COVID-19 UPDATE & REOPENING NEW HOPE
May 6, 2020
Dear New Hope Family,
I felt the need to take a few minutes this morning and communicate to our church family. It has been 8 weeks since we made the decision to move to online services in compliance with state and city restrictions concerning the Coronavirus. WOW! With that in mind, let me say a couple of things:
I miss you! Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I have missed getting to see you and talk with you. There is something about our gatherings that fills my heart. Although God’s grace has been sufficient during this season, there is a longing in my heart to be together again. To sing together, pray together, share communion together… I miss you.
I am Thankful! I need to praise the Lord and thank you. One of the concerns going into this difficult season was finances. In the past, if we didn’t meet together it was definitely reflected in the giving. That has not been the case in this season of our online gatherings. God has been so faithful to NHC. You have been faithful! In the midst of the greatest crises our nation has ever faced, you have continued to give your tithe and more. March and April have been some of the best months, financially speaking, that our church has ever had. There have been NO shortfalls. Thanks to your faithful giving, every need has been met with money left to meet the needs of others. Thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord and your extravagant generosity to the New Hope family.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I felt strongly to pray the priestly blessing from Numbers chapter six over our congregation. I felt a prompting from the Spirit that if I would do that, He would cover and protect our congregation. After asking all of our leaders, I believe that not one person from New Hope tested positive for COVID-19. Praise the Lord for His goodness, His protection and for the promises of His word.
While all of this was going on, we continued our search for a new elder to replace Drew Mawson after his untimely death back in December. After a lot of prayer, we asked two men to go through the application process: Jerry Siewert and Brandon Camp. It is an entailed process, but after application and interviews, our elder board felt unanimously that God has placed His hand upon both of these men, and we have invited them to the next step. We have presented them to the congregation for a period of 21 days for confirmation. During this time, we ask that if anyone in our congregation knows of a reason either of these men would not be qualified to serve as an Elder of New Hope that they would come forward. If at the end of the 21-day period no reason has been uncovered, we will ordain both of these men as Elders. Please continue to pray over this sacred process.
Plan to Reopen:
As you probably know, both our President and our Governor have issued proclamations to begin to reopen our country and our state. Those orders took effect on Friday, May 1st and will be rolled out over the next weeks and months to try to get America reopened and thriving once again.
What does that look like for the Church and specifically for NHC?
In the most general sense – churches have been given the green light to meet again with certain “advisements”. The 25% capacity does not apply to churches so long as they can meet the social distancing requirements.
Here is our plan to move forward:
- We will open for public services again on Sunday, May 17th – we will continue to offer livestream from here on out.
- We will have one service at our regular time unless the crowd demands that additional services be added.
- If we see there are more than can be ministered in one service, we will consider a two-service schedule with service times at 9 & 11.
- For at least the first two services, we will not offer children’s ministry – these will be family services. A family room will be available in case your children need a place to expend their energy.
- We are recommending those 65+ or those who are especially susceptible to the virus continue to watch online from the safety of their homes.
- We will be removing rows to increase distancing, asking families to sit together in family units with at least 2 chairs between others not from their family unit.
- We will continue to sanitize the building thoroughly before and after each service.
- Our ushers and greeters will practice a touch-free but friendly greeting.
- We will not have fellowship time and will discourage handshaking, hugging and the laying on of hands during prayer (unless requested).
- We will be using the prepackaged communion during this season, allowing you to pick it up as you enter.
- We will not pass an offering basket, but the baskets will be available to drop your offering in as you exit, if you are not utilizing online giving.
- We will have hand sanitizing stations spread throughout the building and will encourage frequent use.
- We will offer, but not require, facemasks.
- We will pray over & bless everyone each service – standing on God’s precious promises to protect all who attend.
As the governor rolls out Phase two – later this month, we will adjust & add activities as the Lord leads.
Continue to PRAY:
All that being said – since the limit on gatherings of more than 10 has been lifted, we have opened our Saturday evening prayer to any who want to attend. We pray each Saturday night at 6 pm for those who want to attend.
Thursday May 7th is the National Day of Prayer. There will be a special city-wide Drive In Prayer Service at the new Abilene Police Department (4665 S. 1st) from 12-1 pm. It will be broadcast on KGNZ 88.1 FM so that all can hear and participate. There is a downloadable program available at www.1-Kindom.org it has the words to the worship songs and the prayer points and names of pastors who are praying. We will fill the parking lot and from the safety of our cars we will unite in prayer for our Country. Please join if you can. If you cannot join us at APD, please tune in and pray from wherever you are.
Consider joining www.unite714.com – hundreds of thousands of people are praying at 7:14 am & pm to see Covid-19 eradicated from the earth. Download the week seven prayer from the link above and join us as we agree that this thing ends.
What about this summer? What will NHC look like moving forward? These are great questions, but to be perfectly honest, I just don’t have the answer for you at this time. Here is what I do know:
- Wednesday nights. We will complete the Conversations Zoom through the end of May and will wait for Phase 2 from Governor Abbot on May 18th to decide about midweek throughout the summer.
- It is our plan to move forward with First Friday Fire on June 5th with Bill Vanderbush. Bill is a powerful prophetic voice who moves in the supernatural. We may have to limit the number of seats, but it is time to welcome God’s Surge of Glory! Get ready, God has powerful things in store as we press into His Holy Fire!
- VBS has been postponed until a later date until we see that it is safe to gather hundreds of children.
- Kids Camp & Youth Camps tentatively still happening pending the Governor’s decision concerning camps.
- Fireworks Stand still undecided awaiting city approval.
- REVIVAL! We are moving forward with a move of God’s Revival Fire – not sure what it will look like, but I DECLARE to you that it is coming! Nothing can hold it back! Get ready.
Know that I love you and I can’t wait to gather with you again.
Hope to see you on May 17!