God-willing, as you read this, Mark, Anna and I will be flying home from London. Anna’s Wake Forest Concert Choir sang concerts in London and in Cambridge this week and Mark and I got the privilege of attending their concerts. We have enjoyed the art and the history, the manuscripts in the British Library, the art in the National Gallery, the beauty of the choir singing in historical Cathedrals. While I have enjoyed the trip, like you, I have been watching the news of the spread of COVID-19.
First, an important word from the Psalms.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Psalm 46:1-3
It could be easy to hit the panic button, but as believers, there is another response.
- Pray…. Don’t panic.
- Pray for God to be at work all over the world.
- Pray for leaders and health care professionals to act with wisdom.
- Pray for healing for those affected.
- Pray for comfort to those who have lost loved ones.
When the world is at its worst, the church can be at its best. Who knows how God may call us to SHINE loving and serving people in the name of Jesus in the next days.
With cases in Pennsylvania and one now in the Lehigh Valley, there are heightened concerns for us as a church community, particularly for our gatherings. I have formed a task force of our members – doctors, health care professionals, staff members and other church leaders to help guide our response to the concerns and monitor the situation moving forward.
Even as we continue to put our trust in God, there are steps we need to take to care for the wellbeing of our GRACE community as well as the Lehigh Valley Community. As you know from watching the news, this is a rapidly changing situation. With guidance from the task force, here are the steps we will take.
- Beginning Sunday, we will hold our worship services online only. You can watch services at www.gracecb.org/watch or on our Facebook page. If you need help to get online, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will reach out to assist you.
- In addition to our services, beginning immediately, we are postponing our programs at the Locust Street Campus. This includes our student and children’s ministries. Our staff will be working to do some connecting electronically.
We do not make these decisions lightly, but our mission is to know and show the GRACE of Jesus Christ. A part of that is caring for the most vulnerable in our community that are most susceptible to COVID-19. We will be evaluating our gatherings and our other ministries daily. We hope this is a very short-term change in our ministry.
What can you do?
- WORSHIP online and invite others. One pastor I know said, we may be socially distancing, but we don’t have to do spiritual distancing. I am so proud of our technology team and so grateful for the technology that allows us to worship together, despite being in our individual homes. Maybe someone who has not tried church would be open to watching from their own computer
- STAY CONNECTED. Try Facetime with your small group or the people you typically have coffee with on Sunday mornings. Most of my family lives far away and we stay close through technology. We all need to stay connected as we are forced to be more isolated.
- GIVE. While you can’t bring your financial gifts on Sunday, you can give online https://www.gracecb.org/give/ or mail your gifts to the church. Help us keep GRACE strong in this season.
- HELP. Be on the look out to help those who are more vulnerable with grocery shopping or other practical needs.
- PRAY. I can’t overemphasize the need for us to pray for our community and the world. IF you have a prayer request or a need, please email me at email@example.com. I will pray and pass on to our prayer team.
I’m not sure what the next few weeks will look like, but I can’t wait to join with you on Sunday online. Join us at 9 am or at 10:30 am. Mark will be continuing our series on “the 12.” He’ll be introducing us to a disciple you may not know. Nathaniel had a lot of questions. Maybe you do too. I am so grateful to be your pastor and I am…
Praying and Trusting,