My Dear Friends, September 2020
We’re entering Autumn, and a new trimester at EBC, so let me bring you up to speed on a few items. I hope you’ll bear with some turgid bullet points:
- Because of Covid, we’re canceling Sunday School for this fall. We’ll make a decision about the February – June Sunday School trimester around the holidays. In lieu of meeting for education on Sundays at 9:15, we are looking at other ways to supply (or at least point to) good educational materials.
- Also due to Covid, we are canceling the Fall Conference. Scratching this and Sunday School are both big losses for our church. We’ll both look forward to re-adding these and learn to not take them for granted when they become available. Thank God for His loving training!
- We are working toward adding nursery support for the services, and junior church on Sunday mornings. Stay tuned.
- Because we are nixing Sunday School for now, for our Sunday gatherings we’ll continue meeting at 9:30. The earlier gathering creates more time to travel, eat, fellowship, and rest between the late afternoon service.
- The Wednesday after Labor Day (9 September) we are resuming our Weds night lessons. You’ll recall that we’re changing the emphasis of this gathering from prayer to ® scripture lesson. The theme for our autumn lessons will be “A Generous Life,” which will be primarily an exploration of 2 Corinthians 8 & 9. I’m hoping you’ll be greatly encouraged. You are invited to gather at Chapel Street for the lesson; we’ll also film them, probably in Zoom format so folks can participate (trivia!)
- Our altered Sunday PM services have gotten off to a good start. A couple people have told me how valuable they’re finding it to start the week with knees bowed before the Lord. Also this is a time of testimony, singing, and blessing. And a time to keep the church’s mission and vision in mind, including praying for our EBC team of missionaries scattered throughout the globe. As I’ve told a few of you, adding Sunday evening gatherings a couple of years ago, and now making that gathering a year-round occurrence, answers a long and growing conviction that bookending the Lord’s Day with gatherings is a good thing. Remember we meet every Sunday evening except for Communion Sunday, the first Sunday of the month. For those days plan to spend time meeting with some part of the church in the afternoon or evening.
- This fall, I would enjoy meeting face-to-face with you for conversation and prayer, and I’ll suggest that a great day to do that is Thursdays. Katie will be sending out a schedule that will break this autumn’s Thursdays up into four time blocks: 10-1; 1-4; 4-7; 7-9. Your task: find a Thursday that works for you to meet… and then sign up! I’m happy to meet you in any form that you’re comfortable: With or without masks; sitting 6’ apart; in your home or at 23 Chapel. If you come to 23 Chapel, I’ll have morning or afternoon tea and coffee ready for you. Plan to meet for about 75 minutes or so. Brothers and sisters, I’d love to spend time with you, God is honored when a pastor is with his people, and there’s a blessing to be had. Don’t be bashful or worry about any awkwardness. Sign up!
- In the month of September we’ll again be fund-raising for the Truth of the Gospel church in Beirut Lebanon. As has already been mentioned, this Beirut congregation that was already financially reeling from Covid and government shenanigans was set back even farther by the blast in their port. (Wasn’t that video I sent out amazing, like something from a Marvel movie?) On the morning of 7 September George will fill in some details about the needs of the congregation. We are honored to give, and we’re in line with New Testament precedent for churches raising money for other believers that are outside of their region.
Well, those are the items I can share now – announcement of other events in the fall will be forthcoming. While taking precautions and adapting to the various restrictions, we’ll continue to have men’s and women’s meetings, we’ll have a couple of “Exploring EBC” new member classes, and we’ll have at least one church-wide fellowship.
Let me close by urging everyone to consider attending the gatherings at 23 Chapel Street. Gathering with the church is likely at least as safe as visiting the grocery store, and perhaps just as essential? (although the effects, positive and negative, don’t show up as quickly as with our physical food intake!). Inside the building everyone is wearing a mask, save for the speakers at the pulpit. During singing the masks remain on. Windows are opened creating some good airflow. The church gatherings are as safe as any other setting might be.
Once outside after the service, some people choose to remain masked while others remove their masks while standing 6’ apart. With unmasked face I’m at my post by the exit gate, but I stand 6’ from both the church and street sidewalks, so people can both be safe and see my awkward grin on their way out.
But the biggest point: it is good and spiritually healthy to gather together. We all know this, so would each of you consider again the question of deciding to gather again at 23 Chapel? The Zoom and YouTube options are beneficial and we’re grateful for them, but they’ll always be the poor alternative to being face-to-face.
Thank you, brothers and sisters, for the gracious and mature way you’ve handled this trying and confusing situation. And thank you, Triune God, for keeping us unified and hopeful.