Updates will be posted here in regards to church changes due to COVID-19
Church Update May 27
A Pastoral Letter to Grace Bible Fellowship Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in many ways, not the least of which is our life together as a church family. The Lord has been faithful and good to us throughout this trial, for which we must be careful to thank Him. Modern technology has been of great benefit to us at this time, enabling us to continue to bring weekly church services, adult Sunday School Classes, and small group programs to each of you at home. Our financial needs have been provided for as well, enabling us to meet all our obligations including the full support of our pastors and missionaries. At the end of April, 96% of our annual budget was received in offerings, year to date. Praise the Lord!
Now we face the next challenge – how and when to return to church for public meetings. Several elements must be considered, but I am very encouraged that every single one of you that I talk to desperately misses our gatherings and is eagerly awaiting the end of this separation!
The first consideration is the virus itself. The national lockdown has slowed the spread of the virus, but it is still a very real and dangerous threat. I urge you to continue to practice the common sense precautions recommended by the medical authorities. These concerns will be factored into our plans to reassemble.
The second consideration is the role of the governmental authorities. The Bible clearly teaches that God has ordained civil government to provide law and order in society, to restrain evil, and to promote the common good. As Christians we are commanded by God to honor these authorities, to pray for them, honestly pay our taxes, and to obey the law. The only exception is if the government orders us to sin, in which case we must obey God rather than men. In the current situation, the limitations of the stay-at-home orders are temporary (until the pandemic ends) and universal (it applies to all citizens). Christians and churches have not been singled out, but are a part of the program implemented for the public safety of all Pennsylvanians.
God in His providence has placed us in an open and free society, and your voice as a private citizen should be heard in petition and even protest to bring about the best public policy. But as a church, we will comply with the instructions of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The unhindered witness of the gospel is more important than the temporary inconvenience of the lockdown to our church.
Currently, we are not allowed to meet in groups of more than ten. We have conducted online services for the last eleven Sundays without violating this requirement. We believe Berks County will soon be allowed to have meetings of twenty-five. When that happens, we plan to implement the Tiny Church program, beginning the week of June 7. That program will probably operate until all restrictions are removed and we are able to gather in church together again. What a joy that will be!
Here’s how Tiny Church will work: You will be invited to park in the church parking lot and enter by the kitchen door. Everything will take place in the Fellowship Hall level of the church. The bathrooms are there (one person at a time). Twenty-five chairs will be in a circle, a small nursery will be behind one folding door, a place for children behind the other folding door. Social distancing and facemasks will be required, at least at first. Public singing will be restricted for a while as well. The one hour service will consist of music, Bible study from Colossians, testimony and prayer. This program, or a larger similar version called Small Church, may need to continue for several months until all restrictions are lifted, so I encourage everyone to become involved as you believe it is safe for you to do so. Online Sunday services will continue as well until we are all back together again.
How do I get signed up for Tiny Church? If you have access to the Church website, that will be the best and easiest way (under the tab COVID-19 Updates). If not call the church. You will be asked to tell us what time of day you prefer – morning, afternoon, or evening – (if day of the week matters to you, tell us that as well). Then we will form groups and contact you with the day and time of your meeting. We anticipate 3-4 groups at first, but will add groups each week as needed (up to twelve).
And this leads to a final word of encouragement and admonition. There will be a certain amount of anxiety, awkwardness, and even fear when we come together again. We as Christians need to be different from the world in our consideration and care for one another in this. May the Holy Spirit help us to show love, respect, and humility to each other. If a brother or sister isn’t ready to get close or touch others yet, defer to this wish without complaint. What would Jesus do? Pray for the bond of peace to knit us together in love, that Satan would not sow discord or distrust among us, but that Jesus Christ and His body the church may be outstanding as a bright light in our dark world at this time.
Finally, thank you for your prayers for myself, the other pastors, and our families at this time. We need such spiritual support more than ever.
May 4th, 2020
Pennsylvania will be lifting the Stay-at-home order in stages in the coming weeks. The first step will allow groups of 25 to meet in public. The church will be forming as many groups as needed to provide weekly gathering for worship, instruction, and fellowship. If you are interested in being a part of one of these “tiny churches”, please sign up and indicate the time of day that is most convenient for you. You will be informed later what time and day of the week your group will meet. Sunday online services will continue until all restrictions are removed. Click on the picture above to fill out the survey.
Letter to the Church
To the members and friends of Grace Church,
The Coronavirus crisis has necessitated many changes in our interaction as a church family for the foreseeable future. The elders met on March 18th and are announcing the following policies:
- We encourage everyone to comply with the directives of our civic and medical authorities. This is in the best interest of the health and safety of everyone. It is showing love for our neighbor.
- We encourage everyone to keep in touch with one another in the church family through phone or computer. Help one another in practical ways. Contact the church if there are ways that we can help or encourage you.
- We encourage everyone to look for ways to help others in the community. This may also open the door to discussions concerning your hope in Christ. Let your light shine!
- All public meetings of the church have been suspended at this time until further notice. This includes morning and evening church service, Sunday School, Lamb’s Christian Preschool, Kids Club, Youth Group, Bible studies, choir, children’s choir, small groups, etc. There are no public meetings at the church, although the church office is open and the staff is on site.
- Almost everyone is facing financial challenges at this time, and a reduction of income. But our loyalty to the Lord and his church continues as always. We encourage everyone to continue to make proportionate gifts to the church by means of online giving or simply by mailing your gift to the church each week or so. The elders have examined the budget and reduced all unnecessary spending. We are trusting the Lord to provide for you and for your church at this time.
- The schedule for Facebook Livestream opportunities is as follows:
Sunday, 10:30 AM – Morning Worship – Pastor Grossman preaching
Monday, 1:00 PM & 7:00 PM – “Joshua” Adult Sunday School taught by John Janney
Wednesday, 6:00 PM – Kids’ Club led by Pastor LeTowt
Beginning Next Sunday, March 29th, in addition to the above programs:
Sunday, 9:30 AM – “When Suffering Comes” – Adult Sunday School taught by Pastor LeTowt
Sunday, 7:00 PM – “Digging Deeper” – Adult Sunday School taught by the Fitches.
A youth program will be introduced soon led by Pastor Holbert and Diego Rodriguez.
All of the above opportunities are available on the church Facebook page. We encourage all of our people to make arrangements to view these, and to share them with other “friends”. We cannot physically gather at this time, but we can and must continue to worship the Lord, grow in Christ, and preach the gospel. May the Lord glorify Himself now and always!
Check the Sunday School Page for materials for classes.
A version of the bulletin is available on the YouVersion Bible App