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We are planning to resume our Lord’s Day services this coming Sunday. Visit the Heritage Resume page to learn about our plans for Sunday. That page is to-the-point, but some of our thinking and details are on Pastor Trent’s blog post, “Together Again, this Sunday: Why and How.”
Go to our Heritage Live page for instructions and plan to join us this Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
As Sandy shared in his email to you on Monday, we have canceled our normal Lord’s Day gathering for this Sunday. We are glad to comply with the governor’s request. As I shared in Saturday’s blog post, “Coronavirus, Community, and the Cross,” in this circumstance we would consider hosting something in place of our gathering through digital means. That is our plan.
This Friday, look out for an email and invitation from me to Sunday’s online meeting. We’ll be using a video platform called Zoom. More details and instructions to come. It should be as easy as following a link, which was important to us.
This email comes before all of our plans are completely laid, but I wanted to bring you up to speed. Thank for your patience as we get things in good order.
Grace to you –
Here we are, following our Good Shepherd day by day. The CDC is now advising groups of more than 50 to not meet for the next 8 weeks. The SC Governor has suspended school until the end of March. Just this afternoon the White House issued guidelines advising people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10. So we are praying and making adjustments.
So until further notice, there will be no gathering on Sunday morning or in smaller official HBC groups at other times. Again we will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC and SC DHEC. Then, make decisions for our ministry. For some insights into precautions for yourself and others, review the article Trent included in his blog. If you are in a high-risk category, be extra careful.
Don’t you love that we are invited not to fear? Dozens of passages such as Deuteronomy 31:7-8 or Matthew 14:22-33 remind us that God the Father and God the Son know the human tendency toward fear. Divine presence and powerful action on our behalf should assure our hearts and give us courage. As you pray, think, talk, and act, there are two simple categories: Loving God and Loving Others (members and neighbors).
Continue spending time in God’s Word and praying.
Stay informed but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed in the 24/7 news cycle. We will continue to share articles like this one to encourage and equip you.
Sunday Service: Alternative to Gathering
For now, just know that we are talking and planning toward a 9:30 a.m. Sunday video/internet strategy. Trent will be sending an email on Wednesday to give more details. He and Brian Burch, HBC Tech Director, have already been talking through specifics and logistics.
Elder Communities and Shepherding Groups
Later this week, Abe Stratton will be sending an email update to Elders, Deacons, and Shepherding Group leaders. Especially during this time, our focus will be on loving each other through more time and energy given through elder communities and shepherding groups.
Be prepared to share your time and resources to help others in your elder community and shepherding group. Different sectors of our economy will be temporarily hurt worse than others. Someone in your elder community or shepherding group may have to stay home with a child, work reduced hours, or be temporarily suspended from working.
Do you have a co-worker or an older neighbor in a high-risk category? Offer to check on them and help in various ways (e.g. pick up their groceries or medicines).
Trent posted a blog this morning following up with some biblical and pastoral thoughts about church life for the next weeks or months. Read it here: “Coronavirus, Community, and the Cross.”
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) circumstances continue to evolve each day. Out of love for others, we have to err on the side of reasonable caution.
So for an indefinite period of time, we are cancelling all church programming except our weekly Lord’s Day gathering at 9:30 a.m.
Nursery, Pre-School, and Children’s Church will function as normal for this Sunday. However, we ask that no volunteers over 60 serve in these areas. If you are scheduled to work this Sunday, your ministry leader will be in touch with you. Parents: We ask you be extra careful that no child with a fever, cough, runny nose, etc. is brought to church.
While we will have the service, there is no judgment on you if you do not attend for personal safety reasons. Each of us needs to pray, keep monitoring CDC and SC DEHC updates, and consider how we serve others. Let’s be creative in staying connected and loving one another.
Several on the elder team are in frequent communication. We are getting input from a small group of HBC healthcare professionals. We would all appreciate your prayers.
The news and updates about the Coronavirus, like all situations in life, present us with an opportunity to glorify God. How can God help us demonstrate love for Him and others? We want to respond with faith in God and loving wisdom in caring for ourselves and others.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1)—whether spiritual, financial, emotional, relational, or physical. He reigns and nothing happens outside his loving, wise, and good sovereign reach—even disease and death (Dt. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; Job 1:20-21; Ja. 4:13-16). The Coronavirus is not the first of its kind (e.g. H1N1/Swine flu, Avian flu, Ebola, MERS, SARS), nor will it be the last until the Lord ushers in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21:1-4). Ask the Lord to help you trust Him and not be anxious (see this article).
Any reminder of our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9) and brevity of life (Ja. 4:14) is good for us (Ps. 119:67, 71). The Coronavirus reminds us to fervently pray for ourselves, our neighbors, and our ministry partners. Here is a useful blog about prayer related this situation. One of our ministry partners, Lewis Kong in Hong Kong, has been having services online for a few weeks. There are actually new contacts being made as people view the services online.
Stay informed. We are continuing to monitor the latest news and recommendations released by the CDC, SC DHEC, and local officials. These links are provided for your ongoing use. We are also proactively learning what churches in other parts of the country and the Upstate are doing. For example, some content in this letter was used and adapted with permission from Downtown Cornerstone Church in Seattle, WA.
Keep gathering on Sunday morning. Unless you are in a high-risk category (see below), we encourage you to continue to gather with the church. If you are in a high-risk category, please be aware that COVID-19 has a much higher risk for acute illness than normal viruses. As of Wednesday afternoon, the top SC public health official is not recommending the general public avoid large group gatherings. Therefore, we are not planning to cancel Sunday worship or electives. Note: Concerning Communion, we do not share a common cup or a common loaf of bread. But the elders will be discussing any appropriate adjustments to how we might lovingly and wisely serve the Lord’s Supper.
Use discernment in participating in other gatherings. We will continue to monitor healthcare recommendations and update you on changes to any gatherings. For now, use your personal discretion about participating in Shepherding Groups, Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies, etc.
Remain flexible and cooperative regarding any modifications or cancellations. For example, we are cancelling the Senior Servants Banquet on March 21 because of so many in the high-risk categories. Also at this time, we are keeping the Family Meeting on Sunday, March 22 but cancelling plans for the breakfast for supper meal. There will be no meal that night. Use your judgment in possibly inviting other HBC members to join you for a meal after the Family Meeting.
Take normal precautions. As with any virus, the CDC recommends staying home when you are sick. If you or a family member has a cough, fever, or other respiratory difficulties, we ask you to refrain from participating in any church-related activity until you are fever-free for 24 hours. Additionally, frequently washing your hands and covering your mouth if you cough or sneeze are also key preventative actions per the CDC. All of our bathrooms not only have soap dispensers but hand sanitizer. Each of the children’s rooms is also equipped with hand sanitizer.
Take extra precautions in cleaning. Our facilities staff is paying extra attention to cleaning and sanitizing after any gatherings at our church. On Sunday mornings, various door handles will receive extra cleaning. You should do the same in your home and your workplace.
Take extra precaution when meeting and greeting others. For now, do an elbow bump, give an “air hug,” etc. when you want to welcome others. This could be at church or anywhere.
Avoid possible cross-contamination: Sharing or passing multiple-touch items. Out of love for others be prepared to be inconvenienced in order to care for each other. We need to be cautious because some members not in high-risk categories care for an elderly parent or another high-risk individual. Or a member might work in the healthcare field and serve those in high-risk categories. Effective this Sunday and for the immediate future, we will:
Note if you are in a high-risk category. People who are at higher risk of illness should consider ways to lower their risk of infection by limiting contact with crowds. The most high-risk categories are those: (1) over 60 years old, or (2) with underlying health conditions such as heart disease and lung disease, or (3) who are immune-compromised.
Note if you become exposed to the Coronavirus and self-quarantine. Should you be contacted or somehow learn that you have been exposed to an infected person, we ask you to self-quarantine (which is a way to love others). Check with your doctor for the latest instructions about a self-quarantine and when it is permissible to lift the quarantine.
Note if you become sick with the Coronavirus and please notify us immediately. We will need to identify those who may have had contact with you.
Be patient as the elders discuss and finalize contingency plans for alternatives to group gatherings. There will be plans should federal, state, or local authorities issue recommendations affecting group gatherings. Please pray for the elders to have wisdom about any possible changes. A small HBC team of professionals serving in various healthcare sectors will be consulted for real-time assessments and information to share with the elders.
Have Compassion and Serve. We grieve with those who have lost loved ones to this latest pandemic (Rom. 12:15). As things continue to unfold, all of us should be prayerfully sensitive about looking for ways to serve others who are high-risk, sick, or just fearful about the entire situation (Gal. 6:10). One possibility would be temporarily hosting some of our college students who have had an unexpected change in their semester schedule. Contact Dan Cruver if you are willing to temporarily host a student or students.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
Who was the Apostle Paul? What do we know about his life before Christ? How did he fulfill his calling as the Apostle to the Gentiles? We will examine the life and ministry of Paul as he passionately pursued Jesus’ expanding mission throughout the Roman Empire. Paul was a theologian, an orator, and a scholar; but primarily he was a missionary. Together we will learn from Paul’s experiences and see how his life models gospel power, gospel passion, and gospel priorities for us.
Teachers: Mark Vowels, Timothy Martin
Week 1: Why Study Paul
Week 2: Paul’s Pursuit of Righteousness
Week 3: Paul’s Conversion Experience
Week 4: Paul’s Earliest Ministry
Weeks 5 & 6: Paul’s First Missionary Journey
Week 8: Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
Week 9: Paul’s Third Missionary Journey
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On any given Sunday we are joined by any number of guests, believers and those whom the Lord may be calling to himself. They have come to our property for one reason or another. Some just found out they have cancer and they have driven by our church every day for a decade. Others have been bothered by their guilt and are coming to church in search of an answer. Whatever brings a guest through our doors, we want them to leave with a few things: a clear sense of Christ’s love, a clear understanding of the gospel, and a clear path forward into Christ, membership, or involvement here. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul spoke of those who witness the gospel’s power among us, and so fall on their face and “declare that God is really among you” (1Cor. 14:25). That’s what we want God to do.
Which brings us to the topic of this year’s Holiday Offering.
For some background, each year at this time our church family invests together in a special project. Last year’s project included a focus on hospitality outside the building. The exterior signs you see at entry points to the building are from last year’s offering. This year’s offering will focus on hospitality inside our building. We’re calling it, Warming Up Our Welcome. It has three parts.
In ministry to our families, and especially visiting families, we will move to an electronic child check-in system. This will help streamline the process of checking children into our system, and add an additional layer of security. At the present time, parents stop at each door where they will drop off a child and print their child’s name and various details. This adds to the time it takes to get from the car to a seat in the Worship Center. An electronic check-in system should cut down on that time and increase security.
We are all grateful for a wonderful facility for our ministry together. But we can take better advantage of our lobby space for more conversation and connection. First, refreshed furnishings and carpet will unify and simplify our space. Second, we have a few remodeling projects in mind. Specifically, our three lobby Welcome Centers need some updating. Then, we would also like to rethink what we’ve historically called “The Parlor,” for a monthly newcomers reception. Third, new indoor signage throughout the building. Our facility has come together in stages, and these efforts will allow us to maximize our limited lobby space for improved guest care.
These gifts are what we give to guests. In a given year we may see as many as 200-300 visitors. Not everyone identifies themselves as a guest. But we want those we do identify to know that which is of first importance, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have in mind to invest in boxes of a specific book, Who Is Jesus?, by Greg Gilbert. We have some other things in mind—perhaps branded coffee, as we’ve done before, or a Heritage mug. But in addition to some information about our ministry, the most important welcome piece is the book. We want guests to say, “they were ready for me, they made the most important things plain.” This may be the only gospel-explaining book that some have on a shelf at home. We want them to remember where to come when the Spirit works to draw them to Christ.
Join us in welcoming and serving our guests. You can give by marking an offering envelope with Holiday Offering. Or, if you give online, you can select the designated box for the offering.
The Bible is often summarized as creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. But we’re destined for more! From the beginning, God’s story has been headed toward consummation and glory. Guthrie traces nine themes that reveal God’s plan for a new creation that’s far more magnificent than the original—and explains how to recognize signs of it now.
Make your plans to join us on Tuesday mornings at 9:15 a.m. or Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m., September 17 — November 12. Sign up and purchase your book and study guide for $15 in the Hudson Road Lobby or email Liz Stratton by Sunday, September 8th.