A Pastoral Note to Grace Covenant: May 9, 2020

Captain John Smith Overlooks the James

Dear Grace Covenant family,

Late Friday afternoon, Governor Ralph Northam stated that Phase 1 of re-opening Virginia would begin effective next Friday, May 15.  At that time a number of businesses that have been closed up will be allowed to re-open, and other businesses that have been open will be allowed a little more latitude. Many things – some businesses, parks, etc., will remain closed until the State enters into Phase 2, which is expected to be roughly two weeks later.  Among those entities that will be permitted to resume are churches, under some clear health-preserving guidelines.  Whether this is good news or cause for concern depends, I guess, upon one’s perspective. However, at the very least it seems a hopeful sign that at some point in the coming days or weeks life as we know it will begin to resume.

What that means for Grace Covenant is still to be determined, at least as far as resuming in-person worship. To date our Session (“Council of Elders” for those not from a Presbyterian background) has yet to hold a conversation about “when” we might resume in-person worship. What has been determined at this point is only that, upon return to in-person worship, we will remain in two services throughout the Summer, rather than going to our usual single service Summer schedule.  Our reason is to allow more space for social distancing for those participating in worship.  We have discussed a number of other issues that we will need to be addressed and put into practice before we return to weekly gatherings.  We have a pretty good grasp of things that need to be considered, but for a variety of reasons we have chosen not to finalized all the necessary decisions just yet. Chief among our reasons for holding off on some final decisions has been because of our need to coordinate with our Deacons; and along with that is to allow time we to consider as much data, and to exercise as much thoughtfulness and wisdom as we are able, before finalizing on the many details.

Practically speaking, please check your emails this week for communications. If you have questions, please contact Kathy in the church office.  We will keep you posted as we have things to report.

All this aside, we will one day – likely soon – be viewing this season in the rear view mirror. I want to again express my appreciation for you, the Grace Covenant family, for your faithfulness, your graciousness, and your generosity.

Beginning with generosity, through your generosity Grace Covenant has, to date, been able to keep ahead of budget at a time when many churches have been struggling financially.  Your gifts not only continue the support of the day to day operations, and staff salaries (for which we are all grateful), but also the ongoing support of missions and missionaries around the world, campus ministries, mercy ministries in our community, and aid to those in need. Your gifts are an investment in the next generation, as both our Youth Ministry and Children’s Ministry have been able to continue reaching, engaging, and encouraging students to grow in grace and in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Some of these investments are blooming already, while others will blossom over time. But all are vitally important, and all your gifts are much appreciated.

Your faithfulness is evident in the way you have continued to reach out to one another. This was not just something that began in the early weeks, then over time began to wane; you have continually reached out to connect. This is something we hope we will be able to continue even after we resume regular routines. The healthiest churches are those where there in intentional Congregational Care – where the people care for one another, and the pastors, and Elders, and Deacons are just part of the caring. Such churches are healthier even than those churches with excellent pastoral care, but where most of the care is done by the pastors and the other professionals. God designed us to be a Body, knit together by the gospel, and living our lives together.  We have been thankful to be able to see such Body Life during these weeks of quarantine.

And your graciousness is always much appreciated. We have received many kind notes and messages, offering encouragement to our staff, and appreciation for our labors during this unusual time. These notes and messages mean much more to all of us than I have words to express.

Before finishing up, I want to express some thank yous.  I want to thank David Lunt for all he did to make our online prayer gathering as success this past Thursday night. If it had not been for David, I would have had to learn to run the tech stuff.  I can only imagine what a fiasco that might have been! But thanks to David, and his expertise running meetings on Zoom, we were able to gather online, and pray together for God to be at work throughout our Nation. I also want to again express my thanks for Tim Nargi, whose ongoing talents have allowed us to navigate these unfamiliar seas these past several weeks. Tim has long been working and serving the church behind the scenes in a variety of ways, but only recently have his gifts been forced into the spotlight. All of our staff are grateful for Tim.

Please continue to pray for one another, especially for those who have experienced loss, or who are suffering physically and/or emotionally. Pray for God to be at work in us and through us. Pray that Grace Covenant would be the blessing to the Historic Triangle that God intends for his Church to be. (See Jeremiah 29.7)

Have a wonderful week! And Happy Mother’s Day to all you who are Mom’s.

Grace & Peace,


W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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