March 26, 2020
March 21, 2020
March 17, 2020
Dear Ephrata Community Church Friends and Family,
I trust you are well today!
I want to begin by saying “thank you!” for the patience you have shown as our leadership team has worked to plan the best course of action for the coming weeks. You have been gracious, kind, and understanding. We are truly grateful for your patience!
As we plan for the weeks ahead, it is our desire to balance the biblical value of the importance of the church meeting together for worship, along with the wisdom needed and the changes in practice required, to protect the very people we serve.
It is from a foundation of prayer and discernment that we will make the following adjustments. Let me first remind you of the letter dated March 13 to be careful (following the guidelines for hygiene and social distance), be confident (remembering Jesus’ command, “Do not be afraid”), and be caring (for all the opportunities we have to serve others), and be calm (sharing the peace that God gives with others).
It is most natural for us to focus on the restrictions being placed on us during this time. However, we are choosing to focus on the amazing opportunity we have to serve one another, our community, and see the Kingdom of God advance. Our desire is to properly steward every tool God has given us to care for those around us.
Scripture prioritizes the meeting together of the followers of Jesus. It is important that we remain connected, even as we adjust the way we remain connected. With the value of gathering in mind, we’ll make the following adjustments.
- On the weekend of March 14 & 15, 2020, we moved to a mostly online worship experience. This past weekend was exciting as we gathered in record numbers (nearly 2,300) to worship and be encouraged. Our weekend time was a demonstration that we can use our resources to reach more people!
- Last weekend’s meeting was based on the guidelines presented by the Centers for Disease Control that were current then. Since that time, those guidelines have changed. Based on the updated guidelines, all gatherings of 50 or more on the campus of Ephrata Community Church will be canceled effective immediately through at least April 11, 2020. We hope to be able to regather for our Easter celebration, but that decision will be made later. This date may be extended as needed.
- We will gather on the property of ECC Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. with these gatherings limited to the guidelines released by the CDC. There will be no children’s ministry available, and we ask that these meetings be limited to those who have no other opportunity to gather and those who have no home church. Please note, these gatherings are motivated primarily by the desire to have the doors open and provide a place for those in our community who have nowhere to turn.
- We will encourage the congregation to gather in smaller groups as follows:
- As individuals: Invite a friend to participate. Have a discussion about the service, the message, and the application of the truth of God’s Word.
- As families: This is a great opportunity for families to be together in worship. Consider inviting a neighbor to experience the service with you.
- As Connect Groups: Some Connect Groups may decide to meet together in a home to experience the worship service together and invite others to join in.
- Let me remind you of the $1000/Connect Group offer by the leadership for community outreach. Let’s look for opportunities to mobilize for ministry.
- As community groups: ECC will consider hosting small meetings in various venues across our region and serve the community by providing more opportunities to gather in small numbers. If you have a location where you can host 25–40 people, let us know, and we’ll help resource you.
- We will serve our communities. As this letter is being written, we are in contact with local government agencies and non-profit organizations to respond to the ministry needs in our community. The opportunity to act redemptively and to practically demonstrate the love of Jesus is unprecedented! Let’s make the most of this time.
- We hope to add a page to our website that would list the serving opportunities being presented to us. Look for ephratacommunitychurch.com/makeadifference to learn more.
- We will resource you as you gather to worship by providing an effective online experience, as well as worship, children, and youth resources.
- Finally, we will provide whatever pastoral support you need—just let us know what you need.
- We will be hosting daily prayer times at the Gateway House of Prayer at 8:30 a.m. These 30-minute devotional and prayer times will remain on the website and can be accessed at any time. We believe the greatest need in this season is prayer: prayer for local, state, national, and even global leaders, prayer for wisdom and discernment, and prayer for health, wholeness, and healing. You can access the online prayer times at ephratacommunitychurch/prayer.
- We will be providing pastoral care. The pastoral team will take steps to make themselves available in the church café from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for anyone who would like to talk and/or pray. Just stop in, no appointment necessary.
Thank you again for your understanding as we attempt to determine the best course of action during this time! Let us not forget, this may be the greatest opportunity that most of us have ever seen to serve those around us and our communities. We may see the revival of authentic faith and discipleship that many of us have been praying for and expecting!