Updated: March 31st, 2020
Dear Manhattan First Family,
I am writing this letter with a heavy heart because I miss you, and I know you miss each other. I have made a decision for our church services and activities until April 30th. I will list my reasons for you in just a moment. I know this has been difficult, and I know some will not agree with all my reasons. Walking in faith, and using wisdom should not contradict each other, and being Spirit filled I do believe we are making faith-based wise decisions for the betterment of our church and community. I do believe it takes faith not only to have service if we choose to but to cancel services if we choose to. I believe the decision needs to be made with faith and wisdom as we approach these difficult times.
I am suggesting we continue online only, until April 30th and then re-evaluate.
Here are the reasons:
1) I spoke with the staff and each staff member agrees to postpone services and all activities until April 30th. For the following reasons:
a). Riley county has not reached its peak in coronavirus cases.
b) It is too much of a risk for exposure for people who will come when the doors are open.
c) The staff feels, if we have a service we are sending the message that it is safe and people will come. We don’t feel comfortable sending that message.
d) The staff wants to follow the guidelines from our local, state and national government, even though they have not banned church service we feel we cannot practice social distancing, as recommend, especially with children, and people who may not agree with the government recommendations.
2). It has been pointed out to me, that It would be hard to offer services on Sunday, but then cancel mid-week services or other church activities. At the moment, all church activities have been canceled, and we should keep it that way until ALL church activities can be resumed safely. It would be hard to open that can of worms because it would be confusing for people to have partial church activities or limit groups from using the building. Also, it would be hard for our children’s workers and youth workers to enforce a 6-foot social distancing order. Not to mention the amount of time we would need to spend disinfecting the entire church building after each service. (although I know that is the least of our worries, it is a concern).
3) One Godly wise person said, God warned Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt and he told them when it was safe to come back. He was concerned about their physical safety and He did not ask them to stay although He could have protected them. I believe we will know when it is safe to resume services and I believe the authority God has put over us will help us to know that.
4). I have been in constant communication with most of the pastors in Manhattan, roughly about 30 of them. The group has expressed that they will continue online services only until they have been told it is safe to have public meetings by the local, state and national government.
So what will this look like?
I am informing the church via email and Facebook that we have made the decision to cancel services and activities until April 30th, but we continue to seek God for ways to connect within the boundaries we have been given. I will close the building and playground. From the beginning, our local government has asked for those that can work from home, please work from home. All of our staff can do that and come to the office on a needs basis.
What I need from you our Manhattan First Family:
- Please pray and continue in all the disciplines of scripture.
- Please follow local authorities and what they are asking us to do.
- Please follow us on our Manhattan First Facebook page.
- Please join us online as often as you can.
- Until the stay at home order is over —- PLEASE REACH US ON OUR MANHATTAN FIRST FACEBOOK PAGE IF YOU NEED US. Also, we will be using our Manhattan First Facebook page to give updates and promote online connection opportunities.
- Please continue in your quest for generosity.
- The best way to give during this time is online, however, if you cannot give your tithe online, you may drop your tithe off between 3-5, Monday and Thursday. Bonnie will be here during these times. Please follow CDC guidelines when dropping your tithe off.
- Please, please reach out to all of those in your circle of influence for fellowship, prayer and sharing the word together. Be proactive in contacting your brothers and sisters in Christ, just to let them know you love them. Use Facebook to reach out to one another during this time.
What we will do for you :
- We will continue to improve our online presence.
- We will continue to pray for you, please message us on Facebook for specific needs.
- We will continue to try and create ways for the body to stay connected.
- We are dreaming and praying for ways to do ministry over the next several weeks.
This is not a decision I want to make but it is one I feel like I have to make.
To the Glory of God
Pastor Billy Simar
Published: March 14th, 2020
Dear Manhattan First,
Greetings to all you wonderful God-fearing people.
This is a rather lengthy letter, but it is imperative that you read it in its entirety. The board has determined the direction and response of Manhattan first to the COVID-19 virus. In a unified response, after much prayer and discussion, we have canceled all public activities for the next 14 days. From March 15th until March 28th. Again all activities on the calendar have been canceled.
In no way do we feel we are compromising God’s principles, nor do we feel we are acting in fear. We have asked for wisdom and believe James 1:5 to be true “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James goes on to say wisdom from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. (James 3:17)
This has been a very difficult decision, but as gut-wrenching, as it has been, we feel this is the best decision for several reasons.
One, from our understanding of the virus and the rate at which it spreads, while still undetected, we decided to take a proactive approach and cancel church activities before any confirmed cases in the Manhattan community have been identified to help reduce the spread of the virus. This may be the best way to help our community.
Two, considering some of our strongest attendees are in the high-risk group (70 and above), we feel it is the best way to protect them.
Three, because of our time of fasting and seeking God together as a congregation, we did not like the idea of asking “at-risk” people to stay home while the rest were welcome to attend. We thought it would be a much more unified front if we are all encouraged to participate in our online services that will be offered. (see below)
A friend of mine read an article that was written by an outreach team, and they were asking questions to pastors in China and Europe who have experienced the sweeping effects of Coronavirus in their cities as well as in their congregations. And they ultimately posed this question to the American pastors and churches….IS YOUR CHURCH READY FOR THE CORONAVIRUS?
My answer at the time was “not really.” Coronavirus? In any circle, we get two sides, some saying it’s no big deal and others saying we are on the cusp of a devastating pandemic. Since that time, we’ve seen a lot more in the media about it. A lot of it has been used politically, so it certainly is a struggle to understand what is going on completely. Opinions are flying everywhere, and the news seems to change as we learn more. As a matter of fact, in the time I made one draft of this letter, several major things changed in our community. From our nation’s official physicians, we at least know that this virus is NOT on the same level as “seasonal flu.” Some are saying it is at least 10x as lethal – primarily against our elderly and those with existing complications.
WHY THIS IS SERIOUS
So…first of all…from a spiritual standpoint, I just want you to realize that THESE AREN’T NORMAL TIMES. Name the last time you can remember an entire NBA SEASON being shut down…or an NCAA March Madness tournament. AGAIN, THESE AREN’T NORMAL TIMES. These are actually historical times. And I’m afraid that if the church isn’t “wise as serpents but harmless as doves” during this viral crisis, the actions we take could put the life and health of others at risk.
We like to say, “We can’t live in fear. We live by faith.” This is true. However, we cannot ignore things that are happening rapidly around the world, in our nation and our communities. Entire countries are shutting down because the nation’s doctors are warning against unnecessary travel. Government and health officials suggest we, at least, be ready to shelter in place in case it is required. Every public school system (Kansas State University, Manhattan Christian College, Manhattan Area Technical Center, and USD 383) in our community has shut down. If Christians still go about their normal travel and day-to-day activities “in faith” as if nothing is happening, this “faith” is foolishly placed in a selfish God-tempting mindset that rings out as the “simple” in Proverbs 22:3 “The prudent see danger and take cover, but the simple keep going and suffer the consequences.” Given only the mortality rate we know about this virus, the fool is the person not taking it seriously. The prudent take cover, not because of fear, but because they are not fools. Understand the difference.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOU AND YOURS
I’m asking you, as your pastor, to be wise. Visit the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/ community/index.html, for specific recommendations to protect your home, your workplace, and your world. In a nutshell, personal recommendations are:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
- If, for any reason, you feel you should avoid getting out, do not feel bad about that, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability. You can still be a vital part of Manhattan First, even if you stay home for a few weeks. You can stay up on the current series via the internet, and you can give online.
- Be a Joseph: have enough food to shelter in place should it come to that.
- If you are 70 and above, stay home, and for the next several weeks, don’t get out unless you absolutely need to. Please know this, if you are in this group and do not have anyone that can make a grocery run for you, please contact me or the board. I, pastor Megan, the board, or one of the staff will be happy to run errands for you.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A PART OF MANHATTAN FIRST
- Participate in our online service.
- Invite your family and friends to participate in our online service.
- Pray for the leadership and our mission Knowing, Investing, and Reaching.
- Move to an online form of tithing and giving offerings for the next 14 days.
WHAT WE WILL DO FOR MANHATTAN FIRST FAMILY AND OUR COMMUNITY
- Contact us with any prayer requests so we can pray for you.
- We will offer online services.
- We will be seeking creative ways to connect with each of you and your family.
THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL DURING THIS ABNORMAL TIME
I also want to ask you as your pastor to see this from God’s perspective. I WANT YOU TO ASK GOD TO USE THIS ABNORMAL TIME TO HELP US COMMUNICATE JESUS LIKE NEVER BEFORE.
- Everyone knows that America needs to wake up spiritually.
- If this is something that God is using to wake us up…then so be it.
- God still wants to bring life to people.
- God wants us to see this as a spiritual opportunity.
- The spread of the Coronavirus presents a unique opportunity to share the gospel with people.
- PLEASE USE OUR ONLINE PRESENCE TO REACH OUT TO THOSE YOU KNOW.
- As we are praying and fasting, ask God to show each of us how to respond!
One pastor in Wuhan, China, said, “You must know that this is not just an observable disaster, but even more it is a spiritual struggle.”
WE NEED TO SEE CORONAVIRUS AS A CHANCE TO:
- fight for the souls of the people of Manhattan,
- pray for them who are fearful, and
- bring the peace of God to those who are anxious.
HOW YOU NEED TO CONNECT WITH US STARTING THIS SUNDAY:
- If you do not have Facebook, you will need to create an account. It will not take you long, and then you can view our service on Sunday.
- If you haven’t already, please “LIKE” our Manhattan First Facebook page. This page will provide the source of regular updates, as well as, stream our Sunday morning service live at 10:15 am.
- As you watch our live service, please hit the “SHARE” button to provide an opportunity for all of your friends and family to watch with us.
- If you need any help, please contact the church.
- The office will hold normal office hours
- You can contact any of the pastors or board for more details
- Check your Facebook regularly for updates
Pastors and Board
Pastor Billy Simar and Pastor Megan, Kevin Newkirk, Dave Palmer, Dr. Tanda Kidd, Leon Hobson, Matt Herzog, and Andy Newkirk