Hello church! The days ahead are unprecedented.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV says, "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
The reality of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is largely uncharted waters, definitely unknown in terms of our current social and electronic world. As a leadership team, we met and decided to lead the church in a particular direction. The decisions we made were not made in fear. We made them prayerfully, in love and in self-control. God has called us to love Him and love people and we feel that the decisions we made allow us to accomplish both of those callings while honoring the guidelines laid out for us by our earthly authorities. We would like to outline those changes and decisions for you.
The president has requested that we limit the gatherings in the country to ten people or less for the next thirty days. To accomplish that, for the month of April, we will not be meeting together in person. No Wednesday services, no Sunday services, no youth group, no mom’s group, and no small groups. The leadership team will continue to meet on Tuesdays and on April 28th, we will decide what steps to take for May and beyond. We will be monitoring the ever-changing reality and will communicate with the church regularly.
We plan to live stream lessons on Facebook for Wednesday night. The live stream for Wednesday nights will start at 7:00 p.m. We will also try to have prayer requests. There is a private, closed Facebook group for prayer requests. If you haven’t been invited to the group, please let us know. If you are not on Facebook and would like to submit a request, you can also email to the church email address. (firstname.lastname@example.org) If your request is more private in nature, and you would like it to go to the leadership team only, e-mail one of them directly. We will not reveal prayer requests on the live stream.
On Sundays, the live stream will begin around 10:30 a.m. with the actual service beginning at 10:45 a.m. The service will include a communion thought, announcements, and a sermon as is typical of our Sunday Facebook live streams. Going to online services only will be a different experience, but we are looking forward to the stories that will come out of this time. We would encourage you to take pictures and post your “group” that meets on Sunday. We will encourage each of you to have communion ready where ever you are able to watch the live stream and participate together, at the same time. It will not be in the same building, but it will be together. The deacons will be contacting you regarding communion supplies and live stream capabilities.
There are three ways to access the livestream:
• If you are on Facebook, you can go to the church Facebook page @SouthernTierChurch.
• The service will also be available on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channelUCvx40OnS8W9cAYk SratIc1g)
• If you do not have Facebook or Youtube, you can also view the livestream via our website, www.southerntiercoc.com The livestream on the website does not work very good on mobile devices.
If you have a need, we want to encourage you to reach out to the church. We are not meeting together in person, but the church is not “closed.” We are looking for opportunities to love and serve each other and our community. If you have a physical need, we have five deacon candidates. If you have a spiritual need, our three elders are ready. Justin Coffin is still working and maintaining office hours. We will be asking and so let us know if there is any way we can help.
During this time when we will not be meeting in person, the church will still have financial responsibilities. We were scheduled to reveal and discuss the budget on March 29th. (That meeting will be rescheduled). We would like to encourage you to continue to give financially to support the church, even while we are not meeting together. We also understand that there are many who have lost income entirely or who have reduced income due to the coronavirus closures and that may impact an individual’s ability to give.
There are a few options for you to be able to give if you are able.
1. You can drop your tithe off at the building
2. You can mail your tithe to the church building at:
Southern Tier Church of Christ
351 E Thurston St.
Elmira, NY 14901
If you need a self-addressed, stamped envelope, let us know.
3. If you would like to give electronically, you can send money via PayPal, using our email address: email@example.com. In order to use PayPal, you need to set up an account, add your bank account and verify it. When you give through PayPal, make sure you choose the “sending money to friends and family” option. The other option “paying for goods and services” charges the church a fee to receive it. Using the friends and family option is free.
We will be e-mailing a daily devotional to all members as a way to help stay connected. You can signup to provide a devotional through SignupGenius at this LINK. E-mail your devotional to the night before your selected date (for instance, if you signed up for Saturday, you would e-mail the devotional Friday evening).
Finally, while we may be taking a break from meeting together in person, it does not mean we have to stop interacting with each other. The leadership team would like to encourage daily encouragement and interaction. We would like to challenge you to interact with three people from church per day, minimum. That could be through a text message, social media, mailing a card, or through a phone call. We would encourage you to branch out and not contact the SAME three people every day. Use this time to reach out to people within the church that maybe you do not usually get to talk to. Learn new things about each other. Pray for each other. Learn their favorite bible verse. While this is an uncertain time, there are opportunities for growth individually and as a body. We are grateful for you!