AHC Regathering Statement

See the Plan for Regathering for service details.

The last several weeks have been historic.  We have lived through an enormous amount of emotional strain caused from every direction – stay at home orders, unemployment, employment at essential businesses, fear, the opinions of others, school closures, media, and the list goes on.  However, despite it all, the true church of Jesus Christ continues to shine strong and is doing well in the midst of a global pandemic.

Churches care about people more than any government ever will.  Because of this, most churches in Pennsylvania felt it best to voluntarily stop in-person gatherings to join the fight against COVID-19 in the early days when there was little understanding of the virus.  This temporary pause in gatherings has been successful, as the curve has been flattened.  We now have gained valuable data on the virus and its effect on the populous we desperately needed.

Churches in Pennsylvania were never forced to stop meeting in person, only strongly encouraged.  The government does not have the right to forbid churches from meeting.  Pennsylvania has not arrested pastors and is not sending police to investigate churches.  In fact, many churches across the state have continued to meet in person while taking the recommended precautions involved with social distancing.

However despite the best of technology, a pause in church assembly in person can only last for a brief period at most.  As Jake Kail, speaker, author, and lead pastor of Threshold church, said, “Social distancing is ultimately incompatible with Christianity.  In other words, it is impossible to adhere to social distancing guidelines and fulfill basic Christian practices.”  We are nearing the end of this pause.  The discussions surrounding the length of “the pause” has been incredibly complex.  Churches are trying to find balance in obeying the Lord, having concern for public health and safety, tending to the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of their congregations, honoring unprecedented governmental orders, processing the ever-changing information (and misinformation) surrounding the virus, and the strong and varied opinions of the public.  Despite what the public may think, there is not a simple and easy “one-size fits all” answer for churches.

The government and much of the public believe that online church is equivalent to in-person church.  However, all of the following foundational practices inherent to who we are as followers of Jesus cannot be accomplished effectively in the midst of social distancing.

  • Water baptism
  • Receiving communion together
  • Laying on of hands for leadership, anointing, healing, and commissioning
  • Assembling together• Corporate prayer
  • Fellowship with one another
  • Anointing the sick with oil
  • Worshipping together in song

All of these are foundational practices for us as followers of Jesus Christ.  It is disastrous if the church begins to slip in its commitment to any one of these foundations.  Naturally, they are to be protected and practiced even in spite of danger and opposition.  The persecuted church does not stop doing these things because they might be beaten, imprisoned, or killed.  Why?  Because as the church, these things define us.  The idea that the church can stop meeting in person for long periods of time is simply unfounded.

One of the most grievous aspects of this pandemic has been watching believers belittle and undermine churches who have continued to meet or who are making steps to re-open before the government lifts all restrictions.  These individuals fail to see the complexity of the situation and recognizer that churches are truly essential.  The media has enjoyed highlighting the few cases of virus transfer as a result of church assembly.  It is time we stop the blanket statements such as, “If Christians really loved their neighbor they wouldn’t go to church,” or, “If you don’t comply with all of the government’s orders, you must want people to die.”  People need grace; churches need grace.

We must all understand the answers are not simple.  If churches choose to remain online, they must not be judged as “not having enough faith.”  If churches choose to re-gather, they must not be judged for their convictions to serve people in a wise and safe manner.  Each church is in a unique situation based on the demographics of the congregation, population, COVID-19 cases, etc.

After much prayer, discussion, consideration of government recommendations, and counsel, the leadership team of Abundant Harvest Church has made the decision to re-gather in person on Sunday, May 17th.  We believe the time is right to provide this option for those in our church family who choose to worship together in person.

The leadership team has agreed upon several modifications to our weekly gathering in order to provide utmost safety for all.  We understand that many will still be uncomfortable with re-gathering at this time and will prefer to engage via the online platforms of Facebook and YouTube.  We support this choice.  Furthermore, we strongly encouraging anyone with pre-existing medical conditions to continue engaging online.

In conclusion, we are confident the time is right for Abundant Harvest Church to re-gather.  Take note of upcoming temporary changes in our statement, Plan for Re-Gathering.   We support the decision to stay home for anyone with concern to re-gather.  Thank you for your understanding and support as we do our best to be the church of Jesus Christ in the midst of this pandemic.

All for Jesus,

Pastor Tim

 

 

 

 

 

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Mission
The Mission of Abundant Harvest Church is making, equipping, and inspiring disciples who Commit to obeying Christ, Cultivate their relationship with Christ, Connect others to Christ, and Care for one another.