Dear Grace family and visitors,
With the outbreak of COVID-19, we are in an unprecedented season of life, which has required that your session assess our congregational worship and activities. We gathered this morning (Saturday, March 14) reflecting on Philippians 1:9-10. There Paul prays that our “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent.” In essence, Paul is praying that the people of God would make the best moral choices out of love for God and for one another. This is precisely what we, as your elders, are seeking to do. We recognize that information on COVID-19 is rapidly changing, but the better part of wisdom is to be cautious concerning the safety of our congregation, particularly our elderly and chronically ill.
Therefore, in aiming to protect the flock, your session decided that we would NOT gather at the church for Lord’s Day worship this Sunday (3/15) or next Sunday (3/22). Instead, we are encouraging all our congregants to gather in their homes for worship at 10:30am. The order of service for the Lord’s Day morning is available on our website (https://www.grace-pca.net/lords-day-schedule). We exhort you all to go through the liturgy, sing the psalms and hymns (the Trinity hymnal is online here: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/TH1990), profess the creed, and listen to the sermon. The sermon will be videoed, and a link both will be emailed to you all and posted on our website. Therefore, when the time for the reading and preaching of God’s word occurs, you can access the sermon to listen. If you were planning to give this Lord’s Day, your elders would also encourage you to give as planned, either through our online giving (https://www.grace-pca.net/give), or by writing a check and mailing it to the church.
Worshiping in this fashion, while not ideal, helps us obey our civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7) with their emergency declarations and recommendations on limits to large groups, while also striving to keep the Lord’s Day. It also helps us to curb the spread of this disease and, thereby, love our neighbor. During this time of worship, we all should also cry out to God for deliverance from this disease. Thus, we encourage heads of households to lead your families in prayer for the protection of the Lord, the dispensing of wisdom to government officials and church officers, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit to fall on the unbelieving. In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus reminds us that, as calamities come, they provide the opportunity to do what is most urgent; namely, to repent lest you perish.
We must all remember that our sovereign Lord remains on His throne during this epidemic, and as He rules and reigns, there is not one atom outside of His dominion. We must plead with Him that, in wrath, He would remember mercy, and we who believe would trust that our Lord does all things well. He does work all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. We must trust in His providential care and cling to His steadfast love, which is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
As it pertains to other events in the life of our congregation, your session has cancelled all church-related activities. There will be no Sunday School for the next two weeks and no evening worship. In addition, we will not have men’s book study, any weekly Bible studies, Catechism Kids, small groups, or Wednesday night activities. The church office will also be physically closed. However, our administrative staff will be working remotely as needed. Thus, we can receive and send out necessary communications, prayer concerns, etc.
Please pray for your elders as we continuously assess how to prudently respond to this crisis and lead you all. We will be meeting again soon to discuss our worship and activities in the days ahead. As your pastor, let me encourage you with a few thoughts:
- Remember the truths of God: 2 Timothy 1:7 “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
- Keep seeking the Lord: Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Encourage the saints: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “…encouragement the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” Call on check on one another.
- Check with your officers: Each of you are in shepherding groups under those who have charge over your souls (Hebrews 13:17). So, make known your needs. Let us know ways we can serve you and help you.
- Set your mind on the Lord: Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.”
With much affection,