Written May 10, 2021
Dear Hope Family,
I am writing to share our thoughts regarding our current Covid-19 safety protocols, as well as how we will begin to relax those protocols after 14 long months. Our decisions are driven by data NOT a fixed date. We knew very little about this deadly virus 14 months ago that has killed over 12,000 Tennesseans and 571,000 Americans. We rightly feared what was UNKNOWN regarding this virus and searched the Scriptures to be compassionate to the most vulnerable but not overshadowed by fear. We also consulted with our health science professionals and used common sense to design a response.
Covid-19 case counts topped 200-300 per day in Memphis and over 10,000 per day in the U.S. Hospitalization rates neared capacity, test positivity rates were over 15%, transmission rates were over 1% and deaths were climbing nationally. Thus, out of an abundance of caution, we suspended our ‘in-person’ worship hour and offered limited-service opportunities for five long months. After we re-opened, we adapted to wearing masks, temperature checks, preregistration for attendance and staying six feet apart while indoors.
As we return back to some normalcy, we will rely on scripture to show compassion, but also continue to rely on health science and common sense to combat unreasonable fear. Now that we KNOW more about the virus, many are abnormally fearing the virus in view of the facts and the faith. Make sure unfounded fear is not motivating you.
The facts are changing…
Vaccines are turning the tide…
As you know there is still political and personal tension associated with Covid-19. Let’s not minimize the risk of sickness nor death that many still face. Give each other grace to disagree, agreeably. DO NOT criticize those who have chosen not to be vaccinated but instead adhere to common sense safety measures.
Gradually Relaxing Hope Church’s Covid-19 Restrictions
We have already eliminated preregistration. And our Youth have started assembling outside and under the Pavilion without masks. We anticipate the Shelby County Health Department to issue a Directive changing MASKS from “required to recommended” by 12 May. As a result, our church will announce further weaning such as reintroducing coffee service and optional masking. Because we are blessed with such a large sanctuary, we will not need to designate a section in the main auditorium for masks only. The last restriction to disappear by summertime will be to reduce physical distancing to three feet. Stay tuned...
Finally, our battle with convenience and complacency
I must admit, it was a lot less work to preach one prerecorded sermon, than having to preach FOUR every weekend! My, my, how convenient it was for me, the preaching team and the musical worship team. And after a year of changed behavior by worshipping digitally online from the comforts of home, the INCONVENIENCE of face-to-face worship and fellowship is a battle many of us will have to fight and win. In addition, we must also resist the temptation or complacency to think that everything will automatically revert to being the same as it was pre-pandemic. It will not. We will have to intentionally re-engage and ask ourselves anew, what lessons have we really learned from this crisis that will enhance our relationship with God the Father, as well as our fellowship with each other?
But let’s finish strong…
To use clothes washing metaphor, we’re in the rinse cycle (not the final fast spin cycle). To use a cooking metaphor, we’re in the baking phase but the ingredients are not quite heated enough to take out of the oven. To use a runner’s metaphor, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (and an avid Jesus-Follower), compares this stage of our country’s Covid-19 battle to the TWENTIETH MILE of a marathon. We’re near the finish line but have another grueling six miles to go. We may be tired of the virus, but it is NOT tired of us. As a congregation, you have demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit of longsuffering. THANK YOU for being Christ-like! And thanks to God the Father, we now see light at the end of this treacherous tunnel. Our vigilance is about to be rewarded.
Joy! (Ruth 2:12)
Rev. Rufus Smith, IV
Senior Pastor - Hope Church Memphis
If you, or one of your unchurched neighbors, test positive for Coronavirus, we are here to help you through your 14-day quarantine. There is no stigma attached to this disease. So, let’s work hard to get well and keep others healthy, too! Click below for a helpful PDF checklist and an informational article about caring for those with Covid-19.
For more information from the Mayor’s office regarding COVID-19 screening; when and if you should be tested, CLICK HERE. Pastor Rufus described the process as "quick & safe, with minor discomfort — like the charge of a mosquito” ( not the charge of an elephant 😊)" He'll even prove how easy it is in the video below!
Our AMAZING Kitchen Ministry & College Ministry Staff and Volunteers have fed 1,240 local doctors, nurses, hospital & front line workers from Baptist East, Methodist Germantown, Baptist Call Center, DCS and Regional One! They have also made deliveries of essential items to 110 households and traveled over 300 miles in the process!
If you need a delivery—whether food, medicine or basic supplies—we want to help. Take a minute and complete the request form by clicking the link below.
Delivery Request Form
The Urban Ministry is recruiting more volunteers for our Operation Delivering Hope Initiative. Since early April we’ve been able to deliver hundreds of prepared meals to homebound Hope members and Friends of Hope with weekly food and supplies. We work hand-in-hand with the Kitchen Ministry to ensure minimal contact using their established safety and health protocols. Currently we deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 3:00 p.m.
What steps are involved in the delivery process? Click below to read more and to fill out a volunteer form…
We asked for help donating materials, collecting, sewing masks and delivering and YOU answered! Thank you so much for all the masks, materials, donations and smiles (even the ones behind the masks)! To date 13,401 masks were made!
Thank you, Maskateers!
Our Hope Kitchen team and volunteers are preparing meals to deliver to those in need. At this point the best way to support this ministry is with a financial contribution to help with the cost of ingredients. If you’d like to donate towards a family’s care package, $30 covers a family of 4 and $20 covers a family of 2. You can give directly to Hope’s Operating Fund through Pushpay or mail in a check directly to the church.
Checks can be made payable to Hope Church and mailed to:
8500 Walnut Grove Rd
Cordova, TN 38018
Thank you so much for your generosity with our Hope family and Memphis community!
We understand that life can get overwhelming during this quarantine season. That's why we have several resources available to help with the stress and uncertainty. Click the link below to visit our page filled with helpful information such as COVID-19 Screenings, Crisis Hotlines and Homeschool advice (from a pro!). You are not alone in this!