Friday, March 20, 2020
I wanted to give you an update on our plans for Sunday mornings. We are following the recommendations to avoid large gatherings of people. Therefore, the building will not be open for people to gather together for worship.
We will, however, still hold our worship service at 10:30am on Sunday. It will be available for you to watch and participate in via livestream on our Facebook page. You do not need to have a Facebook account to access this. Please plan to join us for worship, even inviting friends to check it out.
The bulletin is available on our website. You can download it on your phone or tablet and follow along with the liturgy while watching the livestream. You'll notice that we will not be serving communion as we do not have the means to distribute the elements.
We are hesitant to make plans too far in advance, as the situation seems to evolve almost daily. We expect to conduct our service only via livestream for the next two Sundays, but will revisit plans for after that. We will continue to communicate as much as possible.
Pastor Stephen is preparing an activity sheet for kids that he will email out separately.
In addition to participating in our worship service on Sunday mornings, let me also encourage you to reach out to other members and friends of Oak Hills. This forced isolation highlights how much we really need one another in the body of Christ. Get creative with phone calls, video chats, emails, and other connection points to "love one another with brotherly affection" (Rom. 12:10).
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Dear Church Family,
New regulations seem to be rolled out every day, but for the most part, a new normal has settled across the world. Avoid gatherings. Stay home as much as possible. And wash your hands. As a reminder from Psalm 121, my sermon text on Sunday, lift up your eyes to the Lord, your keeper and help. As Christians, we are assured of God’s faithful, never-failing presence and protection. “So we do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
In addition to the encouragement of Scripture, let me exhort you in these ways:
- Set aside time each day for your family to read Scripture and pray together. Some of you may already have this habit. Praise God! If you don’t, now is as good of a time to start as any. It doesn’t have to be complicated or long. A good place to start is to read a Psalm aloud and then pray. As is appropriate for your family, share prayer requests and have multiple people pray.
- Resist the urge to consume more of the news media and social media. Cultivate, instead, habits of Bible reading, petitionary prayer (forming a list of people and praying for their needs by name), and Bible memorization. Of course, use the extra free time at home to enjoy your family.
- To the best of your ability, worship with your church on Sunday mornings. Sundays are still the Lord’s Day. On this day we are called to “observe a holy rest” and engage “in the public and private exercises of his worship” (WCF XXI.8). We will continue to hold worship services at Oak Hills every Sunday at 10:30am. Regulations may prohibit the gathering of a group of people in our building, but, during this period, we will continue to livestream our service.
- Love your neighbor as yourself. Christians do not hoard the world’s goods and ignore the needs of others (cf. 1 John 3:17-18). I have already seen and heard the people of Oak Hills loving others in deed and in truth. Praise God! Pray that God would give you opportunity and courage to meet needs of those not only in our church body, but also in your neighborhood.
- Continue to support the ministry of Oak Hills financially. Like any small business during this turbulent time, Oak Hills will have much of our normal, ongoing expenses. Providentially, we have just enabled online giving from our website (I’ll explain this more in a separate email). Through whatever avenue you choose, prayerfully be consistent in your support of the ministry of your church.
- Do not hesitate to reach out to your church family if you have a need. The elders and I are praying for you. Please share any specific requests you may have. If you need help in some other way, let us know.
I love you, church family. Be encouraged, God will sustain us.
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Over the last 72 hours, it has been unbelievable all that has transpired related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I know you have been bombarded with information and emails addressing the impacts of this outbreak. The elders have met and discussed how the recent developments will impact Oak Hills this week. Here are our plans for tomorrow:
- We will hold our worship service at 10:30am.
- We will do extra sanitizing in preparation. Hand soap and hand sanitizer will be available.
- We will not have Sunday school, Promiseland, or Nursery available. In these situations, with close proximity to children, it is near impossible to ensure the recommended safety precautions for prevention.
- We will serve communion, but service will be altered. There will be no common loaf bread. We will use communion wafers placed into individual mini cups (like the ones used for juice and wine). People will still come forward to receive the elements. We will prepare communion in a diligently sanitized manner.
- We will not pass offering plates. They will be in the back of the sanctuary for people to leave their offering. A deacon will be nearby to safeguard the offering collection.
- We ask anyone who is ill or showing symptoms to stay home out of love for the greater community. We continue to encourage following the CDC’s recommendations for prevention. This includes extra caution for those who are immunocompromised.
- We intend to live stream our worship service on Facebook. You can join us online at facebook.com/OakHillsPCA.
- We will share more information about other Oak Hills’ gatherings early next week.
The elders will continue to monitor developments and discuss any further actions.
I have decided to take a break from our sermon series on John this week. I will preach Psalm 121, where the psalmist declares, "The Lord is your keeper." During this turbulent time, we need to be reminded of God's faithfulness and never-failing care. I pray that we would rest in a God who is our rock and fortress and refuge and deliverer.
Please let us know if there is any way we can serve you. We are praying for you.
The Lord Bless You and Keep You!
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I know we are all bombarded with news and reactions about Coronavirus (COVID-19). I wanted to let you know that the elders are closely monitoring the ongoing outbreak and discussing its impact. As of right now, we do not plan to alter any of our worship service but encourage our people to be vigilant in following the recommended preventive care. Depending on the severity of the situation, we may adjust our plans.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional information and a summary of the situation, as well as reminders on how to practice disease prevention through good hygiene.
While we continue to hold our normal worship service on Sundays, we are not binding the conscience of our members. If you have concerns and choose to stay home, that is absolutely appropriate. Likewise, if you show symptoms of illness (e.g. cough, runny nose, congestion, fever, etc.), we are, in fact, asking you to stay home out of love for the greater community. To our seniors and those with underlying medical conditions, a healthy (and highly sanitized) pastor and elder can come to you to share a word from Scripture and serve you communion. We are asking no one to be stubbornly foolish, and precaution is absolutely appropriate.
Let me also encourage you from Scripture. The well-beloved Psalm 46 reminds us that God is our sweet refuge in the midst of any trouble. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way.” In the fourth verse of A Mighty Fortress is our God, Martin Luther reflects on the source of this courage:
That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also
The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever
Our courage in the face of life-threatening diseases is rooted in the surety of God’s word. In Christ, nothing can separate us from the eternal promises offered in the Gospel. That truth sustains us as “the earth gives way.” So, as Psalm 46 concludes with an exhortation from God himself, I leave you with God’s abiding word: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Pastor Dale, on behalf of the Session