Elders’ Update on Church Services
updated 3/25/2020
 
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” – Psalm 56:3–4
 
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
 
Grace Church Family,
 
The local and worldwide coronavirus pandemic, and the corresponding restrictions on our freedoms to combat it, is certainly an unprecedented, providential trial that none of us have faced in our lifetimes. There is a tension in the air that could very easily cause division among peoples in society and even in the church. Yet we cannot forget that all of this is God ordained—God is in this—and we must rest in our Lord’s sovereignty, providence, and goodness. We must stay unified as a body of believers, relying upon the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). We must endure this trial with all joy, and we should be excited to see what the Lord does with all of this as a platform to advance the Gospel—the Good News—of Jesus Christ. This is a time for our church body to demonstrate our trust and joy in the Lord, and to declare the Gospel to those living in fear and uncertainty.
 
Also during this unprecedented time, we are called—as we always are—to be obedient to our governing authorities, as Titus 3:1,
1 Peter 2:13-17, and Romans 13:1-7 remind us. As our Governor’s and County Health Director’s orders for our and our neighbors’ welfare have become progressively more restrictive these past few weeks, we have taken steps to be in full compliance with each order, while at the same time, keeping Hebrews 10:24-25 before us to not forsake our gathering while we were still permitted to meet. At the outset, we closed Grace Academy when required to do so, and moved the instruction of students to distance learning. We then followed the requirements allowed by the governing authorities for still holding gatherings under 250 people originally, and then the requirements allowed for under 50 people last Sunday, including practicing social distancing and encouraging our most vulnerable church family members to stay home. Balancing our trust in the providence of God and love for our neighbor, we gave our church family the personal choice to remain home or to gather together under the health restrictions called for by our government for our well-being.

Now, however, under the Governor’s “Stay Home – Stay Healthy” order of March 23, 2020, the time has come for us to remain home until midnight on April 6, 2020, at a minimum. During this time, there will be no in-person gatherings of the church body, including all midweek ministries, home Bible studies, and Sunday services. That said, we encourage you to stay in touch with your ministry leader(s) for specific details on if they will hold online meetings during this time or cancel, as well as for them to shepherd you and care for you while we are away from one another. We are also researching ways Pastor Zimmer’s sermons can be broadcast online under this stay-home order, and will post any updates on our church website and the church phone message at (360) 659-8517.

This current threat is a good reminder to all of us that we live in an uncertain world and our confidence and trust is only found in the sovereignty of God. God reigns over everything and has predetermined that which is good for all of us within His kingdom (Romans 8:28–32). This is also an opportunity to encourage and strengthen the people of God as well as an opening for the gospel in our community.

With the attendance restrictions, we also face a real problem as we are not gathered together to worship the Lord in giving. Our church and its ministries are supported by faithful givers each week, and with a 30-40% drop in attendance these past two Sundays, we saw a significant drop in giving. We are now behind in our budget. We need each of you to continue to support our church that you love so much, in order to sustain our faithful servants on staff, our missionaries, and our facilities. Despite being away from each other during this time, we are still knitted together in Christ, and we need to be there for one another. A few staff members are allowed to remain working at the church to ensure “minimum basic operations” under the Governor’s order, so please pray for their safety as they keep church operations (e.g., facilities, finances) functioning. Please be faithful to give online or mail your offering to the church: 8521 67th Ave NE, Marysville, WA 98270.
 
While we are away from one another, we need to stay rooted in God’s Word. As the world around us faces fear and insecurity, there is no better place to be than reflecting on the sovereignty, providence, and goodness of our Lord in His Word. This current threat is a good reminder to all of us that we live in an uncertain world and our confidence and trust is only found in the sovereignty of God. God reigns over everything and has predetermined that which is good for all of us within His kingdom (Romans 8:28–32). For those of you who may be anxious, remember the words of Isaiah to trust in the Lord: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
 
This is also an opportunity to encourage and strengthen the people of God, as well as an opening for declaring the Gospel in our community. We need to be the most balanced, reasonable, stable, hopeful, and joyful people in our community. We know where we are headed, know that we are not in control of our lives—inside and outside our bodies, and we should have no fear of death if we have hope and security in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, we must demonstrate it, not being in fear, but seeing every day as a day full of God’s providence.
 
We are here to serve you, so please contact any Elder or ministry leader if you need anything at all during this challenging time. Please continue to pray for one another as well. We are looking forward to being together again when our governing authorities declare it is prudent to do so.

Grace Church Elders