Return Plan Update

May 19, 2020

Grace Church,

We thank all of you for your prayers and feedback as we plan how we will return to our facility for ministry and worship together. As a pastor, I have felt deeply the words of 1 Thessalonians 3:10, “We pray earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face.” While we are thankful for technology to keep us connected, we all recognize that it is but a shadowy reflection of the fellowship we enjoy in corporate worship. 

However, returning to our facility will take some time. Our Return Team, made up of several staff members and lay elders, has been researching and discussing how to return in a wise manner. This has included consultation with healthcare professionals and extensive conversations with the plans of our neighboring churches. We have found the more we research and discuss, the more there is to consider! 

Nevertheless, we want to let you know of three big-picture commitments we currently have moving forward. Though the timeline on each one may not be what we currently hope, the commitments remain the same: 

While many of the “finer details” will be communicated at a later time, we trust that this will give you excitement and hope as we long and pray for our return to the facility. There are two catchphrases that our Return Team has adopted as we plan our return, and we hope that you will adopt this same mindset:

We all look forward to the return of the programmatic aspects that make up our ministries, but we also realize most of them will not look the same when we come back together. Programs always change in ministry according to circumstances, but the ministry of the gospel to people never does. A priority for us in our return to the facility is love towards our church family who truly are at-risk candidates of the pandemic (nearly 50% of our congregation are 65 years and older), as well as God’s command to respect governing authorities (Romans 13). We have no doubt in our church family’s ability to adapt to a “new norm” for a season.

In all of this, we recognize as well that we are representatives of Jesus Christ to our wider community. Our behavior during our return can itself be a witness to the gospel’s power among us. To that end, let’s resolve to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). 

Dear friends, “I hope to see you soon and we will talk face to face” (3 John 14). 

The Return Team, 

Pastor Adam Swift and
Donald Mills
Mike Murry
Rebecca Shiffer
Bethany Hirschy