Do No Harm

Do no harm


In the latter part of the year 1739, some new persons to the faith came to John Wesley to see if he would mentor them in their spiritual life. Over time, the number of people seeking guidance grew, and Wesley formed them into small groups. He gave structure to the groups’ lives by providing self reflection questions to be answered, and guidelines by which each person should live. Some of those have become what we today call, The General Rules.

As I have talked with other staff about how we should live out our shared life as the Front Street congregation in light of our COVID-19 pandemic, the first General Rule keeps coming to mind and gives good guidance: “First, Do no harm.”

Recently we have had conversations about everything from VBS to the Mission Man Triathlon, and the first General Rule continues to give us good guidance as we seek to balance our desire to enjoy communal activities with protection of physical health. The following are some of the decisions that we want to share with you:

  • Music & Mission Camp – This has been cancelled in its present form for this year. We are hoping to be able to have a 1-day event in the fall.

  • Vacation Bible School – This has also been cancelled for this summer. Instead, Marcy will focus on creating spiritual activities for our children that will hopefully be able to conform more closely to the pandemic guidelines.

  •  Mission Man Triathlon – After conversation with Susan, Amanda, and Pastor Patrick, we decided that it was in our best interest to cancel the event for this year.  As you can imagine, some of our small business sponsors are not able to contribute this year due to the economy.  Also, with participant numbers projected to be down, we felt cancellation was the most prudent financial decision at this time.  We are providing the congregation with a list of the missions that the proceeds normally support in case you would like to make personal donations to help cover the amounts they would ordinarily receive from the church.

We will continue to evaluate the possibility of face-to-face worship.  The Conference Office is preparing a document containing suggested guidelines for local churches to consider as we are able to move through the State’s phases of re-opening.  I will gather a small steering committee together to help give advice on how we might move forward at Front Street.  As the many issues are considered, we will continue to keep the first General Rule to “do no harm” in mind. 

 I participated in a webinar recently on Wesleyan teaching as it relates to ministry during a pandemic.  The question was asked, “What would John Wesley think about churches not meeting inperson during our present pandemic?”   

 The presenter replied that there is evidence in Wesley’s writings that he discussed situations where the obligation to engage in works of piety (such as corporate worship) came into conflict with the obligation to do no harm.  When that happened, Wesley took the position that the obligation to do no harm to one’s self, or to another person, trumped the obligation to engage in works of piety.  So, in the opinion of the presenter, John Wesley would approve of our pause in corporate worship and in other aspects of corporate church life insofar as we are doing so seeking to protect the health of ourselves and others.  I’m glad to know that Brother John would approve of the decision we’ve made at Front Street to move to online worship for a season. 

 Please continue to pray for all those who are in leadership at the church as we continue to discern what the future looks like for us at Front Street; and, know that we are praying for you, too.

Grace and peace, 

- Pastor Ross

Last Published: May 14, 2020 1:52 PM
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