Author Archives: emmaus

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Clarification on our reopening policy

Emmaus Family,
I wanted to write and clarify a couple of things for our service Sunday.
1. Face Masks: I have been made aware that my video discussing the steps for our reopening seemed to some that it was a requirement that masks be worn. Others have shared that it was clear that it was a request. What that tells me is that I was not clear enough. For that I sincerely apologize. I am not a scientist, doctor, or a politician, so I am not sharing my personal opinions on masks, nor does the leadership of Emmaus have a conviction on the use of masks. I would however like to clarify our request of face masks. Simply put, we are doing our best to adhere to the guidelines given by the Governor.
The Governors Phase One Mandatory Requirements for religious services state:
“It is recommended that persons attending religious services be encouraged to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times”
This wording is (of course) vague, because it is in the “Mandatory Requirements” section, but it says it is a “recommendation”. The way I read that is that it is mandatory for us to encourage that people wear faces masks. This is not a requirement for everyone who attends. This is an issue of wisdom, conscience and grace. People have differing opinions on the use of masks, but we as Christians need to focus on the truth that unites us as believers. We are unified by our trust in Christ, not our beliefs about the Coronavirus.
I you are not able to wear a mask, or choose not to, you may still attend our services. We do ask however that we all strive to maintain the unity of the body by not passing judgment on those who differ in their practice.
“In essentials unity, in non-essentials freedom, in all things LOVE!”
2. Offering: If you are going to bring an offering this Sunday, please place it in a sealed envelope and drop it in the offering plate on the table outside either on your way in, or out. Otherwise, our online giving option is still available.
3. Bulletin: We will not be handing out bulletins this Sunday, Julie has sent out the order of service for this Sunday.
Again, I am sorry for the confusion, and hope that this brings clarity. These are unprecedented times, and as a pastor, I never thought that a facemask could be a potentially divisive issue in a church.
Please pray for wisdom, and unity in our body, and most importantly, that God would be Glorified in how each of us responds to this.
Soli Deo Gloria
United by Christ,
Bryan (on Behalf of the ECC Leadership)
Here are the Mandatory requirements for religious services that were given by the Governor. The full document can be found at:
Mandatory Requirements:
Religious services must strictly adhere to the following requirements:
* Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the room or facility in which the religious services are conducted.
* Individuals attending religious services must be seated at least six feet apart at all times and must practice physical distancing at all times. Family members, as defined in Executive Order 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three, may be seated together. Mark seating in six-foot increments.
* It is recommended that persons attending religious services be encouraged to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times (See CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance for more detailed information.).
* No items must be passed to or between attendees, who are not family members as defined in EO 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three.
* Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable and used only once and discarded.
* A thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces must be conducted prior to and following any religious service.
* Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.
* Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding social distancing, gatherings, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick (samples at the bottom of this document).
* If any place of worship cannot adhere to the above requirements, it must not conduct in-person services. Other suggested guidance for faith communities and funeral directors can be found below.



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ECC Reopening Plan

Check out the video explaining everything HERE

Emmaus Family,

With the new instructions for the re-opening of Virginia, we are not able to use more than half of the capacity of our building. In light of this we want to get an idea of who is planning to attend services this week. If you don’t feel comfortable coming because of your health situation, or you just want to be careful, that is fine. We want to trust in God, while also being wise in this time.

Therefore, if you would please let us know if you plan to attend this Sunday service, please send an email with your name and how many people are in your family that will be attending By This Friday, May 15, 2020.

 We are going to use these responses to know if we need to have sign ups for services or accommodate for overflow. The total number of people we can have in the sanctuary depends on how many people from each family will attend since family members may all sit in the same pew, but single people will need to sit six feet apart.

The Elders and deacons met last night to discuss our plans for reopening. Below are the steps we are taking to both cooperate with the guidelines given and also to care for everyone who may attend. Based on this Sunday’s experience, we may alter some of these plans.

Phase-1 Plan for Reopening:

Sunday mornings:

  1. Service will be as normal as possible. 
  2. No Children’s ministry, or nursery, or Sunday School. 
  3. Kids sit with their own family. 
  4. Use sanctuary door for entry and exit, propped open. All other doors locked. Please come in and stay in your pew.
  5. Prepackaged communion elements will be on a table outside the front door.
  6. Only the upstairs bathrooms available for use.
  7. One family per pew, two couples, or 3 singles.
  8. Every other pew in use. 11 total. We will block rows not in use.
  9. Practice physical distancing: Maintain 6’, No hugging, or shaking hands. 
  10. Please wear face masks.
  11. Sanctuary windows will be open for airflow. 
  12. We will be cleaning and sanitizing the building before and after the service. We will also have hand sanitizing stations in the entrance to the building and outside the restrooms.
  13. We encourage anyone who has been sick to stay home. Facebook live will still be as normal. 
  14. Please exit the building immediately after the service and fellowship outdoors. Ushers will dismiss by rows. 

 

 

 

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Staying Connected During Physical Distancing

The past several weeks have brought some significant changes to all of our lives for sure. While this time took us by surprise, we know it did not take God by surprise. He is sovereign over all disease and all trials. He will use this time for our good and for His glory, of that we are sure.

There are ways that I see God working in this time that I would not have thought of. In the time since the stay at home order, our family has had almost every supper together. That normally doesn’t happen during this season as we have multiple kids in sports, and I am often pulled away several nights a week for church meetings. Our kids who are often sleep deprived have been taking advantage of the opportunity to get some much needed rest. We have also been able to tackle a few projects around the house that have been put off for a while.

There are also significant challenges though. Many of our church members are in the “at risk” demographic for this virus and have been shut in since the order. We also have several members who are out of work, or have seen their income decrease in this time. This has been very difficult for sure.

What I wanted to write about today is the ways that I see the Lord stretching us as a church in this time. I have said this before, but I want to explain it a little more.

1. The first area of focus that I believe we need to be proactive about is connecting with one another if whatever ways we can right now. We may not be able to visit with one another on Sunday mornings, but that does not mean we cannot connect. In fact, we should be connecting in the other ways that we can. Through technology. This can be phone calls, emails, face time, as well as other ways that I want to tell you about. We live in an amazing time where our physical presence is not a requirement for connection. This in no way is a replacement for physical presence, but it can provide opportunities to connect. We can still share what is going on in our lives, pray for one another, care for one another, and encourage one another. I am so  thankful for the ways that God has created for us to do this. Which leads to the second area of growth for us as a church.

2. The staff and leaders of ECC are on a steep learning curve of technology during this time. We are trying to still get content out to our members and kids that will hopefully help everyone to stay focussed on Christ and His work during this time. some of these things have been in place for a while, and some of them we are just getting started with.

As you most likely know, we have been streaming our services for over three years now. Fortunately right before everything hit with Covid-19, we had finished getting a new camera set up for the sanctuary. This has greatly improved our ability to record and live stream our services with much higher quality. This was a great gift to be able to move immediately to online service as soon as the stay at home order was given. If you want to stream our services, even if you don’t have a FaceBook account, you can follow this link to view our page. While I would never say that it is ok to stay at home on a regular basis and watch virtual church, when we have been ordered to not meet in groups of 10 or more, this does provide a way to bring worship and teaching to our congregation. Our online service is not the church, but it does provide a way for this local body to be fed by the same teaching from the Word. As an aside, it also give potential visitors a taste of what our services are like on Sunday mornings.

In the meantime we have also been getting up to speed with Zoom meetings and live stream prayer meetings. They have been going well. We hope to be hosting some zoom meetings that are open to the whole church soon, look for emails on that in the next week.

We also have an Emmaus Family Facebook group that you can request to join if you are on Facebook. If you are unsure how to join it, please give me a call.

Mr. Clayton has been doing some creative videos for the kids to watch as well. These have been very good, and are getting better each week. I created a YouTube channel for the church a few months ago as we were deciding which live streaming platform works best. I have been posting videos of sermons there, as well as some videos for the women’s ministry. Our goal is to continue to make these as a supplement to our face to face gatherings, when we are able to have them again. You can also see some of the videos we have been making on our YouTube account, HERE

Again, being the church is about gathering to worship, but it doesn’t stop there, it is also about scattering to proclaim the truth of Jesus to one another and to the lost. My prayer is that when this season is over, we will be strengthened in our love of the gathering, and in our ability to scatter to share the Good News of Jesus to all we interact with.

 

In Christ,

Bryan

 

 

 

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What we are doing about the Coronavirus…

Emmaus Family,
 
Over the past several days there have been increased concerns over the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and its impact on our community as well as our church body. Local officials have closed schools for the next two weeks and it seems our area will most likely be affected by this virus. The Elders of ECC want to be proactive and appropriately cautious as we enter this season. Acknowledging that we are not experts and that this is an unusual circumstance, we have been seeking wisdom and advice from others, including; first responders who are on the front lines, local church leaders, and other trusted sources. 
 
We are primarily reminded of the fact that, as Christians, we have no reason to fear! We know that God is sovereign over all things, including viruses. This event is not a surprise to Him and He will use this circumstance for His glory. We know that fear does not come from God and (2 Tim 1:7) that God has ordained all the days of our lives (Psalm 139:16).  Scripture repeatedly commands us not to fear, but to trust God in all circumstances. Conversely, we also need to use our God-given discretion and wisdom to avoid unnecessary risks, trusting that God will be with us in this circumstance, just as He is with us in everything else. We all trust God’s sovereignty, but that does not stop us from wearing seat-belts when we drive. 
 
We, as a church body, need to be mindful of what is going on in the broader community. The global trend shows that the advent of this virus into communities quickly overburdens hospitals and doctor’s offices with a quantity of patients they do not have the capacity to adequately treat. Although it may seem unnecessary at this time, prudence dictates that we all take appropriate steps to limit the spread of this virus, just as we do with familiar sicknesses like the flu or the common cold.
 
Additionally, we need to ensure we are properly caring for our local body.  We have several people in our congregation who fall into the high-risk category for the virus.  It is our Christian privilege to care for them by first limiting exposure opportunities at this juncture and, if necessary, providing practical care should they become exposed elsewhere.  Consequently, we find it prudent to temporarily modify our Sunday morning routine to exercise that primary care.
 
 As a result, here are the changes for this Sunday based on the recommendations from those respected experts. 
 
1.       We will have Sunday Worship as scheduled. If you have any symptoms, please stay at home but be sure to let us know so that we will know to check-in with you in the following days.  If you are healthy but feel safer staying at home please feel free to do so. We do encourage you to join our Facebook live feed and worship with your family at home. If you do come to the service, please be mindful to limit close interactions others and wash your hands with soap. 
2.      We request that you enter the church through the large doors at the rear of the sanctuary.  We will have someone at the door to open it for you to limit contact to common surfaces.  There will also be hand sanitizer available for use.
3.      All classes, including nursery, children’s ministry, and Sunday school, are cancelled. 
4.      We have cancelled youth group for this week. 
5.      Small gatherings (men’s and women’s bible studies etc.) will be held at the discretion of the leaders of those groups. 
 
The elders also want to be on the lookout for ways that we can boldly give aid to our community in this time, stepping out in faith to serve if this does become a significant event in Powhatan. Please be praying for ways that we as a church can care for those in this community who will be affected. We want to be an example of faith and not fear, and display a faith in God that will bring Him glory in this time when people are realizing how little control they have over their own lives. This is a time for the church to be the light on hill, so that all who are in darkness will see a people who are unshakable, and have full confidence in a sovereign God who controls the wind, the rain, and the Coronavirus! 
 
ECC elders

 

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Elders and Deacons

Over the past several years ECC has been going through a deep change in the polity (government) of our church. We have moved from a Board of Stewards model of leadership to the structure that is found in scripture. We have re-written the bylaws of our church to institute the offices of Elder and Deacon. These two offices are clearly established in the New Testament as the offices of church leadership.

The Elders of the church are men who serve the church as spiritual leaders. Instead of having one pastor, we now have four elders, who have the same responsibilities and commitment to the body of ECC. They are called to lead, feed, care for and protect the congregation of ECC. The men nominated and affirmed by vote on June 2, 2019 are  Lew Combs, Jon Lowery, Scott Sheridan, and Bryan Holt. We were ordained by the congregation as elders on September 8, 2019. Within the new by-laws, I am still the paid pastor who is equal in calling and function to the other elders, but I have been tasked with responsibilities and roles that compensation frees me to accomplish. My primary role is the main preaching for the Sunday worship service, along with other duties that take time and preparation.

The deacons of the church are men and women called to care for the practical needs of the church. Their duties are varied, from caring for the building and grounds to overseeing benevolence. These leaders were ordained as deacons on September 8, 2019. The deacons of ECC are: Page Allen, Arlene Booker, Phil Sparks, Bart Haddix, George Holt, Jason Habel, and Tom Verbeke. Aside from any duties relating to the day to day functioning of the church, they have also been assigned several families each to reach out to on an ongoing basis to pray for and see if there are any practical needs that those families have.

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This is an exciting time for our body as we are already beginning to benefit from the leadership and care of these leaders. However, the process to implement this new change is one that we are taking our time with. There are many aspects of the church that will be affected by this change, so we are taking our time and addressing things at a measured pace. We have been looking at ways to redistribute the leadership of various ministry teams in the church. We have tackled our education team and have already seen a number of people step up to help serve in the areas of children and women’s ministries.

There is much more on the horizon, and we are taking the long view as we approach changes and new ideas. Along this whole process, we have seen the hand of God drawing us towards this change as well as supplying qualified men and women to fill the roles of leadership in this body. Soli Deo Gloria!

Bryan

 

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Praise In The Park This Sunday!! Oct 13, 2019

Every year in the Fall, we take one Sunday and worship at Powhatan State Park. It is always a great time of worship, fellowship and food!

Join us at 10:30 at Shelter #1. Let the gate know you are with Emmaus and we will cover your parking fee. Lunch to follow the service.

 

4616 State Park Road

Powhatan Va 23139

 

 

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VBS 2018 is Almost Here!!

June 24-28 2018

Register HERE

Join us for our Vacation Bible School, where kids will have fun while learning from the Bible. This year we will be discovering Jesus from eternity past to eternity future.


VBS activities begin Promptly at 6pm, in the Sanctuary.  Please arrive 10-15mins early (coming into the Sanctuary doors) so we can get them checked in.  


Each night will conclude around 8:30pm, in the Sanctuary.  Please arrive around 8:25pm for pick-up.


Side Note:  For those of you who have joined us in the past–Welcome Back!  For those of you who are new–we are excited to have you!  We wanted to let you know that this year we will NOT be serving dinner at VBS.  The kids will enjoy a light snack during their game time.


Please let us know if you have any questions.  We are very excited and looking forward to an awesome week!!