As you know, the elders met last night in response to the new guidance from the White House that all Americans should not meet in groups larger than 10 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We decided to move to a web-based plan to comply with these requests from our government and to help lead in the efforts to stop the spread. Our decisions below are informed by CDC guidance and are on par with many local churches and partner churches around the world.
This may be a sad reality to you... it is for me! We recognize that technology is not a replacement for community. We are not trying to replace what we typically have, but rather supplement our current situation to the best of our ability. In this, we remember that the church is not about coming to a building or taking in an experience, but being a body together. Bodies adapt, and we will adapt to the current realities while looking forward to when we can meet in person again (as soon as possible). Being deprived of in-person gatherings should increase our hunger for what God does when we do get to gather in a few weeks! Please watch the video above for more thoughts on this shift to a web-based approach.
Below I have outlined our plan. As we've been seeing in our sermon series, we need the body of Christ. We encourage you to take advantage of technology and lean into this plan to get out all that the Lord has for us during this time. Please stay engaged and resist the temptation to just "check out" for a few weeks. Here's the plan:
We will live-stream our celebration gatherings on our YouTube Channel for the time being with NO in-person gathering. Make sure you are subscribed to each channel so that you don't miss it! Each service will lead you in worship through song, prayer, and preaching. Plan to have your family join in together as this will help our church remain united and heading in the same direction. Use the chat features to give feedback and interact with others.
Tithes & Offerings
Our budgeted expenditures change very little if we meet on a Sunday or not. We encourage you to remain faithful in your commitment before the Lord regarding tithes and offerings. The best way to do this is to mail a check by hand or using your personal online banking and include your giving envelope number. We will safely store all checks we receive by mail until we count them on the weekend (please do NOT mail cash). The finance team and selected members will lead the counting, and I personally will make every effort not to open checks we receive to promote a degree of confidentiality (please address hand-mailed checks "C/O Finance Team").
We are also setting up an account with Subsplash Giving. This will allow for giving to be done through ACH (1% service fee), Credit/Debit (2.9% service fee + $0.30 transaction fee), or text (same fees as Credit/Debit). Realize that fees mean that less of your gift goes to the church, so if you choose to use this convenience, consider covering the fee yourself (there is a checkbox option to do this in the Subsplash platform). There is no monthly cost to the church for this service. Again, your contributions will be recorded for year-end tax receipts.
AROMA Bible Study gatherings are canceled until further notice, but keep an eye out for emails describing ways that we can serve in the Care Connect ministry to continue our outreach in Oak Bottom Village! Pray for a few ladies Saturday as they take some flowers over to plant and beautify some gardens as a way of cheering up some of those who are shut in. Pray they would be a joy and a light to those they serve.
Gospel Communities would not typically meet this week and will be connecting via Zoom, at least for the week of 3/23-3/27. Zoom will allow you to have a "face to face" conversation with others from your GC. Each GC will have a separate time on the night of your typical gathering for the men and women to connect in order to consider the childcare needs of some families. Look for an email from your GC leader for the link to the Zoom meeting room for your GC (you can download and connect for free). Look for other ways to call and text members in your GC outside of this usual meeting time, realizing that isolation is not healthy. Further, consider sending cards or letters (from you or your kids) to people who are more shut-in than others. Finally, if you are not part of a GC, please email one of the GC leaders to connect in.
youth & children's ministries
Our youth and children's ministries are going to be in the hands of those who are always primarily responsible for the discipleship of kids: the parents. We encourage you to use your Fighter Verse books and continue memorizing the verse of the week.
As is our normal practice, if you have a shepherding concern, your GC leader is your first point of contact. If something cannot be handled within the GC, he will contact an elder for input and assistance. If for some reason you do not feel comfortable contacting your GC leader or his wife, or you do not have a GC leader, the elders and their wives are also available.
Additionally, our elders will be recording 1 devotional weekly that we will send via email. Further, I compiled a Spotify Playlist called "Songs for the Anxious Soul" to serve your heart. Continue in our "We are the Body" reading plan to saturate your mind with God's word and keep praying through our March prayer guide.
We recognize that some people may be financially burdened through cut hours or layoffs during this season. We are prepared to help those connected with Oak Hill, and the elders have earmarked an extra $2500 from savings to do so. This brings our total benevolence budget to $5000, and if we hit that limit, we can add more if needed. Any benevolence requests for help with essential bills such as rent/mortgage, utilities, or food should be made by contacting Alden Bowman, who will provide you with the necessary form and help you get started in the request process with the whole benevolence team. You can read our benevolence policy for more details.
I mentioned a number of ideas in yesterday's email, including ways to love your neighbor and to participate with Solanco Neighborhood Ministries. As I mentioned earlier, we will inform you of ways to serve AROMA. Further, if you are a Facebook user, consider starting a "watch party" to invite friends in to hear the word of God preached through the live-stream.
Please feel free to ask any questions or communicate any needs you may have. We will communicate updates via email as things come up. We will miss seeing you face to face, and cannot wait to get back to a sense of normalcy. In all of these changing times, one thing never changes: