5/27/20 - Reopening update

Grace Bible Church family,

I’m writing to provide an update regarding how COVID-19 continues to affect our ability to meet together for corporate worship. It is hard to believe that it’s been 10 weeks since we last gathered in our auditorium! I miss seeing you all, hearing the sound of your singing, and watching as you interact with one another here in the church building. But I am so thankful that our inability to gather does not affect our status as the Church! We are still Christ’s Church, and I’m grateful for your continued love for our Savior, care for one another, and your participation in our ongoing “at home” church services. Thank you as well for your incredible faithfulness in giving. It has been moving to see how God has worked through you even in the midst of this difficult time.

As you know, this past week President Trump declared churches to be “essential,” and called on Governors to allow us to begin to meet again. I am thankful for his declaration, and encouraged that things seem to be moving in the right direction!

His declaration, however, was not quite as simple and clear-cut as it seemed. You probably know that even as things move ahead there are still very specific and limiting restrictions in place for large gatherings of people. Just today I read through NY state’s guidelines for the reopening of religious services and was met with a long, exhaustive list of requirements under various categories, including physical distancing, protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning, communication, and screening. And perhaps the most significant of the guidelines is that we are still not permitted to gather in groups larger than 10.

All of these things considered, we have decided as an Elder Board that we are not ready to reopen just yet. While we are eager to see you all face to face, there is much for us to consider regarding our compliance with government recommendations, our care for the congregation, and our testimony in the community. We do want you to know that we are communicating with one another on a regular basis, diligently exploring the ongoing changes in the federal and state response to the pandemic, and listening to your feedback and concerns. Our desire is to reopen as soon as we can reasonably do so.

In the meantime, I’d like to direct your attention to the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 4:2–6: 

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, 

to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—

that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, 

so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Paul’s words to the Colossians remind us to:

  • Keep praying (with steadfastness, watchfulness, and thanksgiving)
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders
  • Let our speech always be gracious

And so I am asking you to please pray for our governing authorities, for our communities, and for us as we wrestle with difficult decisions. Please ask God for wisdom as you interact with others in person or online. And please continue to be gracious with us and with one another. There is much we don’t know, and our humility in that realization and subsequent meekness toward one another will go a long way toward preserving the unity of the Church and honoring the name of Christ in our communities.

We miss being together. We miss seeing each other. We miss singing and praying together. And that’s a good thing. Lord willing, we’ll be back together soon. But during this time, let’s pray “That God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…”

I love and miss you all,

Pastor Dave

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