In-Person Worship Is Steadily Returning Across Our Area:
Henderson County is steadily bouncing back after our "stay at home" measures to prevent spreading COVID-19. Most local churches have announced plans to assemble in-person again, with social distance and other precautions, by the end of May.
Graduation Recognition: We have GRADUATES to celebrate, and we WILL celebrate them soon. Carson Woods, Mason Pyburn, Gabrielle Willumat, Jeremiah Sanders, and Calleigh Earl have achieved great milestones and I know our church family wants to celebrate their accomplishments. We will share our recognition plans soon - we want to celebrate them with as many of our church family as we can.
Successful Safe Worship at Pine Grove:
Pine Grove has already conducted 3 successful Safe Assemblies this month. I want to thank everyone who has attended, and everyone who has stayed at home and watched our broadcasts. Our Safety Team does a great job of making sure safe distancing protocols are met, and I'm encouraged by our members who willingly bring masks so as to observe Governor Lee's guidelines. Each Sunday we see different people returning. The feedback I've received has been very positive, and our members feel safe.
Deciding to attend in-person or to stay home is a personal decision. The Governor's office reports that age and medical condition should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to leave home. We will offer broadcasts throughout May, and it is likely we will continue the practice in June.
Wednesdays and Sunday Evenings:
A decision as to when we will resume in-person Wednesday Night Bible Study and Sunday Evening Worship will be made soon, and we will let you know. Studies suggests COVID-19 coronavirus can survive two to three days on plastic and stainless steel so when we return to Wednesday activity we will do so with great attention to disinfecting common surfaces between assemblies. For now, we continue our Wednesday Bible Study online via Facebook and website.
Sunday School, Children activities, VBS:
Sunday School is a challenge due to our classroom sizes and the need for social distancing. It's our hope that sometime next month we will provide one class for everyone, socially-distanced, in our main sanctuary until we can safely return to our smaller rooms and narrow hallways. Different teachers and I will lead the class together, providing some variety to the class.
The Governor's guidelines make it clear that safe children activities are the most difficult to manage. Children activity guidelines are forthcoming. This is the largest challenge for our area schools, and they will influence the Governor's guidelines as to what steps to take. VBS is being canceled or rescheduled in churches across the nation, and it is very likely we will have to adjust our plans in some way.
Unexpectedly, in some ways COVID-19 has expanded our reach:
Each week, I receive feedback from within our area and from outside our area about our broadcasts. Our website has received more visitors in the last nine weeks than it had in all the previous year. Each week new people choose to "like" our church Facebook page or the videos posted there. In short, we're growing the number of people we reach with the Word of God, and we're reaching people that we weren't reaching before. So, while our number of people in church service is smaller (for now), we are interacting with more people every week. In your prayers, ask our Lord to continue to grow the reach of our church, and we pray that some we reach will join us in person to experience the love of God through our congregation beyond a screen.
Praise God for His Mercies: We praise God that our Henderson County COVID-19 numbers have been low. The virus has not spread beyond the ability of our area's health system to address cases. According to the Governor's office website, there have been 12 cases throughout the entire county, with 798 tests registering "negative," and no deaths since the beginning of data collection. Let's continue to pray for our friends in other areas where the outbreaks are harder to control. Pray for people impacted medically & economically: Many people have had their health and their livelihood impacted by COVID-19. The numbers of unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own across our state and nation are staggering. While some are returning to work, others are faced with a terrible new reality as their workplace has permanently closed. The stock market continues to be unpredictable, and people depending on investments find their income is uncertain. WE NEED TO PRAY.