We have prayerfully sought God’s direction with the decisions that have been made during the changes of COVID restrictions. In the hopes of keeping our communication open and honest, we’ve listed below some of the questions that have come up through conversations and emails with regard to particular decisions we have made. We apologize for not making this available to you sooner. As we have said before, we are all open to any questions you may have. Please reach out to us if you’d like to discuss. In addition, we have attached the link for you to view Sunday’s Zoom get together (attached below).
First and foremost, our decisions and direction are led through prayer and following God’s word. Some of the scriptures that have spoken to us through our personal reflections as well as our time together as a team are listed below. Our team has been meeting bimonthly since the early stages of COVID and more frequently since Dusty’s resignation announcement. Pastor Jeff, as well as the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) pastors and leaders have prayed for all of you and our team, and have given wonderful direction as we oversee decisions needing to be made.
Although we know there are different opinions and viewpoints with regards to COVID restrictions, our ultimate goal is to wait on God and what He has asked of us. We have been cautious to not follow what others in the community are doing as an impulse decision but rather to seek God through prayer, His Word, and outside pastoral guidance. Our hope is to provide the safest environment for all GH members and attendees. If our services hinder some from attending, we prefer to err on the side of caution so that ALL may feel safe to worship.
For those who were not able to attend the Zoom meeting, we have put together a list of the questions that were asked through email, phone conversations, and addressed in Sunday’s zoom.
- Why are we closing worship and following government officials telling us not to worship? We believe that our state and county officials have not asked us to stop worshipping but rather have asked us to be creative in our worship in order to eliminate the risk of sharing a fast spreading virus that could be harmful to many of our GH family members. With that in mind we are planning on creative ways to gather and worship together as a family. Weather permitting, we are planning on our Eve to Eve Christmas service to be a time of worship and reflection of our Christmas celebration. We will be meeting in the front parking lot of Grace Hills at 6PM December 23rd. A separate announcement communication will follow.
- Are we fearful of meeting together or of the COVID virus? While many people are apprehensive of being in close proximity to others due to the virus, our stance is not one of fear but of respect to what God has asked of us in respecting our government leaders placed in authority and out of care and compassion for those in our church and community who are more susceptible.
- Is the church going to close? Our goal in the process of lead pastoral changes is to seek God’s direction for the future of the church. While we all want to see Grace Hills succeed, we are very aware that God may have us head in a different direction. At this time, our desire is to walk through the process of discernment looking to God’s leading and direction. There are certain factors to the success of GH; one factor being the need for lead help in ministries and the weekly happenings at the church.
- What are we doing moving forward as a church? The Leadership Team is in a time of discernment in regards to future plans. We are working with Pastor Jeff to help guide us in a discernment process to learn the plans that God has for us (this happens to be a specialty/gift of his). This process will also include input from our Grace Hills Family. We look forward to working together in the coming months.
- What is the next step in the search for a new Pastor? Once we have gone through this discernment process and understand where God is leading us, the search for a new Pastor would begin. If and when we get to the place of seeking a full time pastor, we will seek guidance from the ECC and Pacific Southwest Conference for direction and pastor references. We have not yet discussed the steps and processes with regards to full time pastoral care.
- What is our financial situation? In September of 2019 we were averaging losses of $1,700 per month. We addressed the congregation to communicate our financial status. Year to Date we have averaged a loss of $2,300 per month. We currently have $22K in the bank of which $14,800 was received from the PPP (Payment Protection Program). We will be filing for forgiveness of the loan, which we assume will be forgiven. We are grateful for the PPP Loan that allowed us to maintain the status quo for the 2020 year. Our budget should be reduced due to staffing a part time pastor as opposed to a full time pastor. We will update the year end financials at our Annual Meeting in January 2021. Online giving can continue for the GHCC members and guests on our website using the link provided.
- When will we have services together again at Grace Hills? It is important that we remember that the church is the gathered people of God—no matter how we are gathered. We know we long to be back together with our church families, but we are no less a church virtually than when we share the same physical space. While things may seem different and difficult for a while longer, we are the same church and the same family; let us continue to care for one another. Our team has had many discussions regarding this topic since the beginning of this pandemic and especially as this most recent ‘stay at home’ order and while our hope and desire is to meet together we do feel that following our state and county suggestions is our best way of honoring what Christ asks of us through the scriptures (our scripture reading is listed below). We have sought counsel from the ECC, the PSWC, and our local covenant pastors as well as met together often to reflect on scripture and time in prayer. While we know this is not ideal for worship, we pray that you will walk alongside us as we all seek to honor God.