As COVID-19, and its impact, continues to develop with a rising number of confirmed cases throughout the country, and as our city commits to social distancing efforts to protect one another from further community spread, I thought I’d write to update you, our beloved family, on behalf of our pastors and elders at Metro; we remain focused in prayer for the well-being, safety, and health of our church body and local communities as we begin to tackle our current situation, the “new norm”.
Whether you are trying to deal with feelings of loneliness, uncertainty, boredom, or family fun, the circumstances surrounding our community absolutely calls us to trust an Almighty God who is Sovereign Ruler of the universe and Shepherd of our souls. No one understands loneliness more than Jesus Christ, who braved Gethsemane and the crucifixion. No one understands the fear and pain of death more than He who raised Jairus’ daughter from her deathbed (Mark 5) and Lazarus from the grave (John 11).
The church stands as a powerful provision and resource for us, therefore, in these times of anxiety, despair, loss, and illness; if you are experiencing any type of material or spiritual need, please connect with one of our pastors or community group leaders so that we can assess your need and discuss, beyond prayer, what can be done. Our desire is to be present for our community during these unprecedented times.
A few updates, since last week:
- We will resume our Sunday Worship Service livestream on www.metrophilly.org/live at 11:00AM -12:30PM, along with a separate children’s Sunday School lesson. Last week’s initial launch was tremendously successful, with a virtually “full” worship service, amidst individual viewership and a significant number of “watch” parties.
- All told, as of midweek, we had close to 900 views of our livestream. That said, please consider inviting a friend to join our livestream this Sunday!
- All in-person gatherings have been cancelled indefinitely.
- Our Community Groups will meet virtually each week. Each Community Group will operate as a “center” for assessing and providing for the needs of its members. Shepherding groups are forming to assess and provide. Each group is navigating ways to pray for and bless its greater community at-large. Prayer chains are forming to keep one another covered. I venture to say that Metro is more intact than we’ve ever been. A sense of oneness continues to warm this community in such an organic way; it is an amazing blessing to see it all happen.
- The Metro College Fellowship resumes their gatherings online as well. Thank you for being such a resilient bunch of vibrant pacesetters among the emerging generation.
- Sadly, this means we will be cancelling our annual Metro Home Retreat (scheduled for May 2020). Given we had close to a full house for the third straight year, it would’ve been a great experience together. Nevertheless, we will postpone to a viable date in the future.
- For those who paid for the retreat already, we will be returning your registration payments in due time. Thank you for registering ahead of time—we literally had close to 90 slots filled within the first 4-5 days before the impact of the virus slowed everything down.
- Many have asked about the status of our second site launch, originally slated for April 2020. Clearly, we will have to postpone our launch, and although we are disappointed, I am convinced that what the Lord has been doing in this amazing team will deepen towards greater readiness in the future.
- The church, at times, has been incredibly steadfast in the face of adversity, and often times, more present when it is underground. I trust the Lord is doing something special with the extra time we have. If you’ve been to any of our last few gatherings, you’d sense it yourself.
- The good news is that our building rental partnership has been formally approved—in accordance with any of our contingency plans for launch.
- We will regroup towards the tail-end of this crisis to pray and determine as a staff an appropriate future start date for provisional and official launches, based on the state of our launch team. We will be ready.
- And yes, if our April gatherings are likely postponed, this means that Good Friday and Easter Sunday may move to our “virtual” format. Wow. Is it possible that we will have worshipful hearts scattered throughout the city, but united as one body, celebrating the death and resurrection of our Eternal King and Savior on Easter Sunday? If so, we will use this time to gather and worship virtually at Metro with our family and friends in what we hope will be a special time, no matter the venue.
- Easter Outreach is evolving to respond to the current crisis, restrictions, and needs. If you volunteered to be a part of this year’s larger team, we will continue to keep you in the loop as the needs and service opportunities become more defined. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any pressing questions.
Above all, Jesus Christ is sustainer and governor (Colossians 1:16-17) over the universe; nothing comes to pass outside of His decree. Nothing is a surprise, nor too big of a problem, for Christ the King. Suffering is a common quality of all, not just Christians. However, because we serve a King and Savior who suffered—and because His salvation came through His brokenness, throughout centuries, the church flourished amidst suffering. Salvation comes through Christ’s own suffering and brokenness, which affords great humility and suffering. Humility because we are physically powerless to disease, tragedy, disasters, etc. Confidence because we know that our Lord and Savior knows, understands, experienced it, is in control of it all, and is victorious.
This places the church in a very unique position—because of its roots, salvation, history, and reputation in bearing the suffering of others (not to mention its own persecution), the church is able to be present in ways that the rest of the world will not.
Christ’s church must be present and act as a humble, yet confident presence in the city through:
- Its calm and poise in the midst of the suffering of the city
- Its assurance of God’s sovereignty amidst those who quickly forget
- Its daily presence, regardless how members of the visible body feel
- Its desire to seek opportunities to be the church during these times
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REMAIN ENGAGED
- Stay connected through our virtual Community Groups; do not hesitate to share your material, emotional, and spiritual needs. Share warmth and connection with the body of Christ when everyone feels so incredibly disconnected and lonely.
- Opt-in for Metro’s news and announcements; visit the Contact Us page at www.metrophilly.org/contact.
- Look into potential needs in your community that your group can assist in together. Hebrews 10:24 teaches us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Love and deeds go hand-in-hand in the life of a Christian.
- Remain consistent in our regular, virtual Sunday Worship Service livestream at www.metrophilly.org/live each Sunday morning at 11:00AM (with Children’s Sunday School also available on the website).
- Encourage and remind each other to give online as an act of Gospel-driven generosity; access www.metrophilly.org/give for online and check/mail giving.
- Take the opportunity to invite others to view our livestream.
- If there are needs that your Community Group cannot provide, consider reaching out to one of our staff or elders so that we can pray through and assess if/how Metro can be of help. Do not battle overwhelming needs alone.
- Do not orbit around any fears you are experiencing. Entrust your lives to He who holds every molecule in the universe in place, and apply the Gospel directly to your daily sighs and groans.
Until this period comes to a close, let’s be mindful to practice social distancing as a way of contributing to the city at-large. Avoid large gatherings and uncontrolled environments, and be prudent with your choices in connecting with others outside. It is not just a “thing” we are doing; it is a practical demonstration of love, calling, and responsibility to our city and community.
I look forward to hearing wonderful stories of community provision and love shared among the Metro community, as I long to be with you all in-person. Blessings to you all.
Donny, on behalf of Metro's Leadership