Todd Nathan of the Evangelical Free Church of Blairstown, New Jersey posted on Facebook how the church would respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. His words of love and care for the community ring empty in light of the spiritual abuse that took place against a large number of people who once called Blairstown home. Plus I have one question that is gnawing at me. Could the pastor at Blairstown during a pandemic that is highly contagious possibly increase the likelihood of transmitting a communicable disease by staying with a family in New Jersey and traveling from Pennsylvania?
“I don’t care if they respect me so long as they fear me.”
“I’m not a dictator. It’s just that I have a grumpy face.”
Romans 6:23 NIV
Worship service at the Evangelical Free Church of Blairstown
This blog has written about and is still interested in the Evangelical Free Church of Blairstown. This good size EFCA church in New Jersey is led by Todd Nathan who is a theological tyrant. If you want to read the story of Blairstown you can do so in, “The Autocratic Reign of Todd Nathan and the Troubling Story of the Evangelical Free Church of Blairstown, New Jersey” and “As Problems Increase at Blairstown Free Church Former Members Turn to the Eastern District of the EFCA for Assistance. In 2018 the Church Enters into a Decline While a Disturbing February 4, 2019 Congregational Meeting Occurred.” I read the letter that Todd Nathan of Blairstown posted to Facebook and have that down below. Todd explains how Blairstown is responding to the COVID-19 crisis and how he wants to love the community. While reading it a few thoughts popped into my mind.
Todd Nathan from my understanding is living in Pennsylvania and is not part of the community of Blairstown. During this medical crisis did the senior pastor shelter in Pennsylvania or in New Jersey? If he sheltered in New Jersey could he have possibly put the family he stays with at higher risk? Remember COVID-19 is a communicable disease that is highly contagious. Is the going back and forth put more people at risk of infection within the community? In addition I think part of the tragedy during this time is that Blairstown does not have a solid leader who is a part of the community. Therefore as I read Todd’s words they ring empty and are hollow. How can you love the community when you are not a part of it? When you refuse to call it home? But you expect to travel and stay a couple of days in the area? That was not what Blairstown advertised for in a pastor when they were hiring.
But there is more, when Todd talks about reaching the elderly and the community this blog would suggest that he start with the community that he threw out of the church in exploiting a loophole in congregationalism. This blog has a deep amount of love and respect for those who once called Blairstown home. I think highly of them and find them to be compassionate, kind and tender. They are indeed the ones who are wronged. If Todd Nathan wants to be sincere he can reach out to those families and discuss what happened and atone for his mistakes. What is the alternative? Say you love the community of Blairstown and want to help them while simultaneously shunning others during a pandemic? Is that how his narcissism is going to operate? Does that make any sense? Another way to consider it is did Todd’s actions contribute to the health problems and psychological stress of those who once called Blairstown home. If Todd Nathan is going to be serious then about what he wrote then he can start with about 30 or so people that he hurt. Otherwise the pastor of Blairstown’s words are meaningless and empty.
We are in such a challenging time as a country in responding adequately to the world wide coronavirus pandemic. As believers, we do not live by fear but rather hold on to confident hope that we have in Jesus Christ and God’s sovereign rule over all things. As many of you are aware, schools districts, sporting events, professional sports, hospitals, nursing homes and businesses are all taking pro-active steps to their part in preventing to do their part in preventing the spread of the virus by canceling events of more than 100 people. The Governor of New Jersey has advised groups of over 250 people to be canceled. We have sought the counsel of health care workers within our church family, the Warren County Health Department and other Church leaders to determine the best course of action for the EFCB. Based on the information we have received and and with genuine concern for our Senior adults and those with significant health conditions we are closing church and canceling all events, ministry meetings and our Worship Services through March 28, 2020. Our Food Pantry will be open tomorrow morning to serve out community, many of whom are concerned about not having enough food.
No groups should be meeting at the building without special permission over the next two weeks.
Some have asked whether we are contributing to the hysteria by closing. The answer is NO. We are supporting the efforts of our community leaders, national leaders and medical professionals by partnering in the effort to hopefully limit the mass spread of the coronavirus. One of our health care professionals indicated to me, “As a community we need to do our part to contain this and protect not just the elderly and vulnerable but also our health care systems so they are not bombarded with more cases than they could ever handle.” This makes great sense and it is wise for us to do our part.
Others have wondered if we are are yielding to fear. Again, the answer is NO. We are demonstrating wisdom by protecting those God has entrusted to our care as a church, and remain confidently anchored to the Lord. We are also doing as God commands by honoring those in authority over us (Romans 13) and what our local, State and National leaders have asked organizations and people to do.
Over the next two weeks I would encourage you to pray faithfully, consider helping those who are elderly or who have special medical conditions by running errands or doing shopping for them. Care for your neighbors and be encouraging as you remind people of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Worship together as a family or small group of friends. Stay connected to each other and check in with each other regularly. We will get through this and hopefully be back together on Sunday March 29 to worship and celebrate what God has done through this National crisis!
God is great!