Updated the evening of Tuesday, March 17, 2020
As we look out on Columbia this week, we see more and more social gathering beginning to disperse. Already many larger churches have closed their doors to go online, restaurants are being asked to host half of the normal number of patrons, and CPS will be closing Wednesday until April. It’s times like this that we need to continue to make sure our eyes are staying on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and not on the barrage of information and social media banter (even though I have appreciated some memes).
Like Peter, if we take our eyes of Christ in the middle of any storm, it’s easy to sink into anxiety and unrest. I read an exhortation today from a fellow pastor Tom Short saying, “Don’t allow the world and the things it throws at you to rob you of the peace Jesus gives.” He is still good, in control and we can “cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.”
However, it’s incomplete to just say “trust the Lord” because He calls us to be wise and take action that we know is correct and loving for our neighbor. As we think about others first, let’s start by following the guidelines our officials have given us that can be found in the links below. We have done our best at HGC to remain informed and maintain a balanced view in our responses to the current circumstances around COVID-19. In light of this outlook, we want to set the following protocols in order for Higher Ground Church.
We will stop meeting congregationally at the church until April 1st, at which time we will reevaluate under the instruction of local officials. We will continue to stream the service through Facebook live and post sermons and bulletins on our website. I want to encourage you to join us online Sunday mornings. It is important to continue to be encouraged with the word of God and beneficial to maintain a schedule.
All church groups (College Group, The Intersection, Community Group) will stop using the building and move to an online format. We will provide an online platform for anyone who would like to meet virtually and train you how to use the program. (Stay tuned to Facebook for details.) This will allow interaction for fellowship while keeping everyone safe from the spread of the virus. I can’t stress how important it is to maintain fellowship during stressful times. We weather the storms far better together than in isolation.
All events have been canceled until further notice. We will be reevaluating the events that we have planned for the coming months to see if alternatives can be found. We will decide in April how and if to proceed with events.
We have asked any other organization using the building to postpone all meetings until April, at which time we will evaluate how to move forward.
As the Lord leads, please feel free to give – online, via online banking, by way of the Planning Center app, or by mail.
Trust God, who is our rock and refuge, and join the saints in prayer for our nation. We received a call from another local pastor asking us to join them in prayer and fasting for our nation on March 23rd. We encourage you to join us as you are able, lifting up our city, state, nation, and world.
We are trying to provide as many opportunities as possible for the church to interact at scheduled times throughout the week. We encourage you to connect with one another via phone calls, lunches (<10 people per the President’s recommendations), and prayer walks. The pastors and deacons will be calling each person on a monthly basis just to connect, make sure everyone has what they need, and for prayer.
Social media and the web
In a time of distancing it is easy to get out of a schedule and find yourself being absorbed into on-line scanning and informational overload, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed. While it is important to stay informed, I want to encourage everyone to unplug, maybe checking in a few times a day on sites that are trusted and reputable. Here are a few that I have been following.
- Missouri Department of Health – COVID-19 Outbreak
- CDC (Centers for Disease Control) – COVID-19 information
- ArcGIS – COVID-19 overview and map
Instead of getting absorbed by cyberspace, spend extended times with the Lord, read a book, go for a walk, draw, sing, exercise, and reach out to those you know who are going to be having a difficult time during this new normal.
As we look for opportunities to serve, I was reminded of the multiple verses like Acts 2:42-46, Galatians 6:10, James 2:15, 1 John 3:17. Each of these are reminding us that we should make sure to look to serve one another specifically. With mass quarantines and the effect it will have on small businesses, I believe we may be heading into an Acts 2:45 type season. Let’s make sure to love one another well and be a church family. We will make needs known as they arise and if you become aware of a need that we can meet within our church family please let us know.
In addition, we are going to have great opportunities to serve our community and be a light to others. First, remember as we serve, the most important thing we share with people is the message of Christ which carries the weight of eternity. As we serve with our hands let’s make sure to share with our mouths the hope we have in Jesus during this time where worldly hope is in short supply. A few opportunities to serve our community are the following:
- Get on your neighborhood Nextdoor app to be connected to those who are around you. There will be opportunities to serve that are bound to arise. Or create them by offering to go pick up food and medicines for those who are “high risk” or self-quarantined because of illness.
- I will be calling the hospital today to see how we can serve our medical professionals as schools are closing. I will specifically mention childcare and homeschooling. If you are interested and equipped to serve in this way please let me know.
- City of Refugee, a ministry we serve, has put out a call for help. Please consider donating here.
As the situation continues to develop, we are committed to caring for the church’s spiritual needs through online gatherings, phone calls, and other resources. If you find yourself in need or just feeling overwhelmed or lonely, please feel free to give me a call at 573.590.0236. I would love to talk, go for a walk, or pray with you.
Pastor Adam Snell
Higher Ground Church