Special Note on Covid and Winter

Special Note on Covid and Winter

November 17, 2020

Dear Fairview members and friends,

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Quite a year! Challenges have certainly come this year. And facing our challenges, we are all like swiss cheese. We have holes of imperfections, weaknesses and sin. And yet, did you know that if you are “in Christ,” God has blessed you with “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3)? The ‘holes’ of sin Jesus covered with His forgiveness, and those of weakness, Jesus covered over with his sufficiency.

My grace is sufficient for you,” he assures, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The life we live is “not I, but Christ” who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). We live by faith.

A lot of new Covid-19 information has been streaming in the last week. I need to bring you up to speed. Also, a note about the Congregational Meeting.

1 | Local cases

In the last two weeks. Fairview has had 5 at-home cases of coronavirus touching members of our church. None came through church worship. All (except husband-and-wife couples) were separate cases from each other. All 5 had manageable or minor symptoms. But 1 had to visit the ER, who was later sent back home with no pneumonia by God’s grace. Same symptoms you’ve probably heard about – an assortment of fatigue, fever, muscle aches, cough, loss of taste, shortness of breath, sore throat. Click here for a full list of Covid symptoms.

There have been two cases of individuals related third-hand to Fairview (family of family), both already not in great health, for whom Covid was the last straw on their health. And they sadly passed away. They were: Barb Erath’s former husband Bill, and, just yesterday (Monday) morning at 5am, the father of Steve and Vicki Hamilton’s daughter-in-law, a man named Don Barber. You could pray for these families.

2 | Winter spread

You may have seen in the news that the virus is spreading more. Beaver County, too. This is something the medical world was expecting for the colder months.

Why do viruses spread more in winter? Well, here is a 2019 Forbes article that I’ve been saving since before Covid, also confirmed in a Yale study here. Very interesting. An ambitious research doctor was confused why diseases sometimes spread in such sterile places as a hospital. After crunching 8 million data points, she discovered that to her surprise, a main factor in hospital spread is the dry air inside. Perhaps we’ll see humidifiers more often in hospitals? Well, this is one reason we should expect disease to transmit a little more in winter. Air tends to be dry. So it is not bad to be a bit more cautious in the winter. Perhaps use an air humidifier if you have one.

Are we headed to another lockdown? According to a November 9 Beaver County Times article, Pennsylvania Officials are not currently planning an additional lockdown like they did earlier in the year.

3 | Good news

Two pieces of promising news came in last week. First, the death rate has greatly declined for hospitalized Covid-19 cases in the US (October 20, 2020). Meaning: Among those hospitalized with Covid, the Covid rate of death early on was 25.6%. Now, it is 7.6%, as the article states. This is a huge change. And great news. The disease is still serious for the most at risk. But the point is that: doctors are learning how to treat it. (See “What if I get Covid?” below).

Second, last week we discovered Pfizer and BioNTech have developed a vaccine that is 90% successful. Causing stock markets to rocket. Then, yesterday I learned of two other companies rolling out other vaccines – Moderna at 95% and Belgian company Janssen at 90% protection. The second, it says, uses a genetically modified common cold virus. Still some questions, yes. Use your own discernment. But it is information well worth knowing.

4 | What if I or someone I know gets Covid?

Some self-treatment: A pastor friend of mine from seminary named Josh Vahle said he just recently got Covid-19 and offered some helpful treatment advice. Last Wednesday (November 11), he wrote: “I don’t post much on Facebook. That’s just me. But I will post this. I tested positive for Covid last Thursday. Felt like a decent head cold, couple headaches, legs ached one eve, and very very tired over weekend. Julie’s dad (Dean of SIU Med School) told me to take a regimen of a 325mg Aspirin, ~500 IU Vitamin D3 per day, and 40 mg Famotidine (Pepcid) 2x per day, along with Zinc, and this stopped my symptoms from progressing further within 1 day. … I’ve been feeling almost 100% better for 2 days now.” Fairview as an organization is not a medical institution and cannot ‘endorse’ this medical advice per se, like a kind of promise that it works, and in stronger cases of shortness of breath especially you need to go see a doctor. But I personally pass it along, especially for actions you can take right after contracting the virus if somehow you get it.

Immunity: One of our own who got Covid and recovered was told by his doctor the doctor could only guarantee him a 90-Day Immunity for now. I try to keep an eye on global news, and this seems to pan out with stories I’ve heard around the world.

Conclusions for Fairview

I hope all this information helps you. Feel free to pass it along.

At minimum, I want you to know that we are keeping an eye on all this. Something I hope this posting itself shows you! I noticed that in-person worship attendance on Sunday was down and online views were up. I imagine that may have been because of rising cases in Pennsylvania. We miss your presence. But I get it.

Worship. Ministry-wise, until further notice, we will keep things as they are with 3 worship options (online, masks at 9am, masks optional at 10:45am). If you’re more concerned than before right now, change to the 9am service or use online streaming. But if you choose online worship, let me suggest a “hybrid” to some of you – say, 2 weeks online and 1 week in person. Why? To preserve that flesh-and-blood ‘fellowship’ (Acts 2:42) as the Lord instructs, while you choose caution. The second service will remain “mask encouraged but optional”. Just please abide by our spacing policy while indoors. 6 feet between families.

Small Groups? We are still going forward with small groups starting on December 13 at 6pm until further notice. It will be limited – just 2 or 3 groups. Just keep family distance in the homes or at the church building.

Holiday Services. We will be holding a Thanksgiving Day service at 10:30am. It is informal and simple. For our Christmas Eve Service, no decision yet. But I imagine we will probably do two services that evening.

Holiday gatherings? Use your judgment. We need social involvement and family support. The following is probably obvious by now. But if you’re feeling one or two of that array of Covid-19 symptoms above, consider being tested, and of course, if you have Covid, avoid family and church gatherings.

I hope you don’t have to be separate from your family for the holidays. But if that happens. You might consider praying for overseas military or missionaries. Or contacting them. They annually have to miss family for the holidays.

Congregational Meeting News

Wednesday December 2 is our annual congregational meeting. 6:30pm. But who exactly can participate? Covid has … led to an adjustment! All are invited and welcome. But only “regular communing members” are allowed to participate during the meeting (nominating, voting, discussion, etc.). What does this mean?

Last Sunday, in light of Covid-19, the session decided to relax how we define it. “Members” doesn’t change – all are welcome, but you must be a member to participate. “Regular” means you need to have participated in at least 12 worship services in 2020, but that now includes online participation, too, for 2020. “Communing” – Well, since we’ve had only 3 communion services this year, this year “communing” will include whether you took Lord’s Supper at least once in 2019 or 2020. We’ll announce this before Sunday worship.

Walk by Faith

Pastorally, I leave you two final encouragements. Discouragements and hardship come to even the greatest believers. Charles Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers” as they called him, went through the hardship of depression. God carried him through. Moses and Elijah both reached such discouragement they wished for their life to end. God brought them through, too. In these days, two things.

(1) Remember Christ. He is yours by faith. Medical progress can be comforting, we thank God. But our greatest comfort is not in medicine! It is in the “Living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4) that is Jesus Christ. As missionary Jeff Garrett preached last Sunday night, Jesus is “living,” giving life to all who believe. Jesus is a “stone,” our strong foundation, stability, the very cornerstone of his church. That “Living Stone” is yours by faith. Christ is all our sufficiency!

(2) Don’t give up the Lord’s regular “visitation” in Sunday worship. Abram in Genesis 14 needed a visit from God to negotiate with the King of Sodom rightly, even radically (Genesis 14:23-24). If Abram the great man of faith needed that visit from God, how much more would we? It can be tempting with Covid to let good habits slip. I strongly urge you: Do not let it happen for corporate worship. I’ve seen too many individuals just gradually slip away through one or two compromises that went unchanged! It is our privilege to worship. I often finish Sundays with a prayer, “Lord thank you for the chance to worship you.”

Lord bless you and keep you. Have a fruitful week.

Rest in Him,

Pastor Jeff