UPDATE – APRIL 1, 2021
TFC Family and Friends,
The Lord Jesus is alive and he sits at the right hand of God the Father interceding even now for the church he loves and has bought with his precious blood. In this resurrection season, may the joy of new life in Christ fill your lives with gladness!
It was just over a year ago that words like social-distancing, pandemic, quarantine and “flatten the curve” were thrust to the forefront of our thoughts and decisions as families and as a church body. It has been a rough road, and though far from over, we rejoice in the mercies of God and his provision for His church. None of what transpired over the last year surprised our unchanging God who continues to rule with sovereign goodness and wisdom. The Lord has reminded not only his church, but the nations of this world, that we are finite and utterly dependent upon Him. He is our rock and refuge and the only deliverer for those who call upon him.
Trusting in the Lord’s good providence and the care of our Heavenly Father, we seek to walk in step with the Spirit of truth and the wisdom of his word. God’s Word shapes us and shows us how to exercise our love for Him and for our neighbors. We pray that the decisions we have made as a local church in the last year, and those to come, will demonstrate our love for God and neighbor in a way that encourages us to trust and deepens our faith.
Through the course of this pandemic, we have tried to assume a posture of minimal restriction so as to avoid alarm and fearful decision-making. As a congregation, you have responded with love, respect and patience and we are profoundly grateful. In the weeks ahead, we will resume gatherings freely in the space and capacity the Lord has provided with physical distances as appropriate for healthy human interaction. If you would like to wear a mask, please feel free to do so. If you would rather not wear a mask, please feel free to do so. May we continue to extend the love and respect for others that we desire be extended to us.
In the aftermath and lingering effects of this pandemic, we want to highlight the need for the church. We need to gather together as the church and our virtual experiences over the last year have only validated the spiritual, emotional and social importance of this. The church in general, and TFC in particular, cannot compete and was never intended to compete in a virtual marketplace. Online services can be helpful in extenuating circumstances (ex. 2020!), but the idea that one can just pick a convenient or attractive church service online completely misses God’s design and intention for his people.
We cannot emphasize this enough. Our Heavenly Father has graciously given us what we need the most to mature as disciples and members of Christ’s body. Regular worship together, praying together, Bible study together, meals together and serving our neighbors together are all means of God’s grace to grow us. We must proactively seek these opportunities to encourage and be encouraged in the faith if we are to gain any ground in the battle against indwelling sin, the allures of this world and the attacks of the Devil. Active participation in the local church is the norm for disciples of Jesus Christ.
Trinity Fellowship has a well-balanced online presence that includes information about the church, resources, liturgy, updates, giving options, and audio/visual of the sermon. There are also links to social media platforms from the website. As important as this online presence is for communicating with as many people as possible, it is absolutely no substitute for in-person participation. Please share our website with others, but more importantly, share the value and importance of life in the church with others and invite them to join us!
Warmly in Christ,
On behalf of the Session of TFC
UPDATE – NOVEMBER 12, 2020
TFC Family and Friends,
I want to encourage you on this beautiful November morning to “press on” in the knowledge of Christ and the power of his resurrection. Press on in love and service to your families, your church and your community. The Lord has given us another day to fall more in love with him and to testify to his mercy and grace in our lives.
Thank you for showing love to one another and respecting the decisions of your brothers and sisters in response to the spread of COVID-19. It can be difficult to discern what is true and accurate about the symptoms and spread of this virus, but it is a genuine illness that continues to impact families in major ways. We have witnessed its impact on our own families and continue to pray for perseverance and relief. The virus will continue to spread and likely touch us all in some way at some point. Despite the promising news of treatments and potential vaccines, responsive measures to slow the spread of the virus are not going away any time soon.
As a church, it remains our desire to respect the guidelines of the state while pursuing the freedom and necessity of worship and the fellowship of the saints. We will continue to gather in person for worship, Sunday school, small group and fellowship activities while encouraging the recommended physical distance and mask wearing. Please keep this in mind when filling the sanctuary for worship or when greeting one another before and after the service. Extra care should be taken during fellowship meals and those times where we must be in closer proximity.
I am so thankful for your patience and response as a church family and especially thankful that we are able to gather in person. This year has brought challenges like most of us have never seen before, but the Lord remains on His throne and continues to provide for His people in ways we could never imagine.
Our trust and hope in the Lord remains in every season, and we live with gratitude in the times appointed for us by His good and gracious hand. Whether it’s cultural pressure, social anxiety, personal fear or political noise, the mission and message of the church goes on. We have life forever in Jesus and Jesus is our life today. He is our peace, and soon “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
So we set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, and when our Lord Jesus Christ appears we will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:2–4). Come, Lord Jesus!
In the Love of Christ,
On behalf of the Session of TFC
UPDATE – JUNE 17, 2020
TFC Family and Friends,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:2–5) I love these introductory words from the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi, because it captures well the heart of this pastor and leader. He loves the church, he prays for them and blesses them for sharing in the Christ-exalting gospel movement of the day. He finds great joy in knowing them and sharing life in Jesus.
I too am filled with joy and gratitude as I think about and pray for you all in the body of Christ that is Trinity Fellowship. To live and serve the Lord with you is a unique privilege, and that partnership in the gospel that Paul speaks of is alive and continues in the local church. If you are reading this update it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask yourself, “Am I partnering in the gospel ministry of the church? Is my heart inclined to worship and the pursuit of fellowship and service in the church?” There is no shortage of struggles, temptations, fears, and distractions that keep us from the means of the grace that God has provided, but it is precisely in such times that we need His grace and assurance the most.
Praise God we are gathering again in the sanctuary for worship! Keeping some physical distance, wearing masks inside, and reducing the handling of common items has its challenges. However, it really is a small sacrifice and act of service to worship together, encourage one another, and remind each other that the church remains in the midst of so much change.
As of this update, the state has moved into “Phase 2” of the reopening Arkansas guidelines. This loosens some restrictions on fellowship and gathering indoors for other meetings (i.e. Christian education). The number of tests for COVID-19 in the state has increased significantly, which means the number of positive cases have also increased. Thankfully, the vast majority of these positive cases have come with little or no serious symptoms. Please continue to pray for those most affected by this illness, and for Governor Hutchinson and his advisors as pressure mounts to reopen the state even while the cases of the disease increase.
The Session of TFC is no less concerned for the physical and spiritual welfare of our church family and neighbors than in weeks past. We are considering the guidance for places of worship carefully, as well as the general response of the congregation to this guidance. These have not been easy decisions, and we thank you for your patience and discernment when gathering in a large group. Those of you who may not be feeling well, are more vulnerable, or work in places where there may be higher risk of exposure have served the rest of the body well. Thank you and we miss you! Just a reminder that the order of worship, sermon, and giving is all available on the church website.
Moving forward, the Session will continue to wear face masks while indoors for worship and in a spirit of unity we encourage the congregation to do the same. We are not communicating that masks are optional at this point, but if you choose not to wear a face mask indoors, we strongly encourage you to keep one with you when physical distancing is harder to maintain. Face masks will be available on the table in the entry way. Physical distancing, sanitization, and refraining from physical contact outside the family unit as much as reasonable remains the expectation. A little motto that I have adopted when outdoors is, “If you can’t keep the space, then cover your face.” The Session is hopeful that such a position will be the case indoors in the near future. We are assessing the effects of this response each week and will keep you informed.
It remains uncertain when we will begin Sunday school for all ages. We would like to finish the spring term over the summer, but it is looking more likely that classes will resume in the Fall. Bible studies and other small group or team meetings are encouraged to meet in person with appropriate physical distancing or using an online platform over the summer months. The small group ministry of the church (most commonly referred to as “MCGs”) will see some significant changes beginning in September and you can expect more information on that in August.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading a lengthy update. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to come to me or another member of the Session. We are listening, and we desire to be faithful in a place and time that looks very different than any of us could have imagined. In stranger and more fearful times than many of us have ever experienced, the words of Puritan Pastor John Flavel ring true, “There are hard texts in the works of God, as well as in the word of God. It is becoming for us to be reverent.”
The Lord is good and faithful. He is our Rock and Refuge. He is the One who keeps our lives and He will keep His church in the face of all adversity and evil.
Grace and peace in abundance,
UPDATE – APRIL 29, 2020
TFC family and friends,
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1). Though we have not gathered in person for worship in almost a month a half, our God is good, and He is working in us for the glory of his name. I am so very grateful for each of you, and pray that the hope we have in the finished work of Christ alone has been and will continue to be an anchor for your soul. Reading and meditating on the Psalms these last few weeks has been an important reminder for me, and I trust for you as well, that we have an unshakable refuge and strength in this storm.
Let’s be encouraged and press on in the confidence of our God who is wisely and powerfully preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions in this pandemic. Here are the beautiful words that the Heidelberg Catechism uses to describe God’s providence and our response to it:
Q. 27 What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.
Q. 28 What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and still upholds them by his providence?
A. We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from his love; for all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot so much as move.
The elders of TFC have been thinking over what it will look like for us to come back together again for worship and other group activities. We are adhering to the guidance of the Governor of Arkansas and trusted medical professionals as to when it would be appropriate to gather again, what mitigation policies we would like in place at the church, and what risk we are willing to accept.
We intend to follow the proposed phases for reopening that will slowly expand the number of people that can meet together with appropriate distancing and protective measures. The Session strongly believes that once the state can reasonably advise gatherings of 50 or less people, we will resume worship in the sanctuary. We will likely place some restrictions on the more common areas (i.e. fellowship hall, nursery, cry room etc.) in the first few weeks we come back together, but you can expect those to be minimal. We want to be wise, but we are also eager for God’s people to meet together again in worship, study, fellowship, and general care for one another.
The reopening phases are anticipated to begin next week for the state of Arkansas, so unfortunately, we will not be gathering for worship in the sanctuary on May 3. It is difficult to set a date, but it may be later in May or early June before we come together again. Thank you for your patience and faithful support of the church through your prayers, encouraging words, volunteer work and gifts. In God’s good providence this will pass, and as at all times we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Grace and peace in abundance,
UPDATE – MARCH 19, 2020
Dear TFC family and friends,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Prophet, Priest, and King is robed in majesty and worthy of all glory and honor and blessing! It is my prayer that you are running this race with great endurance, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior with each day that He gives. Now is a day of his compassion and patience, now is the day of salvation.
I have some important information to pass along. Based on much time in prayer, the personal perspectives of those we trust, and the general recommendations of both the medical community and government authorities, we have decided to suspend Sunday morning worship services for the next 3 weeks. Given the uncertainty of the situation surrounding the spread of COVID-19, it is difficult to put a time stamp on this suspension. We hope to gather again in the sanctuary for worship at 10:00 am on Easter Sunday morning, April 12th, but we will keep you informed through weekly correspondence. Suspending worship services also includes Sunday School and Prayer and Praise Services. Weekly Bible Studies may choose to continue meeting, postpone their gathering, or meet using a virtual space of some kind.
The assembly of the saints is a vital component of our life in Christ, which made this a difficult decision. We will miss gathering with each of you for prayer, fellowship, singing, and times of feasting from God’s Word and at His table. May the absence of these things make us all the more grateful for the blessing of God and His grace in giving them to us. We look forward with great anticipation to that Lord’s Day when we will assemble again, and even more so to the eternal Day of the Lord when we will rest and feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
We continue to pray for God’s mercy and for the many who are and will be affected by this virus. What is an inconvenience for us in many ways, is an important reminder of God’s sovereignty and providential care. We can take comfort and assurance through the words of the Psalmist, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 33:18–22)
As more non-essential gatherings are canceled, and unnecessary contact avoided, we will keep you informed of our intentions as a local church through email, postings on our website, and personal messaging. You can expect more frequent phone calls and/or video messages from the church leadership simply to “check in”, encourage one another and spend time in prayer. We are also exploring what audio and visual options may be helpful to facilitate worship and study at home or in smaller groups.
The Lord bless you and keep you, and we thank you again for your prayers, patience and embodiment of Christ in this challenging time.
Grace and peace in abundance,
On behalf of the Session of TFC