After our board meeting Tuesday night we were all agreed: we need to get back to church, and the time is here to begin that process. It won’t be “normal,” but we are moving toward that reality. Our Governor has declared that our county will be moved to the “yellow” phase of the reopening plan this Friday. That means that the stay-at-home order will be lifted, although social distancing will still be in place. Group gatherings will also be permitted, however they are to be limited to 25 people. So what does all this mean for Trinity Gospel Church?
We will be opening the church building this Sunday (May 10) for the morning worship service at 9:30. Sunday School classes will be postponed until a later date. Before the COVID-19 restrictions we were averaging about 50-60 people on Sunday morning. That is double the permitted group size so some accommodations must be made. We offer three possibilities:
We understand that some people are not ready to return yet due to various health issues and increased vulnerability. This is expected and understood. Please do not feel pressured to come on Sunday if you are uncomfortable. For this reason the Sunday morning service will be video recorded and posted online at 11:00 am (as we have done for the last several weeks). If you desire to remain home and watch online we encourage you to do this for now.
A second option is to gather a small group of around 10 (or fewer) people in a home for a “watch-party.” Cody Hoover has opened his home in Warrensville for this purpose, and there may be others who wish to do the same. For coordinating purposes, if you desire to join or host a Sunday morning “watch-party” at 11:00 am please contact pastor Joel or reply to this email.
You may wish to come to the church building for the early service at 9:30. For those who choose this option, masks must be worn (although for singing and worship they may be removed). We will endeavor to maintain the requested 6 ft distance and refrain from physical contact. If there are more than 25 people who attend, we will ask some to worship in the lower level while listening to the live broadcast from the auditorium. We realize this is not ideal, but we also understand that this is only temporary.
We feel that these options provide a way for us to begin re-opening while respecting the requests of our government authorities. In time, we trust these restrictions will be lifted, and we will once again be permitted to worship together in the same building. Until that time we will follow this pattern Sunday mornings unless we think it wise to make adjustments.
Our other services will be open as well. Sunday evening at 6:00 and the RU addictions program on Fridays at 7:00. We do not anticipate our attendance being over 25 for these services, but will continue to monitor and make adjustments as necessary. Social distancing guidleines will also be followed at these services. We will continue to video record all services and post them online as well. Look for them on our website, YouTube, or Facebook. Our midweek small groups will continue to meet in homes as before. Please contact your small group leader for specific information regarding your group. If you are not yet part of a group and would like to join one, let us know today!
These are strange times, but our God is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever!
See you soon.
Pastor Joel Henderson
Something’s not right here.
Everyone seems to have this perspective. Our world is scrambling to make sense of this pandemic and the global response to it. Christians are no different. We all want to know what is going on, and we notice when things don’t seem to make sense. One example here in PA occurred when the “Corona-virus fatality count” was actually lowered by over 200! Why would the state report deaths that actually did not occur? This and many other reports cause the critical thinker to raise an eyebrow.
Social networks are a breeding ground for “conspiracy theories,” and this pandemic is an unlimited supply of fuel that makes them grow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to know more than anyone else; but when Christians add in a limited understanding of already obscure (although not impossible to discern) Bible prophecy passages, we get some pretty interesting ideas floating around. Society seems to be hyped on emotion, but seriously lacking in factual (and Biblical) knowledge and understanding. Christians are not immune to this either.
So what do we do with all this information and these coincidental connections? How do we respond to Bill Gates, 5G networks, Globalism, the World Health Organization, The mark of the Beast, Chinese cover-ups, bloated stimulus packages, immunization certificates/passports, media exaggeration, Hydroxychloroquine kick-backs, political elections, and government overreach? (Did I miss any?)
Well… how do Christians always deal with our circumstances? We look to the Bible for guidance. We yield to the Spirit for our responses. We trust our Father in His sovereignty for our peace. We cling to our Savior for our ultimate protection.
There have always been plots and conspiracies for control and domination. Remember the people of Genesis 11 at the Tower of Babel? “Let us make us a name…” they said. Remember Lucifer in Isaiah 14? “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” He planned a rebellion in heaven! Remember how Judas Iscariot “went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them” (Luke 22:4)? As long as there is fallen man, and as long as the Devil is free to roam the earth, there will be conspiracies. Are there conspiracies at play in this pandemic now? Yes…without a doubt! I believe there are multiple conspiracies at play.
But here’s the good news that Peter understood. While preaching on the Day of Pentecost he said of Jesus, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:23-24) You see, even though the enemies of Jesus plotted to kill him (and seemed successful in their conspiracy) they were actually working the plan determined by God Himself! They thought they were in control; but in seeking their own desires, they fulfilled the eternal purpose of God!
This pandemic is the same.
The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” No matter the plot that man conceives God is and always will be the ultimate director. His plan will be fulfilled through the individual “plots” of man. Are we all just puppets? some might ask. The fact that we can “conspire” our own plans answers that question with a resounding “NO!” God allows man the ability to make his own choices, but only among the options He allows. God directs mans steps as the King of the Universe who is sovereign over all.
So what is God’s plan in this pandemic? While He has revealed some of that plan through the prophetic passages in the Bible, only He knows how He works all these details toward that end. One thing is sure…
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
(Daniel 4:35 NKJV)
To that I say… AMEN!
Pastor Joel Henderson
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