Faith not Fear Graphic

As cancellations came in fast and furious this week, one group remained steadfast in their refusal to panic.

Northern Jefferson County pastors were largely united in their message of “Faith Over Fear” in the face of the threat of coronavirus infection.

Kimberly Church of God Pastor Stan Cooke said his congregation was taking precautions such as asking members not to have physical contact with each other (i.e. handshakes, hugging, etc.) and providing hand sanitizer, but would not be canceling services.

“The Scripture tells us to live by faith, not by fear,” Cooke said. “We will be wise, but not fearful.”

Cooke said he had sent out a message via the church’s phone tree system asking that members take the mentioned precautions and would not be furthering the message in his sermon on Sunday.

“We will be continuing our sermon series leading to resurrection Sunday,” Cooke said.

Gardendale’s largest churches posted messages from their pastors on Facebook that seemed to be in agreement with Cooke.

Gardendale First Baptist Church posted a message from Pastor Kevin Hamm that read, “Be wise! Be alert! Be prepared! But do not be paralyzed by fear! Now is the time for every believer to demonstrate what faith in God looks like! Our only hope is Jesus! PK.”

Late Friday, GFBC issued the following statement via Facebook:

"In light of current events regarding the COVID-19 virus, we want to keep our GFBC family updated on our response and preparation.
In an effort to limit our gatherings and exposure to those who might be vulnerable, our plan is to gather for ONE 10:00 AM Sunday worship service this Sunday, March 15. There will be GFBC Kids services available for babies - 3rd grade. Lifegroups will not meet. In addition, ALL Sunday evening, weekday, and Wednesday activities have been postponed until further notice.
"The situation seems to change by the hour, therefore we will make adjustments as we see necessary. We are monitoring reports from the CDC, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the Jefferson County Health Department.
"We are committed to doing whatever we can to provide you and your family with a safe environment to worship and fellowship. With that in mind, here are a few steps we are proactively implementing:
•If you’re feeling sick in any way, or feel uncomfortable gathering with us in person, join us online via our website, gfbc.com/media/live, and Facebook page,
•Hand sanitizer dispensers are located in multiple locations across the North Campus for your convenience.
•Volunteers will operate the check-in stations for GFBC Kids & Preschool Ministries in order to minimize the exchange of germs.

•We will not pass the offering buckets during services; however, we will have ushers by the doors collecting at the end of each service. As a reminder, you can give online or by text with Pushpay by visiting gfbc.com/why-we-give. You may also give by mailing to our church offices at 940 Main Street, Gardendale, AL 35071.

•All mission trips (domestic and international) have been postponed until April 30. We will review the situation on that date and make changes to the status of future trips if necessary.
•Volunteers will be ready to greet you on Sunday with a smile and an air high five! Worship guides will be available to you in stacks at the entrances. For the time being, we will discontinue shaking hands during the welcome.
The GFBC Early Learning Center and Mother's Day Out will continue normal activities and will align with the plans of the Jefferson County School System.
"Our message to the world in these situations is one of hope, not fear. God is in control. We can trust Him, and we do not have to be afraid. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
"We will continue to navigate this situation over the next few days and weeks. This Sunday at 10:00 AM, Pastor Kevin looks forward to sharing a timely word with our church family and leading us in a time of prayer for our nation.
Our website, gfbc.com, is the best place to find the most updated information."

Gardendale Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church’s Senior Pastor Steve Baccus posted this message late Friday:

"After contacting all of our worship folks, we will still have 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM worship services this Sunday. The staff and volunteers, and the musicians and singers who make the worship service happen are ready and willing to lead. We will be making some adjustments. We ask that everyone please greet one another with less or no physical contact. We will also have stations for giving our tithes and offerings rather than passing the plates or bags. Sunday School is "officially" cancelled; this is to protect those who are older or have compromised immune systems. No one will chastise you if meet for Sunday School, but please do not meet if you have someone in your class who is vulnerable. Sunday School class leaders should be communicating with class members. There will be instruction and supervision available for the teen classes in case some young persons show up. The Sunday evening musical is also cancelled - we will reschedule.

Please do not come Sunday morning if you feel unsafe or unhealthy. We have a Facebook Live Service at 9:30 that may be watched online, and you can give your tithes and offerings online at www.gmvumc.org.
Governor Ivey just announced that all public schools in the state will be closing for 2 1/2 weeks after this Wednesday, March 18. So Wednesday evening evening activities are immediately CANCELLED until further notice. Please be in prayer for one another, our community, our state, nation, and world. We will update as often as possible.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Steve"

Church of the Highlands, which has a church in Fultondale, announced late Friday that it will continue with services as usual on Sunday as well.

Other area churches throughout Fultondale, Gardendale, Morris, Kimberly and Warrior did not respond to message left on voicemails or emails asking about services for this weekend, but have not issued a notice of cancellation either.

Rachel Davis is the editor and general manager of The North Jefferson News. She can be reached at editor@njeffersonnews.com or by calling 205.631.8716. 

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