Dear Church Family,
The Board met last night to decide how Grace Fellowship should proceed in response to the coronavirus and the Governor’s Executive Order 2020–07. I want to address large gatherings, small gatherings, staff, ministry and finances. Before I get to these things I want to share some wisdom for believers from Christianity Today.
Trust God: Viral disease is a fact of biological existence and part of creation. Keeping perspective and not panicking apply here, just as they do for all risks we face as creatures in a finite world. No matter how dire circumstances get, the Lord remains our refuge and strength, “an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). To trust in the Lord amid trouble is to experience and bear witness to the power of Christ.
Pray: We must pray for the sick and the scared, for public health officials, for doctors and nurses, for researchers, and for caregivers. As Christians, we believe prayer has power, so we seek help from the Lord.
Heal the Sick: A core calling for Christians is to care for the sick and dying (Matt. 10:8), at times at the risk of our own lives (John 15:13). This is the epitome of love. Even if a virus outbreak prevents us from gathering as congregations to worship, we still support one another in our caregiving. This can happen through prayer, through verbal encouragement, and through coming alongside others to provide help in a crisis. (https://subscribe.christianitytoday.com/pubs/L2/TDY/corona-virus-page.jsp?null=249078&cds_mag_code=TDY&id=1584716434572&lsid=30801000345026368&vid=1&cds_page_id=249078&cds_from_id=coronavirus-landing-page)
Large Gatherings: We have decided to cancel Sunday worship services and AWANA until the Governor lifts the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation, or amends the above mentioned Executive Order. We did not make this decision based on fear. We want to maintain our witness to our community, who might interpret our continued meeting as not caring.
Small Gatherings: Small groups that currently use the church may at their discretion continue to meet at the church, with the following restrictions:
- All gatherings are limited to less than 50 people.
- All gatherings are limited to the CE Building/Sanctuary areas. Please enter and exit through the foyer and instruct all attendees to only use the restroom closest to the sanctuary door. (We are trying to limit areas that need cleaned as well as maintain a safe working environment for staff!) Offices and library are also off limits, including copier.
- No food or beverages are to be served (this includes using Keurig) and the kitchen is not to be used.
- Any group that meets is asked to wipe down tables/door handles/other surfaces used by participants with disinfectant wipes.
- If the Governor restricts gatherings of people to 10 or fewer, all small groups are cancelled and the building is not to be used.
Staff: We are still working. We are working some from home and some at the church. Thanks for helping us maintain a clean work environment. We are available by phone/FaceTime if you need us. You can find our cell numbers on the back of any bulletin, or email the general church email and we’ll get back to you.
Ministry: Many churches are streaming services. We made the decision to take a different approach. We encourage you to attend a virtual service or watch a sermon this weekend. A great place to hear a message is Dallas Seminary’s chapel. Go to https://voice.dts.edu/ and scroll about half way down the page to find a list of topics you can click. They are working on putting together a best of the best series, which should be excellent. Rather than putting time and money into the technology and licenses to stream a worship service, we are going in the direction of discipleship. I am working on posting a daily discipleship moment to encourage you in prayer and scripture study. My goal is that at the end of this thing, we all look back at it as a time of spiritual growth. Pulling you into active participation will help us accomplish that goal. Also, even though we are not gathering, we are still the church. Represent Christ well to those around you. Care for each other as well as friends and neighbors as you have opportunity. Continue to pray for one another. Send prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will forward them to the congregation.
Finances: The economic impact of the coronavirus is yet to be determined, but you can be sure there will be many in need. If you need financial assistance, email the church and we will walk you through the benevolent process. Grace Fellowship is financially solid. We have reserves that we can use to pay the mortgage, utilities, payroll, missionaries, etc. We are not concerned, but we also want to maintain wise stewardship—as individuals and as a ministry. We will continue to receive checks by mail or through your online bill pay.
I will continue to send you texts with updates as needed. If people from church are asking you for updates, have them email their cell number to the church email so I can update their info. I am praying for all of you—faith, not fear; spiritual growth, not discouragement; and that you will love others well.