For everything there is a season,and a time for every purpose under heaven.
March 18, 2020
Dear SPC Members and Friends,
I am writing on the behalf of your elders, deacons, and church staff to let you know how we are planning to respond, at least for now, to this season of Covid 19 and whywe are planning to respond in these ways.
I’ll begin with the why.
We do not believe that this crisis is an accident, nor do we believe that it has caught God off-guard. On the contrary, we believe that He has His purposes for it and for the mission and work of His Church around the world. The Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter, ministered to those affected by the plague in London in the1660’s. He writes that the plague:
“…occasioned the [previously] silenced ministers…to preach the Gospel, to the exceeding comfort and profit of [all] the people.” They had increasing compassion, he says, for “the distressed people that had none to call [them] to repentance, nor to help [them] prepare for another world, nor to comfort them in their terrors.”
In other words, as important as health and welfare were for the people of his city, Baxter saw that they needed something more than they needed health and welfare. They needed Christ’s preached Gospel and the demonstrated love of Christ through the people of the Church to them. This was the calling of the Church during the epidemic of the 1660’s – to love others as Christ had loved them. Although the situation is unlike any we have really seen in our lifetimes, this continues to be our calling: to make Christ known in the places where we live, and in the ways we speak to and serve people – even at a social distance!
How will people discover the transforming power of the Gospel? As God works, they will discover the Gospel in the ways we show it to them.
To see our Emergency Food Pantry on Tuesday afternoon – retooled into a drive-through format, with volunteers young and old, properly prepared and in masks, taking food orders and delivering the food to people’s cars – was to see an example of Christ’s love in action. What an excellent, opening example of the reason why we are responding to this crisis in the way we mean to! Christ has loved us, and in His name, we mean to love others.
As we make personal and corporate sacrifices for the sake of public health and for the well-being of the most vulnerable people in our communities, we will serve our neighbors well in the name of the Lord who loves them.
As for the how?
This pandemic presents a challenge that calls not only for love but also for ingenuity on behalf of God’s people. We read in Genesis 11 of the ingenuity which God gave to the children of Noah to build and to construct – even if they were using it to build the Tower of Babel. In the same way, the giver of all good gifts has given us technology and technological know – how to respond to the question of how we can continue to be the Church during this season.
1) For the foreseeable future, all the regular activities of our church, except for our Emergency Food Pantry, will be suspended. This includes all worship services, prayer meetings, Community Group gatherings, Youth ministry and fellowship events, children’s programs, meal, and mission events (except 40 Days for Lifeoutdoor prayer vigil on March 28). We will let you know when you can expect things to return to normal as soon as we can.
2) On Sunday mornings, we will provide an online opportunity to worship through stonypointchurch.org and SPC’s Members and Friends Facebook page beginning at 8:30 AM. Although we will not be together physically, our spirits will be drawn together as we hear God’s Word read and preached, and as we pray and receive God’s benediction. We will also include a children’s sermon and links to some hymns and spiritual songs.
3) On Tuesday mornings, we will post videos of our Women’s Bible Study Large Group teaching at stonypointchurch.org and on Facebook. We encourage all of our Women’s Bible Study Groups to continue to meet via web-based video conferencing (i.e. Zoom) or by conference calling to discuss your Bible lessons and to pray together.
4) Beginning next Wednesday (March 25), we are planning to post an online video version of Praise and Prayer at stonypointchurch.org and on Facebook, offering a short devotion and an opportunity to pray together.
5) We are also preparing an Adult Sunday School Class, taught by John Morgan, which will also be available soon at stonypointchurch.org.
6) Throughout the weeks ahead, we are planning to be in touch with everyone who is a member or who regularly worships at SPC. We are working on more specific plans for regularly keeping up with each other which we hope to roll out midway through next week. In the meantime, please call one of the pastors if you have immediate and pressing needs and we will do our very best to either help you or refer you to those who can. (See the pastors’ phone numbers at the bottom of this letter.)
7) Obviously, our church, like most churches, is reconfiguring the way in which we operate and minister during this season. Our expectation is that in as many ways as is practical we will continue to fully operate. (Our church office will operate during normal business hours but as we care for our office staff, please only come to the church if you have an appointment or if you are bringing a student to help with the Food Pantry.) Your continued faithfulness to SPC through online giving at stonypointchurch.org/give or in checks mailed to the office will be a tremendous help and encouragement as we keep the church on track and seek to help those in need.
I don’t wish us to be glib or unrealistic about what is likely to be a difficult time ahead. Nor do I wish us to be simply self-concerned amidst all the fearful things we hear, some true and some not, in the media. Yet there can be no doubt that as we have been called to this season as Christians and as a local church, we are about to undergo a significant test to our faith in the Lord Jesus. My prayer is that we would not be found unprepared or unwilling in this time, but that we will ask with every new day “what good work God has laid up for me to do today?”
Pastors’ contact numbers:
Steve Constable (804) 357-9325
Zac Collins (804) 356-6050
Curt Kenney (540) 908-0277