COVID-19 Update: 1 of 5

A little over a month ago, our Pastor shared a significant update about the church’s initial response to the pandemic. This week, Sterling will release a daily podcast offering updates on where we’ve been, what God has done, and where we think God might be taking us next. We encourage you to spend a few minutes each day listening to the updates, sharing the news with others, and praying specifically.

Leading Churches during the Coronavirus Pandemic

We have experienced tremendous disruptions to daily life as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across our nation and the globe. Many of us as church leaders are struggling to find ways to adapt to the situation. On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Sterling Severns (Senior Pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, VA) and Art Wright (Theologian in Residence for CBFVA and member at Tabernacle Baptist) talked via Zoom about how Tabernacle is navigating these challenges and adapting to offer worship, educational and fellowship opportunities, and pastoral care right now. In our conversation we discuss some of the practical challenges that we are facing, key technology that we are using as we strive to be church virtually, and we also reflect on deeper theological and spiritual dimensions of leading churches during these trying times. We are sharing this conversation in hopes that it is helpful for churches near and far.

Sunday, March 15: Opportunities to study, worship, and reflect

We’ve cancelled all in-person events at Tabernacle through the month of March. Hope you will make plans to join us for some great online opportunities to participate in our Sabbath Day Together 

9:45 – 10:45 AM

Youth Sunday school  

Conversation with Rones

11:00 AM

Worship Livestream

12:10 PM (approximate)

Talkback: A new opportunity to converse, reflect, and share (begins 10 minutes after worship)

Helpful Information about week ahead


Our free Church App, and the website, are your best source of up-to-date information. 

Love God. Love Neighbor. A Significant Update related to the COVID-19 VIRUS.

A significant update on the COVID-19 Situation. 

We have decided to cancel all in-person church events for the remainder of March. Our concern is the wellbeing of the city and the most vulnerable among us. Our hope is that keeping a social distance for this short time will help the community by slowing the spread of the virus.

We want to use our facilities to serve our neighbors. In this instance, one of the best ways we can offer care is to sacrifice our time together in those facilities. Of course, we will also be looking for opportunities to use the facilities in unique ways, should something come to our attention. We will be using technology creatively to worship, remain connected, mobilize care, and meet together. 


Our free Church App, and the website, are your best source of up-to-date information. 


"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your God in heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16

A Response to the Moment at Hand.

Christians profess to believe that Jesus walks with us through life in it’s entirety. We believe the love and compassion of Jesus is with us in crisis, in celebration, and every moment between those bookends. When we experience the compassion of Christ, we naturally find ourselves extending that compassion to neighbor. It’s a relevant word as Covid-19 has introduced fear into many hearts and, in turn, we find ourselves assuming a posture of self-protection and selfishness.  

Where is God in all of this? 

Friends, I do not believe that God threw this virus onto the world as a form of punishment or judgement. However, I do think there is tremendous temptation for us to to turn this virus into a god that ultimately demands our fear and devotion alike.

  • Jesus doesn’t demand our devotion. Rather he draws near, walks with us, and inspires our devotion through faithful compassion. 
  • Jesus doesn’t delight in our fear. Rather he promises to bring peace and courage amidst the fear. 
  • Jesus doesn’t relish in our isolation. Rather, he promises companionship through the presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift he gives us in one another. 
  • Jesus never said “this” would be easy. Life happens….chaos happens…..struggle is part of the deal. The promise Jesus makes to us is daily presence and daily bread. 

In these days of anxiety and distrust…..

  • Let us re-commit ourselves to the nurturing of our faith. Let us commit to pray continually and remain connected to the source of our salvation. 
  • Let us commit to keep our hearts open to the holy nudges that move us toward our neighbors. 
  • Let us resist the urge to hoard anything that our neighbors might need and trust that God will provide sustenance….one day at a time. 
  • Let us commit to protect the most vulnerable through the exercise of best practices AND also exhibit courage in movement toward our neighbors. We know that God has given researchers, doctors, and community leaders the wisdom they need in helping guide us through this next stretch of time. We also know that our faith compels us to follow Christ wherever he leads us. We will need to seek wisdom and courage as we lean into the tension of these two truths. 
  • Let us avoid making assumptions about others. We don’t know the physical, mental, and spiritual challenges our neighbors are struggling with. 
  • Let us assume the best in each other and see each of our neighbors through the eyes of Christ. 

Whereas, there is nothing beautiful about the hardship that is taking place in various corners of the world, there is tremendous beauty in our response to that hardship. Jesus will give us the creativity we need for the moment at hand. He is helping to carry our burdens along the way so that we can use our hands and feet as an extension of his own. This is a moment to practice what we preach …. loving God…and loving our neighbors as ourselves. 

Yours in Christ, 

Sterling W. Severns, Pastor