From the Superintendent's DESK
With regard to this current pandemic, there is much uncertainty. During our March 5 meeting here in Portland, we drew attention to our wall-mounted and disposable hand sanitizers and suggested greeting one another with a fist bump rather than a handshake. That statement was met with some chuckling, perhaps more for the way the suggestion was presented than any doubt about its advisability. At that moment, COVID-19 seemed a somewhat remote threat to many, though our concern merited addressing it. Three days later, on Sunday, March 8, we met in the Portland sanctuary for services as usual. We have not assembled for a church service since. That is now the case of Apostolic Faith churches worldwide.
When we consider how fast and to what extent events have unfolded from day to day since we last assembled in our church sanctuaries, it is difficult to predict what conditions will be like thirty, sixty, or ninety days from now. Portland camp meeting is scheduled to open on Sunday, June 28, which is eighty-four days from this Sunday.
Last Sunday, I mentioned during a webcast from our empty Portland sanctuary that we expect to proceed cautiously in returning to our normal schedule. That remains the case. It is clear that it will be some weeks before we can gather again in our sanctuaries without putting attendees’ health at risk. When this pandemic subsides, closures throughout society will begin to open slowly, gradually, and incrementally rather than suddenly and all at once. Large gatherings will not be deemed safe or acceptable anytime soon. Even if we are able to assemble in our sanctuaries by the end of May, which is doubtful, we will need several weeks of gathering on a local level to gain confidence that we are doing so without putting the health of those present in jeopardy.
There is simply not enough time during the next eighty-four days to gain the needed confidence for hosting an international camp meeting. It is therefore clear that we should not hold Portland camp meeting this year, nor is it feasible to reschedule it. At this point, it is still too early to make firm plans regarding other summer events scheduled throughout the world. However, once we are able to safely assemble together, it may be more important to renew fellowship at the branch church level than to assemble away from our home churches.
This announcement will eliminate one aspect of our current uncertainty, even if it is disappointing. Our 37th camp meeting in 1943 was also cancelled at the height of World War II. Our saints survived, and we will too. In fact, we will do more than survive, we will thrive. In order to do so, here are some suggestions.
Thank you for your prayers and support. Between now and the trumpet sound, may God bless you.