COVID-19 update (March 18)

Dear Oak Hills Family –

As you may have expected, the time has come for us to suspend all in-person gatherings, including our Lenten Rice and Beans dinners and Sunday worship services. In compliance with new regulations about public gatherings, and in solidarity with our entire community in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, we will not be meeting physically on Sunday mornings until further notice.

In the meantime, I hope you will join us as we worship together online. Our Sunday worship service each week will be posted to our new YouTube channel here.  The service will be available online by Saturday afternoon, so you and your family can worship at a time of your choosing.  Song lyrics and prayers will be emailed Friday afternoon, so that you can follow along and participate in worship right where you are.  During this unusual season, we’ll be studying the book of Philippians together, learning from Paul how to remain “joyful in prison.”  I am excited to share these teachings with you!  I encourage you to read Philippians ahead of time on your own – its not long, and its deeply encouraging.

In lieu of our weekly Sunday offering, we put together an online giving option, which you can access via our website www.oakhillspres.org under the “give” tab.  This is a totally secure, seamless way to contribute remotely, or to set up a regular automatic withdrawal. I am grateful for the faithful giving of our congregation, which allows us to provide our church staff with continued income during this time of financial uncertainty.

Here are some of the ways our elders are responding to this crisis – I share these to encourage you and to invite you to share in the unique ministry opportunity this moment represents:

  1. We have freed up $3,000 in funds from our Backpack Buddies account to make an immediate financial contribution to the Wichita family center, a resource center that serves many of the same families we normally serve through our lunch bag program. 
  2. We are delivering the Backpack Buddies food stores we currently have on hand to food banks for immediate distribution.
  3.  Our Care Team has begun a special “calling and cards” campaign to reach out to those in our congregation who are sick and/or isolated.
  4.  Our Staff and Elders have committed to calling each member of our fellowship, to check in and provide a listening ear.  Expect a call from one of us soon!
  5. We are working to brainstorm creative ideas to allow our church family to meaningfully connect and worship together during Holy Week and Easter.  Stay tuned for more information.

Please be aware, office hours at the church may be variable during this time.  If for any reason you need to visit the office, call ahead (503-654-4321) to make sure Sue Howard or myself is here to let you in!

As we navigate this time of isolation, Pastor Christy has pulled together some helpful online resources for spiritual growth, for both kids and adults! The message below is from her:

Hello Oak Hills Families! 

As we all hunker-down in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Oak Hills wants to provide you with resources to help you continue your family’s Christian education at home. Studying God’s word as a family is super important. This is a strange time in our lives, but we can use it to start great new habits and make deeper connections within our families. Parents, as you lead your family through devotions, your children get to watch you model Christian leadership. You are witnessing to THEM, and that witness is really powerful!  Here are some resources to help you do that: 

1. my.bible.com        

This website is FULL of amazing resources for all ages. 

It is completely free, but you do need to sign up. After you sign up (and confirm that you’ve joined through your email account), go to the “plans” icon in the top left corner. Next, click the green “discover” button at the top of the page. Now you will see tons of options for bible reading plans. These aren’t just lists of bible verses, they are internet-based devotionals. As you scroll down, you will see different categories of reading plan. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll see plans for youth and then plans for children. If you have both children and youth in your family, I would recommend using both resources in a group together. Some plans are designed for individual use, some for families, but you can always discuss any subject together as a group. Some of the plans under the Kids categories are:  

Jesus-Centered Family Devotions

My Place in God’s World 

Indescribable: God and Science

Hope Kids

Final Note: When you sign-on to my.bible.com, you have the option to read on your own, or connect with friends online. It would be pretty cool if we found each other via the website and encouraged each other in it. I am signed-on as Christy Polk, and I will receive friend requests. Have fun with this!! 

2.  https://www.watermark.org/blog/bible-timeline

Watermark Church in Texas offers a really neat timeline that can help kids better understand the Bible as one great story of God’s plan for us. There is a timeline, a printable PDF and flash cards. I really want to do this with my kids! 

3.   https://www.creativebiblestudy.com/Bible-seeker.html

The Bible Seeker devotionals on this website are simple and sweet, though the site itself is a bit cluttered with ads. Still a nice resource, though. 

Let me leave you with a promise from Philippians, which we will be studying in the coming weeks:

“My God will fully satisfy every need of yours, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Oak Hills Church, let’s cling to that promise!  And share it with others…

Yours in Prayer,

Jeremy

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way…” – Psalm 46

Dear Oak Hills Family:

You’ve heard me say it many times, because scripture reminds us so many times: Don’t be afraid.

That is the most important thing I want to communicate today.  Christians are called to channel our fear into prayer.  We serve a risen Savior.  He calls us to courage, to love, and to wisdom.  

In light of that calling, and after much deliberation and prayer, our session has made the following decisions:

We will hold both normally scheduled worship services on Sunday, March 15th.  We do so out of a commitment to the urgency of worship and of spiritual fellowship as a core value for Christians in every time and place.  Christians gathered for worship during the plagues, they have gathered in wartime, they have gathered under persecution.  Out of respect for these forebears in the faith, and in order to make spiritual fellowship available at a time when so many of us are isolated and afraid, we will keep our doors for worship open on Sunday.

HOWEVER – the mitigating concern, and an equally important Christian value, is the love of our neighbors.  Right now, loving our neighbors means taking every precaution to prevent the spread of disease.  Therefore, we ask that ANYONE WHO IS SICK, or has a family member who is sick, or who falls into a vulnerable category – elderly, compromised immune system, pre-existing medical condition – exercise an abundance of caution and choose to stay home for the time being.  We are experimenting with digital video recordings of our worship services and will make them available as soon as we can.  In the meantime, know that every Sunday sermon is available digitally for download on our website (https://www.oakhillspres.org/sermoncast/).

For those who choose to join us for worship, be aware of the following:

-When you enter the doors of the church, a greeter will provide you with a squirt of hand sanitizer.  This is not optional. If you are allergic to hand sanitizer, please let the greeter know and proceed to the restroom to wash your hands.

-When finding a seat, please preserve some space between yourself/family and adjacent worshippers.  (There should be plenty of space this Sunday!)

-Refreshments will not be served.  Due to the confined space of our fellowship hall, we encourage worshippers to disperse following worship rather than mingle in close quarters.

-Due to their close proximity when they sing, the chancel choir will be on hiatus and will not sing this Sunday.

-Adult Sunday School both hours is cancelled.

-We will have children’s Sunday school as usual – teachers will ensure that hands are washed before heading to class, and that craft materials, etc. are not shared.

On Tuesday, the Oak Hills session will meet to pray and discuss further measures.  We intend to communicate frequently as plans change, and as we discern the way forward.  We are convinced that God is sovereign, and that in times of crisis, the church can be a beacon of light. Please join us in seeking God’s calling for Oak Hills in this uncertain time.  Know that you, and all the members of our fellowship, are in my prayers.

For Christ and His Kingdom,

Jeremy

(from March 11th) Just a quick update as our church family navigates the uncertainties of the Covid-19 infection:

As of now, we are not seeing church closures or cancellations called for in our area. We will continue to hold gatherings and worship services as regularly scheduled until further notice.

We have taken extra measures to disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, door handles, etc. on our campus, and will provide hand sanitizer and extra tissues throughout the premises. We will continue to refrain from “touch” contact during the greeting time in worship.

IF YOU ARE SICK, experiencing fever, cough or other flu-like symptoms, please refrain from attending, both for your sake and the sake of others who may be vulnerable.

If you are presently healthy but feel the need to avoid gatherings due to a compromised immune system, preexisting conditions, or simple caution, please do so. No one should feel pressure to participate beyond their own comfort level.    

Finally, please join me in choosing to pray rather than panic. The uncertainty of this situation can cause profound anxiety. In such times, we as Christians are called to two things very clearly:

  1. To love our neighbors – both by exercising caution so as to limit the spread of disease, but also by providing a listening ear and a loving presence where we can, bearing witness to the hope that Christ gives us in uncertain times.
  2. To pray – for God’s grace and mercy, for protection for those who are vulnerable, for doctors and caregivers, for leaders and decision makers, for scientists seeking vaccination, for all who are afraid, and for hearts and minds to turn to him.

Thanks in advance for your partnership in prayer as we seek to walk faithfully through an unprecedented situation.

Yours in Christ,
Jeremy