CHURCH UPDATES DURING COVID-19

APRIL 1:

Dear Vineyard Family,
     I pray that you are all doing well under these very unusual circumstances. Never before in history has the whole world at once faced such a dangerous threat as the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day I earnestly pray that not one member of the Grove City Vineyard family will contract the corona virus.
 
     I am writing today for two reasons.  The first is to tell you that I regret having to announce that effective immediately we will be suspending our Sunday services in the parking lot as we pass through the peak of the COVID-19 threat here in central Ohio. I have richly enjoyed our special times of worship from the cars, but as I have said from the beginning, we can only continue them as long as it is safe for us to do so. Now that the virus is in “community spread” mode I am not comfortable risking exposure to our crew of volunteer parking attendants and staff members. I’m sure you have noted how even President Trump’s tone and emotions have changed over the past few days. We are entering a very dangerous time, and the Elders and I are all in agreement that we must proceed with an abundance of caution. I am grateful to all the staff and volunteers who made the services happen, with special recognition of Roman Gaines who made the FM signal possible so we could listen in our cars. We hope to re-open our services in the parking lot as soon as it is once again safe to do so.
 
     In the absence of physical gatherings on Sunday mornings, I am committing myself to a high online presence through the duration of the pandemic. Beginning this Sunday, I will be making a video message available by 9:00 AM each week. These videos will be a full message teaching, with a little creative flair thrown in from the farm. Karen and I hope you will be blessed by what we are planning. I also plan to lead communion this coming Sunday on the video, so if you would like to gather some bread (any bread) and juice (any juice or even water), then we will enjoy the Lord’s Supper together as we do on every first Sunday of the month.
 
     In addition to the Sunday message videos, I am also committing to providing a daily devotional video, beginning tomorrow, April 2. In the near future, I will be joined by Pastor Christian who will also bring some of the daily devotionals as we move forward. These videos, and others we produce, will be accessible via our website and our Facebook page.  We are presently exploring other platforms for easy access and will let you know as they become available.
 
     The second reason I am writing today is to announce a church-wide season of fasting. Beginning today, and continuing through May 10, I am calling all who are able, to enter into a season of fasting with me. I am certainly not expecting anyone to fully fast for 40 days, but I am asking that all who are able, please fast and pray as you are led by the Holy Spirit throughout the 40-day period. I have produced a simple 29-minute video entitled “Fasting 101” as an introductory teaching on fasting and as a refresher for those who may have not fasted for some time. “Fasting 101” will soon be available on our website and Facebook page.
 
     The specific focus of our season of fasting will be to pray diligently for all healthcare and other front-line workers. In our own fellowship we have doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and patient transports, and other medical workers who are literally risking their lives to do what they do. We need to pray for God’s protection on them and their families. We must also pray for others who, by necessity, are unable to quarantine as this virus passes through. They include our police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel and grocery store and pharmacy employees, and so many more that are still required to be fully exposed to this virus as they do what they do. The focus of this fast will be to pray earnestly and specifically for these courageous people.
 
     We will be developing a list of names of people to pray for. If you would like to submit the name of someone for the list, whether inside or outside of our fellowship, please send their name and occupation to us at info@gcvineyard.org.  Also, please, please send in your own name and occupation if you are among those who are still out in population by necessity. We will publish a current list of names you can specifically pray for during this season of fasting and prayer.
 
      I’d also like to remind you that if you have a need, or know of someone in need, please let us know right away by contacting Pastor Christian. We are all working together to meet the needs of the fellowship. Pastor Christian is coordinating our efforts.
 
    Psalm 46:1-2 have become our key verses: “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…”  This is a time to have faith, not fear. This is also a time to walk in wisdom, not foolishness. This pandemic will soon pass. In the meantime, please go out of your way to take wise care of yourselves, your loved ones, and those around you. 
 
Live in faith, walk in wisdom,
Pastor Tom
 
BTW: Thank you all so very much for your faithfulness in tithes and offerings.  You have been such a blessing!  As our regular local and global commitments continue, and as our need to help a lot of people in our community increases, please continue to give of your tithes and offerings online or by mailing to Vineyard Christian Fellowship, 3005 Holt Rd., Grove City, OH 43123.  Thank you so very much.



MARCH 28:

Regarding our Parking Lot Worship Service this Sunday, March 29: If you would like to download and print your own worship lyric sheet and announcements, you can here: Worship Lyric Sheet and Announcements. They will be available on Sunday but encourage you to print your own.


Dear Vineyard Family,


I wanted to touch base with you all to tell you that Karen and I are thinking of you and praying for you every day. We are also joining with you in praying for people around the world who are in even much deeper levels of suffering during the COVID pandemic. Please continue to pray faithfully with us. This too shall pass.


I am excited about tomorrow morning. I realize that some of you may not feel comfortable coming out during these times, and we fully appreciate and respect that. Each person must decide what is right for them to do. But for those who do feel comfortable to come, we are planning to offer another set of worship services in the parking lot again tomorrow morning.


As we endeavor to safely gather for worship, we are doing so in ways that do not violate the medical directives we have been given as a state. “Religious gatherings” are permitted in the Governor’s order, and we will do so with utmost caution. We will be conducting 45-minute services at 9:00 and 11:00, entirely in the parking lot. You may tune in the sound for the service on your car radio at 93.9 FM. Please view the songs and announcements included above.


Given the increase of COVID cases this week, we are insisting that everyone remain in their car for the duration of the service. The church building will not be accessible for any reason. We surely never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we will insist that you return to your car if you choose to get out. 


I am truly looking forward to worshiping with those who feel it is the right thing for them to do. And for those who do not feel they should come out, may I say that I love and respect you just the same. I am praying the same for all of you. And if any of you has a need that we can help meet, please email Pastor Christian and he will be happy to address your need.


Psalm 46 says,
“God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.


These are unprecedented times. We will continue to move forward with an abundance of caution, but we will not fear! God is with us. And if God is for us, then who can be against us? I love you all in Jesus’ Name.



Many blessings,
Pastor Tom


MARCH 26:


Regarding our Parking Lot Worship Service this Sunday, March 29: If you would like to download and print your own worship lyric sheet and announcements, you can here: Worship Lyric Sheet and Announcements. They will be available on Sunday but encourage you to print your own.



Dear Vineyard Family, 
      Wow! Wow! Wow! Last Sunday’s worship service in the parking lot was one of the most positive and memorable experiences of my life! It was so very exciting to safely be together and yet experience the Lord in worship and the Word in such a wonderful and powerful way. Thank you to those of you who were able to come. And we fully respect and support any who decided it was not a good idea for them to come out.  These are challenging days and we must fully support one another in our personal decisions.
 
      We are planning to offer another set of worship services in the parking lot at 9:00 a.m. and again at 11:00 a.m. this coming Sunday morning. For those of you who can come, please take special note of the following:
 
      1. Conducting our worship services is not in any way a violation of the Governor’s order. As I read through the 12-page order last Sunday afternoon, I was pleased to see that there is a stated provision that it is okay for “religious services” to be convened. We are fully supportive of the measures being taken to minimize the impact of COVID-19.
 
      2. The format for this Sunday’s services will be the same, but we are asking that everyone please remain inside of their cars for the duration of the service. We realize that it is somewhat restraining for some of you to passionately worship the Lord from the seat of your car, but that is the best we can do right now, so please remain inside your cars for the 45-minute service.
 
      3. We strongly recommend that you use the worship service sheet with the song lyrics and announcements attached to this email for participation in the service. While we will have carefully prepared and hygienically distributed paper sheets for those who need one, we strongly recommend that you skip this step by downloading the worship sheet for yourself.
 
      4. Please be very cooperative with our parking attendants. Everyone did a great job of this last week and we ask you to please show the utmost courtesy and cooperation with them again this week.
 
      5. To avoid the risk of accidental exposure, we will not be physically receiving an offering again this week. Please continue to give your tithes and offerings online
or by mail (Vineyard Christian Fellowship, 3005 Holt Rd., Grove City, OH, 43123). Thank you so very much for your continuing faithfulness to worship God with your tithes and offerings during this time. You really are a faithful church and I thank God for you!
 
      I am looking forward to worshiping with those who feel it is the right thing for them to do this Sunday. And for those who do not feel they should come out, may I say that I love and respect you just the same. I am praying the same for all of you. And if any of you has a need that we can help meet, please email Pastor Christian and he will be happy to address your need.


     One more thing before I go: Since the Governor’s order encourages us to get outside for exercise, we invite you to come to the church grounds throughout the week to “walk the wall” (the path around the perimeter of the property) for exercise and prayer. You may also bring your kids and their bikes to ride in the parking lot. Please be sure to observe safe distance practices as you do so. We can all catch up on our hugs and handshakes when the crisis has passed. 
 
Psalm 46 says,
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 
      These are unprecedented times. We will continue to move forward with an abundance of caution, but we will not fear! God is with us. And if God is for us, then who can be against us? I love you all in Jesus’ Name.
 
Many blessings,
Pastor Tom



MARCH 20: 

Regarding our Parking Lot Worship Service this Sunday, March 22: If you would like to download and print your own worship lyric sheet and announcements, you can here: Worship Lyric Sheet and Announcements. They will be available on Sunday but understand some may prefer to download their own. We are excited to see how God will move within our service this Sunday!


Dear Vineyard Family,
                As we move toward Sunday, and our first ever Drive-in Worship Service at the Vineyard, I’d like to give you an update on our plans and some more specific instructions that I think you’ll find helpful.
 
                1. Please be very patient with the traffic process both coming to and leaving the service.  We have a definite plan for how we plan to park cars in order to give everyone a clear line of sight to the stage area, so please cooperate fully with the parking attendants.  I’m sure we will learn a lot from the services this Sunday, so things will probably not be perfect for everyone.  If we continue these services in the weeks ahead, we will surely make adjustments from what we learn.
 
                2. Once you get parked, please tune your radio to FM  93.9. This will be a very short-range signal to bring the music and speaking from the stage right into your car.  The actual volume from the stage will not be very high, so you’ll definitely want to use your radio to be able to experience the service.
 
                3. We recommend that you download and print or store on your device the attached sheets for this Sunday’s service. They have the lyrics to the songs we will be singing and other important instructions and announcements.  We will have copies of the sheets available for those who need one, and they have been produced and handled hygienically and will be handed to you at your car by someone wearing gloves if you should need one. But if you print or download your own copy ahead of time, you won’t even have to roll down your window!
 
                4. We will not be receiving a physical offering during the service. We will not be passing baskets or risking the spread of the virus in any way.  Since the local and global financial commitments of the church go on regardless of how we meet, please use the online avenues for your tithes and offerings (www.gcvineyard.org) or you may also mail your offerings to Vineyard Christian Fellowship, 3005 Holt Rd., Grove City, OH 43123. Thank you.
 
                We will be concluding the 45-minute service with a time of prayer which the pastors will lead from the stage.  There will be no need for anyone to get out of their cars at any time during the service.
 
                I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to worship with you this Sunday.  I know we won’t be able to hug or even shake hands, but I believe the Lord is going to do something powerful among us.  Please continue to pray! 
 
Many blessings,
Pastor Tom



MARCH 19:

Dear Vineyard Family,
          As we move into another week of the COVID-19 crisis, we rejoice that none of our own fellowship has become sick and that in so many ways the church is pulling together to take care of each other and the community in such loving and sacrificial ways. You guys are awesome!
 
          I also rejoice that in the face of such understandable social restrictions, the Lord has blessed us with a plan for having safe Sunday morning worship services. As I was praying on Wednesday morning, I “saw” a picture of a flatbed trailer in the church parking lot with cars pulled up around it.  From the trailer we were leading worship, prayer, and preaching the Word in a dynamic way. And the cool thing was that no one was even getting out of their cars!
 
          So I am very excited to announce that beginning this Sunday, we will begin to offer “parking lot church services” at 9:00 and again at 11:00. Each service will last about 45 minutes and will include all the regular features of our typical worship services PLUS a moment for the kids from Heather!  We will have a sound system on the stage, but you’ll actually also be able to tune in the service on your own car radios. How cool is that?! 
 
          We’re very excited to have you all come safely to church this Sunday and never even have to get out of your cars.  This way we will be able to gather for worship and enjoy the move of God’s Spirit, while cooperating with the directives given by our President and our Governor. In doing church this way, we will we not be risking the spread of the virus through social contact. Thank You Lord for such a wonderful solution!
 
          As you may already know, regular groups and special events at the Vineyard are cancelled for the time being. We don’t know exactly how long this will last, but we will make decisions and communicate with the church on at least a weekly basis.  In the meantime, we encourage people and even groups to stay connected and caring for one another by phone or other digital platforms. This is also an excellent time to explore RightNow Media as an option for great Christian teaching and entertainment for the whole family.
 
          I truly hope you’ll come to join us for worship at 9:00 or 11:00 this Sunday morning. I think it’s going to be amazing. Please be patient with us as we learn how to do this. Please also cooperate with our parking team members as they will be giving careful direction to car parking as you arrive to try to give everyone a clear line of sight to the stage from their cars.  Thank you.
 
          Hang in there family. While we still don’t know how long this virus is going to disrupt our lives so severely, we are stilled loved and held by our Mighty God and Heavenly Father. He has this and as I plan to share from the flatbed on Sunday morning – If God is for us, then who can be against us?”
 
Many blessings,
Pastor Tom
 
BTW: We will be safely receiving an offering this Sunday morning.  But if for any reason you would prefer, please feel welcome to utilize our online giving options by visiting our website page www.gcvineyard.org/giving.  Thank you for your faithfulness in tithes and offerings in these trying times. 


MARCH 17:

Hello Vineyard Family,
          As we move through this global COVID-19 crisis together, I’d like to take a few moments to talk about the essential difference between caution and fear. Caution, by definition, is the act of deliberately exercising extra awareness and care in a given situation. Fear, by contrast, is a defensive action stemming from a sense of impending doom, whether real or imagined.
 
          The Bible tells us more than 300 times not to be afraid. While fear is a natural reaction in the face of true danger, it is meant only to be a short-term response to cause us to escape the immediate threat. When a bear jumps out of the bushes and charges in our direction, fear is meant to immediately propel us away from the danger. But fear is not a good long-term strategy for dealing with difficult situations. Plus, beyond escaping momentary and imminent danger, fear doesn’t look good on God’s people.
 
          Caution, however, is a helpful strategy for dealing with difficult situations. The Bible calls us to use caution in many situations. Words in the Bible such as “beware” speak of the importance of being cautious in certain potentially destructive situations. When God called Joshua to lead His people into the Promised Land, He told him to “be very careful.”
 
          When I am driving my truck and I approach a road crew with a worker in a fluorescent vest holding a temporary sign that reads “slow”, I immediately drive more cautiously than I was before. I am certainly not afraid, but I immediately become more careful and deliberate as I pass through the work zone and emerge safely on the other side. I am cautious because the situation is different than normal and because the road construction is creating a temporarily higher risk level that must be respected.
 
          As the Elders and I seek God’s guidance to lead our fellowship through this time, please know that we are not allowing fear to impact any of our decisions. The Bible says, “If God is for us, then who can be against us?” We are not the least bit afraid. But we do feel called to be cautious. Our decisions about worship services and meetings and ministries, are made out of a prayerful sense of caution, but not the least bit out of fear.
 
          As we pass through this temporary “work zone” caused by COVID-19, we simply see the word “slow”. So exactly how slow we go will be determined as we see what the situation is, which seems to change on a daily basis. So please continue to pray for us as we daily seek the leading of the Lord, and please continue to use caution in your own life as we move through this season together.
 
          Karen and I love you all and pray God’s protection, blessing, and wisdom on you and yours. Please continue to watch for our emails, or visit the church website or Facebook page for current announcements and schedules. And please call on us if we can do anything to help you through this time.
 
Many blessings, Pastor Tom


+++++++


A message from Pastor Christian:


In light of the President’s appeal yesterday to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10, we have decided to cancel our Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon prayer gatherings this week. However, this is certainly not the time that we would want to stop praying. Over the course of history, the people of God have seen miraculous answers to prayer as they humbled themselves and turned to their God in dependent prayer, particularly in times of trouble. In 2 Chronicles 20, when the Moabites and Ammonites entered Judah in the hopes of ransacking the city of Jerusalem, we’re told that all of the people of Judah came together to seek the Lord. And while seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat their king prayed this prayer: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. …If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.” (2 Chronicles 20:6,9). 

The Lord heard the prayers of Jehoshaphat and the Israelites, and their land was saved. 

Certainly we too follow a God who is capable of hearing us and saving us, and we too are at a moment in history in which we need to call out to God in our distress. Now is the time to cry out to God and ask Him to intervene. And so this is what we would like to do: Beginning tonight at midnight, we will begin praying for our nation and our world in hour long prayer slots from our own homes. You can sign up for a slot by following this link.

Feel free to sign up for as many slots as you would like, and feel free to double up at certain times as well. While it would be amazing to fill up all 24 hours each day, whether we fill up every slot or not, we should find encouragement in the fact that throughout the day our brothers and sisters are praying from home. And if you would like helpful prompts for your prayer time, please this Prayer Guide.


MARCH 13:

We are living in unprecedented times. Never before has a single virus spread so rapidly around the world as what we are seeing in our present battle with COVID-19. As new information continues to become known to us, it becomes clear that this disease carries a devastating potential that must not be ignored.

After an abundance of seeking the Father’s heart in prayer, the Elders and I sense the best thing to do at this moment is to not hold our regular worship services for this coming Sunday, March 15th. This has come out of a deep concern for the health of our people, and those in the community with whom we may come in contact. We are unanimous in this decision and believe it to be the very leading of the Lord.


In lieu of a worship service this Sunday, Pastor Christian has agreed to pre-record the third message of the “Jesus in HD” series that he was planning to preach. We will be posting that on our website (gcvineyard.org). It is also available on iTunes (Apple Podcasts – search Vineyard Christian Fellowship Grove City). The recording will be available for listening or download by 8:00 AM on Sunday morning. We encourage you to have a time of personal or family worship.

As a staff, we have already begun to take considerable precautions in terms of deep cleaning the church facilities and its items. Yet we, as Elders, feel led to act out of an abundance of caution with respect to the larger gatherings of our Sunday morning worship services, at least for this week. We will continue to remain in earnest prayer as we assess this situation on a week to week basis.

In terms of the other ministries of the church, we are currently planning to continue as usual unless the leader of that specific group or ministry feels led otherwise. I will be communicating with small group and ministry leaders to encourage them to do whatever they feel is best for their situation on a week to week basis. But even if your group is meeting, please use abundant caution and common sense in participating, and please do not attend any group or event if you are not feeling well.   


May I also state what is becoming obvious but ever so important. If you are feeling any symptoms of any kind then please do not come to church functions or go out in general population at all.  Also, we will be “holding our hugs and handshakes” back until the COVID-19 crisis has abated.  If you feel any reservation about being in public, please give yourself permission to miss church and church events until you feel it is okay for you to come. We understand, and we fully support your decisions.


We are going to get through this.  We are not going to be ruled by fear. God will carry us through. We will very prayerfully make decisions along the way that are reflective of our clear sense of the Lord’s leading. But rest assured – we are going to get through this under God’s Mighty Hand!

Thank you so very much for your faithful prayers for us. We are humbled by the privilege of leading the fellowship under God’s clear guidance. Please continue to uphold us in prayer as we move forward. We are surely praying for all of you as we go through this crisis together.

 

Praying for you,

Pastor Tom and Elders

 

BTW: On a practical note, I’m sure it seems obvious that our local and global ministry expenses continue whether we meet on Sundays or not. I respectfully encourage you to please send your tithes and offerings into the church office (3005 Holt Rd., Grove City, OH 43123), or use our online giving option by visiting our website at www.gcvineyard.org. Thank you so much for your continuing faithfulness. 

"a church for people who didn't think they'd like church"

You may have heard it said before, "just come as you are". But we REALLY mean it! Come as yourself, with all your baggage. We don't want the cleaned up version of you. We want the real you, and so does Jesus!

So, please...come as you are. Our service times are on Sundays at 9 & 11 a.m.