Letter to EBC

Dear Edgewood Bible Church Family,

I am writing to inform you that on Monday evening, during our Elders meeting, we decided to heed Washington State's recommendation and temporarily cease all of our public gatherings (Sunday morning, Care Group meetings, Midweek ministry, other activities) through March 31. The elders will meet again on Monday, March 30th to discuss what April will look like for our church family, based upon any changes from local, state and national government.

Our Governor Jay Inslee announced on Monday an emergency proclamation that mandates the immediate two-week closure of all restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities, as well as additional limits on large gatherings, preferably no groups larger than 10. The new orders went into effect at midnight on Monday, March 17th and will be in place through March 31. Inslee said. “If we are living a normal life, we are not doing our jobs as Washingtonians, We cannot do that anymore. We need to make changes, regardless of size. All of us need to do more. We must limit the number of people we come in contact with. This is the new normal.”

Our thinking as an elder board goes well with the words of Francis Grimke, pastor of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Washington DC, during the Spanish Flu of 1918, “The fact that the churches were places of religious gathering, and the others not, would not affect in the least the health question involved. If avoiding crowds lessens the danger of being infected, it was wise to take precaution and not needlessly run in danger, and expect God to protect us.”  We believe wisdom says to withdraw and heed the warnings of our government. We have been encouraged by the leadership of our state and country during this time and are choosing to submit to their leadership.

In times of emergency such as this, we believe choosing not to gather as a congregation during this time is not disobeying Hebrews 10:24-25. Rather, we are convinced we are obeying God by submitting to the authorities that have been selected by Him. (Romans 13) We also are convinced that we should take the posture of love and care for the least of these. One of the basic axioms of the Christian life is that the “strong” must consider the “weak” (Romans 15). We made this decision not to minimize our own risk, but to protect others from risk.

Activities
All scheduled activities at the church and scheduled by the church are canceled until further notice. There will be no scheduling of future events, until we have clearance from our local government.

Member Care
During this time we want to care for our members and regular attenders. The next few weeks and months may prove to be financially difficult for those whose jobs will be affected. If you are in need of financial assistance from our benevolence fund or if you are at high risk for contracting any sickness and need help acquiring groceries, please contact us at membercare@edgewoodbiblechurch.org. During the next two weeks the elders will be contacting everyone that is listed on our church directory, to see if there are any needs and to pray with you.

What About Sundays?
The church gathers; that’s what it does. The local church is Jesus’ set apart people, in a specific place, who exist to glorify him by committing their lives to one another. The local church is the universal church made visible. This is why physically gathering with Jesus’ people on the Lord’s Day has been a privilege and priority from the start (Hebrews 10:25, cf. Acts 2:42f).

To encourage our church family, I will be sharing a 30 minute video each Sunday (that will be pre-recorded). I am planning on beginning my series through the fruit of the Spirit on Sunday and will share Galatians 5:16-26. The weeks following I will cover each of the 9 fruit of the spirit from different texts in Scripture. I would encourage you to purchase Jerry Bridges book “The Fruitful Life” and use it individually or in an online group to discuss each fruit of the spirit as we walk through them.

It is important to view our Sunday videos in this season as a temporary concession, rather than the creation of an ongoing convenience. Yes, it is convenient, but not all conveniences are good for our souls in the long term. We can thank God for modern technology (and we do, especially right now) even while recognizing its limitations. Physically gathering matters—after all, Jesus promised to be with us when we do (Matthew 18:20). So watching this video is not going to church online, that’s not possible. We are not gathering as a church online. Instead we are trying to be an encouragement to you our church family, as we are away from each other.

If you are unable to view the video online and would like a DVD copy, please email zach.kispert@edgewoodbiblechurch.org and he can work on getting a copy to you.

Midweek
To have a gathered time of prayer online, we are proposing to meet using an online service through Google Meet. You can visit meet.google.com/obd-rqjw-qbx on Wednesday, March 25 at 5:30pm or call in at 1-417-448-0829 [you will then need to enter the pin: 350 884 968#]. Anyone from EBC is welcome to join and I will have some areas to pray through and we can also hear from you about any prayer needs. You do not have to have a computer or smart phone to join this prayer time, just use the above phone number and pin to call and join. If you have any questions, please call the office.

Book Club
Some of you have additional time during this quarantine and to redeem the time, I will begin an online book club. If you would like to join, you need to purchase “Christian Beliefs” by Wayne Grudem. It is a condensed summary of 20 basic doctrines that every Christian should know. It is an easy-to-read book (only 150 pages) with discussion questions. If you would like to join our group, please email - jeff.coulter@edgewoodbiblechurch.org

Youth & Children
Pastor Ryan will be recording a short (5-7 min) video of teaching for kids that will be available for Sunday. We are also working on getting some additional resources for families to use for family worship on Sundays. He will also be scheduling some online chats/phone calls with our youth to keep them connected through, Bible study and prayer. On Friday, a schedule will be published online for recommendations on how to gather to worship together on Sundays at home and additional resources for families while your kids are not in school.

Giving
We do have options for our church family to continue to give during this time away. As a church family we have commitments to staff and missionaries that are relying on our continued giving. If you would like to give online with your checking account, debit card or credit card, you can visit: http://edgewoodbiblechurch.org/give You are also free to drop off your giving to the church office on Wednesdays during office hours or even mail a check to the church: 1720 Meridian Avenue East, Edgewood, WA 98371 If you would like to give additionally to our Benevolence fund to help those in need during this time, please designate “Benevolence” on your check or select that option for your online giving.

Conclusion
Let us use this absence of gathering as an exceptional time under the hand of God, to reflect on our life, our church, our community, to pray for the sick and medical professionals, to offer whatever help we can, and to rest.

Along with the rest of your pastors, I will be praying for you during these weeks when we are apart. If there are ways that we can care for you during this time, please email membercare@edgewoodbiblechurch.org. At this time, the church staff plan to work normal hours (Monday through Friday) at times remotely, but the church office will only be officially open on Wednesdays from 9am-5pm to help with any benevolence needs or to receive your contributions if you so choose to drop it off.

Please continue to pray for one another. Look for opportunities to text or call one another during this time away. Don’t yield to the temptation to check out of church life, but lean into these relationships that you have developed while attending EBC. Continue to look forward to the day when we will be given clearance again to gather together to worship as one church family. I know I am looking forward to that day with great anticipation, but even more to the day when we gather together as saints before the Lord for all of eternity!

Your Pastor,

Jeff Coulter

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