Our Ongoing Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We hope that you are well.
On Monday 16 March 2020 the UK government announced that to slow the spread of the coronavirus all non-essential travel and gatherings should stop. On Tuesday 17 March 2020 the Baptist Union of Great Britain advised Baptist churches to stop all meetings including Sunday services, which the London Baptist Association agrees with.
The leadership of Totteridge Road Baptist Church met on Wednesday 18 March 2020 to consider this advice and with a very heavy heart we unanimously concluded that we should follow this guidance. Therefore, all gatherings at Totteridge Road Baptist Church, including our Sunday morning service and Home Fellowships are suspended until further notice.
I never imagined having to take such a decision as a minister of the Gospel, yet I see God’s sovereign hand at working in leading me to this decision. As a leadership we’d planned to meet on Tuesday evening, but it had to be postponed to Wednesday. If we’d met on Tuesday, I would have really struggled to accept the need to stop our Sunday morning service. On Wednesday I heard from Baptist ministers who’d decided to accept the Baptist Union’s advice, but I was uneasy. I asked the Lord to clearly show me what to do. As I prepared Sunday morning’s sermon on the Lord feeding the 5000, I noted that the Lord prioritized meeting the needs of the crowds who were “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6: 34), above that of meeting the needs of His disciples. Much of our nation is gripped with fear, and they do not know the love, care, compassion, grace, mercy and forgiveness of our Lord, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. (Hebrews 13: 20) At this time, we need to attend to the needs of those in our community who do not know the Lord and are helpless and harassed by this crisis. Therefore, though I am deeply saddened by this decision, I am at peace that it is the right one.
As a leadership we are very aware that how we respond now, will affect how our community responds to the gospel after this crisis has passed. Writing to the church at Philippi, Paul wrote: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 4) The best interest of people in our community is that they come to know the Lord Jesus, whose peace surpasses understanding, and how we behave in the midst of this situation must help, not hinder them in receiving the Lord as their Saviour and Lord.
Of course, the Lord did not totally ignore the needs of His disciples or His own needs, but He met these needs at a different time and in a different way. So, we too we will seek to meet the needs of all, who fellowship at TRBC. This decision presents us with new opportunities to engage with our community, and even the world; to scatter God’s word widely. I will continue to prepare sermons, which will be live streamed via the internet, so that people can take part in the service from home. A telephone dial up service has been set up, so that those without internet can hear the sermon over the phone. This system will also be used to hold prayer meetings, which could be more frequent than it is now. In the coming days we may find other new ways to connect with each other and our community.
If you are not able to access the sermon either by internet or phone, then you can listen to a sermon on UCB1 at 9.15am, or UCB 2 at 10.15am or Premier Christian Radio at 10.30am. UCB 1 & 2 are digital radio stations and through the week UCB2 offers very good worship and devotionals, particularly during the current crisis.
Please know that you can contact me at any time and that as a leadership team we are available to offer any practical support or any other needs you may have. Please also know that you will all be in our prayers; please do let me or other leaders know of any specific prayer requests that you have.
As a leadership we know that people will have mixed feelings about this decision, which is totally understandable. Paul said to the believers in Rome: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12: 9-11) Let us pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be gracious, loving, and understanding of one another.
At this stage no one knows for how long this will last. However, as followers of Christ we know that God’s plans and purposes are being worked out, both for our good and so that all may come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Per Romans 12: 12, “Let us be joyful in hope”, because we have the sure hope of abundant life now and in eternity with the Lord; “patient in affliction”, which is so appropriate for us now; and let us be “faithful in prayer.” Prayer is the most powerful weapon that each of us can use at anytime and anywhere, so please let’s pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit to pray for one another, our families, our local community, city, nation and world, knowing that the Lord will hear and answer.
We have a great opportunity to grow in love for God, one another and our community; please let us seize this chance and look forward to receiving the Lord’s richest blessings. I and all the leaders eagerly look forward to when we can meet together again as a fellowship of believers at Totteridge Road Baptist to praise, thank, exalt and magnify our God, for all the good things He is going to do among us in the days to come.
May the Lord’s favour and blessing rest on us now and forevermore.
Ps. Kumar, Ejiro, Kay, Laurel, Margaret and Michael
The Leadership Team