UPDATES REGARDING COVID-19
ALL SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES CANCELED UNTIL APRIL 5
Dear Riveroaks Family,
Our church has always been known as a strong covenant community, a family of faithful believers, and now is no different. We are encouraged to hear of the many ways you are reaching out to each other and loving each other during this time. During seasons of trial and suffering, we will demonstrate the love of Jesus by loving one another and loving our neighbors. Here are a few updates concerning ways we are trying to minister and serve during this time.
Worship and Activities
Our worship services and activities will continue to be canceled at least through April 5. We will continue to provide modified worship services and sermons on Sundays, and we are looking at other options as well. We were able to make a significant improvement from our first recorded service, and we are grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen.
Caring for the Flock
Our elders continue to reach out to their shepherding group, checking to see if there are ways we can minister to you. If you have a need, or know of a need, please call Rob Callison (901-483-8522) who will help you contact your flock leader or community group leader.
You will receive an updated prayer list this afternoon through email. We will mention this again in that email, but we hope you will pause at 6:15pm on Wednesday to pray together as a church even though we are physically separated. We would also appreciate any prayer updates that can be added to the prayer list. Please email those directly to the church office:
We want to thank you for continuing to give and support the church. Continuing to give during this time is important for the work of the church as we move forward and continue our ministry. Online giving is easy. If you have not set up an account, you can do it here.
We continue to pick up the mail, so you can also mail your gift to the church:
Riveroaks Reformed Presbyterian Church
1665 S. Germantown Rd.
Germantown, TN 38138
Other Information Channels
We want to thank you all for the prayers and care you are giving during this time, and we look forward to the day when we can all see each other again in worship.
Grace and peace,
On behalf of the Session
ALL SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES CANCELED UNTIL MARCH 28
Dear Riveroaks Family,
We cannot express how deeply thankful we are to be connected to such a loving community during this time. Many of you have reached out with words of encouragement and reminders of prayer, and we are deeply moved by the love and compassion at Riveroaks.
We are certainly living through an unprecedented time, as news changes each day regarding the coronavirus. Throughout last week, the Session wrestled with decisions regarding this situation and how we should approach it. On Sunday, the Session met to discuss how to move forward. Here is a brief outline of the direction we are currently taking, with a longer explanation at the end of this email regarding some of the reasons behind these actions.
First, we are canceling all activities and services at the church until March 28. This includes, but is not limited to, Sunday worship services, Community Groups, Wednesday events, and bible studies. Although the office will be closed, we will continue to pickup the mail and receive packages. So please know we will carry on the business of the church during this adjusted schedule.
Second, the Session will meet each weekend to evaluate the next steps. This means we will meet this coming weekend in order to make a decision for services on March 29 and all activities for March 30-April 4. We will plan to send out an email update to the congregation at the beginning of each new week.
Third, we will continue to record a service and sermon for your use at home, and we are looking into other possibilities, such as recording some Sunday School lessons or other ways to assist you during this time. However, there is a wealth of resources on the internet for your personal spiritual growth. We plan to provide some more resources, but our primary hope is to remain connected to you during this time.
Fourth, the elders will be reaching out to their respective flocks during this time. Please let us know if we can assist you in any way. To be specific, we would be glad to visit and pray with you, pick up some groceries, or help with any need. Please do not hesitate to let us know.
Finally, let me say a word about some of the issues taking place right now, and why we think this is important. Not only has the Session been wrestling with this decision, but we have consulted doctors within our congregation, as well as others outside our congregation. We have been watching the updates from various health departments, the CDC, and the recent Presidential address on Monday when he outlined a 15-day plan to slow the spread of the virus.
In the process of this work, we have read articles on the current situation and discussed how important it is to stop the spread of this virus early on so that we do not overwhelm our health care system. The medical experts call this the attempt to "flatten the curve." A really helpful article on this appears at The Washington Post:
We have wrestled to understand this situation and make a decision for the well-being of our church community. It became apparent to us last week that it was crucial that we act immediately and limit contact and social interaction. This is why we canceled services this past Sunday and the activities and future services at the church for the next few weeks. If we do not take precautions now, we risk overwhelming the health care system and creating a greater problem in the coming weeks.
I say all of this not because we are experts, but because we have spent time trying to understand this and wrestle with the decision. This process has been difficult as events shift each day, and we do not take this responsibility lightly.
Although we have called off our corporate worship services for now, we have not and will not call off worship. We are all called to worship God daily, to live before the face of God. We are also called to worship God in our homes, with family worship, as well as in other smaller gatherings of believers. We pray that as you become more familiar with the experience of worshiping at home, you are able to see the benefit of smaller gatherings for the edification of your faith.
We will do our best to stay in touch with you as this moves forward, and we will provide some more resources in the days to come. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Please call Rob Callison (901-483-8522) if you have any pastoral needs, and he will help you get in touch with a pastor or a shepherding elder. We intend to be there for one another during this time.
Pastor James Grant
On behalf of the Session
ALL SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES CANCELED FOR WEEK OF MARCH 15
Dear Riveroaks Family,
Throughout this week, the leadership of Riveroaks has been wrestling with the situation regarding the COVID-19 virus and its spread across communities around the world. After prayerful discussion, consideration, and consultation, the Session has decided to cancel all services and activities for this Sunday and the upcoming week (March 15-21). This includes everything connected to activities that meet at the church.
Please know that we have not come to this decision lightly. Instead, we believe that love and wisdom have directed us. We have made this decision in order to guard the well-being of our covenant family and because this is the clearest way for us to love our neighbors right now. Instead of gathering together in person, we want to "be the church" wherever we are throughout our city.
Although we are not gathering in person, we are working on a plan to record a short service and a sermon, and post that recording online tomorrow. We are also working on other plans for weeks to come in order to minister to you as best we can.
Expect to receive an email once we get something posted online, and further updates through the course of the week. If you need any assistance during this time, please contact the church office.
Grace and peace to you all,
On behalf of the Session
Dear Riveroaks family,
With all the reports about the spread of the coronavirus (or COVID-19), we want you to know that the health of our covenant community at Riveroaks is of utmost concern to the pastors, Session, Diaconate, and staff of this congregation. We are closely monitoring announcements from the Shelby County Health Department and the CDC, and we have taken prevention steps recommended by specialists.
-Our worship services will continue as scheduled. You will notice this Sunday that we have hand sanitizer stations near the Sanctuary entrances. If you have small hand sanitizers, please consider carrying some with you. Other good-health procedures during this time consist of frequent hand washing (with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds), covering coughs and sneezes and limited touching. Please refrain from shaking hands and hugging for now. Although this is different for us, everyone will understand during this time. Instead, let's smile and wave at each other.
-Please stay at home if you are feeling sick or ill. It is not a "sin" to stay home and take care of yourself during this time. Also, feel free to reach out to the church office for prayer or other concerns.
-During worship this Sunday, we will not pass the offering plates. Instead, the plates will be at obvious locations around the Sanctuary. Also remember that we have online giving available through our church website: www.riveroakspca.org/give
-We have established cleaning protocols for the church, and we are following those protocols now. Some of these involve weekly cleaning and disinfecting of areas where children play and where people congregate.
We will do the best we can to serve you as a congregation and to communicate with you as this situation unfolds. Remember, we have sermons on the website if you are not able to attend, and we will continue to look into options that will help us minister to our covenant family. For now, let us try to encourage one another in the faith, use wisdom and caution regarding our personal health and the health of others, but not respond out of fear. In the midst of change and uncertainty, we can be sure of one absolute stability: Our God is in heaven and rules over all; our Father loves us in His Son and has given us His Spirit; He is faithful, and He has promised to be our God in all circumstances.
Grace to you,
On behalf of our Session and Diaconate