September 2020

The first thing you’ll notice about our September Witness is that it is different from past newsletters.   Most of our newsletters are long on graphics and short on text.    We hope to keep the eye-appeal in this month’s newsletter, but we have added a great deal more text from our ministerial staff.

Navigating our way through COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge of my 36 years of pastoral ministry.   There have been greater crisises both nationally and locally during those years, but there hasn’t been anything that so dramatically changed the way we do everything, including church!    Thank you for hanging in there with us during this turbulent, confusing time as we have sought to continue to minister to our church and community.    Speaking of ministry, you will read about the ministries and ministry plans that each of our ministerial staff have been involved in or are planning in this Witness.   

We hope that we are seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.”    Through Sunday, September  6th, we will maintain our Phase 3 schedule of Classic services (Sanctuary & Gym) at 9:00 A.M. and Contemporary services (Sanctuary & Gym) at 11:00 A.M.    Those will be done with reservations to maintain social distancing, but we are adding childcare for both 11:00 services for birth through Pre-K that will continue on.

We look forward to more fully reopening our church on Sunday, September 13th.   This will be our PHASE 4 opening and will include the following features:

  • We will continue to have a total of four Sunday morning services: Classic Service in Sanctuary and Gym from 9:00 to 9:50 A.M. Contemporary Service in Sanctuary and Gym from 11:00 to 12:00 Noon.
  • Voluntary social distancing practices (except for families) will be observed. No reservations are needed for any of the services.
  • Only main building doors will be left open from the outside. Temperatures will be checked at these doors with modern devices.   Ushers will be available to help in seating you, but there will not be assigned seats.   Caution tape will mark off pews not to be used in the Sanctuary.
  • Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a mask since contact will be closer in Phase 4. But, knowing that not everyone will wear a mask, a “masked section” separated from the unmasked section will be available in all services.
  • Sunday School for all ages is planned for 10:00 to 10:50 A.M. Since not all classes or all teachers will feel safe being together in a classroom, some classes will combine with other classes as space permits.
  • Restrooms will be open throughout our buildings. Please limit the number of people in our restrooms to three at one time.
  • Offering plates will be available in both the Sanctuary and the Gym.
  • Church furniture will be sanitized between services. Hand sanitizer stations will be available at the entrance/exit doors of our facilities.
  • Everyone is advised to use their own discretion in deciding when to come back to church.
We are also planning a PARTIAL WEDNESDAY NIGHT ACTIVITY reopening on September 16th.   This will include activities and studies for all ages that normally meet at 6:30 P.M..     We’re hoping that September will be a turn-around month!   Hang in there and I look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible!

    

 I Love You, Garth
 

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August 2020

You’ve probably heard it said a million times already: we live in unprecedented times. It would have been nice to have received a handbook called How to Deal with the COVID-19 Crisis on January 1, 2020. I am sure none of us had a clue what was coming our way. Take courage in the fact that what may have surprised us, did not surprise God.

Many of us have experienced events and shifts in culture we never dreamed we’d see. All this uncertainty and isolation can cause a crippling anxiety and fear in the minds of many people, especially now in our community when the virus has hit home for so many of us. If I can encourage you in any way, please know that you’re not alone. Reach out to a friend and share your thoughts, chances are they will also have similar feelings. I also want to encourage you to open your Bible and read. The scriptures are filled with encouragement and peace. Read passages like: Joshua 1:9, Proverbs 30:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 6:18, and Romans 15:4-5. Read and reflect on what the Lord has given us in His holy Word. Spend time praying these passages over yourself, your family, and community.

When Esther became the queen of Persia she did not know in that moment how God would use her. It wasn’t until later when her uncle Mordecai found out Haman’s plot to kill the Jews, the purpose that God had put her in the position of queen. Mordecai said to her, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 ESV). Church, don’t keep silent. You are here for such a time as this. The Commission has NOT been canceled. What Christ did on the cross, has NOT been canceled. I encourage you to share this hope with those around you.

Since March, so many of the things we have planned as individuals and as a church have either been postponed, changed, or canceled all together. As a church, we have gone through that. Every time we face another postponement our “hope meter” for getting out of this crisis goes down a little more. Your church staff understands that such a predicament cannot go on forever. But again, if I can encourage you in any way, know this: the Commission hasn’t been canceled. As a church, our in-person gatherings may be on hold for a time, but our purpose as a church has not been postponed. Continue to reach out to your neighbors. Share the Gospel with them and be creative in your ways of doing that! Be the much needed light that this world needs. You are here, for such a time as this.
 

As of right now, we are planning to go back to Phase 3 style worship gatherings on Sunday, August 16, which will consist of classic services (sanctuary & gym) at 9:00a and contemporary services (sanctuary & gym) at 11:00a.

The following steps will be in place to help us make it a safe environment for you and your family:

• Reservations will be needed to adequately prepare a space for you.

• A “masked section” separated from the unmasked section will be available in all services.

• Masks are not required, but highly recommended.   

• We will be taking temperatures when you walk into the door. If you register a fever you will

  be asked to go home and contact your doctor.

Please remember that the COVID-19 crisis can and will change on a week to week basis. Please stay in contact with us on social media and our website for any updates and changes. We will let you know immediately through our online formats and our all-call system if anything changes.

Hoping that August will be a turn-around month! Hang in there and I look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible! If you need us, please don’t hesitate to call!

I Love You, Garth
 

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July 2020

A university student was seen with a large “K” printed on his T-shirt. When someone asked him what the “K” stood for, he said, “Confused.” “But,” the questioner replied, “you don’t spell ‘confused’ with a ‘K.’” The student answered, “You don’t know how confused I am.” We probably all feel like we’re wearing a “K” during these difficult days.

 

We are working our way through the strangest times in which we have ever lived! When we shut down “regular church” on March 31st due to COVID-19 and started live-streaming our worship services and posting other ministry videos, we all hoped that the crisis would be over quickly.    As we began to plan a comeback, we initiated PHASE TWO as “Drive-in Services” from May 31st through June 14th.   

 

Finally, on Father’s Day, June 21st, we got back inside our church facilities in a PHASE THREE “Soft Re-opening.”  The CLASSIC SERVICE is at 9:00a in both the Sanctuary and the gym, with Greg and his team leading music in the sanctuary and the Thrive young adult worship team in the gym. The CONTEMPORARY SERVICE is at 11:00a in both the Sanctuary and the gym, with the different worship teams in each location. My sermon and prayer is live-streamed into the gym at 9:00 and 11:00. Reservations for seating are needed for all services and can be made through our website or by calling the church office. Social distancing requirements will also continue to be observed.

 

Now, here’s some more good news! PHASE FOUR, the final phase of our comeback, in which we will resume on location all of the services, studies and activities that were a part of our church life before COVID-19, is scheduled to begin on Sunday, August 2nd. The public schools in Lamar County are presently planning to open on July 31st. On August 2nd, we are planning on having a full Sunday morning schedule of services plus Sunday School for all ages. Of course, these plans are subject to change if there is a significant spike in the number of Corona Virus cases in our area.

 

The COVID-19 shut down has changed life-long Sunday morning habits for most of us. Some churches will have a hard time getting their congregations to come back to church! If you have grown comfortable in your Sunday morning pajamas, let me share with you Hebrews 10:24-25 which says, “let us consider how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together as some have gotten in the  habit of doing, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day of Christ’s return approaching.”

 

We look forward to our MISSION TRIP to Cowley, Wyoming, scheduled for July 18th – 24th with Pastor Johannes Slabbert and Water of Life Church. VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL is also scheduled to happen virtually that same week of July 19th-23rd. Parents are asked to stop by our Christian Family Life Center under the west-side portico on Sunday, July 19th, from 3:00 to 5:00 P.M. to pick up their child’s “tool box” for the week. Please make sure to register online each child in your family so that we will have enough tool boxes for all of our participants.

 

Thank you for continuing to give most generously to both our budget and to our Generations Following Student/Young Adult Building Campaign. We have now passed the $1,050,000 mark needed to break ground in our fund-raising campaign! Presently, we have received over $1,070,000!

July will be a month of PHASE THREE SERVICES! You can look forward to a return “toward” normality on August 2nd!

 

I Love You, Garth
 

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