THE PASTORS’ STATEMENT REGARDING COVID-19

Please read all updates to get a full picture of how we are responding to the COVID-19 situation.

3 April 2020 Update

Dear church family,

It has been almost one month since we last gathered together face-to-face as a local church.  While this season is difficult in many ways, it is encouraging to hear how many of us are still experiencing what it means to be part of a spiritual family in Christ during this time.

As we move forward, we as pastors are recognizing that COVID-19 will not just be a passing blizzard to wait out but a lasting winter to prepare for.  Therefore, we will continue meeting virtually for our corporate church gatherings until further notice and we are starting a Benevolence Fund to help meet the felt needs of our spiritual family and our neighboring communities.

For our corporate church gatherings:

Firstly, we want to reiterate that meeting together virtually is the exception rather than the norm of how the local church should regularly gather. 

The New Testament pattern of church life is that God’s people gather on the first day of the week to worship the Lord together. Of course, gathering virtually was not an option in the first century, but nothing sufficiently replaces the live, face-to-face experience of God’s people gathering together to sing songs to the Lord and to one another, to submit to the preaching of God’s word, to enjoy fellowship, and to regularly take of the Lord’s Supper as one body.

With the current limitations of this pandemic, we are doing our best as a church to still gather together virtually as an exception.  But may this not produce a contentment for virtual gatherings, but a deeper longing for the norm of the regular, embodied gathering of God’s people. 

Secondly, we will be live streaming our corporate church gatherings via Zoom starting this Sunday (5 April 2020).

Rather than meeting virtually in separate mini-groups on the Lord’s Day (albeit following the same order of worship and sitting under the same sermon), we believe that it is important for the whole church to gather together at the same time and place as best as possible.

For all of our corporate church gatherings, we will be using Zoom as our virtual platform; you can download Zoom here.

Thirdly, we will be taking communion together as one church virtually during our Good Friday Service (10 April 2020) and Easter Sunday Celebration (12 April 2020).

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, please prepare personal servings sizes of bread and “the fruit of the vine” (e.g. grape juice, wine) and have them ready to be taken before Good Friday Service and Easter Sunday Celebration begin. We will take of the communion elements together during our virtual services according to the instructions from the officiant.

Regarding other corporate church gatherings where communion will be observed, we will give advance notice to prepare the elements beforehand.

For our Benevolence Fund:

In light of Christ’s goodness, kindness, and generosity towards us when we do not deserve it, we also want to do good, be kind, and give generously to those around us.  This is the reason why our church has set up a Benevolence Fund. Especially amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, there is (and will be) much need for such benevolence within our spiritual family and with our neighboring communities.

We are currently finalizing protocols and will soon begin forming a Benevolence Committee to steward the use of the Benevolence Fund in consultation with the Stewardship Team under the leadership of the elders. Applications for financial assistance will be made available shortly afterwards.

We are encouraged that members have already been giving towards the Benevolence Fund, and we are working hard to make it available to those in need soon.

Thank you again for your mutual understanding, flexibility, and care during these times. May the God of peace be with us all!

Love,

Your Pastors


17 March 2020 Update

Dear church family,

Within the last week, the World Health Organization has strongly recommended that Indonesia “scale up emergency response mechanisms including the declaration of a national emergency,” and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan have both urged the practice of social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Therefore, we will NOT be gathering physically but we WILL be gathering virtually for our corporate church gatherings for at least the next two weeks (until Sunday, 29 March 2020).  To be clear, this is not a decision made out of fear and panic—for we have a secure and living hope in Jesus Christ—but one made out of respect for our government and world health authorities and out of love for our neighbor amidst extreme circumstances.

For Sunday Celebrations, we will meet virtually in mini-groups, which our LIFE group leaders will help coordinate.  Video sermons will be available on Saturday night and should be watched before gathering virtually in mini-groups on Sunday morning/afternoon, where there will be corporate worship, brief discussion on the sermon passage, and prayer together.  A guide for children’s worship will also be made available for parents with young children.

For LIFE Groups, we will likewise meet virtually in mini-groups on your normal LIFE Group day and time, where there will also be corporate worship, discussion on a brief text of Scripture, and extended time to share and pray together.

For Prayer Gatherings, we will NOT have normal prayer gatherings (originally scheduled for HMCC-JKT on 20 March and for HMCC-TGR on 27 March).  Instead, we will meet virtually in LIFE Groups as described above.

For classes, we will postpone all classes until further notice.

Thank you for your understanding and flexibility during these times, and please keep an eye out for future updates.

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Love,

Your Pastors


15 March 2020 Update: UPDATE FOR HMCC-JKT ONLY

Dear church family,

As there have been recent developments in the last 48 hours, the pastors need to communicate some further changes to our plans for this weekend, specifically for HMCC of Jakarta only.

In HMCC of Jakarta, we were originally planning to gather all together for Sunday Celebration.  However, several people who play key roles in our corporate church gatherings are beginning to show signs of sickness (though only mild symptoms). In normal situations, they would feel comfortable joining, but given our current situation with the coronavirus pandemic and the precautionary measures we are taking as a church (per our previous pastors’ statement regarding COVID-19), out of love for fellow members, they will not be joining until they are no longer exhibiting signs of sickness.

Therefore, given the short timeframe, we will NOT gather as a large group for Sunday Celebration at Lotte Shopping Center today (Sunday, 15 March 2020).  As of now, we are still planning to gather in subsequent Sunday Celebrations, making appropriate provisions to mitigate similar situations in the future as best as possible.

However, we are still planning to gather in mini-groups for Sunday Celebration at various locations today.  Our LIFE group leaders will help coordinate these mini-group gatherings, where we can worship, receive God’s Word through the video sermon that we will provide, and pray together as God’s people. If there are people who are not involved in LIFE group but regularly come to Sunday Celebration, please personally invite them to a mini-group gathering today.

We also encourage everyone to still follow the guidelines recommended in our previous statement regarding healthy hygiene practices and self-quarantine (if applicable).

Please look out for further updates and thank you for your understanding and flexibility during these times.

Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Though these are difficult times locally and globally, let’s continue to help each other hold fast to the hope that we have in Christ and be light to those around us.

Love,

Your Pastors


13 March 2020 Update

Dear church family,

We are in the midst of uncertain and anxious times right now with the recent coronavirus, COVID-19, being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and the steps countries and organizations around the world are taking to prevent its spread.  In terms of individual responses, we may be all across the spectrum (from “business as usual” to overwhelming fear), so as pastors, we felt the responsibility to lead in giving clear guidelines for our corporate response as a church family.

The pastors have sought counsel from Scripture and prayer, historical precedent of similar cases (and the church’s responses), health-care professionals, other local churches, and other reputable sources (e.g. the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, etc.), and have agreed to take the following next steps.

As of now, we are still planning to gather in Sunday Celebrations and LIFE GroupsWe believe that it is important that the church continues to meet together in order to be rooted in the Gospel and to minister to one another and to those around us, which is especially important in light of current events (Heb. 10:23-25).

When we do gather together, we ask that everyone take the necessary precautionary measures:

  1. Avoid close contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, etc.).
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Stay home if you exhibit symptoms.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw the tissue in the trash.
  5. Wash your hands after coughing and sneezing.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  7. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  8. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

For all our church gatherings, we are asking anyone who is showing symptoms of sickness to not come. Furthermore, if you have recently travelled by plane or cruise ship, we strongly suggest that you self-quarantine for 14 days from your arrival date to Indonesia, even if you do not feel flu-like symptoms. This is to monitor yourself during the incubation period of the virus. We ask that all travelers take this precautionary measure of self-quarantine as responsible global citizens in our efforts to stop the spread of  COVID-19. Also, please inform your LIFE Group leader and/or pastor if you have travelled. Here is a self-quarantine guide for your reference: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/self-quarantine-covid.pdf.  And if the above apply to you, please inform your LIFE Group leaders and the pastors. Please especially seek medical help if you are showing signs of sickness.

For Sunday Celebration, we will do temperature checks with a non-contact thermometer at the door; if your temperature appears to be 37.5 C or above, you will not be permitted to enter, and we strongly recommend that you seek medical help. For those who are unable or uncomfortable to attend in person, we are currently looking into options for live-streaming our Sunday Celebration, but for the time being, you can access all of our sermons in audio form on our church website, and we encourage you to find other ways to stay connected to our church family.

For LIFE Groups, we will allow each (mini) LG to decide whether they meet in person, through video call, or through some mix of the two based on the members’ ability and comfortability; again, especially during this epidemic, we believe that it is important to meet together (in whatever medium possible) in order to be rooted in the Gospel and to minister to one another and to those around us.

Personally for me (Andrew), I will be returning from Bangkok, Thailand tonight (Friday), and Nickey and I have made the decision to self-quarantine for 14 days.  Our reasoning is that we want to be responsible in not putting people at risk and in joining the global community in restricting the potential spread of COVID-19.

Some might believe we are going too far in our COVID-19 response; others might believe we are not going far enough.  We want everyone in our church to decide for themselves, according to their own consciences, whether they will attend our church gatherings in person or not.  Regardless of our decisions, may we treat each other with love: if you are inclined to attend in person, please observe the necessary precautions and treat those who choose to stay home with grace and understanding; if you are inclined to not attend in person for a period of time, know that you will not be judged and remember to treat those who do choose to attend in person with grace and understanding.

This situation is obviously changing quickly, so we will be reevaluating week-by-week and will update our church of any further changes that may arise.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of the pastors.  We are available to offer prayers and care for anyone who needs support during this global crisis.

In closing, we want to encourage us to respond in three ways:

  1. PRAY: Pray for governments and health-related agencies in preventing the spread and discovering a vaccine for COVID-19, for health care workers in caring for the sick, for those who are infected to be healed, for the general population to be protected, for Christians to be light amidst this situation, and for all around us to be saved by the hope we have in Christ.
  2. WORSHIP: Worship God for who he is; for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ; for his grace and presence with us now; and for the imperishable, undefiled, and unfading hope that we have and await with eager anticipation (1 Pet. 1:3-9).
  3. LOVE & SERVE: Amidst COVID-19, we want to be careful but not consumed by current trials; as our hearts are consumed by worship of God, may we respond with steadfast trust in him and steadfast love and service for those around us, that they may see all the more clearly the hope that we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”  May we find refuge in Jesus Christ and point the world to Him as our refuge in this time of trouble.

Love,

Your Pastors