“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”
Dear families of Elmwood Mennonite Brethren Church:
Do you remember the last time you flew in an airplane? You probably would have experienced some kind of turbulence, usually on the way up or on the way down…and then occasionally in mid-flight depending on weather. You could describe the first few weeks of Covid-19 for the churches of Manitoba as turbulent. We were all trying to find ways to take our services online yet stay connected as a community and it was bumpy to say the least, but eventually we found a rhythm.
Well now after 3 months of being isolated in the stratosphere of our own lives, we are excited to reopen! Once again, we anticipate some turbulence as we re-enter the ‘atmosphere’ of congregational life. On June 28th, we will take the first steps away from the computer to gathering physically in the building. It’s not so much the building nor the programs we have missed, but we have missed ‘The Church’—the gathered people of God who worship, serve, and pray together, stirring each other towards spiritual maturity in our trust and love for Jesus Christ.
What was our process leading to re-opening? In early June, Leadership Council assembled a small team of people to begin sifting through the details of Phase I, II, and eventually Phase III. Their task was to take that information and present a few scenarios that could work for our church and its current facilities. They have met for the past three weeks in consultation with Leadership Council and have put together the attached document.
What can you do?
1. Read. take some time to read the document. I am sure you will see that it appears quite formal but our goal is to comply with the restrictions and yet create an environment conducive to public worship. It will be tricky and we need your prayers!
2. Pray: Thank you so much for your prayers this season. Please continue to pray for wisdom and grace as we attempt to re-open.
3. Be Gracious: I think that word ‘grace’ is deeply needed—grace for each other: some of us are excited to get back while others are not so sure and some are unable to do so. We need to be gracious with one another wherever we are at, as we are all part of the same family. No one has gone through a pandemic like this before, we’re all learning.
4. Serve: Many of you have served one another in prayer, in phone calls, in writing letters. Let’s continue to look for ways to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” Romans 12:10.
5. Expect: First of all don’t expect perfection in our reopening process (we’re trying and it may be turbulent again) but do expect that God is at work in this season! Expect that He is at work in your life for your good and His glory, expect that He has something special to teach you this summer and expect that God has given you gifts for the sake of others.
6. Be flexible: my daughter can do the splits, I can’t. Its not just because she is 8 and I’m…much older. Rather it is because she has stretched, and stretched and stretched, making her, well, flexible. As we attempt to reopen we ask for flexibility as we learn to adapt to new challenges and occasionally miss some things. Stretching is not easy but it’s better to prepare than pull a relational muscle because we have not prepared.
7. Look: Paul prays in Ephesians 6:19 for an opening and an opportunity to share the gospel—let’s look for ways to live out and share the gospel of Christ as things begin to reopen in our city. The great commission still stands, and God has uniquely placed each of us in our neighborhoods for that purpose—to be missionaries where he has planted you.
Thank you for taking time to read this and for praying for one another and for leadership at this time! If you have any questions or suggestions on our reopening process please do not hesitate to contact any of our staff, Leadership Council or the Reopening Team (Lori Dueck, Jack Funk, Michelle Giesbrecht and Shonet Stoesz).
I am truly looking forward to seeing each of you soon!