RCSS announcement in light of COVID-19
Dear RCSS Saints:
As you know the Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic has reached our shores over the past couple of weeks. At present the number of known infections in the Western Cape sits at around twenty. While it is difficult to determine from the media how serious the situation is globally and in Cape Town, a couple of facts suggest that we proceed with caution and pause to ask the Lord for wisdom.
First, the South African government joins many other countries in enforcing stringent measures to avoid the rapid spread of the disease. These include temporary shut down of schools and universities, prohibiting public meetings of over 100 people and encouraging social distancing of at least six feet.
Second, the purpose of these measures is to stall the rate of inevitable infection (most people will likely get the virus over the next two years) so as not to overload hospitals and hamper the economy further.
Third, elderly folk and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to falling critically ill from COVID-19.
Fourth, with Cape Town being a tourist destination, the likelihood of infections from asymptomatic carriers of the disease is arguably much higher than in other parts of the world.
Fifth, the nature of our public transport system used primarily by those that for the most part live in less hygienic parts of Cape Town also increases the risk and rate of infection.
How, then, should we as Christians and members of RCSS respond to COVID-19? And more specifically, should we continue to worship publicly, on Sunday, for the foreseeable future? The following are some important Biblical truths that should be considered in making a wise decision.
First, we as believers need not fear any evil, including a deadly virus and death itself. Our days are numbered according to the sovereign plan of our heavenly Father (Pss. 23; 91; Heidelberg LD 10). The Gospel gives incalculable comfort in the midst of the uncertainties of this life (Rom. 8:31-39; Heidelberg LD 1).
Second, and in keeping with the first Four Commandments, corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is critical to our perseverance in faith in Christ (Deut. 5:6-15; Acts 2:42; Rom. 10:5-17; Heidelberg LD 25; 34-8). In other words, to miss out on the public ministry of the Word is not a matter of little consequence.
Third, next to our highest duty to love God we have a duty to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, especially our fellow Christian (Matt. 22:34-40). This love, in keeping with the Sixth Commandment, means we are to do nothing to recklessly endanger ourselves and others (Deut. 5:17; Heidelberg LD 40).
Fourth, another application of love to God and our neighbor is to – in keeping with the Fifth Commandment – submit to the governing authorities (Deut. 5:18; Heidelberg LD 39).
Fifth, in those matters where the Bible is silent as to the specifics of how to act ethically, we are to avail ourselves of the channels of natural wisdom God has given us in the created order: like doctors and social workers (Proverbs; Canons of Dort III/IV:4).
All this to say, the RCSS Council has decided to err on the side of caution and cancel worship services for the next two Sundays (22 & 29 March). We will re-evaluate the situation thereafter as the Corona virus story develops. You can expect follow-up correspondence shortly with recommendations on how you can worship in your home this Sunday. (Because Rev. Jooste is on leave for the next two Sundays, we will not be streaming a service live; but hope to have such an arrangement in place in due course.)
During this time of uncertainty and isolation, please consider how you might pray for and share each other’s burdens (Gal. 5:1-5). Should you have a spiritual or temporal need, please don’t hesitate to contact an elder or deacon respectively.
Yours affectionately in Christ,
The RCSS Council