The Reverend Paul W. Simrell, M.Div., Elpis Christian Church, Maidens, Virginia
Like many faith communities, large and small, our congregation is trying to strike a healthy balance – no pun intended – between prudent response and panicked reaction – to the covid-19 pandemic.
We have decided to temporarily suspend all group church activities, including Sunday morning worship services. We have done this not because we think there is no need for worship or prayer right now. We have done it to make sure that the most vulnerable members of our community are not put at needless risk. We are getting used to the idea of communicating in some new ways. Some of us are spending a lot of time watching the news. Others have turned the news off, seeking some peace and quiet. We are reminding each other that the Church (note the capital C there) isn’t just limited to our own little community. Nor is it contained within restraints of physical walls and designated times for gathering according to some prescribed number of participants.
We are the body of Christ and the Spirit of God moves where and when the Spirit wants to move.
That – is very good news. That – is gospel truth.
We need not be afraid. Should we be reasonably concerned? Yes. Should we plan as best we can so as to maximize our ability to remain healthy? Yes. Should we mobilize – perhaps in some very new ways – so that we can respond as needed, with love and compassion, especially for the needs of “the least of these” among us? Yes. Should we be afraid?
No – definitely not. Fear is the devil’s domain – not God’s – and perfect love casts out fear.
So, who knows exactly where all this is heading?
Oh, wait. I know. GOD.
So, beloved flock, watch, be careful but not “care full.”
Trust. Have faith. And please…NO FEAR.
Don’t let the enemy have that victory. Not now, not ever, no matter what.
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton