corona virus update
ALL PUBLIC MEETINGS POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
This decision which was taken by our Presbytery Executive Committee was not taken lightly. We shall do all we can to provide a ministry online and in other feasible ways. Do get in touch with us if you have concerns or any further questions.
Below is the official statement of our denomination
GENERAL PRESBYTERY OF THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF ULSTER
Statement on Behalf of the Presbytery’s Executive Committee
The Presbytery’s Executive Committee, meeting on Thursday afternoon, 19th March 2020, to discuss the increasingly serious situation in the UK created by the coronavirus pandemic, decided that all worship services in all Free Presbyterian Churches are to be postponed with immediate effect. This solemn decision was taken with heavy hearts and with great reluctance. However, this decision was necessary for the following reasons.
• It is our Christian duty as a Church to uphold the Lord’s clear instruction in Matthew 22:39 that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. Among other issues this injunction means that, in the midst of this deepening health crisis, we must exercise a duty of care toward our own church families, members and adherents. In addition we are to exercise the same duty of care toward society in general. To proclaim the message of God’s love for sinners in both common and saving grace and then fail to act responsibly in taking all necessary measures to protect them in the face of this virus would be sheer hypocrisy. Consequently, the Executive Committee felt that they had no option but to postpone all gatherings for worship on the Lord’s Day and throughout the week.
• The Executive Committee were convinced that the necessity for this decision was further underlined by the startling reports being issued by the Department of Health with respect to the advancement of the virus through social contact in public gatherings. On the same day as the Executive Committee met Mr. Robin Swann, Health Minister for Northern Ireland said that “…in the case of an 80% infection rate, the NI death toll could be in the region of 14,000.”
• In Romans 13 we are taught by the Spirit of God to obey the civil government He has placed over us. The UK Government in seeking to prevent the spread of the virus has issued a call to various groupings, including churches, to cease public gatherings. The Executive Committee concluded that we have no option but to obey the directive of the powers that be.
• The Executive Committee also focused much on the issue of the public testimony of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. The Committee concluded that due to the pandemic nature of the virus it would be totally irresponsible to run the risk of endangering life by the high probability of spreading the virus through church gatherings. If this were to be the result great shame would be brought upon our testimony as part of the body of Christ.
It must be noted that this decision does not mean that we cease to minister as a church, either to our own congregations or to the wider public. The Committee would encourage brethren to pursue every available avenue of ministry. The Lord has given us modern means in terms of the electronic methods that are available to us today – many of which have already been employed by our churches such as Sermon Audio and Facebook. In recognising the direction of matters some brethren are seriously considering the option of drive-in services.
The Executive Committee would also encourage earnest and protracted prayer for a move of God both among His people and among the lost around us. Undoubtedly the Lord is speaking through this pandemic. Many are deeply fearful. We need to pray that their fear of the virus will be translated into a fear of God and eternal ruin. Clearly there is great opportunity evangelise intensely so that sinners will come to know peace with God through Christ.
This decision pertains only to public gatherings of Christ’s Church. It obviously does not preclude family events such as funerals and weddings.
As you will understand this decision includes the cancellation of the Easter Convention meetings.
By way of notice, the Presbytery’s Charity Commission has informed the NICC that, as a denomination, we will not be taking up the matter of registration of our congregations until 3 months after the restrictions relating to the coronavirus are lifted.
This postponement of church gatherings will continue to until the Lord in His sovereign mercy removes the threat of the virus from our land. Let us seek Him earnestly for this also.