Sylvania Family and Friends,
The elders met last night and discussed what things need to look like for the next several weeks. Per the CDC recommendation, there is a suggested 8-week break from social gatherings larger than 50 people (one recommendation moved that number down to 10). So, what does this mean for Sylvania Church? We are planning, as of this email, to have “virtual church” for the full 8 weeks – which would have us gathering in person again on Sunday, May 17. This date is flexible and fluid; it hinges on the evaluation of material we receive from experts in the field over the course of the next several weeks. IF the gathering restriction is lifted sooner (we pray this is the case!), we will meet sooner. IF it is extended longer, we will extend ours as well.
What does all of this mean for the larger life of our church? Let’s look at each item in turn.
We will be using Facebook Live as our chief instrument for streaming our corporate worship services. Many of you have Facebook accounts and can log in and watch. If you have an account, you can also interact with the service through the chat option. Several of you do not have a Facebook account. You can still watch the service, live, through the link provided below. Sylvania’s Facebook account is set to allow even those without a personal Facebook account to watch our live streams. You can use this link to participate in these services: Facebook Live. Whether you watch the services live or at a later time, we would love for you to comment in the thread or on the post later. This can be our version of saying “good morning” during our virtual worship service.
The corporate worship services will also be recorded, like they were this past Sunday, for those unable to participate during the live stream. They will be available on the church website and loaded to the Sylvania YouTube Page. Our strong encouragement, however, is that if possible, we try and worship “together” during the live feed.
Small Groups, Sunday School, Wednesday Discipleship
The elders of Sylvania all agree that we need to strive to still have life on life around the Word. We will be reaching out to the teachers, leaders, and facilitators of these groups and encouraging them to contact you about “virtual meetings.” There are several free, online options that would make this work (Zoom, Skype, etc.). Even if it is sharing a few brief thoughts from the Word and a time of concentrated prayer for one another, the elders feel it is valuable for us to continue engaging one another in smaller group settings. We will strive to do this as soon as possible, hopefully within the next two weeks.
Many have asked about giving during this time. There are three main options you can use for this. First, you can use our online giving platform, which you can access here. Second, you can mail your gift to the church: 2801 SSE Loop 323 – Tyler, TX 75701. Third, you can bring them by the church office, if you happen to be out and about. We will still have people in and out of the office since we are a small staff and have few “walk-ins” during the week. I would recommend calling first (903-592-1591).
During this time, the elders also feel that it is important for us to continue participating in the Lord’s Table together. This is a bit tricky, given our current circumstances. However, we think it can be done. Because we are in the Passover season, most stores will have access to “unleavened” bread. Also, each of you should have easy access to grape juice or wine (I know, I know) …
During our time apart, we will take the elements together. The continuation of this activity will give a physical reminder of the spiritual truth: even though we may be separated by time and space, we are still one body in Christ.
Going Forward & Making the Most of The Opportunity
These unusual times call for unusual measures. Yet, we should praise God that this has taken place during our current technological era. We will still be able to participate in the Word and prayer, in fellowship, and care for each other. As we gain new information and insight, we will adjust whatever about this plan that needs adjusting. Please be diligent to continue checking your email and social media threads.
One last item: it has been brought to my attention that several people that normally are not part of our Sunday gathering either viewed the Facebook Live stream of our service or watched it after it was recorded. Let’s make the most of this opportunity. Many are part of congregations that do not have the same access (for whatever reason) to the use of technology in this way. Many are not active in any congregation and might be hesitant to come to a “traditional worship service.” Yet, they may be more than willing to participate in a “virtual worship service.” Let each of us “Conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).
You can find this update and all of our others in our COVID-19 update master post.