Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ,
I write to you today with the hopes of accomplishing two things. One, it’s my intention to minister to you, as best as I can, wherever and however you are reading this “From the Pastor’s Desk” Article. Secondly, I desire to bring you up to speed on some of the new and exciting strategies we are implementing to Minister to you (and perhaps, many others?) for “the duration” of this new reality. I pray to God that if you are reading this, that you are both comforted and encouraged by the Word of God, and by my humble offerings.
As those in various positions of authority (from local, state and federal governments, the CDC and WHO, as well as captains of private industry), all moved rapidly in response to the spread of the Wahun/Corona/COVID-19 virus, life as we knew it began to quickly grind to a screeching halt. This situation is so fluid, it makes little sense to comment where we will be in a day from now, let alone next week or next month. I imagine all of us, to varying degrees are struggling with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, worry for self, family and friends as well as a host of other cares and concerns! This is understandable, and I assure you, you are not alone!
And yet, for the Christian, we have a certainty, even in the most uncertain of times, that should be a great comfort in these days (and on other ones too!) of trouble. One of the most oft repeated commands in the Scriptures is, “Fear not”! In fact, it’s been said that there are 365 “Fear nots” or its essential equivalent in the Bible — one “Fear not” for every day of the year! God doesn’t want us to go a single day without hearing his word of comfort: “Fear not!” But how can we obey this command, live our lives in the security and comfort of the absence of fear, when the world is a pretty fearful/frightening place? Because we know intimately the One who spoke these Words- Jesus! Jesus Christ, the Messiah (literally “Savior of the World”), the eternal Son of God has conquered all of our enemies- our sins, the result of sin entering this world- death, Hell- the spiritual equivalent of physical death and Satan- the arch enemy of God and our souls! Jesus said to His Disciples after His glorious resurrection from the dead (on the third day, just as He had promised- see Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-44 and John 20:1-29), and right before He ascended back to the right hand of His Father, this: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). Yes, despite the pandemic, despite the disruptions to the economy, commerce, trade and everyday life as we know it, Jesus sits on His throne, ruling and reigning over ALL of His Creation! It is in times like this, that He does some of His finest work in the souls of His children, as well as in people groups and Nations. Therefore, I encourage you, as a follower of Jesus Christ to: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:7) and “not [to] be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6-7). This is your time, my time, the Church’s time to live in the hope of all that we know to be true! For the watching world to see and observe! This is also a time for “interceding” for our neighbors, community, State, Nation and the whole world, figuratively, if not literally, from our “prayer closets” (e.g. Matt. 6:6).
Now, what are our (the Leadership- Pastor, Elders, Deacons and others) plans for adjusting and adapting to the reality that our doors will be shut to at least Palm Sunday (April 5 th ), if not for much longer?
We developed, and are quickly implementing strategies to continue to minister to you, our members, as well as our friends, families and neighbors… near and far! We have the following “Action Steps” in place, being rolled out at the present time.
1. Make use of the “One Call Now” system to give short/concise updates to all of our membership (and friends). Phone numbers have been checked and updated by Doris Delong and are believed to be comprehensive and accurate. IF you did not receive a call notifying you that services would be cancelled for 3/22 and 3/29, please contact Doris to give her your current phone number. AS A NOTE… our phone messages through the One Call Now system is limited to 45 seconds. It is great for communicating
Prayer Requests and short notices regarding closings/openings, but NOT for communicating extended INFO.
2. Mail First Class (we typically only mail USPS to our Missionaries and Shut-Ins) this months, April's, Newsletter to everyone who does not receive it by email. We have also made a grand effort, but looking through the Church’s, mine, Bob Spatz (from last year’s directory) and Bob Baker (resident IT Pro) a comprehensive list of email contacts for everyone.
3. Reestablish an emergency “Undershepherds” Ministry to begin immediately making a personal connection (phone call, hand written note/card, email or text) to every member/every week for the duration. This will help to maintain community, a caring touch, and establish a line of communication from the Church to you and yours, and vis a versa.
4. Begin working on FB/Web strategies to establish lines of communications with you, as well as our community. Zach, Natalie, Bob Baker and myself are working tirelessly on developing and implementing live stream/recorded video/audio for Sunday abbreviated worship services and other times throughout the week to share a devotional, prayer time, blogs, posts and links to encourage as many as possible during this time. Hope was to launch 3/22. Zach is also hoping to launch a virtual Youth Group utilizing Zoom on Sundays starting 3/22 at 6:30 PM. Michelle Toburen is also going “online” with the completion of her Women’s Bible Study. Please contact either one of them if interested in getting onboard with them!
5. Ask that Ministries and Committees (i.e. Choir, Missions, BCE) continue to work on that which is vital or critical to their respective ministry, but to do so remotely through emails, phone calls and or web meetings (Zoom, WebEx, FB Chat Rooms, etc.); with an eye on continuing to meet our obligations, financial and otherwise, with an eye to curbing all unnecessary spending at this time.
I expect, by the time you read this via snail mail, email, the web, FB release/posting, some of you will have heard from your newly minted “Undershepherd”, and perhaps have already caught our first “on air” service (scheduled for 10:15 AM on Sunday March 22 nd )! Our Website and FB page will be the most timely and efficient means of staying in touch with each other, and maintaining a sense of community! But remember Paul’s words to the Ephesians, which are most applicable to you and me today: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (2:6-7).
He has shown us His Church, His greatest kindness… He has saved us from our sin; and we are already spiritually seated with Him, together, in the heavenly realms.
Peace and Love in Jesus,