Federal and School Leadership
Unlike some states, Iowa’s Department of Public Health (IDPH) is not making any recommendations to cancel planned events and mass gatherings at this time. The IDPH medical director and state epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati, stated, “Iowa has not identified community spread of COVID-19 at this time, and absent community spread or additional guidance from our federal partners, we aren’t making any recommendations to cancel events. This is, however, a very fluid situation and we urge the public to closely monitor messaging from the Iowa Department of Public Health for updated guidance.” (1)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidance for high risk groups. Older adults and those with underlying conditions should take particular care. We should all stay in when sick, practice social distancing, avoid crowds, and wash hands often. This will enable us to prevent a community spread situation which could hamper the ability of our healthcare systems to serve us and our community. They also recommend that leaders and event organizers have a contingency plan. (2)

Some of you are likely aware that the Des Moines Public Schools has closed for an extended Spring Break until March 30 and some local businesses have implemented work-from-home programs. West Des Moines Schools will continue with Spring Break and classes as planned. They will use the Spring Break as an opportunity for deep cleaning. (3)

2. RBC Response – Services and Gatherings
We plan to have Sunday services as normal this Sunday, March 15, including Core Seminar, Morning Service, and Evening Service. This is in line with IDPH recommendations and West Des Moines Schools will be open.

We will NOT have Sunday services on Sunday, March 22, including Core Seminar, Morning Service, and Evening Service. This is because West Des Moines Schools will be closed for cleaning purposes. I  will plan to preach via Facebook Live on this date. I will also email you a bulletin that you can utilize in your personal or family worship.

We will plan to resume normal Sunday services on Sunday, March 29. However, as you know, this is a very fluid situation and we will adjust accordingly based on the recommendations of our officials for the public safety of church members and our community. This is an expression of love for God and neighbor. 

3. The Local Church as a Gathering
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Biblically one fundamental mark of a church is that it is a regular single gathering: “multi-service”, “multi-site” and “online” models do not fit the biblical norm. We’ve covenanted to obey this passage by regularly gathering as a church on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. But when, in God’s providence, an emergency or some other irregular circumstance occurs that keeps the church from gathering, it is not disobeying God’s Word to not gather. (4) There are times when gathering is out of our control and we can humbly acknowledge God’s Lordship by submitting to His sovereign providence in this.

4. Basic Logistical Details
In our pursuit to love God and neighbor here are some basic steps:

  • If you or your children are sick or displaying any signs of sickness, please do not come to church (even if the symptoms are mild, or you think you are not contagious).
  • If you are over 60 years of age or have underlying health concerns, please consider staying home from church. If you do choose to come, please use caution.
  • Please be flexible regarding children’s ministry as we may need to cancel it with short notice depending on the availability of our children’s ministry volunteers.
  • We will discontinue serving refreshments after service.
  • We will not be passing the offering plate. Instead, it will be located near the bulletins after service.
  • Practice social distancing. The CDC recommends staying 6 feet away from others. Please follow this guidance before and after service, and in choosing your seating during service.
  • Please practice healthy habits of regular hand washing for 20 seconds. If you must cough or sneeze, please utilize your arm or a tissue to avoid the spread of germs.

5. Please Care for One Another
Some of us may face financial hardship during this time or may have difficulty finding basic supplies. If in the future we are unable to gather for a time, please utilize technology to keep in contact with one another and care for one another. Please reach out to me if you have a need. I plan to distribute new member directories on Sunday (if you are not there I will happily mail one to you). If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact me or Ben Gentz. If you should have to self-quarantine for a time and need basic necessities during that time please let me know. Further, if you believe that you have symptoms of COVID-19, (5) call to inform your doctor prior to going to your doctor’s office. Please also let me know so that I can pray for you and support you.

6. Sundays that We Are Unable to Gather
If future services are cancelled due to COVID-19, I will plan to utilize Facebook Live and share bulletins with you in advance until we are able to gather as a church again. This is not something I will do normally as the church, by nature, gathers. It is an adjustment in these unusual and irregular circumstances.

As we walk into the future, know that I am praying for each of you. During seasons of uncertainty, instability and calamity like this, God remains faithful to His promises. Brothers and sisters, I want to encourage each of us to remember that in Christ we are safe from all alarms. The final verse of the hymn Leaning on the Everlasting Arms comes to mind: 

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, 
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
I have peace complete with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
Leaning, leaning, Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!

Romans 8:28 
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Your pastor,
Noah Braymen

1.From IDPH Mass Gathering Recommendations for COVID-19 dated March 12, 2020. Last accessed March 13, 2020: https://idph.iowa.gov/News/ArtMID/646/ArticleID/158301/IDPH-Mass-Gathering-Recommendations-for-COVID-19-31220.

2. From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last accessed March 13, 2020: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html.

3. WDMCS update last accessed March 13, 2020: https://www.wdmcs.org/2020/03/coronavirus-update-wdmcs-plans-after-spring-break/.

4. For instance, when Christians obeyed Jesus’ command to flee Jerusalem in A.D. 70 in the face of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem it would have kept the church from gathering for a time (Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:21).

5. See this article from Sanford Health. Last accessed March 13, 2020: https://www.sanfordhealth.org/conditions-diseases/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.