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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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June 2020

These have been trying days for us all. We have experienced something that no one in a century has with COVID-19. Now, coming back from such a massive shutdown will need to take place slowly.

 

That shutdown started for us in late March. Without knowing what the future held, we entered PHASE ONE of live-stream services on March 29th. We have worked hard at improving on the live-stream process, while at the same time seeking to keep up with our people through various forms of social media aimed at different ministry groups from children to senior adults. We will continue to keep you informed through various postings to social media throughout this crisis.

 

Last Sunday, May 31st, we entered PHASE TWO of our comeback plan. Phase Two has given us the opportunity to come back to church in greater numbers. Since “Drive-In Services” can house family members in one vehicle and since those vehicles shelter those whose health is more fragile, we will pursue Drive-In Services for the Sundays of May 31st through June 14th.   They involve a lot of equipment set-up, and the parking/security team guides parking as vehicles enter and exit. The FM transmission did not work as well as we had hoped, but by the 11:00 Contemporary Service our amplification system had been adjusted and worked well.   Rain, of course, will shut us down as we cannot afford to get the electronic equipment wet, but we are posting the Sunday service online at 11:00 A.M. that we are presently recording on Thursday evenings.

 

PHASE THREE will be a “Soft Re-opening”  of our on-campus facilities that will begin on Father’s Day, June 21st. Because we will be indoors, social distancing measures will be both more demanding and more important. We will need more space available so we will follow the following Sunday morning schedule: The CLASSIC SERVICE will be at 9:00 A.M. in both the Sanctuary and the gym, with different bands/leadership at each location.  The CONTEMPORARY SERVICE will be at 11:00 in both the Sanctuary and the gym, with different bands in each location. The sermon will be live-streamed into the gym at 9:00 and 11:00.   Reservations for seating will be needed for all services and can be made through our website or by calling the church office.    

 

Our final phase, PHASE FOUR, will occur at a date not yet determined.  In that phase, we will resume on location all of the services, studies and activities that were a part of our church life before the COVID-19 Pandemic.   

 

Our MISSION TRIP to Cowley, Wyoming, scheduled for July 18th – 24th, is a “go” according to Water of Life Church Pastor Johannes Slabbert. VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL is also scheduled to happen virtually that same week of July 19th-23rd. Please pray for both of these evangelistic events.

 

You will also find in this month’s Witness information about our giving during this crisis. You continue to give most generously to both our budget and to our Generations Following Student/Young Adult Building Campaign. Though we are behind in our budget giving as would be expected, we are actually not more than about two weeks behind. In addition, we are very close to the $1,050,000 mark needed to break ground in our fund-raising campaign! That’s wonderful giving in the midst of a world-wide crisis!   

 

June is going to be an ANOTHER DIFFERENT month! We’ll begin it in “Drive-In” services and end it with a “Soft Reopening” of our church!

I Love You, Garth

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