Update from Pastor Ben - March 24, 2020
Dear Grove Church Family,
UPDATE TO CLOSURE TIMELINE - Our church building will remain closed for services and activities through Sunday, April 5, 2020.As the situation in our state/nation remains fluid regarding COVID-19, we will attempt to provide a week-by-week update – even if nothing is changing. We think it is better to over-communicate during this time and keep you informed!
We want YOU to play a VITAL part in our ministry this week. Here’s how! We have a goal that everyone gets “touched” (pun intended!) this week! In this day of social distancing and zero-physical contact, do you have to go without the fellowship of your church family during this time? Absolutely not!
Join the efforts of all of our ministry leaders to reach out to our entire church family in a significant way. You might have noticed this week our teams have made a concerted effort to connect with you through telephone or video calls, social media and sing-alongs, devotionals, interactive forums, etc. WE WANT YOU TO JOIN US and be part of the solution and fun! Think of ways to reach out to every friend you have at Grove! How are they; do they need anything? Offer encouragement from God’s Word and prayer – whether it is through email, telephone, social media, etc. Not only will you bless the person you talk with, but you will be blessed even more!
Kingdom work at grove avenue has not stopped and will not stop. We need your support. God is using this time to spread the gospel to people we have never ministered to before! Many local Richmonders have begun watching the broadcast for the VERY FIRST TIME in this season. GOD IS AT WORK! We have made a covenant among the leadership that we will pray over every financial decision and judiciously steward every single penny to honor the Lord during this season. Knowing this, please remember that in order for our church to continue serving the body to the best of our ability, we rely on your tithes and offerings. Your support allows us to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus during this season of ministry. Thank you SO MUCH for your faithfulness to donate to this ministry even during this season.
Here are three ways you can deliver your donation to the church:
- Online Giving – groveave.com/give
NOTE: If you are using online giving for the very first time, we have provided instructions when you click on the blue button entitled “Click for Online Giving Instructions”
- Mail – 8701 Ridge Road, Richmond, VA. 23229
- Secure Drop Box – Located at the Main Entrance of Grove
Please accept my sincerest thanks for your love for this great ministry, prayer support, and your precious friendship during this season for all of your Grove Avenue leadership and staff! You are the best church family!
Update from Pastor Ben - March 18, 2020
Dear Grove Church Family,
Per my Calling Post phone call yesterday (sent to our entire contact list), most of you are already aware that based on an abundance of caution and to honor the insightful recommendations of our governmental leaders, Grove Avenue leadership has decided to suspend all activities, events, and gatherings in the church building up to and through Sunday, March 29, 2020.
On Monday of this week, our leadership and essential staff met to prepare contingency options for future ministry that will guide our thinking as we navigate this novel time. We are devoted to the safety of our precious Grove family, the spiritual maturity and growth during this season, and, of course, to assure that the ministry at Grove Avenue remains a viable and vibrant ministry.
We have received overwhelming positive feedback about last Sunday! God was lifted up & exalted this past Sunday morning. The viewership was expansive and the responses received were overwhelmingly positive! Our Caring Listeners were very active on the phones beginning from the moment people heard the words, “Let not your heart be troubled.” All glory goes to God alone! We are preparing to do the same for this coming Sunday!
What a Team! I am proud of the effort, energy, and attention that every Grove team member is devoting to the work of the ministry during this time. I have encouraged our team that we are wise to thoroughly prepare at this stage of our ministry in order to be well-prepared for whatever comes in the future.
The only way we are able to effectively fulfill the command of God to always “be ready to always give an answer to every man that asks us of the reason of the hope that is in us” (I Peter 3:15), is to FIRST PREPARE to give that answer before the questions ever come. Similarly, if God wants ministers to “be ready always in season & out of season” (II Timothy 4:2), the only way that can be effectively accomplished is for the ministers to FIRST PREPARE for the moment well before the season comes in which to respond. Likewise, if we are to serve our great church effectively, Grove leaders FIRST PREPARE for all types of scenarios, well before they ever arise.
Do we have all the answers? No, we certainly do not. But I feel very confident that Grove Avenue is prepared well on how we approach unique and novel problems. Should a new twist come our way, I am confident that we know how as leaders how to calmly maintain a thoughtful and balanced approach in our deliberations. We will always keep the safety of our people as priority. We are prepared in this fashion and I believe we are now functioning in an extremely wise, flexible, and agile manner necessary to successfully navigate our current season of ministry.
I Corinthians 15:58 is motivating us! We know that our faithful work and leadership is not only what God called us to do but that the Lord will bless this ministry if we work hard at it. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord!” God
YOU are motivating us! Your encouraging words to each Grove team member is serving as fuel to our souls as we continue forward – Thank you!
Pray and Serve Others. We ask that you join with us in prayer for all leadership, not just Grove but locally and nationally. Serve others by reaching out and maintaining the human connections that everyone desperately needs in life. STAY CONNECTED > >
- Sunday School teachers and Small Group leaders- Keep in contact with your groups. Listen to them and ask how you can support in prayer.
- Student leadership- Keep in contact with students AND parents. Provide them with biblical encouragements and even your own devotional thoughts throughout the week.
- ALL members of Grove- Be “ministers of encouragement” this week. Check in on fellow members. Let them know you are thinking about them, that you miss the kind smiles and greetings, and tell them you look forward when you can hug their necks again (literally!)
Here’s an idea! Use the technology that is at our fingertips - social media, Google Hangout, Skype etc. to connect with your fellowship groups. Some groups are already meeting virtually, sharing meaningful interactions through technology. In fact, the ideas we have gleaned from this experience is providing us with ideas on how we can continue this level of engagement even after this season is over. If some members of your group are not familiar with certain technology, please make sure you keep them up to date by other means. We need to stay connected and encourage one another as we move forward in a “remote” fashion!
Kingdom work at Grove Avenue has not stopped and will not stop. We need your support. Please remember that in order for our church to continue serving the body to the best of our ability, we rely on your financial gifts and donations. Your gifts allow us to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus during this season of ministry. Thank you SO MUCH for your faithfully donate to this ministry even during this novel season.
Here are three ways you can deliver your donation to the church:
- Online Giving – groveave.com/give
NOTE: If you are using online giving for the very first time, we have provided instructions on the giving page (“Click for Online Giving Instructions”)
- Mail - 8701 Ridge Road, Richmond VA 23229
- Secure Drop Box – Located at the Main Entrance of the church
God is in control!
God is still on His throne!
God is at work in a mighty way.
Be encouraged today.
Update from Pastor Ben - March 14, 2020
Dear Grove Church Family.
I want to take a moment to fill you in on a few more details since our last update provided to the Grove Family.
Per our Friday announcement delivered online and through our mass phone calling system, most of you are already aware that after careful thought, consultation, and prayer we have decided to take the precautionary measure not to open our church building for 930/11AM Sunday worship services or any Sunday School classes for the remainder of the month of March (3/15, 3/22, 3/29). We have consulted medical and security professionals, local/regional/national ministers, our entire ministry leadership team, and essential staff. We feel comfortable about moving ahead in taking this and other commonsense, precautionary measures, as we are doing all we can to ensure the safety and security of our Grove family. While these steps are completely precautionary, we feel that this is in the best interest our Grove family.
The last 72 hours have been fluid and unpredictable to say the least. All churches, schools, organizations, and citizens are subject to the same ebbs and flows of this very fluid global situation. God requires nothing more of us than to make the best decision with the information He provides us at a given time. In fact, I encourage our leadership to never fear changing course should circumstances or our knowledge change. If our church remains ultra-sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and remains flexible, nimble, and agile in our thinking and processes, we will be able to best minister to our precious people. I am proud that we are demonstrating this valuable strength at this time. Praise the Lord!
Regarding any/all events and gatherings at the church in the month of March. Thank you for understanding that this type of novel situation may result in the leadership making last-minute decisions regarding whether or not to hold/cancel an event. This is not anyone’s preference, but under the circumstances, we should expect this may occur. The church leadership will try our best to provide as much notice if a change of plans is required. For example, we are still unsure how we will function in the church building this coming week with regard to special events, regularly scheduled events, and gatherings. (3/15 All Sunday evening activities are cancelled.) All pastors, essential staff members, ministry leadership team members, chairpersons, and assessible consultants are meeting this Monday to review events scheduled for the month of March. As soon as we determine the best course of action for each event, we will communicate it via the leader/department hosting the event and via our online modes of delivery. Again, thank you for your understanding as we work towards a predictable pattern of decision-making with regard to these events.
Know also that the church is not closed for business in the month of March. As the staff report to the church for our normal workdays, we will maintain the commonsense approaches mentioned previously (i.e. no handshakes, frequently washing hands, hand sanitizing, staying home if we feel sick or feverish, etc.). For now, people may still come visit the staff or pastors as needed as any normal workday.
Pray for us! I would request your prayers for me, our leadership team members, and those with whom we consult that the Lord would continue to give us sound judgement, wisdom, and discernment in the days ahead.
Pray for the watching world! I would ask for you to begin now praying for watching world – specifically those in the Richmond area – that will undoubtedly be looking into our services via Facebook, the web, or our television broadcast over the next few weeks. Pray they will be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Hope of their salvation during this time. I praise the Lord that He providentially has us in a sermon series entitled, “Show & Tell” during this month of March! A sermon series that promotes the Gospel and encourages us to share our story of how we have trusted the Lord for our salvation, along with how we trust Him in our day-to-day lives!! See, folks? God knows exactly what is happening even before we ever do!
Do what is best for you and yours. As I mentioned previously, you need to do what you feel is best for you and your loved ones. We will never fault anyone who makes a personal decision they feel is necessary to remain healthy and safe. We are encouraging people to personally adopt common sense precautions in a calm manner as they deem appropriate for themselves. At the same time, we as an organization will adopt commonsense precautions as well.
Remain flexible. Knowing it is important to remain flexible in the coming days and knowing that we may not know the answers to some questions and decisions as of yet, I would lovingly and respectfully ask that you help us in remaining flexible as we work week-by-week to determine what is best for our church as a whole.
Promote positivity. Simply put, remain positive! This too shall pass. We are praying that we can return to normal as soon as possible. But until then, the Lord will use your positivity, supportive, and encouraging spirit to maintain the UNITY, HUMILITY, and SELFLESSNESS within our great church! Let’s look back on this season of ministry and say that we remained UNIFIED, HUMBLE, and SELFLESS through it all!
My sincerest thanks to each and every one of you during this season in our lives and ministry.
UPDATE MARCH 13, 2020
In a precautionary step forward, Grove will NOT hold 9:30/11AM Sunday services for the remainder of March (3/15, 3/22, 3/29)
STAY TUNED as Grove leadership will share a more comprehensive announcement later today on how special programs, Wednesday night activities etc. will be affected.
Please keep ALL of our leadership in prayer as they navigate this time!
We hope you will join us as we worship together as ONE Church family – remotely! Please, invite your family and friends to join us for our weekly broadcast as well!
Statement from Pastor Ben - March 12, 2020
God is in Control!
In this current season of fear and uncertainty regarding the Coronavirus, I am writing to let you know how we as a church are approaching this situation to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the attendees of our church. I want to encourage you that we are remaining vigilant in assessing the current situation and any possible developments that should arise in the future. But even under the current circumstances, never forget that we do not have to live in a spirit of fear! We worship an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God (Psalm 139). God never “sleeps nor slumbers” nor ceases being in control of our lives. We can take comfort in this truth!
- Psalm 121:2-4:
“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”
This God, Who is in control, is a God who loves us with an unending love!
- Romans 8:38-39:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God hat is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Scripture is replete with promises of His love, protection, and comfort for His people. We can trust God in this situation and in anything that comes into our lives.
- Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
- Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His Peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
- Revelation 1:17b
[H]e laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.”
Knowing God is in control and believing He will give us insight and wisdom as we proceed in the coming days, the Leadership of Grove Avenue Baptist Church is encouraging a calm and commonsense approach to this situation. We are encouraging people to personally adopt common sense precautions in a calm manner as they deem appropriate for themselves. At the same time, we as an organization will adopt commonsense precautions as well. For example, this Sunday you will notice that our entire team of greeters will greet every attendee with a smile and a kind word, but not a handshake. In addition, we will not promote a mass-greeting moment in our services involving physical handshakes but rather encourage attendees to take a moment to greet people verbally, with an elbow bump, an air high-five, or whatever creative greeting you may come up with! We are remaining diligent to keep high-traffic areas clean repeatedly throughout the day. We also have additional hand sanitizers that have been placed throughout our facility.
What should you do? Please do what you feel is best for you and your loved ones! We invite those who are the most vulnerable to join us for a LIVE worship experience each week on The Victory Hour (Sundays, 11AM local NBC12). Services are also available online at www.groveave.tv or streaming on Facebook.
Likewise, we as an organization will always proceed in a manner that we believe is safe. At this time, these and other common-sense precautions should rule the day in a CALM spirit of peace. This Sunday in both our 930am & 11am services, I will take a moment during the service to assure our people that we are remaining ever watchful for ways to keep our facility safe in every way including in this current concern with regard to the Coronavirus.
Additional information regarding church schedules or changes to activities will be posted online at www.groveave.com, ENews, and on social media.
Always look for ways to grow spiritually. There is so much we can learn about ourselves and our God in this situation. I want to encourage you to make a list of all of the spiritual life-lessons that could be learned from a situation like this. Here’s a few that I have reflected upon this past week:
- Peace can come even if you do not have the answers to your questions! Philippians 4:6-7 teaches that the peace of God that passes all understanding does not from an answer or resolution to your question or concern but rather by knowing you have prayed and placed your request in the arms of an all-knowing, all-loving God. Knowing HE is in control we can live in perfect peace! Peace comes when we truly trust that God is in control!
- Praying for others should be a common occurrence in our daily lives rather than occurring only in novel moments in life such as in this situation. People are hurting every day – every moment of the day. As a pastor, I hear 10xs the stories of people who are hurting, anxious, and heartbroken. People need prayer. And we should feel compelled to pray for them every day.
- How much do I really trust God? Situations like these put our Christian beliefs to the test. Do we really trust Him? Do we really live our lives believing He is in control? God has not changed. He is always in control. He is not bound by external factors and does not change under any circumstances. Our anxious hearts should be in constant rest in Him every day of our lives.
We believe this calm and commonsense approach in our current situation will prepare us for any future situation that will call for the same type of reaction. My prayer is that we go through this situation with wisdom, discernment, and trust in a Holy God. And that through a position of unity/humility/selflessness we will be even stronger and more prepared for future trials.
Please know that our leaders are here to help lead you and encourage you during this season!
To the Grove Family I deeply love,
Senior Pastor | Lead Servant
Grove Avenue Baptist Church
RE: GROVE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
For any & all news related to Grove Christian School, please seek any statements, instructions, and updates on the school’s website www.grovechristianschool.com. Please know that schools in general function in a much different context than do churches. Schools have an immense number of unique factors and variables that must be considered. Therefore, Grove Christian School will have the freedom to assess their situation, consider the many unique factors related to the school, and make its decision accordingly. Even though Grove Avenue Baptist Church and Grove Christian School relate to each other as one big and loving Grove Family(!), it should not be assumed in this moment that a particular decision made by the Church will or should dictate what should be done in the School or vice versa. Thank you for your understanding.