ELMWOOD CHURCH FAMILY,
As more information is known about the widespread nature and easy transmission of the COVID-19 virus, we believe it is wise for us to go above and beyond the precautions recommended by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our local government agencies. We have made the difficult decision to suspend our Sunday morning worship gatherings for at least two weeks – Sunday, March 22nd and Sunday, March 29th. After this time, we will prayerfully reevaluate the best time to resume our normal Sunday activity. A decision like this is complex, and we want to share our heart behind it:
MANY IN OUR CHURCH COMMUNITY ARE AT RISK
Those over the age of sixty and those with preexisting conditions are most at risk with COVID-19. In addition, the CDC is reporting that a person can be a carrier of the virus without any symptoms or ever becoming ill. If we continue our worship gatherings, we may unknowingly put vulnerable members of our congregation, and even our wider community, at risk.
WE WANT TO RESPECT OUR GOVERNING AUTHORITIES AND PRESERVE OUR REPUTATION
With the input of the CDC and World Health Organization, the President of the United States has now asked that people not congregate in groups of larger than ten people; just a few days ago that number was 250. During a time of heightened fear, choosing to gather for worship in spite of what our President has asked will give the appearance of insubordination to governing authorities; it may give the impression to people in our community that we are continuing to do things that we know may put our community at risk. By choosing to suspend our services for a time, we eliminate any possibility of being misunderstood.
THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE GOSPEL NEIGHBORING
As our Elder Team processed this decision, we were all in agreement that we do not want to suspend our services. We deeply value the time we gather to worship as a church family. And yet, because the CDC and World Health Organization don’t fully understand the COVID-19 virus, we believe this is a unique opportunity to practice to gospel neighboring—choosing to disadvantage ourselves for the good of our community and choosing to place the needs of others ahead of our own.
THIS PRESENTS US WITH NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR DIGITAL MINISTRY
Although we lament the need to suspend our gatherings for a season, we are hopeful and thankful for the opportunities that are ahead of us in the area of our digital presence. Our community and the people in each of our spheres of influence desperately need the hope and peace of the gospel in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and choosing to suspend our public gatherings for a season gives us the opportunity to produce video messages and other online content that has the potential to reach far more people than we could reach doing ministry only out of our building. We believe that any online presence we create is supplemental to the in-person ministry of the gathered church, but also that creating a strong online presence is a vital tool for communicating the message of the gospel in our culture.
CARING FOR THOSE AT RISK – ADOPTION INITIATIVE
Those most at risk from COVID-19 are those over sixty and those with preexisting medical conditions. Since we are an intergenerational church, we are taking every step to protect the members of our congregation who would be most affected. This is the main way we are mobilizing our congregation to serve one another during this season:
- If you are a part of the demographic that is most at risk and do not feel safe going out into public spaces, we urge you to stay home. We are organizing people who can serve you by grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, or doing other errands for you. If you would like assistance with any of these things, please call the church office at (612) 788-9408 so that we can connect you with a helper.
- If you are not in the demographic that is most at risk and would like to serve those who are, please let us know! Call the church office or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will partner you with someone based on your geography.
- Elmwood will facilitate those initial connections, and after that, those who have been adopted and those who have adopted a household will be responsible to communicate with one another about ongoing needs.
The ministry of Elmwood has always been—and always will be—supported by the faithful and sacrificial giving of those who call this church home. Even though we will not be gathering at our building for at least the next two Sundays, we encourage you to remember that we still have many fixed operating costs. With your continued faithful giving during this season, we can remain financially strong. Please continue to give online at https://elmwoodchurch.churchcenter.com/giving or send a check to the church office at:
Elmwood Church — 3615 Chelmsford Rd NE, St. Anthony Village, MN 55418
PEOPLE OF PEACE
During a time of turmoil and disruption, we have a unique opportunity to unleash the peace of Christ into our world. The enemy would love to use this pandemic to stir fear, division, and hopelessness, but we believe God can use it in powerful ways to advance his Kingdom. As we interact with each other and with those who are not yet followers of Jesus, we do so armed with the good news of the Prince of Peace, the One whom death could not contain and the One whose suffering guarantees that sickness and death will not have the last word.
Please continue to pray for our church family and for all those affected by COVID-19.
Standing together on the Rock,
The Elmwood Elder Team