COVID-19 Ministry Update 3-17-20

Dear Stonebrook,

As many you have already heard, Governor Kim Reynolds has proclaimed a state of public health disaster emergency. This adds to the already issued presidential declaration of national emergency and affects our ministry in a serious way, specifically outlawing gatherings of more than 10 people until the disaster terminates (currently set to expire on March 31.)

The elders met today with some of the staff and counseled about how best to respond to this and want you to know a few key things:

  1. God is absolutely in control of this entire situation and we can trust him.
  2. We believe he is going to do good things through and in his church and in our lives during this time.
  3. We affirm that the current decisions of the government are in the best interest of the public’s safety. 
  4. We know that the gathering of the saints is crucial for spiritual health.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the service on Sunday, we are seeking to respond to this situation in love, confidence in God, and in prudence. As Proverbs 27:12 says: 

 The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

This is a temporary situation, and though we do not know how long it will last, it is a time to love our neighbor and serve our city by helping to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the virus. This will pass, and we will seek to be back to “normal operation” as soon as possible, but in the meantime, there are going to be some key changes to ministry.

  • Sunday services will remain “virtual” through April 5 at the earliest, and possibly will continue in this mode, depending on what things look like at that point.
  • Community groups and ministries (CF, ISM, PTM/YG, Women’s ministry) will not meet in groups of larger than 10, and should operate in a way that does not seek to “maximize” this, but rather seeks to help love our neighbor and help prevent the spread of the virus.
    • We recommend that group leaders seek innovative ways to meet virtually, Google Hangouts, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, and the like are specifically useful tools for this sort of meeting. We recognize this is not as good as meeting in person, but it is better than not meeting.
  • We are leading our church to also honor the CDC’s recommendations for healthy, spread-containing interactions, the latest of which can be found on the CDC Covid-19 Information Page.
  • As needed, life-on-life, one-on-one discipleship can still happen in person, in a way that honors the spirit of the CDC recommendations, because there are other illnesses and wounds that need tending, including spiritual ones.
  • Building use is going to be changed up quite a lot. 
    • All current room reservations are going to be “erased” and must be rescheduled through the office. We anticipate much less traffic during this time, but we need to make sure we are able to adequately ensure the building has been cleaned between uses. 
    • Please contact the office if you plan to come to use the building at all.
    • No activities will be allowed that violate the disaster emergency proclamation, or go against CDC guidelines.
  • We urge everyone to regular and frequent prayer for this situation
  • Look for opportunities to serve your neighbors, CG members, and others near you who may need assistance during this time. 

This is a time for creativity in continuing our ministry of reconciliation in this city and among one another. I’d love to hear what ideas you have. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we are working hard to keep up with the flow of information and working together as elders more frequently to help respond in a timely manner. Our intent is to send frequent informational updates, devotional thoughts, encouraging words, and ministry ideas along through email and social media. Please let us know if you have any ideas you’d like to add!

I know there are some of you out there who are very concerned about the governments actions, or are very anxious about the spread of the virus. I want you to know that we pastors are always open for a conversation along these lines. We want to hear your concerns and help you navigate the anxiety.

Continue in prayer, God has a plan for this time, and I am looking for a season of unexpected fruit to come out of this. 

In all this, we are trusting Jesus who,

“…is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

Hebrews 1:3 ESV

Peace,

Matt on behalf of the pastors.