March 17, 2020
Dear Rockford Reformed Church Family and Friends,
It has become clear to our leadership, based on government/CDC orders, recommendations, and projections, that all church worship, activities, and events should be cancelled indefinitely. Indefinitely means that we don’t know how long this will be necessary and we will resume everything as soon as it is safe to do so. Our staff successfully “met” online this morning with barking dogs and restless kids in the background and the primary topic revolved around how we do ministry and pursue our vision with our new normal.
We will continue with posting essentials for your home worship—with songs, lyrics, and a sermon. We will add a study guide for your discussion and perhaps some prayers, readings, and other helps along the way. Our first Sunday worship attempt was well received and it appears that the number of our virtual participants was comparable to a normal Sunday in-person participation. Many of you checked in online (including a dog or two) and included encouraging words.
How can we remain connected while disconnected? Emillie has communicated with the Valley View Elementary principal so that our KidsHope mentors can maintain some connection and communication with their kids. Beth Jennings and Brian Ellis will be following up with the kids, youth, and parents to provide resources/ideas for connection, communication, and faith-development. Laura will be providing new links on our website that lead to resources and ideas for devotionals, Bible studies, and serving our neighbors.
How can we connect with and serve those in need during this difficult season? Some of you have offered yourselves up to provide childcare, get groceries, or serve in whatever way needed. And that’s great. We will soon send a follow-up communication that provides some ideas/resources for you to connect with and serve your neighbors. We will also provide some suggestions for giving toward the needs of our community. For now, we want to highlight that North Kent Connect has made significant adjustments for serving our community and
provides the details about their efforts and instructions for making a donation.
Many of you were faithful in providing your tithes and offerings this past Sunday through the link on our website. Through my time at RRC, I have been encouraged with our faithful giving. Even though we retreat, our church family expenses and bills go on. We can provide for consistent giving and income by mailing a check or using the digital giving option provided on our website. At the same time, if you struggle with some financial strain and hardship through this season, please let your care group deacon/elder know so that we can come alongside and assist with bills/expenses.
God will be working through all of this chaos and uncertainty and we will look for ways to share the stories of his grace, intervention, and faithfulness. I see his grace and faithfulness already in the ways that many of you are reaching out to each other, to me, and your neighbors. Finally, I encourage you to be vigilant with the guidelines that are being communicated for protecting yourself and our community. And most importantly, be vigilant with prayer. Many more communications will follow in the days ahead. But for now, I want to leave you with a prayer request that was submitted by Angela Oostema, one of our soon-to-be members. She and her husband, Adam, are physicians and this serves a helpful guide for our prayers:
Adam and I are in medicine. We ask for God's guidance for our community health systems and health care workers as processes around COVID-19 management are in evolution with updates every few hours. We pray for leadership and healthcare workers that they will not feel overwhelmed and can remain on front lines through good health. We pray that the social distancing will blunt the spread of the virus and that people will willingly comply hoping that fewer are infected all at once. We pray that we may be salt and light to people that we come into contact with — whether patients, colleagues, neighbors, friends, or family. We also ask for prayers for all families throughout Michigan, that they will transition well to homeschooling while work continues for parents.
I must admit that the weight of leading our congregation is heavier during this season. But it is also a joy and privilege. God is raising all of us up for such a time as this. Our hope and purpose is found in Jesus.