Just need some encouragement?
May 18, 2020 (3:00 PM)
As Michigan begins to remove restrictions, more and more people are asking, “What’s next for Grace Church? How do we go from quarantine to gatherings of several hundred? Is there a plan?”
The short answer is, Yes. There is a plan. The longer answer is that this is uncharted waters not only for our staff, but for every church. We don’t have clear examples of churches who have successfully navigated the steps from quarantine to in-person Sunday gatherings. So our plan is a process. It consists of obtaining wise counsel, mapping out potential next steps, and making the best decision we can with the information we have. At each point, we will consider how to best support the vulnerable in our congregation, and how to provide resources for a wide cross-section of personal comfort. Some will be ready to gather in person very soon, while others will choose to stay isolated for longer.
Obtaining wise counsel
We are taking our cues from the federal and state government. When we need help interpreting what is legal and safe, we are relying on our COVID-19 Task Force, which includes medical and community health professionals. Our staff is regularly in prayer as we ask for wisdom in interpreting what we see happening around us.
Mapping out potential next steps
Based on the information we’ve received, we have mapped out several steps towards gathering together as community groups and Sunday worshippers. In the same way that we had several “red lines” that triggered our decision to suspend in-person gatherings, we are working to create checklists to help us decide when it is wise to begin to gather. Currently, we anticipate gathering in very small groups at first, and increasing our gathering size as it is legal and safe to do so. We don’t have a timetable for these steps, but instead depend on current information.
Making best decision with the information we have
For perhaps the first time in my ministry career, long term planning is an impossibility. There are simply too many unknowns. With information updating daily, what made sense yesterday can suddenly not feel reasonable today. In this climate, we are committed to taking the next step, and then pausing to evaluate. Evaluating might indicate that we should stay the course, change direction, or even move back to an earlier format.
As we move forward, let me reiterate that we will not encourage anyone to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe in regards to their health. Even as we begin to meet, we will continue to provide online services and digital support for community groups for as long as we can. Individuals, families, and groups will be empowered to make their own decisions about safety and gathering contexts. Thank you for your continued support and dedication as we walk out life with Jesus, and each other, in these new contexts.
April 30, 2020 (3:00 PM)
Based on recommendations from our Task Force and the current stay at home order from Governor Whitmer, through the end of May, we will continue holding services online only. As things continue to change, we will evaluate our best next steps to serve you and our community well during this time of social distancing.
The hosting organizations for our summer mission trips have cancelled all scheduled mission trips, including our annual mission trip for Grace Student Ministries. However, you can still support our missional partners by giving online at gracechurch.city/give and selecting “General Missions.”
April 9, 2020 (1:00 PM)
Since our initial coronavirus announcement on March 12th, we have been working and preparing for the possibility of a more extended suspension of Sunday services. Right now, we are prepared to continue holding services online at least through the end of April. As things continue to change, we will evaluate our best next steps.
In the meantime, here are some of the steps we have taken so far since March 12th to respond to this crisis:
- Since initial suspension of Sunday services in March, members of our staff have been working vigilantly to ensure that our online services are created and put together with as little risk as possible. At every step of the way, we have consulted our Task Force of medical professionals and state employees to ensure that we are taking every precaution possible. Staff and volunteers are screened for risk factors, have their temperatures taken before entering the building, stand 6 feet apart, and wear gloves and masks whenever possible.
- As much as possible, we are minimizing the number of people in the building, and starting next weekend, you will start to see fewer people onstage each Sunday as we continue limiting the number of people in the building.
- We are working with our partners at Hesed Community Church in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit to provide groceries and cleaning supplies to those in need. You can support this cause at gracechurch.city/give
- While our building may be closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, our amazing staff, leaders, and members continue to carry out the work of the Kingdom through weekday resources, community group meetings online, and service throughout the week. To learn more about how you can stay connected while our building is closed, visit gracechurch.city/econnect and drop us a note or sign up for resources.
While we cannot wait to meet with you all again, we are excited for all that God is doing during this time of crisis. We understand now, more than ever, the Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Church in Philippi:
God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Stay home, stay safe, and know that God is in control.
March 27, 2020 (8:00 AM)
Based on the recommendation of Grace Church’s COVID-19 Task Force and the recent mandate from the Governor of Michigan, services will continue to be suspended through at least April 12. This means that we will hold our Good Friday & Easter celebrations online for the first time ever! While we would love to meet together, we are excited about the opportunities this provides us. Stay tuned over the coming week for ways you can be invitational using digital invites, graphics, and sharable e-vents.
March 23, 2020 (3:00 PM)
While religious organizations are exempt from today’s order, we want to serve our community by taking every precaution. As a result, we will not be gathering during the duration of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order. As of right now, this executive order will be in effect through April 13, 2020. In the meantime, we will continue to provide Sunday morning worship on Facebook and at gracechurch.city/sermons.
Because we are exempted from this executive order, we are uniquely situated to care for and bless our community. If there is any way we can help you or your community, please reach out through our Contact Form.
Additionally, today’s order specifically allows for people to travel in order to care for “minors, dependents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons” and to “work or volunteer for businesses … that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals,” (Section 7) so we want to continue to urge you, the people of Grace, to be the Church in your communities. Take every precaution to keep yourself and your family healthy, but we can still serve others and show God’s love in the midst of all of this.
March 18, 2020 (3:20 PM)
In compliance with Governor Whitmer’s ban, and in order to do our part to keep our community safe and healthy, Grace Churches will be suspending services at least through the first week of April. We will continue to evaluate the best course of action over the coming weeks, so be sure to continue checking your emails from us. In the meantime, tune in on Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM for a full online service on Facebook and at gracechurch.city/sermons
March 14, 2020 (11:00 AM)
Instead of an in-person service this Sunday, we will be streaming a service right here on the Grace website (gracechurch.city/sermons) and on Facebook starting at 9:30am. It will be available in its entirety anytime after the stream begins. Pastors from all three locations will make an appearance, and Matt Brookes & Tyler Barber are teaming up to lead worship. Please join us on Sunday as we (virtually) gather to learn, grow, and follow Jesus together.
March 13, 2020 (8:00 AM)
It seems like every time I look at my newsfeed there is updated information about the coronavirus. Here in Michigan things are developing especially rapidly—and we are trying our best to keep pace.
In conversations with our location pastors and the Task Force over the past week, we laid out three “red lines” that we felt would require an immediate and proactive response.
Guidance from the State of Michigan requesting religious institutions no longer gather
Local public school systems closures
Positive test for COVID-19 in our congregation
In the past 24 hours, multiple school systems have closed in SE Michigan, and the latest guidelines from the State of Michigan is to refrain from gathering in groups of 50 or more. Thankfully, no-one associated with Grace has tested positive for the coronavirus. Still, in light of the other two developments, we’ve decided to suspend our weekend services for Sunday, March 15. We will evaluate on a week-by-week basis, but are preparing to be without in-person services for several weeks. We didn’t make this decision out of fear, but as a service to our community. One of our primary roles as the church is to defend the defenseless. By not gathering in a large group, we can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and in doing so protect the vulnerable in our cities.
But we do not cease being the church simply because we miss a week or two of Sundays gatherings. As we’ve often said, “the church is not a building we visit or a meeting we attend. It’s a people we are becoming.” We will continue to pursue Christ together, even if we aren’t swapping stories over coffee in the lobby or worshipping shoulder to shoulder.
Instead of an in-person service this Sunday, we will stream a service on the Grace website (www.gracechurch.city) and Facebook starting at 9:30am. It will be available in its entirety anytime after the stream begins. I don’t want to oversell it, but it’s going to be an all star cast! Zach, Dave & Sung will all make an appearance. Matt and Tyler will lead worship. We won’t even be able to tell if you fast forward through the boring parts. You will have to make your own coffee, though. Please join us on Sunday as we (virtually) gather to learn, grow, and follow Jesus together.
March 12, 2020 (8:00 PM)
This evening, we made the decision to cancel this Saturday’s Wild Game Dinner and postpone our Raising Your Child in Faith and Membership classes until further notice. If you already purchased a ticket to the Wild Game Dinner, staff will be reaching out to refund your ticket.
Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we continue to navigate the ever-changing situation with COVID-19 and respond as best we can.
March 12, 2020 (2:15 PM)
As a church, one of our core values is that of mission—identifying and meeting the needs of those both inside and outside our church community. This includes the physical well-being of our community. For many, the uncertainty of coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused fear and anxiety in our workplaces, schools, and daily life. How should we, as the church, respond?
We can look to the example of the early church who were known, during the plagues that swept the Roman Empire, to move into affected areas and provide care and comfort for the sick. I’m not recommending in any way that we physically move to hard-hit areas in the United States or abroad. But I am saying that our goal should be to provide care and comfort—both physical and spiritual—to those around us. This is a real opportunity for us to be the Church.
Though transmission of the virus per the CDC for the general public in Michigan is still considered low risk, we’ve been closely tracking the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) both locally and globally and we want to take precautionary measures to create a safe and healthy environment for us all to gather and worship. In addition, we are asking you to take precautions to keep yourself and others safe, especially in light of recent developments with the Coronavirus.
As things develop, we will continue posting updates on this page.
Here are the steps Grace Church is taking.
We’ve established a Task Force of professionals and experts to provide guidance and advice regarding our response. We are blessed with doctors, infectious disease specialists, and state health department employees who are on the front lines, and are willing (eager, in fact) to offer their time to us.
We are taking our lead from the CDC and the State of Michigan. We’ll follow their recommendations for both personal and organizational safeguards.
Our communication team is ready to provide up to date information (like this email!) based on the recommendations we receive.
Starting on Sunday the 22nd, we will have our services live-streamed on Sunday morning so that you can still be a part of our gathering, even if you choose to stay home. This Sunday, we will have the Ann Arbor recording up in time for you to tune in at 11 AM.
Sunday services are still planned as usual. Our staff and team members are ready to serve. Any changes will be communicated on all available channels—social media, email, website, etc.
We are taking extra steps to minimize potential exposure on Sunday mornings. Staff and team members will be cleaning every high touch surface multiple times on Sunday.
Offering baskets won’t be passed, but instead put at each sanctuary door.
Coffee will be served instead of being self-serve, and we’re removing all food and snacks on Sunday.
Greeting time will not include any handshakes. Any way that our staff and teams can make the church cleaner and safer, we will try to do.
What can you do?
If you or your family members are sick, please stay home except to receive medical care. If you suspect you may have COVID-19, call ahead before going to see a healthcare provider.
If you are a high-risk individual (an older adult or someone with serious chronic medical conditions like: heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease), stay home and don’t attend Community Group. We love you too much to put you at risk.
Look for ways to serve your neighbors, co-workers, and friends. I can’t emphasize enough how scared people are looking for reassurance right now. Be that hope to them and share what you have.
Pray. Pray for those who are infected or sick, those who are lonely because of isolation or quarantine, and for all those who are afraid. Pray against discrimination and panic. We know our God is greater than this disease, and he hears our cries.
Let me say again that we have an opportunity to love in a sacrificial way. We are making every effort to be wise and safe while taking seriously the mandate to love and serve those around us. Check on your neighbors, call the elderly you know, and ask for help if you need it.
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