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Dear Family

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is not Ebola (which has a death rate over 90%).  The usual flu death rate is less than 0.1% (i.e. less than 1 per 1,000 infected); the WHO estimate for Covid-19 is around 3% (i.e. 30 per 1,000).  The vast majority of people infected with Coronavirus have mild symptoms and recover well.  So what's the real issue?

The issue is for those whose symptoms are severe and who need medical intervention.  Covid-19 is a new virus and so no-one has immunity.  If the infection rate spikes (i.e. it spreads too rapidly) the medical system becomes overloaded and medical care is no longer available for everyone who needs it (as happened in Italy).  In this case the death rate goes up.  It therefore matters that we all do what we can to make sure the spread is slow enough that as people are infected they can receive the care they need.  That's the real issue!

Given these facts, how should Christians respond? 

  1. First we should not panic.  We should be a calming and reasonable influence on our society.  Do not make the situation worse by hoarding or spreading misinformation.
  2. Secondly, as Christians have done through the centuries, we should be available to comfort and support those who are sick.  The risk for healthy people without underlying medical conditions is actually quite low (death-rate estimated by WHO at 0.7%). 
  3. Thirdly, we should be responsible and take the recommended precautions to slow the spread.  The WHO recommendations are here.  More information is also available from the BC Centre for Disease Control see here.  Being casual and careless is not a responsible attitude any more than panic is.

Our response should be guided by Jesus' instruction to "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:31).  How we respond has a direct effect on others.  In light of this, for the time being at UC and Sojourn, we will not have potlucks, or arrange special additional meetings.  Some churches have cancelled services but there is value in meeting.  Being isolated is not without its own negative consequences.  Therefore we will continue our regular core meetings - i.e. Sunday Worship and Home Groups.  Fellowship and mutual support is a meaningful source of comfort and encouragement.  (We will be reviewing how we handle communion).  It is also appropriate to be in communal prayer for our neighbours, government officials, and health professionals.  If we take the recommended precautions (see my previous email) the risk is low.

As God's redeemed people our hope is in the Lord and we have no reason to fear death.  God is our refuge in all the struggles of life:  "Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. ...  3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness."   (Psalm 41:1–3)

In his grace
Pastor Geoff