Governor Ducey announced that he and his cabinet have decided to extend a modified version of the stay-at-home order until May 15. Here is what that means for us as a local church.
Beginning May 1st, we can begin meeting again in groups of ten or less. According to the state’s recommendation, meetings will be moved up to 25% capacity on May 12 or 15. If your Bible study or ministry can accommodate this recommendation, we encourage you to begin meeting again (Physical distancing rules below).
On May 3, we will have our final online gathering for the main service. On May 10, we will begin having drive-in worship services during Phase 1 of the state’s reopening. This will help us maintain safe physical distancing and begin to meet again. The main-service will continue to be live-streamed. We encourage you to keep your windows up and A/C on during the drive-ins. You should be able to tune your car radios to an FM station to hear the service (as long as our short-range FM transmitter is delivered on time). Our deacons will be available to get you anything you need (ex. coffee, Bible) and will be wearing the appropriate gloves and masks. If you need to be in the building during this time, please let us know-we can accommodate no more than 10 people indoors until May 12 or 15 and no more than 25% of our capacity afterwards until Phase 2 or 3 or reopening according to President Trump’s plan.
The lunch series through Revelation will continue to air online for the time being.
On May 13, Wednesday evening Bible study will begin on campus again-unless we hear that you would prefer to continue Matthew’s Gospel online.
When you are in the building:
Remain 6 ft. from others; we encourage air hugs.
Utilize the hand-sanitizer.
Designate one person present to pour coffee and serve snacks to limit contacts.
Sanitize the spaces used after each meeting.
Please stay home if you are sick.
If you have any needs, please continue to let us know.
As I have talked with our members over the course of the past month or so, I have been greatly encouraged. There hasn’t been any complaining about the decisions made by the elders to honor the state’s stay at home order. You have all mostly participated well in our online gatherings. We will continue to be the church through this pandemic- offering God’s grace through His word rather than condemning others.
There are some who appropriate Hebrews 10:25 to insist that giving up a few worship services is an unbiblical and damnable sin. I know that I have been attacked and accused of fearing the government instead of God. The misappropriation of Scripture is one of the commonest tendencies in the modern-day church. I do want to ask the question sincerely. Did postponing on-campus gatherings dishonor God? Let’s briefly exposit Hebrews 10:25 together and in its context.
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus Christ, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:19-25).
Notice, (1) the preacher’s application concerns our freedom in Christ to come before His throne and is not a works-based rule. This necessarily means we meet because of what Christ has already done, not because it is something we must do to please Him. (2) Because our desire is to grow in Christ’s grace, we gather in order to stimulate one another to love and good deeds and to encourage one another. (3) Forsaking the assembly deals with forsaking the stimulation of one another to love and good deeds and failing to encourage one another all the more as the day approaches. The only way we break this instruction is if we neglect gathering in some way for the purpose of our own sanctification. We have not neglected the assembly in this way by postponing on-campus gathering for a time. We have shown that we are the church, not a program or social club. Again, I have been very encouraged by you during the last month. There are many local churches meeting in a works-based way and still neglecting to build one-another up biblically. There are many Christians who refuse to build up or be built up by others sincerely according to Christ’s word (not some appropriation of Christ’s word). There are those who condemn others for trying to work for the good of Christ’s church. Those are the tendencies the Hebrew preacher discourages-lone wolf Christianity, a refusal to sit under the teaching of God’s exposited word, and neglecting to contribute by also building others up in Christ’s word. I am glad to be a part of a church body that has kept this basic instruction while also striving to honor our government the best we can according to Romans 13 for the sake of Christ’s Gospel. We are not being persecuted by the state, as some have suggested. Instead, the ministry of God’s word through the Cats has increased during this season.
When I first arrived in Pearce-Sunsites to begin my ministry here through The Church at Sunsites, I preached Hebrews 10:25. Let me encourage you (church members and others in our community) to listen. Hebrews declares grace for the worst of sinners, not condemnation. It’s about freedom in Christ, not slavery to the Law. As a church, we have continued to grow according to that initial vision, a vision that the church already had.
I am proud to call you my church family and cannot wait to continue being built up by you and with you for the sake of Christ’s testimony in our area. May the ministry of Christ’s good word and Gospel of grace continue to increase here as we begin meeting together again.
-Andrew Cannon; lead pastor