Coronavirus Response

[We will continue to update this page as more information comes in.]

March 17, 2020

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.

March 13, 2020

Dear Stonebrook family,

In light of the rapidly changing news in local and world health, we are moving to an online-only service for this Sunday, March 15.  And for this coming week, we recommend canceling other gatherings such as Community Groups, Parent-Teen Ministry, ISM, Campus Fellowship, and others.

However, we are planning to livestream our service on Sunday morning.  You can find details about how to join that livestream at stonebrook.org/how-to-livestream/.  So we encourage you to gather on Sunday morning with your family, roommates, or a few friends in your home or apartment.  Worship and learning from God’s Word remain paramount for our walk with the Lord, even in the face of health and financial challenges. 

We have spent much time this past week discussing, listening, and counseling on this subject, and we believe that canceling is the prudent and loving decision for this week.  This also gives us time to catch our breath and reevaluate early next week for future plans. Stay tuned for future changes through our Stonebrook updates on COVID-19.  

We have kept abreast of the recommendations of CDC, Iowa Department of Public Health, and other official health sources.  In addition, we have counseled with other churches and with some of our own leaders. We recognize that while some of you will agree with our decision, others may not.  We respect those opinions. Be assured, we have taken a calm, faith-filled approach to this.

One input we received was from a very thoughtful article, “Love in the Time of Coronavirus,” by Andy Crouch.  It’s a long read, but his insights are persuasive.  God’s church needs to both worship together and be on mission to the world, so it’s upon us not to hole-up and only protect ourselves, yet at the same time we are to care for others who are sick or could get sick.  In the weeks ahead, we will continue to assess action steps we should take as a church and as individuals and families.

If you have questions, please contact us.  We value the conversations.  

With much love,

Brad for all the elders

P.S. One more thing:  let us walk by faith and in love, not in fear.  Whether it’s about our health or our economy and personal finances, many of us are tempted to be afraid and even to panic.  Here’s an excellent and brief article, Should Christians Be Anxious About the Coronavirus?  You will be encouraged and emboldened.

March 12, 2020

Dear Stonebrook,

We have been closely following the news related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the last few weeks. Like many of you, we are thinking and praying about how to best prepare and protect our families and church. Some of you have asked what Stonebrook Church is doing (specifically) to prepare?      
 
As your pastors, foremost, we have been praying for God’s protection and guidance (Philippians 4:6-7).  We must remember that the Lord is in charge of these events and they don’t change His love and care for us. With that said, He also directs us to prepare in the face of danger (Nehemiah 4:9).   

We have also been discussing a plan for Stonebrook in preparation for the possibility of the virus spreading to Ames. We encourage everyone to keep abreast of developments on the CDC Website and the Iowa Department of Public Health WebsiteWe will be basing our plan on the information on these sites, and the plan may change as the threat changes. We will continue to communicate as things progress.

Here are some guidelines we have developed for Sunday morning services. These can also be applied to any other church events.

  1. We encourage people to refrain from shaking hands and hugging for the time being. Greet others verbally, use elbow bumps, or use other methods that do not spread germs.
  2. Use hand sanitizer. We have placed hand sanitizer in the foyer and in some of the classrooms. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find more to purchase. If you have some at home, consider bringing it with you and using it at church.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Especially after using the restroom!
  4. If you are sick, stay home from church. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of being in a large crowd right now, stay home. We are working on streaming our services and putting them online so that people can watch at home. You will find more information about this on the Stonebrook Website, once we are ready.
  5. We plan to continue to have communion on the first of each month, however, we’ll change the way we distribute it to make sure and minimize risk of spreading germs.
  6. ISU will conduct all classes online, asking students to stay home for two weeks after spring break and possibly longer (President Wintergreen’s statement). Campus Fellowship leaders will contact CF members about ways to stay in touch during that time. 

Again, we do not want people to live in fear, but by faith. The Lord is sovereign, and we can trust Him as this unfolds. “Do not fear, for I am with you. Be not anxious, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will hold you in my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Brad Barrett
Dave Bovenmyer
Matt Heerema
on behalf of the Stonebrook Pastors