Dear Redeemer friends,
You may have been expecting this message from us, if you happen to have been following the news this afternoon. The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that all gatherings of over 100 people would not be permitted under rules designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19.
The headline is, as of this Sunday 15 March to at the earliest 5 April there will no Sunday meeting at OPEN due to the new government regulations.
However, we still believe that meeting together is an important part of being a follower of Jesus and for those of us who are healthy and able we would like to find a way to meet together in a safe and organized manner.
For this purpose, our Life Groups will be meeting on a Sunday morning at the same time as our normal services, i.e. 11.00 until 12.30. There will be time to worship together, to hear the sermon live-streamed from one of the locations and to pray for and spend time with each other. You will hear more specifics from your Life Group leaders about this (if, where and what).
This was a situation that we had anticipated since the coronavirus (Covid-19) first appeared in the Netherlands. It has not taken God by surprise and we have had time to think and pray about our response before now. I feel very positive and have an excitement in God that this will be a great time of personal growth for us and of building a stronger community. You never know, we may end up liking this better! Overall, it is really important for us to say with Paul:
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NIV)
God will work this situation for the good of his church because that is who He is.
Should I come or not?
People should not come to these meetings if they have been in an at risk area (China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy) in the last two weeks or have come into contact with an infected individual following the instructions of the RIVM (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu / National Institute for Public Health and the Environment).
Furthermore, people displaying any cold or flu-like symptoms (runny nose, coughing, fever, breathing problems, etc.) should not come to the Life Group Meetings but stay at home.
It is important not to worry! In the majority of cases, at this point in time, it is much more likely that people will have another respiratory infection. For the sake of honouring the Dutch government and protecting the most vulnerable in our community we ask you to do this. Be kind to each other, coughing once does not imply someone is a carrier of the contagion!
I am not in a Life Group / I am sick / I am worried about getting sick
If you are not yet in a Life Group, you are sick or too worried about getting sick then you can follow one of the meetings and hear the worship and sermon for this Sunday by going to our Facebook page. We will be able to begin to connect people with a Life Group from next week. Please let us know by sign-up here.
Health Protocol for Life Group Meetings
At these smaller meetings continue to follow the guidance of the RIVM to prevent the further spread and reduce the chance of catching the virus are:
- Regularly washing hands (or disinfect with hand gel).
- Sneezing or coughing into elbows / sleeves.
- Using disposable paper tissues.
- Avoiding shaking hands
Additionally, we would advise that people also:
- Avoid physical contact with each other (handshakes, hugs, laying on hands).
- Have people with gloves or tongs distribute the bread for communion.
The Changing Situation
The national and regional situation could change further and you can stay up-to-date at https://www.rivm.nl/. This information is available in Dutch and English.
We will be updating our Facebook page with the latest information about what will be happening. Please check back here for updates.
on behalf of the elders