Dear University Reformed Church,
After much prayer and discussion, the Elders of URC decided last night to initially suspend in-person worship services and transition our worship services to online streaming through March 22nd. We will live stream our entire morning service at 10:00 a.m. and entire evening service at 6:00 p.m. (More details to follow).
The information regarding COVID-19 changes with the hour, but we have attempted to monitor the situation. The Elders believe this is the correct decision for our church at this time. Our Governor requested and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommended that churches “avoid large gatherings (e.g., greater than 100 people in a shared space)…” in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease. This disease is going to spread, but how many people are infected at any given time is important. The attempt to limit large crowds from gathering is an effort to limit exposure so our medical system is not overwhelmed. As a university church of our size, we believe that honoring the Governor’s request is a way to show love to our neighbors and demonstrate care for the most at risk members of our own congregation.
The Session also suspended other large group meetings for the next two weeks including: Choir rehearsals, DIG, Women’s Doctrine Study, Christianity Explored, ESL, the Chinese Christian History Class, and the Men’s Retreat.
However, we are supportive of continuing small group fellowships (e.g. Growth Groups, accountability groups, fellowship and prayer groups, etc.). As of now, there are no recommendations from governmental or health officials to cease small group gatherings. We will reconsider and reevaluate if their recommendations change. As the church, it is important that we continue in fellowship with one another and seek to serve one another as we are able. Please consider meeting with fellow families for prayer, gathering with a few others from the church for the live streaming services, showing hospitality to others in our congregation, etc. as long as it seems wise. As always, if you are experiencing any symptoms or have been taking care of anyone with symptoms, follow the CDC recommendations regarding self-care. My prayer is that our faith in the Lord Jesus and our fellowship as a church will actually grow deeper as we emerge from this time.
As your pastor, let me encourage you with a few final quick thoughts:
- Live in faith, not in fear. We do not fear as the world fears. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1)
- Pray. Pray for one another, our governmental leaders, and your neighbors.
- Hope. Post Tenebres Lux—After Darkness, Light. Often, after a period of darkness the Lord shines His light. Let us pray that the fear which is gripping our nation leads many to saving faith in the days ahead. The Lord has often worked this way in history.
- Minister. Live as Christians looking for opportunities. They will present themselves with co-workers, neighbors, family, and friends in the unique days ahead.
- Encourage. Reach out to one another regularly. A text, a phone call, or a visit will go a long way.
- Reach out. If you have a need, please contact your Elder or Deacon. As a church, we stand ready to serve.
- Worship. Please gather with a family or two, invite a college student or single over, ask an international student to join, and worship via our live stream at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. this Sunday and the next.
- Rest. The Lord is sovereign and good. We are in His hands and that is a good place to be.
By His Grace,
Pastor Jason Helopoulos
University Reformed Church