Letter from Pastor Ben, with the Elders, January 21, 2021
Greetings World Gospel Church,
This past Monday, our elders met to review the WGC COVID response policy. The details follow below, but we stop for a moment to reflect with thanksgiving to God for the rich blessing he has given us in each other as members of the Body of Christ. Through the ministries, relationships, thoughtful outreach, and individual acts of caring that take place in our church family day by day, we have given and received the grace of God that strengthens, unites, and grows us into the image and life of Jesus.
The message of Scripture is that God leads us through challenges not to defeat us but to do eternal things in our lives, things that couldn’t have been accomplished without the weight of difficulty we have experienced. It’s for that reason that we can even rejoice in hardship.
James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Believers can rejoice in the confidence that no challenge is wasted because of the active sovereignty of God ensuring our increase in the life and likeness of Jesus, and COVID and its challenges are no exception. Whatever God has next in store for us, let’s face it with confidence, joy, and faith and, in so doing, guard and strengthen the working of God in our midst and to all those he has called us to reach with the life-giving Gospel.
In November, the elder council responded to a strong spike in COVID cases both in the community and our church family by increasing COVID mitigation measures according to some guiding principles:
• Ensuring that our practices do not contribute to the spread of the virus in our congregation
• Honoring government guidance for public gatherings
• Caring for the vulnerable among us
With cases in our church community and the community at large decreasing from November highs and the passing of the holidays, we will resume some of our practices from prior to November 15th as follows.
• Masks are strongly recommended while inside the church building, rather than mandated everywhere on the WGC campus. We recognize that there are legitimate medical reasons that make it impossible for some individuals to wear masks for the duration of a church service. Due to the impracticality of social distancing at children’s and youth events, masks are required for workers and attenders (our youngest children will remain unmasked).
• We will continue to observe social distancing in our seating
• The congregation will be dismissed as a whole, versus in sections or row-by-row. Those who would prefer to leave prior to the general dismissal are free to exit before then
• Nursery will resume beginning Sunday January 24th
• Attenders at WGC are encouraged to seek and create space for connection and community. Information will be forthcoming on resuming life groups
The relationships we share amongst us at WGC are a precious gift of God and a grace by which we live a life of flourishing obedience to Jesus. As possible, whether by a phone call, letter, personal meetings, or other means, let’s actively seek to nurture these relationships for our good and the glory of God. Our ties will flourish as we live in the character of Jesus as described in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Finally, we continue as an elder council to request your prayers for God’s wisdom for each step of leadership. Satan would love to defeat the Gospel here during this time to sow division, suspicion, coldness of heart, and personal offense where the Holy Spirit would lead us to unity, believing the best, warmth, and mutual honor. We put our confidence and trust in the sovereign hand of Almighty God and remain committed with you to the trust God has given us.
In Christ’s love,
Craig Reynolds, Elder Council Chair
Dr. Eric Beachy, Elder
Ben Burdick, Senior Pastor
Letter from Pastor Ben, with the Elders, November 18, 2020
Dear World Gospel Church family,
Before providing an update on the elders’ meeting with regard to our church services, I want to say how encouraged the elders and I are by the gracious response our church family has had to the COVID policy update last Sunday. Your cooperation means so much to the ongoing ministry operations of the church and serves as a tangible act of love for one another. My heart is full of gratitude for being part of our loving church family.
At our Monday meeting, the elders prayerfully concluded that in-person worship gatherings for adults and children would continue as described in our last elder update letter with ongoing evaluation guided by the following principles:
- Continuing to strongly encourage those who are in high-risk categories to worship virtually, which we are now glad to offer in livestream format. This would also apply to those isolating due to exposure or a positive test result.
- Ensuring that our practices at church meetings are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
- Monitoring known instances of infection within our congregation to ensure we avoid an imminent period of high risk.
- Honoring a government request during an emergency period to avoid in-person meetings, such as in the event of a stay-at-home request from the governor.
I’m grateful to serve with a group of leaders whose faith is strong and who thoughtfully weigh their decisions in godly wisdom.
As believers, we expect to “meet trials of various kinds,” but we also have the assurance that “the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness,” which will shape us into fully formed followers of Jesus (see James 1:2-4). God is doing things in our souls, amidst the challenge and loss, that have eternal value through these difficult times.
And, God is at work in the wider body of WGC through this time to open new doors for reaching out with the good news of Jesus. One example is a ministry called “Kids in Community Connection” (KICC), and it is reaching a group of children in our community in a new way through tutoring, relationship, and witness to Jesus. That would not have happened without this pandemic. Also, in general, people’s habits have been shaped differently because of pandemic disruptions, meaning new opportunities to connect and serve at home, in the neighborhood, and in the community at large. That has meant new opportunities to witness to Jesus and live out the gospel with greater impact. We are finding, like Paul did while imprisoned, that “the Word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:9 ESV). Be encouraged—God is at work. How might he work through you today to speak and live the gospel with the people you encounter?
We face these days as a church body confident that where God leads us he will sustain us with his endless grace, unrestrained mercy, and almighty power. And, we remain confident in the power of the gospel of Jesus in every period of history.
In Christ’s love,
On behalf of the Council of Elders
COVID Response Letter - November 12, 2020
Dear World Gospel Church Family,
As most of you are no doubt aware, our community has experienced a dramatic increase in cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks. It is affecting our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our healthcare facilities, and has also begun to affect our church, as we have had members of the WGC family test positive.
The governor of Indiana has implemented new restrictions scheduled to take effect November 15 limiting the size of allowable social gatherings based on the severity of the pandemic in individual counties and reinforcing the statewide face covering mandate. At this time, Vigo County would be limited to gatherings of 50 individuals, but we are trending toward a more restrictive limit of 25.
It is important to note that religious services are explicitly exempted from these limits. We are grateful to our political leaders for recognizing the importance of individuals gathering together for the purpose of worship. However, churches have, sadly, also been an important site of COVID-19 transmission in many areas of our state, including in Vigo County. We, as the Elders of World Gospel Church, desire to do all we can to help prevent the spread of this disease. We see this as an important illustration of the “Love People” and “Serve the World” aspects of WGC’s mission statement. We also believe that this is a significant opportunity to be good witnesses for Christ to a world in great need of his love.
At this time, it is our desire to continue to meet together for worship services if we can possibly do so safely. In order to accomplish this, we will be implementing a few changes. First, nursery services will no longer be available until the current COVID-19 trends are reversed and we feel it is safe to resume them. Secondly, we are strongly recommending that individuals in high-risk groups due to age or underlying medical conditions attend services virtually. Obviously, any individuals with potential COVID-19 symptoms or who are under a quarantine or isolation recommendation should also not attend.
Additionally, we are strengthening the COVID-19 mitigation practices in place at WGC. In compliance with the governor’s statewide mask mandate we will be requiring the wearing of a face covering at all times on the WGC campus. This includes the entire duration of our worship services, even when seated and socially distanced. We will also require the practicing of physical distancing before, during and after services and any other church-related events on the WGC campus. This will include youth activities. If any individuals are unable or unwilling to comply with these requirements, we would request that they choose not to attend in-person services and instead maintain connection with the church through our on-line recordings of services.
It is not our desire to exclude individuals from worshiping with us. However, given the current trends, we believe these practices are absolute necessities for us to be able to continue to meet together. If we as a congregation are unable to meet these conditions, it is very likely that we will not be able to continue to meet in person, a contingency multiple churches in our area have been forced to by virtue of COVID-19 activity in their churches.
The Elders will continue to prayerfully and vigilantly monitor the situation. We have an Elders’ meeting scheduled for Monday, November 16. At that time we will be evaluating how this Sunday has gone and deciding on appropriate courses of action going forward.
Thank you again for all you have done to serve each other and to bless World Gospel Church as we navigate these uncharted waters together! Please continue to pray for the Elders as we seek God’s wisdom and seek to align ourselves and WGC with God’s purposes.
In Christ, on behalf of the Elder Council,
Craig Reynolds, Elder Council Chair
Dr. Eric Beachy, Elder
Pastor Ben Burdick, Senior Pastor