Update on Resuming “In-Person” Gatherings.

We will NOT be meeting “in-person” at the church this Lord’s Day, May 10, 2020, but will continue to meet this Lord’s Day, as we have, via Facebook Live at 10:30 am.   

Our Session will meet Tuesday, May 12, to review our plans and procedures for resuming in-person gatherings, both for worship and for smaller groups, such as Bible study.  Please pray for your elders as we meet.

We will consider what must happen before we reopen, what cleaning must be done, what our procedures will need to be implemented for social distancing, and what aspects of worship will be affected by contact precautions.  

Furthermore, we are also working to be technically ready to continue live streaming from the sanctuary, for those who need to be more cautious about returning. 

This past Monday, May 4, Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson released “guidance” regarding the resumption of “in-person” gatherings for Houses of Worship and other large venues.  This guidance encourages churches resuming “in-person” gatherings, to practice some measure of social distancing.  Here is a link to the Governor’s recommendations.

It is important to note, as did the Governor, that this is just guidance.  While we are not bound by it, it is reasonable guidance and will not be considered lightly.  

Our move to on-line worship was not required by or in response to any directive from our civil magistrates.  We, as a Session, elected to do this out of Christian prudence and a responsibility to properly care for one another.  (See citation from the ARP Directory of Public Worship below)  We will seek to continue to respond in a way that provides the best spiritual and physical care of our congregation.

If you have questions, concerns or comments, please speak to me or one of the elders as we prepare to meet next Tuesday. We are thankful for God’s favor to provide for and protect our congregation during this time.  We pray for wisdom as we continue to grow in His grace together.

In Christ, Pastor Wheeler

Certain matters or circumstances concerning worship have not been fixed by a definite rule in the Holy Scriptures, such as the order of worship which is to be followed, the appointed time or place for the gathering of God’s people…. In such matters or circumstances, the church must be guided by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.  The service of worship shall be under the authority of the minister and the session.  

ARP Directory for Public Worship, II.3, 5.

COVID-19 Survival Guide

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In the exercise of Christian prudence and in response to calls for social distancing, our elders have decided to limit our corporate gatherings to online only. Below is a quick reference guide of links for you to use as we live life together as a church, online, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

  1. We will gather at 10:30 am via Facebook Live.  This stream will be simulcast both to our Pottsville ARP Facebook page.   If there are technical issues or if you are not on Facebook, the video will be posted on YouTube for later viewing.
  2. The service will be simple.   We will have a call to worship and response, I will lead us through our confession of sin, assurance of pardon, and confession of faith.  Then we will share a time of teaching.  Our service will conclude with a pastoral prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and then the Benediction.
  3. Each week we will post a full order of service which also includes the lyrics to some of the songs included on the YouTube playlist.   You may listen to these or sing them together in your home gathering.  We will not sing them together via the live stream.
  4. Continue your giving by giving online or for other options go to the Giving link on our website.  
  5. Pray for one another and check in with one another via phone, text, email, social media and even cards and letters.

COVID 19 Update

Each month as we come to the Lord’s Table we are reminded that our fellowship there extends much further than that table.   As we move out from the Lord’s Table to every other table in life, you hear exhortation from Hebrews 10:24-25.

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.

But in the brave new world of social distancing how can we continue to live life, “not neglecting to meet together.”  The word translated, “meet together” means to bring together at one place or time.  Yet, the origins of this word emphasize the fact of gathering and the unity of gathering, not the location of the gathering.    For this reason, the Westminster Confession and our ARP Directory for Public Worship view the “where” of worship as one of those circumstances that must be ordered in light of “Christian Prudence.”

“Certain matters or circumstances concerning worship have not been fixed by a definite rule in the Holy Scriptures, such as the order of worship which is to be followed, the appointed time or place for the gathering of God’s people … must be guided by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.” ARP Directory of Public Worship, II.3

Why is the important?  Because we take seriously the importance of corporate worship in the life of the Church.   But at the same time, our elders, in exercising their care and oversight for the congregation, must weigh carefully how to balance the demands of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Commandments.   

We believe that faithfulness to these commands demands that we continue our Lord’s Day gatherings only via live streaming at least through the month of April.   All other gatherings for prayer or Bible study will take place through video or audio conference.  Our Session will meet the first week of May to reassess our plans going forward. 

We will gather each Lord’s Day at 10:30 am via Facebook Live.  This stream will be simulcast both to our Pottsville ARP Facebook page as well as to the River City ARP Facebook page.   If there are technical issues, the video will be posted on YouTube for later viewing.

The service will be simple.   We will have a call to worship and response, I will lead us through our confession of sin, assurance of pardon, and confession of faith.  Then we will share a time of teaching.  Our service will conclude with a pastoral prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and then the Benediction.

I will email a full order of service each week which includes the lyrics to some of the songs included on the YouTube playlist.   You may listen to these or sing them together in your home gathering.  We will not sing them together via the live stream.

Of course, some elements of gathering are hard to reproduce as we practice social distancing: fellowship, service, and giving.

Experience fellowship through the means of virtual communication.   Take time to revive the old custom of writing letters and cards to one another.  And, of course, use all the modern means God has given us.  

Serve one another.  Find out what others need.   You may be surprised by the needs of others.  Need for conversation, need for encouragement and of course practical needs.

Continue, or begin, your faithful giving by giving online or for other options go to the Giving link on our website. But if you prefer, you can either:

  1. Mail your tithes and offerings to:  Pottsville ARP Church c/o Matt Wylie, PO Box 156, Pottsville, AR 72858 or
  2. Set up “Bill Pay” from your online banking to send a check to the address above.

One of the remarkable things about the church is that it is a community that creates culture, it is not a community created by culture.  It thrives and flourishes in every place, in every people and in every language.   It transcends its circumstances and creates community and culture no matter what soil it is planted in.   God has placed us here as the church in a very unique time in our history.   Graciously He has also given us remarkable means to express our community as the Church in a way that enables us to meet together even when we are not together physically.  

This pandemic will end.  When it does, some things will go back to the way they were before, but in God’s providence, there will be many things we learn from this trial about living life together and about engaging our world with the gospel that will change us as the Church.  Now is not the time for fear, but a time for worship.   I look forward to seeing you online this Lord’s Day at 10:30.  

How to Survive the Pandemic

The video above explains our rationale and our plans for how we will move forward with corporate worship in the midst of calls for “social distancing.” The video outlines a few important steps to participate in our virtual gathering on the Lord’s Day. These are listed below with links.

Responding to Coronavirus

We, like people of every era, live in uncertain times.  Recent reaction to the COVID-19 virus has been stunning.  While we must guard against overreaction, it is important to make appropriate preparation.

First a few things to remember.   Our Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions 7 and 11 remind us of two very important points regarding the COVID-19 virus.

Q7: What are the decrees of God?
A7: The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Q11: What are God’s works of providence?
A11: God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

First, nothing comes to pass except that which God has purposed and ordained for His own glory.  Second, God is absolutely sovereign over the world in which we live, including COVID-19 and all our responses to it.

So, how should we respond?  Let me encourage you with a few common sense precautions.

  1. Wash your hands and do so with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. In that time, you can recite the Lord’s Prayer, or the Apostles’ Creed, or a passage of scripture you are working to memorize.  Or you could simply sing “Happy Birthday” two times.  Wash thoroughly and regularly throughout the day.
  2. Avoid touching your face. Ask someone to keep you accountable.
  3. Boost your immunity. Eat things that boost immunity.  Avoid things that suppress your immunity.   Take lots of Vitamin C, either in foods or through supplements.   Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Foods with high-fructose corn syrup or refined sugars will suppress your immunity.  Especially avoid soft drinks.
  4. Stay hydrated with WATER (not soft-drinks or Coffee – those will only dehydrate). Try to drink 64 ounces of water throughout the day.
  5. Don’t hibernate, but do be sensible about physical contact with others. Minimize physical interactions.   Avoid large crowds.  At church please refrain from hugs or hand-shakes for now.  Limit eating out as well.
  6. If you are sick, or have been recently, stay home from church. Your immunity is compromised and you are vulnerable.  And you might affect someone else who is vulnerable.   Follow the principle of Philippians 2:3 to “consider others more significant than yourself.”   We will get the sermons and orders of service posted on social media for your use at home.    The command to “not neglect to meet together” in Hebrews 10:25 does not mean “at all costs” to yourself or others.
  7. Keep updated with accurate information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

At present the Session is not recommending we suspend our public gatherings for worship.  If you are uncertain about whether to come, please contact Pastor Wheeler or one of the elders and let us help you think through your concerns.   We will evaluate other weekly or scheduled activities on an individual basis. Please monitor our facebook and twitter feeds for updates.  We will also send out emails and texts as appropriate regarding any cancellations.   Please make sure that we have your current contact information for email and texts.

Throughout history, the Church’s response to health crises has been to care for the community.   Let me suggest the following ways in which we need to be prepared to care for our community.

  1. Think about the vulnerability of others, those at church, your neighbors, and at-risk people in your spheres of influence. Keep close contact with one another.   Establish a pattern of calling, texting, or emailing.   Ask how you can help.  Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Remember that physical and emotional distress often produces spiritual distress. Take time to ask, “how are you holding up right now?” and “how can I pray for you?”   Encourage others to express their fears, concerns, and frustrations, then point them to Christ.  Your neighbor’s uncertainty goes beyond Coronavirus.  This is an important time to consistently share the gospel.   If you are not sure how to get started, talk with Pastor Wheeler or one of the elders.

And for a few final considerations.  Remember that the greatest danger in this crisis is not infection from COVID 19, but the fearful response of our society.   In view of this here are a few practical tips to keep in mind.

  1. Top off your tank every time you go out. Gasoline shortages often accompany ramped-up panic.   If you have some gas cans, fill them just to be safe.
  2. Keep plenty of nourishing food on hand. If you need something and can’t get out to get it or can’t find it, or are simply concerned about being out, ask if someone can help.   Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  3. Be careful not to get caught up in the social media vortex of panic that will only grow. As believers in a sovereign God, we are called to bring comfort and assurance, not fear and uncertainty to our neighbors.
  4. Take more time in prayer and in the reading of God’s Word so that you can remember that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and that He still rules and reigns.

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope: 
T
he steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”  Lamentations 3:22-24

 

Making a difference!

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Choices Pregnancy Resource Center is making a difference in the lives of families in crisis here in the River Valley.  For over 25 years they have been about the work of saving lives — making a difference one life at a time.

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 the Choices Pregnancy Resource Center will hold their annual Fundraising Gala at First Baptist Church in Russellville, Arkansas.  We want to encourage you to attend and to give generously to this important ministry in our community.  To register go to the Choices website.  We will see you there!

Memorial Service for Lila Viner

A Memorialilavinerl Service will be held for Lila Jean Viner at 2:00pm on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at the Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church with a reception to follow in the Fellowship Hall.  Lila Viner went to be with the Lord, January 29, 2017 after a long battle with Alzheimers.  We rejoice in her healing, but weep with one another. Please join us on February 25 as we gather to remember her life.

Her obituary is available at Roller-Ballard Funeral Home.

Pray for the family of Lila Viner

Lila Viner went to be with the Lord on the Lord’s Day, January 29, 2017 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. No longer does she see through a glass darkly, but now she knows as she is known. We rejoice in her healing, but weep with one another. Please be in prayer for her family — her children Paul and Melissa, her brothers Bill and David, and all her extended family.

Her obituary and service details are available through the following link to Roller-Ballard Funeral Home.

We Take Prayer Seriously…

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Scripture speaks of the power of prayer and instructs us how to pray.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:13-16 

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.” 1 Timothy 2:1

Let us know how we can pray for you by leaving a reply below or clicking on the comment callout on the right.