March 13, 2020
Throughout the week our Leadership Team has been in discussion about how best to respond to spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We determined that we would do our best to follow the recommendation of county health officials and also the example of other community organizations. I just got off a phone call with the health department for Alameda County. The health director hosted a group phone call for pastors and church leaders to discuss how we can best respond to the challenges and the unknown implications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Also, it was just announced that Fremont, Union City, and Newark schools are all closing until the end of March. After listening to this phone call with Alameda County and hearing the news of the school closures, our entire Leadership Team has decided that the best thing we can do to both serve the community and our congregation is to move forward with the plan to pause our in-person service for this coming Sunday and potentially until the end of the month.
This is not a decision that we take lightly. We recognize that our worship services are a place of encouragement, relationship, and the proclamation of the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. But we also believe that as followers of Jesus, it is very important that we do our best to follow the instruction we receive from our governmental officials and to err on the side of care for each other and our community. Health officials have been very clear that the steps being taken are designed to slow the spread of the virus so that health facilities are not overwhelmed. It is our responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus. If you have not stayed up to date on the latest news, here is the link to Alameda County (http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx).
1. Pray – as followers of Jesus we believe in the power of prayer. Here are a few things that you should be praying for every day:
- Health and healing for those impacted by the virus
- Opportunities to share the gospel
- That our nation is awakened to its need for Jesus Christ
- Those who have or will lose income because of disruption to the economy
- For followers of Jesus to live in faith and not fear
March 12, 2020
Dear Grace Church Family,
As you are well aware the concern about the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to grow as the number of new cases has grown. Our leadership has been in communication about how best to respond, and we recognize that there is not a right or wrong way to respond in this situation. According to the most recent update from Alameda County (http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx), those considered at higher risk include:
- People over 60 years of age. The risk increases significantly thereafter and escalates with age, with persons over age 80 in the highest risk category.
- People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.
So at this time, based on what we currently know, we have decided to make the following decisions out of care and concern for those in our church family.
- We will postpone the following events until more information is available:
- TEAM - Saturday, March 21
- Fulfilling Your Ministry Potential – both Friday and Sunday groups
- Share & Care – Wednesday nights
- Partnership Class – Sunday, March 29
- At this time, we intend to hold our normally scheduled Sunday worship service this Sunday. This decision may be re-evaluated as new information is made available. We have criteria in place to evaluate if and when we should cancel our Sunday worship services.
- We are strongly recommending that those defined as “higher risk” and those who live with or minister to those at “higher risk” not attend public worship services but instead participate in the service through Facebook Live (Grace Church on Facebook). Church attendance during this time is not a matter of faith but an attempt to minimize the spread of the virus to those most vulnerable.
We ask that everyone follow these recommendations:
- Regularly wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If you are in a high-risk group for illness, not feeling well, or exercising self-quarantine due to travel, please do not attend public worship services and instead participate through Facebook Live.
- Please observe the 14 day quarantine that is recommended for travelers from countries designated by the CDC as Level 3 by not attending any church events during that period.
- We are asking everyone to continue welcoming others warmly, but please do so with a smile or nod rather than a handshake.
- We will not be providing donut holes before the service.
- When we celebrate communion, we will be altering how communion is done with pre-packaged communion elements.
Although we do not want to create unnecessary concern or respond in fear, we do want to express our care and concern for our church family by doing our best to protect them from taking unnecessary risk until there is more information about the risk associated with COVID-19. The steps we have taken have been made with abundant caution. We will update you next week as additional information is made available. Please join me in prayer for our nation’s leaders and first responders as they guide us during this time.