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FPC Suspends Gathered Worship: A Message from Gerrit and Dr. Katie O'Neal

Beloved Members and Friends of First Presbyterian,
I despise media hysteria. I am skeptical of crowd-induced panic. I am determined that First will not behave out of fear or peer pressure.
And I now believe we should go to what is basically online worship for the next three weeks. It’s about serving our community, especially our health care services, by limiting large groups in social contact to “flatten out the curve” of a disease that will, inevitably, spread.
I’ve spoken to FPC member Dr. Katie O’Neal, who heads Disease Prevention at the Lake. I get it now in a way I didn’t. It’s not about what one individual handshake causes. It’s about the statistical reality of how epidemics spread. The facts, as best as we know them, are that “social distancing” slows down the spread and makes care of sick individuals more manageable. 
I then spoke to Dr. Keith Meador at Vanderbilt Medical Center and he confirmed all of the above.  
And following that, I have consulted with the session who agreed:
For March 15, 22 and 29, we will hold one 10.30 am service in the Sanctuary to which elders, deacons, staff and their families who are not in at-risk categories are invited. We will livestream this service, having communicated to our congregation that beginning Sunday we will eschew large gatherings. Nursery and Sunday school will be suspended for this time.
Let’s plan to participate together through our website, sending livestream viewership into the hundreds! Link is below.
However, home groups and small groups at church may continue, and people will be urged to follow the prescribed cautions, exercising personal discretion.
Chris Phillips and I will shape these services in various styles over the time period. 
The Youth Gala is already “out of the gate” and we will trust people to use discretion in their attendance, using good hygiene. 
We’re very thankful to Dr. O’Neal for conducting this video interview amidst a crushing schedule. 
Please pray especially for our medical providers, our elderly and the shalom of our city.
As ever, your pastors, elders and staff are available to serve you and uphold the faith we share.
With you in Christ