COVID-19: Our Continued Plan for GCAZ
Last Updated: May 24, 2020
Hello brothers and sisters,
We want to update you on our current thinking in light of the Governor’s recent press release and we have a few requests for you.
When will Grace Church return to in-person services?
In March, we as Elders made the difficult decision to temporarily move our ministry online. Since then, the state of Arizona has been under a stay-at-home order. On Tuesday, we learned that this order will expire on May 15th. This is a positive sign that Arizona businesses will begin to slowly come back online. However, there is still some work to be done before we can return to our full gatherings at Grace. The thresholds for reopening larger gatherings, as laid out in phases by the CDC/White House, has not yet been achieved in the state of Arizona. Furthermore, our ability to gather at Glendale Prep is subject to the leadership of the Great Hearts Administration.
After prayer, discussion, and consulting with other pastors across the state, we will continue on the course we’ve set and reopen in phases as key benchmarks in the CDC/White House guidelines are achieved. In keeping with our plan, we are going to continue our online Live Stream through the month of May, and we are actively working to determine how and when we can open up the room at Glendale Prep for us to gather when those benchmarks have been reached. Our Governor has published recommended guidelines for places of worship to consider throughout the phases.
We are speaking in terms of “when” and “how” we will regather, not “if”. Meeting in person is God’s design and our heart’s desire. We must also balance our strong desire to be together with a responsible, strategic re-entry plan that can scale both up and down, especially considering that we are a mobile church. Despite the uncertainties facing us in this process, the great and comforting reality is that God knows the timing He has for us, and we will continue to seek after His will in these decisions.
What changes will be implemented when we return?
Just as it may take a while for some businesses to return to full force, we expect there to be a period of time where we will be ramping back up in phases. Our expectation is that, at first, some of the church will return in person and some of the church will continue to worship via live stream.
As we get closer to the next phase we will provide specific instructions on how we can walk together in love for one another in a corporate worship service.
We want to create an environment that sincerely supports each family of our church, embracing the diversity of circumstances in our body. These are difficult times and grace must be our central weapon in the fight against Covid-19’s effect on the church.
What challenges are we currently facing that need prayer?
Lots! We desperately want to honor God in all of these matters. We need prayer for wisdom and grace to lead our diverse church into the joy of treasuring Christ – whether online or in person. Here are some of the challenges we are facing:
- How/when to responsibly prepare and distribute communion.
- How/when to responsibly staff and care for our children in the Children’s Ministry.
- How to effectively and winsomely engage with guests.
- How to love each other with our different perspectives.
- How to approach our times of corporate singing.
- How much service should we reasonably ask from you in this time.
How can you help?
Many of you have asked how you can serve during these challenging times. Here are a few ways that you can serve your brothers and sisters:
Please fill out this survey so we can better know and understand the needs/perspective of the congregation. All responses will be anonymous and will serve us as we pray about how to serve you. It would be ideal for each adult to fill out the survey, but minimally we are asking for at least one person from each family to fill it out by Monday night.
Resist any tendency to “check out”. Continue to participate on Sunday mornings and in Community Group and Bible Study. Stay connected. Make yourself accountable. We are all disciples of Jesus and that doesn’t stop whether we are gathering in person or via Livestream. We might have to work harder at it in this season, but that’s ok. Let’s do the hard work together and come out of this time stronger and more grateful for what we have!
Fight any temptations to grumble. Much of what we are all experiencing is out of our control. Even decisions about regathering with the church are going to be disappointing to some. I can assure you that God will persevere us if we will keep our eyes on him.
Pray for unity within the body. Let’s strive for the kind of unity that Jesus prays for in John 17 when he asks the Father:
“20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Continue to support the ministry financially through online giving. God has provided for our church throughout this challenging time. If you’ve been able to start giving or continue giving, we thank God for your generosity. We are seeking to steward our funds well, for the glory of God. Your giving is a vital investment in the kingdom of God and the expansion of God’s glory here in Phoenix.
Please commit to praying about all of these matters as we cherish our partnership together. With God’s help, we will make it through this time with a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Keep spreading the joy of treasuring Christ.
With prayer and gratitude,
The Elders of Grace Church