In House Worship

The morning after President Trump declared churches to be essential, and that governors should allow them to open, I received a text message asking if there would be “in house worship” the next day. Sadly, I had to say we’d just be online.

Being able to worship online has been a blessing, and I’m very grateful to every-one who has made it possible. However, we are all anxious to get back to church, and I read just this morning that nearly half of regular churchgoers are apparently tired of online worship because they haven’t done so in the past four weeks.

No one thought the restrictions would last this long, and we’re all ready for things to get back to normal. But, as we’re being told, the best we can expect in the near future is a “new normal.” The elders pondered what that might look like at Tuesday’s meeting.

Once the decision is made to resume corporate worship, we’ll begin gradually, and with several changes to assure the safety of those gathering. To comply with guidelines, we will tape off every other pew, and encourage families to sit together. For the first week or so, the nurseries will be closed, and no children’s worship or Sunday School will be offered. To avoid contamination, no bulletins will be passed out, and outlines and manuscripts will be available on tables to be personally picked up. Offering trays will also be on the tables, and communion will already be in the receptacles on the back of pews. We will probably reduce the number of songs we sing, and remain seated while doing so. We will offer no refreshments in the fellowship hall, and those who wish to visit will be encouraged to do so in the parking lot.

I know all this sounds draconian, but we don’t want to appear rebellious against those in authority over us, and we do want everyone to be as safe as possible. When we determine we can worship together again, services will be live-streamed online as well as recorded for later viewing, and no one will be expected to come if they are at high risk or are uncomfortable doing so.

God Bless, Rick

Not a Typo

As Dave noted when sending me the total offerings that had come in for April 26th, “Not a typo.” The $39,059.16 in the statistics column is for real! Sort of.

The regular offerings that had been sent to the church for the month totaled just under $20,000, which is about $500 a week under our pre-quarantine projection. What shot the number soaring was a $36,000 gift that had been sent for missions. The donor had taken funds out of his retirement account, and asked that we use them to meet special needs that exist in the missions we support. After evaluating the needs we were aware of, three were selected.

$17,000 was sent to Theo to purchase a vehicle. His truck was almost beyond repairs, and he has had to rely on public transportation and taxis to minister to the churches he oversees and to meet the various needs that exist. The churches in Jamaica are very dependent on support from others, and we have always been Theo’s primary supporter. We bought him his first vehicle nearly 30 years ago, and he managed to replace it once, but due to a decline in support and expanding needs was unable to purchase another.

The second recipient was Haitian Christian Ministries. Mark Zimmerman is on their board, and after consulting with him we decided to send the school $10,000 to help with a much needed bathroom and septic system. Mark said it was desperately needed, but was not something that’s easy to get supporters excited about.

The final gift went to Kent Paris. As you know, Kent is one of very few who offers biblical hope and healing to those who are caught up in sinful sexual confusion. He has recently had overwhelming health and financial struggles, and has even been banned from using Facebook for posting content that was deemed hateful. The $5,000 we were able to send not only met pressing needs, but was a great encouragement to him and Sherri.

The remaining $4,000 is being held for anticipated needs that may be soon coming from Mexico or elsewhere.

God Bless, Rick