All public services cancelled until further notice
With the state of Iowa loosening restrictions on certain gatherings in some parts of Iowa, the leadership at GCC believes that the best course of action for our congregation is to continue to cancel services for the immediate future. Below you will find a letter from the Grace Community leadership regarding the covid-19 pandemic.
May 9th Update
Dear Grace Community Church,
Since March 15 we have been hindered from meeting together due to the covid-19 pandemic. We’ve adapted to this by continuing to our sermon series on Luke and posting both audio and video of those sermons our website (www.gracecommbp.org) and YouTube. We have also posted videos of worship music led by Jay and Tina. With that said, virtual church is a concession we make in the moment, not our preferred future.
Governor Kim Reynolds recently announced the lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions on religious gatherings for all 99 counties, but stated that “[churches] must adhere to social distancing guidelines.” The guidelines mentioned include maintaining social distancing, personal hygiene, and safety protocol.
At the heart of the Governor’s declaration is a desire to not restrict religious freedom but still encourage healthy practices. We do not believe religious freedom has been restricted to date, but appreciate the complexity of the issue as well as agree with the healthy practices aspect. In other words, the new declaration makes it allowable to legally meet, but it does not comment on whether it is safe to do so, nor that we ought to meet in large groups as the local church.
With that said, while we are discussing how to corporately gather for church while maintaining the social distancing guidelines, we will NOT be returning to public services in the immediate future. We will continue to post weekly sermons and worship music online. Once we know the date of our first in-person meeting, we’ll share a two-week notice so you can prepare.
While it’s impossible to predict the future, we expect we won’t be back to the old “normal” for some time. But as overall societal health improves and medical recommendations loosen, there are phased approaches we can take to allow some physical gatherings and still maintain the health recommendations at that time.
One phase is to begin meeting in-person in smaller groups, such as our Life Groups. However, until we begin to see a decline in covid-19 cases in the state of Iowa, we feel the best course of action is to have Life Groups meet virtually through the Zoom app only, not in-person. If you are interested in this, please speak to your life group leader. When a decision has been made for Life Groups to meet in-person, we will let each life group member know.
Lastly, please understand that this is a difficult time for many of us. In our congregation as well as in society as a whole, we have widely diverging opinions on COVID-19 and our responses to it. It may be tempting for many of us to judge others harshly, so let us seek to love as God has loved us, and be filled with grace, compassion, and kindness.
Through prayer, sharing God’s Word, expressing love, and sacrificing for those in need, we can minister to one another. Our situation is not out of God’s control, so let us ask ourselves, “What lessons does God have for me? How is he calling me to serve the Body of Christ and point lost souls to Jesus?”
In Genesis, Joseph endured horrific suffering that lasted for more than a decade, but in the end his conclusion to his brothers who harmed him was, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good, for the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Let us have our eyes wide open looking for the glorious good that the Lord is bringing out of our difficult situation.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact any of the church leaders, e-mail the church at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the “contact us” feature on our website.
The Grace Community Church elder team
April 4th Update
Dear Grace Family,
It is very likely we have all heard that word multiple times a day for the past week. Some information sources say everyone is overreacting, other information sources say everyone is not reacting enough. What is the Church to do?
First, the elders of Grace want you to know that we, as Christians, have nothing to fear. Our decision to suspend services this week, and for as many weeks as is necessary, is not based on fear but stewardship. While the evidence shows that for the majority of people in our community Covid-19 poses no more risk than the common cold, for others it is potentially life-threatening. For those who are older, or have other medical conditions that compromise their body’s ability to fight infections, Covid-19 can quickly overwhelm their bodies and cause serious harm or death. Additionally, Covid-19 has proven to be much more contagious than influenza.
Our decision to temporarily suspend our corporate gathering is based on loving our neighbors - considering our community as a whole. We all have loved ones, neighbors and friends who likely fall within the “at risk” category for Covid-19. While Grace suspending services will not, by itself, stop the spread of Covid-19, it is a step, one of many in our community, designed to slow the spread of the virus. The evidence is clear that if the spread of the virus can be slowed, lives will be saved.
For the duration of our suspension of services, we will be making videos of the weekly sermon and posting them on YouTube. A separate message will be sent out with a link to this week’s sermon. Life groups will continue to meet during this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and send out notice, by Wednesday of each week, whether or not we intend to gather corporately on Saturday.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your life group leader or any of the elders.
The Elders of Grace Community Church