Moving Forward as a Church
The following is a letter from the Elders outlining what to expect as we are unable to gather in accordance with the advice of the governing authorities in light of the COVID-19 virus:
We know this time is filled with a lot of questions. Those questions concern our world, nation, our own work, finances, and church. As elders, we’ve been talking and praying about what it looks like to shepherd the church through this time. We want to be faithful in seeing the body be taken care of spiritually and physically.
Where We Are
At this point, it appears that in the providence of God we’re not going to be able to meet together for some time. We think it’s best to trust those in authority over us, both for our own good and our witness to those around us, and heed the directions of CDC and other governing authorities. For the time being, this means we’re not meeting as a church on Sundays until the situation changes and you hear differently from us.
Based on the CDC guidelines, that also means we’re asking community groups not to meet during the week or on Sundays. However, if you’re healthy and taking the necessary precautions, we’re not going to discourage individuals in the church of getting together in groups smaller than 10. For Sundays, we’re encouraging home worship, whether that’s with your family, roommates, or a small combination of people in the church.
This is understandably very hard. It should be. The assembling of ourselves together isn’t simply about instruction or singing songs. It’s the community of the Holy Spirit on earth being joined together in one place to lift up a corporate voice in song and in prayer. It’s to be in the presence of other believers indwelled with the Holy Spirit. It’s to take of one loaf and one cup together. The assembling of ourselves together is explicitly called for on a weekly basis, because something unique is taking place when the bride of Christ comes together to get ready for her Bridegroom. There’s an obvious sense in which we’re being spiritually deprived by this time, and there’s no substitute for it.
Our prayer is that our church will, however, benefit from this longing to be together. We’re praying that not being able to gather will force us to lean on the spiritual disciplines. That it will wake us up spiritually where we’ve taken for granted God’s gift of gathering together.
What to Expect
The elders don’t want to try and re-create what God in His providence has seemed to put a stop to. We want to accept His providence, promote reflection, and rest in it. That doesn’t mean, however, there isn’t a lot of work to be done during this time. As elders, and as a church, we should seek to care for one another spiritually and physically. We want to lead you through this time.
Here’s what you can expect going forward:
- First, the elders have a plan for checking in on everyone in the congregation on a weekly basis. You should expect to receive a personal call or text from one of your pastors each week. Please let us know what you’re struggling with, how we can be praying for you, and if you need anything.
- Second, the elders will also be writing up weekly letters to the church to help us biblically think through this unique time. We want to be faithful, and grow spiritually in this trial. We’ll also include other articles, sermons, and books that we think will be particularly helpful.
- Third, we plan on doing a weekly video cast with Kevin and/or Travis that will include a short devotion, and a time for Q and A with the congregation. We hope to make that live, but until we’re capable of that, please send us any questions you might have.
- Fourth, we want to encourage the congregation to keep praying for the needs and ministry of the church. We’d love to be praying for opportunities that arise within our communities and unbelieving friends at this time. So if you have prayer requests please send them to Jess at email@example.com, and we’ll send those requests weekly. You can also post them on the Grace Harbor Members Facebook page.
If you’re quarantined, or have any special needs, please reach out to your community group leader first. This will help us avoid a bunch of mass emails to the church, and will be much more quick and effective in getting you help. We’ve asked each community group leader to use their community group as a kind first line of defense. If you’re community group is unable to help, then reach out to someone in the church you have a relationship with, or with one of the elders.
Please check your email on a regular basis. This will be the primary way that we try to communicate with the body.
Please also note that the online giving platform has changed to make it easier for you and more cost effective for the church, (https://graceharborpvd.churchcenter.com/giving or accessed through the “Give Online” tab on the church website). The new platform only charges 25 cents if you use your bank information. You can also easily give by using your bank’s online bill pay service which would be automatically mailed for you. Or you could simply mail your check to the church at 47 Fenner Street, Providence, RI 02903. We understand that it will require wisdom to know what faithfulness in giving looks like for some of us during this time, but we do encourage you to give in faithfulness.
Finally, please make every effort to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We understand that other churches, or even some of our members might disagree with our approach here and think there’s a better way. We understand that, and that’s ok. Please trust that we’re seeking to do what we believe is best longterm for our church, and is faithful to what the Lord wants from us and for our body. You may find this pastor’s talk from 9Marks helpful along these lines, (https://www.9marks.org/pastors-talk/episode-119-on-when-the-church-cant-gather-2/)
We love you and are praying for you. Pray for one another.
Kevin, Travis, Chap, and Kyle