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March 27, 2020
Friday, March 27
Throughout this letter I want to communicate a simple theme to all of you, urgency. Please note that urgency is not synonymous with words such as panic, fear, or anxiety. I want to communicate this specific theme to you because it is necessary during these chaotic times. The church, perhaps now more than ever in recent history, needs to fulfill its mission.
In the early 4th century, a plague broke out in the Roman Empire and ravaged the area, especially the city of Caesarea. Most of the residents of Caesarea fled the city and took refuge in the countryside while leaving the sick and outcasts behind. However, there was one group who stayed behind, the Christians. Eusebius, a church historian at this time, recorded that the Christians cared for the sick and fed those who did not have food, among many other Christ-like actions. He stated that the Christians’ “deeds were on everyone’s lips, and they glorified the God of the Christians.” I don’t know about you, but this brief story moves me greatly and inspires me to do the same today.
I should say, we are obviously not in a plague. However, that does not diminish the seriousness of the situation we are currently in. All indications are this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. I only say this because it is the reality of the situation, and coming to terms with this reality will help to better prepare us for what we need to do and be as the church in the immediate future.
Friends, now, perhaps more than ever in recent history, is the time for the church to fulfill its calling of caring for our neighbor with Christ-like love. When this pandemic eventually passes, how will Nova Community Church look back at itself? Will we have simply sat on the sideline and waited for things to go back to “normal,” or will we have reached out to our neighbor in love and met their needs where we were able? We cherish teachings such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and my hope is that the people of Nova would truly do so during these times.
You may be wondering what you can even be doing in this period of self-quarantine and social distancing. Granted, these are fairly significant obstacles, but they are not insurmountable. If you are able-bodied and not at-risk of serious complications if you should contract COVID-19, you can run errands or go grocery shopping for those who cannot. Byron Jung, church-planter of Momentum Christian Fellowship, shared with the Nova staff something that one of his former students is currently doing in his neighborhood. If you cannot read the text in this photo, it is a flyer offering to run errands for anyone who cannot leave their home during this time. This flyer was dropped off at every house in their neighborhood with the volunteers’ phone numbers listed. I encourage those in our church family who are able to do the same, or something similar.
There are also an incredible amount of social needs not being met at this time. Humans are created to be in community with one another and when community is stripped away it can lead to depression and diminished mental health. Obviously, we cannot interact face-to-face with our neighbors at this time, but we have many technology-based resources at our fingertips. Give one of your neighbors a call or try FaceTiming an old friend just to see how they are doing. I know it can feel weird to call someone “out of the blue,” but just keep in mind that some of your neighbors have potentially been without any sort of social interaction for a significant amount of time. Imagine what something as simple as a phone call could do for their spirits.
But don’t limit yourself to the ideas provided in this letter. Get creative! Think of inventive ways you can be loving and serving those in your neighborhood and sphere of influence.
And so, we return to the theme of this letter, urgency. Why does any of this have to be urgent? By all indications, the virus is going to spread greatly throughout the next few weeks. Many high-ranking officials including Surgeon General Jerome Adams have all said the same thing. Therefore, now is the time to reach out to your neighbor and make that connection. Now is the time to offer aid to someone who needs it. Now is the time to check in on your friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Of course, all while responsibly practicing social distancing and taking necessary precautions.
One of the goals for the Open Campaign has been that Nova would be known by its surrounding community for its love, care, and openness to others. While we never in our wildest dreams could have expected the situation we are currently in, this goal does not change for Nova. My hope is that when this pandemic has passed us by, the results of the church’s actions would resemble that of the 4th century church in Caesarea. The church’s “deeds were on everyone’s lips, and they glorified the God of the Christians.”
Director of Local Missions
Thursday, March 19, 3:00pm
Dear Nova Family,
It’s incredible how quickly things can change! Two weeks ago, the Nova Board met to determine the path ahead on our Open Campaign and Project. With excitement and anticipation, we looked forward to our Annual Meeting on March 29th where together our Nova congregation would decide how to proceed towards completing our Open vision. We had it all planned out! But then…
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this past Sunday delivered a new experience. For the first time ever, Nova met online for worship. And while it wasn’t the same as gathering together in person, what a wonderful experience it was joining with other Nova people in worship from the comfort of our own “socially-distanced” homes. A huge thanks to our Nova Staff for putting together our first online worship experience on short notice.
Following guidance from all levels of government and health officials, Nova will not hold in-person gatherings through the end of March, and then will re-evaluate on a week-to-week basis as more information comes to light. In the meantime, we will continue to worship together on Sundays through our new online format (www.novachurch.org/online), and seek out new opportunities throughout each week to be the church in love and service. As Pastor Dean reminded us on Sunday, “church” is not the place where we worship. The church is the body of Christ united together in action.
BE THE CHURCH
An old hymn echoes the words of John 13:35 with the lyrics “…they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Brothers and sisters, this is our time! When the world seems to be crumbling, followers of Jesus throughout the centuries have responded with grace and love, often at great cost. As many of the comforts and security of our modern living are chipped away, may the world see in us a strong foundation built on our faith and hope in Christ. It is our mission – it has always been our mission – to share the hope of the gospel through our words and through acts of love.
In this new season, look for ways to actively love a neighbor or co-worker, especially if you find yourself with some extra free time these days! Use whatever resources you have at your disposal to be a blessing. Most of all, provide hope to those who are hurting or are feeling lost. For this reason, as long as we are able, Nova will continue to serve our community through Feeding the Hungry, Laundry Love, and through our relationships with local assisted living homes.
GIVING & RECEIVING
We know that this season will be challenging for many Nova people. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call or email a Nova leader or friend so we can utilize Nova resources to support you. Likewise, if you are in a position to provide help, consider:
1) Giving to Nova’s Benevolence Fund, providing financial assistance to Nova people in need during this time (mail a check to the church office, or give at www.novachurch.org/giving)
2) Joining a team of Nova Servants, volunteering your time to assist those who need help with shopping, delivering meals, or other tasks. (Sign up by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since we are unable to gather together for the next several weeks, the Annual Meeting must be postponed to an undetermined later date. To keep the business of the Church moving forward in the interim, the Nova Board has voted to continue operating to the current fiscal year budget on a month-to-month basis, and to extend the terms of elected church officers until the Annual Meeting is held.
Nova leadership will continue to provide various updates via email and at www.novachurch.org. If you would like to be added to the email list, send a message to email@example.com.
We pray you are encouraged this week! While our own plans may be delayed or cancelled, God’s plan for His people and His world have not been thwarted. God is in control and we rest in Him and in His love for us. We know the end of the story. Let’s pray together that God will give us faith and boldness along this journey.
Walking alongside you,
Andrew Pitman and the Nova Board
Pastor Dean Mayeda and the Nova Staff
Friday, March 13, 12:00pm
Upon prayerful consideration, Nova leadership has made the decision not to hold our Sunday morning gathering on March 15. This decision was made out of consideration and care for our community as we seek to join the effort of heading off the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our community leaders have issued strong recommendations toward postponing gatherings for the time being and we think it wise to heed their recommendation.
Just because we will not gather on Sunday morning does not mean that our worship of God has stopped. The church was never meant to be distinguished by a building, rather, the church is the people who make up the body of Christ. In lieu of a gathering on Sunday morning, we are using our website as a central communication hub to continue teaching, preaching, prayer, worship, and building one another up. We encourage you to set aside some time to visit NovaChurch.org and to have a time of worship in your own home. The website will be updated with content by Sunday morning.
In this time of uncertainty and change, we are still standing on the firm ground of God’s love for us. Our mission has not changed. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, sharing the love of God to our community. When trouble comes our way, we might be tempted to turn our focus upon only ourselves or only our family, but we would encourage you to keep others at the forefront of your minds. We follow the way of Jesus, who modeled that we are to always treat others as more important and more precious than ourselves.
We are being asked to limit contact with one another in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society. As local schools close and workplaces shut down, we recognize that there will be a great burden placed on many in our community. There are many families who will miss a paycheck and there are many individuals who will begin to feel lonely or isolated. In a time of crisis, we have the desire to draw near and care for others, but this situation is extremely complex. We should all seek God’s wisdom in this moment and think creatively about how we might be able to care for others in our community.
We will continue to update you on this evolving situation. We are not gathering this Sunday (March 15) and are recommending that certain midweek ministries also follow suit this week. This includes the Youth Group, the Choir, and other larger and more susceptible gatherings. We encourage you to continue to connect with your small groups at the discretion of your small group leader, understanding that small group connections are more important than ever in times like these. If you have any questions about whether or not your small group is meeting, contact your small group leader or Pastor Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are seeking to make the transition into using our online resources as easy as possible. You can continue sending prayer requests via email into Prayer@NovaChurch.org. You can continue to financially support Nova’s ministry through tithes, offerings, and Open campaign contributions by giving at NovaChurch.org/giving or by sending your support through the mail. If you have any questions or need help navigating the website, please email Thomas at email@example.com. Other resources will be made available in the coming days.
The love of God has been strong in our community and will continue to be. Love one another and pray for one another. We are the church. May we continue to shine brightly in the darkness.
The Nova Staff