GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last Updated 7-8-2020]

Update: To accommodate Grace Lutheran Church’s own reopening, we will begin our Sunday worship service at 1:00pm, beginning Sunday, July 12.  


Livestream: We will continue to livestream the Sunday worship service, beginning at 1:00pm.


Location/Reservations/Guidelines: We are temporarily meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Glen Ellyn.  To participate in person, reservations are required.  Please email Tracie at tracie@gfc1.org before Noon on Saturday if you would like to reserve a seat, and include the total number of family members who will join you.


Please review our 6/10/20 update (below) for additional details and guidelines for our worship service.


Prayer and Fellowship: We encourage you to consider having a time of fellowship and prayer with your family and, to the extent you are comfortable, other church families, before 1:00pm.


Future Sundays:  We have already begun reaching out to potential venues, and researching others, that would allow us to meet on Sunday morning.  Until we have finalized something, we anticipate continuing to meet, and beginning our livestream, at 1:00pm.


Please continue to pray with us as we ask the Lord to provide a place that will meet the needs of our church gathering.


Thank you,

Pastors Michael, Stephen, Jonathan and Mark



GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last Updated 6-16-2020]

We are awed by the amazing and abundant ways God has provided for our church - including His provision of a place for us to gather together on Sunday mornings!

The feedback from our “pilot reopening” at Grace Lutheran Church (in downtown Glen Ellyn) on Sunday was very positive.  We plan to follow the same approach this coming Sunday, June 21.

Reservations are required to attend our in-person worship service this Sunday.  Please email Tracie at tracie@gfc1.org if you would like to reserve a seat, and include the total number of family members who will join you. We will fill available seats on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tracie will reply to everyone who requested a reservation, either confirming they have a reservation or advising that the sanctuary has already been filled.

Those who do not get a reservation this Sunday will be given priority for next Sunday. Please do not come to Grace Lutheran without a reservation.  

Individuals and families attending will be pre-assigned seating and ushered to their pew when they arrive. Pre-assigning pews allows us to maximize capacity, minimize confusion, and maintain social distancing.  Please plan to arrive early so we can get everyone seated before 10:30am.

Please review our 6/10/20 update (posted below) for additional details and guidelines for our worship service.

We plan to continue sending a weekly email with details about reserving for the upcoming Sunday.  For now, we will only take reservations for the upcoming Sunday worship service (not subsequent Sundays). 

We will continue to live stream the worship service for those who do not participate in person.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to begin meeting again together as a church body.  Feel free to contact any one of us if you have questions. 

God’s love, 

Pastors Michael, Stephen, Jonathan and Mark



Scripture Guiding GFC's Decisions and Response

[Last Updated 6-11-2020]

Dear GFC,


As we have expressed in previous updates, the circumstances we have been facing as a church are complex and multi-faceted. No single passage of Scripture can be applied to the decisions we have made over the past three months.  As pastors, we have diligently worked to faithfully apply the whole counsel of Scripture to each decision we have made. 


We have taken the time to organize many (not all) of Scripture that, taken together, have helped guide our understanding and response to this situation.  We encourage you to examine and consider this Biblical rationale for our approach and be encouraged by how God's Word speaks to the circumstances we face.  You can link to this document here.


As always, we welcome your questions and feedback.  God's love, 


Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Stephen and Mark


GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last Updated 6-10-2020]


Dear GFC,

 

We have exciting news! Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Glen Ellyn is willing to rent us their sanctuary on Sunday mornings! This is truly an answer to prayer - we give all glory and praise to God! And we are thrilled to be able to begin meeting again as a church. We will have a service this Sunday at Grace Lutheran for roughly 125 people (reservations required) beginning at 10:30am with a livestream.

 

“Partial Reopening”: We are calling this a partial reopening, because we will be limited with how many people can worship at one time. So, there are several important details to share with you now for you to consider. Thank you for taking time to read this email and then let us know if you have any questions.

 

Love and Unity: It is worth again acknowledging that our congregation holds a diverse set of opinions and perspectives about how to respond (individually and as a church) to the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent guidelines issued by local, state and federal officials. As Christians we have a responsibility to respond to each other in love, patience, and understanding -- especially when speaking with those who hold different opinions than we do. This fosters unity. We pray that our congregation’s attitude, words and demeanor toward each other will shine the light of Christ brightly and reflect His heart to one another.

 

God’s Word is our Guide: All our decisions as pastors are informed by the Word of God and prayer. We have nearly completed a document showing the Biblical rationale for our approach and will be sending it later this week. When you receive it, we encourage you to examine and consider the Scriptures that have been guiding our decision making and that we believe are relevant to our circumstances.

 

Different Feel, Same Focus: This Sunday, June 14, will feel different for all of us. For those who continue to worship from home via the livestream, the service will seem different as we transition from the Ziman’s living room to Grace Lutheran. And, for the 125 people who worship at Grace Lutheran, there will be several changes that will require flexibility, patience and grace. No matter where we worship physically, may our focus and attention be squarely on our Savior and King, Jesus Christ! He is the reason we gather together! 

 

June 14 “Pilot” Re-opening: In many ways, this Sunday will “pilot test” our partial re-opening. A new location and new guidelines will undoubtedly mean we have not considered every detail. We view June 14 as a learning experience that will help us improve for future weeks. Patience and flexibility is key! 

 

June 14 Livestream:  We fully intend to livestream the worship service beginning at 10:30am on Sunday. Since this is a new location with a live congregation, be patient if we don’t start on time or if we hit an unexpected issue!

 

We will social distance initially: As a leadership team we believe it is wise to begin our reopening cautiously: 1) out of concern for the health and safety of our congregation, 2) to show Christian love for our brothers and sisters, and 3) to be a winsome witness to our community. For these reasons, at least initially, we will adhere to social distancing guidelines. While Scripture alone is our guide for faith and practice, this does not preclude seeking wisdom from others (Prov. 15:22). Nearly every recommendation we’ve read about re-opening churches advise the practice of social distancing. This reflects the desire of churches to set an example of responsible action and love for others (both in the church and in the community). Further, we want to respect our agreement with Grace Lutheran who is graciously opening their church building for us to use. As their guests we want to treat them and their facility well.

 

Reservations and Seating:  We will be seating family units approximately six feet apart from each other. We estimate this will allow 125 people or so to worship together.

 

Please email Tracie at tracie@gfc1.org if you would like to reserve a seat, and include the total number of family members who will join you. We will fill available seats on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tracie will reply to everyone who requested a reservation, either confirming they have a reservation or advising that the sanctuary has already been filled.

 

Those who do not get a reservation this Sunday will be given priority for next Sunday. Please do not come to Grace Lutheran without a reservation. We may offer two services later this month.

 

Individuals and families attending will be pre-assigned seating and ushered to their pew when they arrive. Pre-assigning pews allows us to maximize capacity, minimize confusion, and maintain social distancing. It is absolutely critical that you and your family sit where you have been assigned. Again, this is a pilot run, and not a permanent arrangement. So, please be patient, flexible, and respectful. 

 

Arrival/Dismissal:  Please arrive before 10:30am so we can seat everyone before the service begins. Parking at the church is limited, so street parking will be required. Please allow extra time for these things. Also, please note that several downtown Glen Ellyn streets are one-way.

 

At the conclusion of the service, please remain seated. The ushers will direct you out the doors to the parking lot. Out of respect for Grace Lutheran and to adhere to social distancing guidelines, please do not congregate in the sanctuary or lobby before or after the service. 

 

Cry Room / Restrooms: There is a “cry room” at the back of the sanctuary that is available if needed. This is not a room to congregate in. Restrooms are located in the lobby outside the sanctuary. Please allow one family unit to use the restroom at one time. 

 

Communion: Communion elements will be pre-packaged and distributed prior to the service.

 

Hospitality Sunday: We will not have small group prayer time or a fellowship meal initially. However, that does not mean prayer and fellowship should not take place as an extension of our service. Until we resume our fellowship meal, we encourage you to consider every Sunday a Hospitality Sunday! This is a great opportunity to grow as a church in our mission of purposeful hospitality ministry. As you feel able, we encourage you to invite folks over to your home for prayer, fellowship, and a meal. Use this time to strengthen our relationships and build one another up. This will also enable us to spend time praying with and for one another as a church. 

 

Bulletins / Service Order: We will not distribute bulletins on Sunday. We will continue providing these electronically in the weekly email which allows you to print them in advance at home or refer to them on your phone. We may also adjust the order of our service.

 

Tithes and Offerings: We will not collect donations on Sunday morning. Please continue to give your tithes and offerings online at https://gfc1.churchcenter.com/giving. Using ACH (instead of a credit card) helps keep our transaction fees to a minimum.

 

Personal Care and Responsibility:  If you are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e. have a fever), or if you have a family member who is ill, you are expected to stay home. We ask that you avoid hugs and handshakes on Sunday morning. Wearing face masks is optional and left to the discretion of each congregant. We encourage those with underlying health conditions or over age 65 to consider waiting to resume in-person worship.

 

After reading all of these guidelines and logistics, it might be tempting to focus on the restrictions and view this negatively. Instead of being frustrated, we encourage you to look at the many ways meeting this Sunday is a blessing and give thanks for how God has worked to bring us here! Just two weeks ago, we had begun communicating with government officials to seek ways to re-open more quickly. We thought it might be a year or longer before Illinois allowed over 50 people to meet together. Moreover, we had no meeting location and nearly every park, school, church, business, and theater we contacted was not interested in renting to GFC. Today, we are planning a worship service with 125 of us together! Praise God for the amazing work He is doing! 

 

Please pray that this re-opening goes smoothly, that we will practice humility, patience, and grace as a church and that the Lord will be glorified in the decisions we make. He is good, all the time! Feel free to contact any one of us if you have questions.

 

Thank you! God’s love,

 

Pastors Michael, Stephen, Jonathan and Mark

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 6-4-2020]


Dear GFC,

 

The last several days have been very full, as we continue diligently praying, discussing and researching our next steps for re-opening GFC. Thank you for your patience. While no email can adequately communicate every detail, we will do our best to update you on where we are presently.

 

Our Highest Goal:

It is easy to get bogged down by the details and lose sight of what we are desiring to achieve. Our highest goal is to respond to our current situation in a way that is faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture and gives glory to God! In virtually every planning discussion GFC pastors have, we challenge each other to root our decisions in Scripture. We have begun organizing all these discussions into a document that we will share with you soon.

 

Other Important Considerations:

With the deacons, we have also been considering important logistical and safety guidelines for re-opening GFC. We have developed a first draft set of guidelines for when GFC begins meeting again in one location. These guidelines are in draft form because the eventual venue may have additional requirements.

 

Other considerations include:

●     Maximum capacity of the facility.

●     Time of day we are allowed to use the facility.

●     Permission to partake in communion.

●     Available sound equipment and/or storage for GFC sound equipment

●     Ability to livestream from the location

●     Access to bathrooms

●     Parking

 

Location Update:

With Tracie’s help, we’ve been hard at work looking for a suitable location to worship together this weekend. In the past week, we’ve contacted 30+ different places, from churches to schools to hotels and businesses. This list includes Monroe Middle School, the DuPage Forest Preserve and Wheaton Park District. We are also working with a realtor who has looked into commercial properties such as the one at Geneva Crossing in Wheaton. We’ve been asking about parking lots, open spaces and indoor locations.

 

We are learning a lot in this process! Nearly every church we’ve contacted, some of which had earlier expressed openness to having GFC eventually meet in their building, are still in the process of determining their own re-opening guidelines and procedures. So, we need patience as they figure out what they are comfortable doing for their own congregations first before they make decisions about other congregations coming in and using their space.

 

Moreover, schools, theaters, hotels and parks have their own requirements and priorities. Many have told us they are not renting any space at this time. Others need more time to consider our request to rent space (including Monroe Middle School), while others have not yet responded.

 

This week, we received two positive responses from churches in the area. However, each of them require more follow-up to better understand what they would (and would not) allow. We are in process of getting our questions answered with each of them. At the same time, we have potentially better options that are pending a response.

 

Livestream Will Continue This Sunday, June 7

GFC pastors met again this morning to consider all that we know as of today and we are in agreement that it is best to continue the livestream service this Sunday, June 7, while we continue to explore potential meeting locations for future Sundays. 

 

We continue to encourage you, to the extent you are comfortable and able, to invite 2-3 other families to your home to participate in the livestream worship service together. For clarity, you do not need to communicate with the pastors if you are having others worship at home with you. 

 

Looking Ahead

A consistent theme the past three months is that things are rapidly changing. As frustrating as this is, we can only plan one week at a time right now. We greatly desire to be physically together as a church body, but also entrust the timing of this to the Lord. Rest assured, we are devoting many, many hours to finding a meeting location that meets the needs of everyone in our congregation. And, we will continue to share updates as we learn more.

 

Your patience, understanding and prayers are very much appreciated! We’re eager to meet and we continue to pray that the Lord will bring us together again very soon. In the meantime, please call, email or text any of us if you have questions or feedback. We want to hear from you!

 

God’s love,

 

Pastors Michael, Mark, Stephen and Jonathan

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[last updated 5-30-2020]


Dear GFC,

 

Since learning that Governor Pritzker lifted the restrictions that have kept churches from meeting, we have been actively working to find a suitable meeting location and develop guidelines that minimize the risk of infection.

 

In the past 36 hours, we have contacted multiple potential meeting locations (churches, hotels, park districts, schools). While many remain open to having us rent space from them, none are prepared to have our church use their location on such short notice for this Sunday. Many need to know what precautions we will be taking when we meet. And, in most cases, the decision is made by committee (i.e. elder board or administrators) who need time to meet and consider our request.

 

So, while we remain hopeful that we will find a location where we can gather as a larger group in future weeks, for this Sunday, May 31, we will continue to worship together in homes. After all the excitement of Thursday night’s announcement, this may be disappointing for many of you. We share that frustration and are just as eager to meet again with everyone! That day is coming soon, but we’re not there just yet. That said, for tomorrow:

To the extent you are comfortable and able, we encourage you to invite 2-3 other families to your home to participate in the livestream worship service together.

If you have a larger home and are willing and comfortable to host an extra family for church tomorrow morning, please let us know. 

 

You can be assured that GFC pastors, deacons and Tracie are all diligently working to finalize a meeting location as soon as possible. We have a list of over 12 possible locations and have divided that list among our team to persistently follow-up. 

 

Moreover, pastors and deacons are meeting again on Monday to document our “reopening guidelines” that can be submitted to potential venues. These guidelines will address seating that is considered a proper social distance, entering/exiting/congregating in the building, use of hand sanitizer and wash rooms, use of food/communion, and likely much more.

 

We will also be encouraging higher risk congregants, including those over 65 years old and those with underlying health conditions, to continue worshipping at home via the livestream (which we intend to continue providing). 

 

Initially, these guidelines will “err on the side of caution” as we seek to care for our church body and protect against the spread of COVID. We believe this approach is wise for the safety of our congregants and our witness to the community.

 

We are eager to begin worshipping together very soon. We will continue to keep you informed as we have new information to share.

 

Thank you for your continued prayers and patience. With much rejoicing and gratitude,

 

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Stephen and Mark

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[last updated 5-26-2020]

Dear GFC,


Following are excerpts from an email that was sent to GFC on May 22, 2020, with some additional updates as of May 26, 2020, summarizing some key points as we move forward as a church at this time.


1). Our primary objective is to respond to the current situation in a way that is faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture.  The issues raised by this situation are complex and mutli-faceted.  Thus, we are working hard to examine, interpret, and apply the many passages of Scripture that speak to the circumstances we face.  This takes time, patience and humility. 


2). As pastors we are all very concerned about the current Restore Illinois plan.  In particular, the potentially lengthy duration we’ll be in “phase 4” (groups of 50) and unable to meet together as one church body. 


3). We believe in pursuing a process of strong appeal before civil disobedience.  We want to take a measured approach that influences change.  To that end we are seeking to respectfully and intentionally engage with our governing officials with our concerns regarding the current plan.  We hope these changes would allow a faster path to meeting together as a church and be beneficial for society as a whole.  We seek to faithfully apply the  Biblical commands to respect governing authorities, love our neighbor, and not neglect church assembly.  While we actively engage in this process we will continue to work within the framework of the Restore Illinois plan.


4).  We have taken steps to engage elected officials and to seek counsel from others. We’ve had several meetings with local and regional pastors. We recently participated in a meeting with one state representative and have scheduled a meeting with another.  We are encouraged by the initial response we have received and are hopeful that persistence will yield positive results.  We have also had meaningful conversations with attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who provide wise legal counsel in the area of religious liberty.  Presently, they support our approach described above. 


5). This is not necessarily a linear process.  As changes and decisions come from government leaders, we assess and respond accordingly.  We anticipate this process of engagement with leaders to continue as long as we are having constructive interaction with them.


6).  We will continue to live stream the Sunday worship service. We encourage members to invite another family to participate in the Sunday worship service together with them.  Please refer to our May 14 email for more details on guidelines. 


7).  We are also actively researching alternative meeting locations and preparing guidelines should we be able to meet in larger numbers sooner than expected.  We have had preliminary conversations with several venues that are interested in allowing us to meet.  We are also considering other potential outdoor options for meeting.  We are in the process of planning how we can maximize fellowship now and in Phase 4 as a church for both Sunday mornings and during the week.


8). We understand this situation is frustrating, there is a lot of information, and each of us are processing it all a bit differently.  To that end, we exhort you to not allow these issues to divide us in any way.  It is more important than ever that we season our interactions with each other with an extra measure of grace (Colossians 4:6).  We echo the urging of Paul in Ephesians 4 “...to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)


9). Finally, regarding President Trump’s announcement on May 22nd.  It's very encouraging to hear our President speak so highly of faith institutions.  We hope this will help bring some significant changes in the near future.  However, we will have to wait and see what kind of impact it actually has.  We’ve already spoken briefly with ADF about this.  The reality is that the President does not have this kind of authority and his statement really changes nothing.  ADF’s advice was to carry on as we have been.  In light of this, we are going to stay the course for now until we can see what all this actually means for us in IL.


10).  We are encouraged at the changes we see being made in MN and CA as the governors in more restrictive states begin to allow churches to gather in larger numbers. 


God is at work right now in many ways.  He has led His people into this wilderness and will lead us through it “to do you good in the end” (Deut 8:16).  We encourage you to seek the Lord, serve Him faithfully, strive for greater holiness, and pray fervently - giving thanks in all circumstances. 


We greatly appreciate your patience, encouragement and prayers for wisdom and guidance.  Please let us know if you’d like to discuss this further.  


God’s love,

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Stephen and Mark

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[last updated 5-14-2020]

Dear GFC,

 

We appreciate this opportunity to provide another GFC update as we navigate this challenging time of uncertainty. 

 

First, we are excited to confirm that “phase 2” of the “Restore Illinois” plan allows up to 10 people meeting together for purposes of worship, prayer and Bible study.  To that end, as you are able and willing, we encourage you to invite another church family to join you on Sunday to participate in the livestream service together.  This can be a first step toward eventually gathering together as one body. We also plan to organize other small group meetings in the near future and will share details when finalized.  Please follow these guidelines when meeting with other GFC families for purposes of worship, prayer and Bible study:

 

Illinois Phase 2 guidelines allow 10 or fewer to gather together

Practice social distancing measures and hygiene measures outlined by CDC (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html)

 

Second, we have been researching alternative meeting locations that could be used until we are permitted back into Monroe Middle School.  We are excited that several venues have responded positively, though each have more questions that need to be considered further.  We continue to work through these options, so we are prepared to have a Sunday worship meeting space. 

 

Finally, we are planning to host a GFC Member Zoom meeting on Wednesday, May 20, at 7:30pm to share more about what GFC pastors and deacons have been discussing/planning and to hear from you.  A Zoom meeting link will be shared next week and we plan to record the meeting for those that are unable to attend.  Like other GFC Member meetings, all regular attenders are welcomed to participate.

 

Please continue praying for us to have wisdom and unity as a church and that we will faithfully discern the Lord’s leading.  Thank you for your prayers and patience.

 

 

Blessings and peace,

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Stephen and Mark

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last Updated 5-6-2020]


Dear GFC,


I don't think we can say this enough, but we miss you! We are so thankful for the technology that has allowed us to maintain a Sunday worship service, but we all look forward to the day when we can meet again as one body. Pray that day will come soon!


In the meantime, as we expressed in our April 27 email, we plan to continue using our Sunday morning live stream through May 31 to allow our church to participate in worship together while we each remain in our own homes.


That said, GFC pastors and deacons have been meeting and planning for the eventual re-opening of our church, and we wanted to share a brief update and some specific prayer needs.


Sadly, our contact at School District 200 recently informed us that they are not planning to allow outside groups to use school buildings until mid-August.  However, he did suggest that we check back with him in late-May, as the decision could potentially change. Given this frustrating update, we have begun this week to research alternative meeting locations that could be used until we are permitted back into Monroe Middle School. 


Let’s give ourselves to pray earnestly and fervently (Acts 12:5)!  Please pray daily for the school to allow us to use the building this summer! Please continue to pray for the Lord’s leading as we look for places to worship. Please also pray for us to have wisdom and unity as a church during these uncertain and unusual circumstances.


Finally, please contact any GFC pastor if you would like to discuss this further, or if there are any ways we can be ministering, supporting and encouraging you.  You can find our contact information at http://gfc1.org/connect/contact-us.  


Thank you for your prayers and patience. 


Blessings and peace,

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Stephen and Mark

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 4-27-2020]


Dear Church,

 

We want to give you an update on some of the ongoing conversations we’ve been having as a leadership team. We met with the deacons earlier this week and had a good, open discussion about the many potential scenarios for any future re-opening of the church.


While we obviously cannot set any firm dates, it would seem that any potential path forward will involve a phased-in approach over a period of time.


With Illinois’ “stay-at-home” order now extended through May 31, we plan to continue using our Sunday morning live stream to allow our church to participate in worship together while we each remain in our own homes. 


What the next phase might look like is hard to forecast right now.  At minimum, we’re hopeful it might involve 2-3 family groups meeting together in homes to participate in the Sunday livestream worship together.


It’s exciting to think about seeing each other again! However, we also have to keep in mind that this is a fluid situation.  So, any plans are obviously subject to change. 

Please know that we continue to discuss and pray about this as a team. We are also in communication with other local pastors and churches. We will keep you posted as we know more!

In the meantime, during this season of waiting we encourage you to invest in four main areas:

1. Invest in your own spiritual growth. Use this time to build your spiritual habits of prayer and Bible study. If you need encouragement, direction, or accountability, let us know! 


2. Invest in your family. Use this time to renew or re-invigorate your family worship. We’ve included some suggested resources below.

 

3. Invest in your church family.  Continue reaching out to others at GFC to encourage, support and pray together.  One family shared how they have used technology (like Zoom, Facetime or Google Meet) to connect with other church families immediately after our livestream ends to form their own “remote prayer group!”


4. Invest in your community. God’s Kingdom continues to grow! Many non-profits and para-church ministries are doing great work right now serving those in need. Talk and pray as a family about some ways you can help those around you this week.

God’s love,

Pastors Michael, Mark, Stephen and Jonathan

 

Suggested Family Worship Resources:

  • Family Time Training (lots of free and low cost ideas for creative family worship) - https://www.famtime.com
  • Visionary Family Ministry (equipping and encouragement for families, including lots of free events happening online) - http://www.visionaryfam.com
  • Operation World (a prayer ministry focused on reaching the world for Christ) - http://www.operationworld.com
  • For those with older kids, there’s a great new series on Christian history available on Amazon Prime, called “Epic” - https://epicchristianhistory.com/
  • For those looking to explore God’s Work in Creation, check out, “The Riot and the Dance” - https://riotandthedance.com
  • The Bible Project offers short, concise video summaries of different books of the Bible that are a great way to start conversation. Use them for family worship or consider starting a Zoom small group based on these videos. https://bibleproject.com/

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning


[last updated 4-17-2020]

Dear Church,
As you may have already seen in the news, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that all private and public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. While not totally unexpected, this still feels like a blow. After almost four weeks of “staying-at-home,” the prospect of more isolation may feel overwhelming. We share your pain and frustration. These are difficult times that force us to press deeper into God’s presence for strength to persevere.

Since we rent space from a public school, at this time we don’t yet know the full impact of the Governor's decision on GFC. Ultimately, of course, our church is not limited to a particular building. GFC will continue regardless of location. However, the lack of space does create new challenges that we are actively working to solve.

Like many of you, we are working hard to stay fully up-to-date with the latest developments and analysis. Like you, we are praying regularly for wisdom and discernment. Along the way we have also remained in communication with other local pastors and national church networks. As has been said so many times already, this situation is utterly unique for everyone involved, in every country, all around the world.

In this rapidly changing situation, at this exact moment, we don’t have any clear answers just yet. However, we wanted to let you know that even before the Governor’s announcement today we had scheduled a conference call with the deacons for early next week. Please pray for us as we dig into this as a team. We will continue to discuss our contingency plans and are collectively working on possible strategies for the future.

In the meantime, please join us in praying for unity, both as a church and as a nation. As quarantine-fueled tensions run high, may the love of Christ bring peace and comfort to people who are anxious, hurting or hopeless.

In Christ Alone,

Pastors Mark, Michael, Stephen and Jonathan


GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 4-3-20]

 

Dear GFC,


We continue to monitor the news and meet concerning the coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to give you another update on how we are responding to this changing situation as a church.  As always, please feel free to reach out to any of the pastors directly if you have any questions, concerns, or need help in any way during this time. Our primary concern is for you, our congregation, and we want to be as available as possible. Call or text or email any time.


A)  GFC Response

This is our best current view as of April 2nd, 2020.  We will continue to update you as we learn and adapt in a rapidly changing environment:


1.  We plan to continue live-streaming our worship services as we have the past few weeks. This may change as the situation develops.  We continue to take this one week at a time and adjust as necessary.  We believe our ministry is a crucial source of comfort and support during this season of distress. At a time of isolation, participating in a live-stream worship gathering is a unique way for people to feel connected as a church.

We are using a limited number of staff and volunteers to produce this live-stream.  And we are taking reasonable precautions based on recommended preventive practices. 


2.  We are in the process of scheduling Zoom prayer meetings, Bible studies, and Equip Groups.  These are great ways to spend time in fellowship and to continue to build one another up in the faith. Please watch your email for further details.


3.  We are also in the process of recording a special Good Friday devotional message and putting together a family worship guide to use as a family.  The message will be a part of our sermon series on Luke and so we strongly encourage you to watch it as a part of your family worship.


4. We are continuing to provide pastoral care and benevolence ministry.  If you have a pastoral care or benevolence need please let the pastors or deacons know. 


5. Finally, we are doing what we can to monitor the information as it is released.  We encourage you to do the same and stay informed on the latest recommendations as the situation unfolds. 


B)  Christian Response

God in His sovereignty is using this global pandemic to accomplish His good purposes in you, your family, and in the world (Romans 8:28-29).  God is using this to grow our love for Jesus Christ, for our family, and for our neighbors.


Remember that our hope is in God and God alone. His Word tells us: “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17).  “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)


1.  God is sovereign (Eph. 1:11; Col 1:16-17; Rom. 11:36; 13:1; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 135:6; Prov. 16:33).  Our hope and security is not in our health and wellness, but in our God alone.  In view of God’s sovereignty we encourage you not to give way to fear or worry. We need not fear sickness or even death for we have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Christ (2 Cor 5:16-18; Phil 1:21).  Peace comes as we trust God (Phil 4:5-7).


2.  We encourage you to dedicate time to prayer.  Pray for God’s mercy.  Pray for family, friends, and neighbors impacted here and around the world.  Pray for revival.  Pray that God’s people would not give way to fear but have peace and courage.  Pray our trust and dependence on God would grow.  Pray for those in authority to lead with wisdom in accord with God’s Word.  Pray for the strength and protection of healthcare workers and those serving on the front lines.


3.  We encourage you to look for ways to minister to others in this season.  Christians throughout history have been known for doing what they can to help alleviate the sufferings of those facing illness or persecution and sharing the gospel of Christ.  We have an opportunity to do the same as we face this current situation.


We can be the “hands and feet” of Christ, by helping one another and our neighbors should they get sick. This could include providing a meal or going shopping for them, perhaps simply leaving it on their doorstep to prevent personal exposure.  This may include calling those in nursing homes and other situations where they face loneliness.  Caring for friends and neighbors tangibly shows the love and mercy of Christ.  This can lead to fruitful gospel ministry to the lost.  Ultimately, we leave your level of involvement to your personal conscience.


4.  We encourage you to minister to one another. Without our weekly fellowship gathering this is more important than ever!  Keep in contact for connection, encouragement and prayer.  This is a great opportunity to practice Christian friendship through discipleship relationships.


A Discipleship Relationship includes four things:

  • Check Up – Ask: “How is your walk with the Lord going?” Or “How can I be praying for you?"
  • Build Up - Encourage each other with the Word of God based on the needs. (Speak the truth in love, grace, and gentleness: Ephesians 4:15; Galatians 6:1)
  • Stir Up - Help each other identify the next step to grow in following Jesus. Sometimes this requires an action. Often it requires believing a truth or a promise from Scripture. Then pray for one another.  (Hebrews 10:24-25; 3:13)
  • Follow Up - Commit to following up on these growth areas with each other next time. (This provides accountability).  Schedule your next meeting before finishing.

5.  Now is a unique time when people are aware of and thinking about their own mortality.  This is an opportunity for the church to share the gospel and advance the kingdom of God. 


  • More people are out walking in our neighborhoods than ever before.  As you and your family take walks together make them purposeful.  First, take the opportunity to talk with people you see (from a safe distance).  Ask how they are doing and look for ways to share the hope that you have.  Second, make your walk into a prayer walk and pray for your neighbors.  God means to use you where He has planted you in this season.
  • We can be a witness to Christ by how we talk about this situation with others.  As Christians, we do not face this with the same kind of fear others do.  We can share the gospel and the eternal truths of Scripture.  Our sure hope in Christ brings peace even when we face uncertainty, illness, suffering and death.  The peace and hope we have in Christ provides a contrast to the world’s response of fear and worry. These uncertain times are a tremendous opportunity for us to testify to the power of the gospel.
  • We encourage you to remember to speak graciously and gently with those who may have a different perspective than you do about this situation.  

6.  Finally, we should respect governing authorities with obedience, when their requests are not sinful and do not contradict God’s commands in Scripture (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). 


Again, fix your eyes on God not your circumstances.  Give Him thanks and praise.  Remember, God is our rock, our refuge, our strong tower, our mighty fortress, and our strong deliverer.  God is truly with us, bringing comfort, encouragement, physical healing, and most importantly, hope.  May we lean into these truths daily to find strength in our great and awesome God.  

 

God’s Love,

 

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Mark and Stephen



GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 3-12-20]

 

Dear GFC,


As we wrote in our email to you last week, we have been closely monitoring the news and have had many meetings concerning the coronavirus. We wanted to give you another update on how we are responding to this changing situation as a church. Please feel free to reach out to any of the pastors directly if you have any questions or concerns, or need prayer, or help in any way during this time. Our primary concern is for you, our congregation, and we want to be as available as possible. Call or text or email any time.


A)  GFC Response

This is our best current view as of March 12, 2020.  We will continue to update you as we learn and adapt in a rapidly changing environment.  

After our most recent meeting about this as pastors, and with input from the deacons and other trusted medical experts, here are the changes we are implementing:


1.  We will be canceling our Sunday gathering and will instead be live-streaming our worship service for the next two weeks.  It is possible we may extend this length of time and we will let you know as the situation unfolds.  This decision was not made from a place of panic or fear but out of love and concern for others - especially those who are most vulnerable and are higher risk.  We want to proactively do all we can to help prevent the spread of infection.  Our best understanding at this point is that social distancing is one of the best approaches to limit the spread of infection and reduce the potential burden on the healthcare system.


2.  We plan to livestream the service on Sunday and in the coming weeks.  We have never done this before, so please be patient since we can’t guarantee the quality or accessibility. We will send out details regarding this as soon as we have them. 


3.  We are also canceling our youth gathering on Saturday and our March Men’s Ministry.  We are also postponing our Equip Groups for the time being. 


4.  We are doing what we can to monitor the information as it is released.  We encourage you to do the same and stay informed on the latest recommendations as the situation unfolds.  Visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html


B)  Christian Response

As pastors, this has been a difficult decision to make.  However, it is precisely in moments like this that we are reminded that our hope is in God and God alone. His Word tells us:


“He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)


“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)


1.  Remember God is sovereign (Eph. 1:11; Col 1:16-17; Rom. 11:36; 13:1; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 135:6; Prov. 16:33).  Our hope and security is not in our health and wellness, but in our God alone.  In view of God’s sovereignty we encourage you not to give way to fear or worry. We need not fear sickness or even death for we have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Christ (2 Cor 5:16-18; Phil 1:21).  Peace comes as we trust God (Phil 4:5-7).


2.  We encourage you to pray for God’s mercy over this situation.  Pray for family, friends, and neighbors impacted here and around the world.  And, pray that uncertainty would not turn into fear or worry, but instead would strengthen your trust and dependence on God.


3.  Christians throughout history have been known for doing what they can to help alleviate the sufferings of those facing illness or persecution and sharing the gospel of Christ.  We have an opportunity to do the same as we face this current situation.


4. We can be the “hands and feet” of Christ, by helping one another and our neighbors should they get sick. This could include providing a meal or going shopping for them, perhaps simply leaving it on their doorstep to prevent personal exposure.  As we care for friends and neighbors impacted by this virus, we tangibly show the love and mercy of Christ.  This can lead to fruitful gospel ministry to the lost.  Ultimately, we leave your level of involvement to your personal conscience.


5.  We can also be a witness to Christ by how we talk about this situation with our friends, family and co-workers.  As Christians, we can share the gospel and the eternal truths of Scripture.  Our sure hope in Christ brings peace even when we face uncertainty, illness, suffering and death.  The peace and hope we have in Christ provides a contrast to the world’s response of fear and worry. These uncertain times are a tremendous opportunity for us to testify to the power of the gospel. We also encourage you to remember to speak graciously and gently with those who may have a different perspective than you do about this situation. 


6.  Finally, we should respect governing authorities with obedience, when their requests are not sinful. If they ask you to stay home and limit your time outside please do so (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).


God knew that at the very moment we would be facing these days as a church we would be studying in men’s and women’s ministry the security and comfort that we have in Him. God is indeed our rock, our refuge, our strong tower, our fortress, and our strong deliverer. He remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is truly with us, bringing comfort, encouragement, physical healing, and most importantly, hope.  May we lean into these truths daily to find strength in our great and awesome God.  

 

God’s Love,

 

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Mark and Stephen