Statement on COVID-19
18 March 2020
Dear Members of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America,
Greetings to you in the bonds of gospel love and through our common fellowship in the poured out blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our country suffers. We live now in a time of uncertainty and the reality of human frailty presents itself on a daily basis. We thought it best to communicate with you all some of the things on our minds of late.
The first and most important thing, which we are confident is uppermost in your minds as well. Our God reigns. He is sovereign. He decrees “whatsoever comes to pass” and as the “. . . good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.”
Also, at this time, we desire that all find good encouragement in the wise and prudent use of the good means that God has provided for the care of one another. We have many advantages in the time and age where God has placed us. Dealing with one another in love and looking out for each other’s interests glorifies the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.
As our churches sort through how to respond to this situation we urge charity regarding one another’s decisions about holding services. Some will close out of an abundance of caution and respect for appointed authorities. Others will continue to worship in a public gathering. Please deal with one another in brotherly love even though you may come to opposite conclusions on the matter. And let us pray for one another, that God would give us wisdom in the careful consideration of these issues.
Please keep the AC informed of your travel plans for the General Assembly in April. In the same vein, we will quickly inform the churches if the GA needs to be postponed to a later date. If you have specific prayer requests related to COVID-19, please relay them through the office so that they can be sent out to all. If any needs arise which you desire to bring before the association as a whole please forward those on as well that we may serve one another in love during this time. In all this we remain confident that “[a]s the providence of God does in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner it takes care of his church, and disposes of all things to the good thereof.”
Knowing the faithfulness of God and the goodness of our Heavenly Father who with the Son provides the Holy Spirit, we commend you all to His loving care. May He sustain us in righteousness and holiness and may He grant a renewed spirit of joy and delight in the hope of heaven and an eager expectation of the world to come. We leave you then, with this prayer from a departed brother whom we hope to see again:
“Grant, Almighty God, that since we continue to afford many and various reasons to induce You to withdraw Your blessing, and to show Yourself displeased with us, — O grant, that we may patiently bear Your scourges, by which You chastise us, and also profit under them, and so contend with all our depraved affections and the corruptions of the flesh, that we may become partakers of Your paternal kindness, which Your offer to us, and also so taste of Your goodness, which in innumerable ways is manifested towards us, that it may keep us in the pursuit of true religion; finally, may our tongues be consecrated to magnify Your judgement and to celebrate Your justice, that whatever happens to us, we may always serve You through our whole life as our Father, and declare also Your goodness towards us, and confess that we are justly punished whenever Your visit us with severity, until we shall at length reach that blessed rest, which is to be the end of all our evils, and an entrance, not only into life, but also into that full glory and happiness, which has been procured for us by the blood of Your only-begotten Son.—Amen.”
Your servant in Christ,
Matthew T. Vincent
Chair, Administrative Committee
 John Calvin, https://ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom30/calcom30.iv.iv.xvii.html, Accessed 3Mar2020, 6:30 pm. Pronouns and some other words updated to modern usage.
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