Dear Church Family,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus.
What a month! While we doubt any of us ever thought we would live through events like these, this virus is not something that took our sovereign God by surprise or is outside of His control. We do firmly believe He works all things – including this – for our good and His glory.
Summary of this announcement:
- All Sunday services and larger fellowship groups cancelled for this term.
- There will be an online service every Sunday at 9:30 AM
- Home Groups and Grace Groups decisions pending.
- The Elders and Pastors are here for you and we urge you to be there for each other.
As we publish this announcement we remind you that you can rest in the promises of His Word.
However, even for men and women of faith this can be hard to do in tumultuous times, so if you find yourself with fears relating to this challenge (or anything else), please feel free to reach out to a Pastor, Elder or Home Group Shepherd.
We are praying for and are here to support you in any way we can.
This is also a time where unsaved family, friends and work colleagues may be more open to talking about what God is doing in the world and we encourage you to take this opportunity to share the gospel (Matthew 5:13-16).
Please pray for the Elders – this has been one of the more testing and challenging times we have faced in leading the church. We have had many discussions about the best way forward as a fellowship. We believe that one of the great blessings of being made in the image of God is that we are given the ability but also the responsibility to make decisions.
To aid us in making wise choices – our gracious God has given us principles to apply. At times these principles are mutually exclusive – which means you can’t meet them all. It is at these times we need to seek for ever greater wisdom and grace.
COVID-19 is very much one of those times.
The Elders of GBC HP have been praying, searching the Word, and grappling with a number of principles to help guide us in leading you, our precious flock.
Almost nothing about this whole situation has been easy to decide. We also know that in our congregation there are divergent and strongly held views. The way forward in this situation is not easy.
Here are some of the principles we have been weighing up
The sovereignty of God
Nothing about this virus has taken God by surprise.
Some have suggested that to alter services or even cancel services is a lack of faith in the sovereignty of God. However, while He is in control of everything, this does not mean we fail to make decisions and just let events pan out.
We would contend the opposite is true – true faith does not act blindly but reveals itself in works especially in love for the vulnerable (James 2).
The crucial importance of corporate worship
The corporate fellowship of the saints is one of the great joys of a believer’s life. We are commanded to not neglect to gather together … but to encourage each other and all the more as we see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
However, this is not an absolute and does not necessarily mean we have to always physically meet in person during these exceptional circumstances.
The command to obey our government leaders (Romans 13:1)
Our leaders have banned larger meetings and strongly urged us to limit our social interactions to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and protect the vulnerable.
The great command to love our neighbours (Mark 12:31)
Although the risk to young healthy men and women is low – the risk to the more vulnerable among us is much higher.
Many have asked why not allow the younger and fitter to come to church and ask the more vulnerable to stay home? The answer is that a spread of the virus among those who are younger in turn creates more opportunity for the older and more vulnerable to catch this disease.
We have a responsibility to love those inside and outside our church in this category.
Weighing all of these principles up has not been easy for us, but we have chosen the path that in our view honours the way our Lord would have us lead you and minister to our society in this situation.
So, it is with sadness that we wish to convey a decision that has in no way been arrived at easily. We will be cancelling our corporate Sunday services until the end of this term – that is until the end of school holidays. Unless the government extends school holidays that period ends at this stage on April 19.
However, we will be moving our services online.
It breaks our heart to say that this means that unless things change our Easter services will also have to be online.
We will be monitoring things regularly and if anything changes we will let you know here, by email, and through Facebook.
Here is our plan:
We will have one service a week at 9.30 AM on Sunday that you can access via the Internet.
We will send out the link and details when we have the technical side set up.
Please pray for us. We have never done anything like this. The technical side is not easy and some good people have been working on it – but there may be some wrinkles this Sunday so please bear with us.
We plan on not having Authentic Manhood, Enduring Grace, GK, XG, and YAG for this term (because of the larger number of attendees).
We have been having a discussion about smaller groups such as Grace Groups and Home Groups and plan on meeting tomorrow to finalise out thinking and will contact you when a decision is made.
For those who don’t attend a Home Group or Grace group, we will try and make sure that someone contacts you every few weeks to see how you are doing.
We also encourage you to be the body of Christ to one another. Call, email, Skype with one another and encourage one another.
Please feel free to contact the pastors if you need prayer, support, or encouragement during this unprecedented time.
We know not all in the fellowship agree with this decision, but we trust you understand how difficult this is and will accept that we are making the decision we believe best honours our Lord and serves His people.
The Elders will be meeting to talk through more of the details tomorrow (March 19) and will update you as and when we can.
Please, pray for one another, support one another. Look out for your neighbours. Look for opportunities to share the love of Christ in a world that is struggling for answers.
Fear not – He will never leave you or forsake you.
Blessings in Him,
The Elders of GBC Holland Park