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Midland Evangelical

Free Church

IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE:

Thank you for your faithfulness and dedication as we have walked through these challenging circumstances over the past few months. We believe that God is sifting and refining us, and that we will come out better on the other side.  We will look different, but we will be better (see Hebrews 12:11).

We’re excited to announce that our target date to resume on-campus worship is:  SUNDAY, AUGUST 2nd!

We will continue to do our best to obey the Great Commandment to love others (Matthew 22:34-40, Philippians 2) by following best practices (Romans 13, and 1 Peter 2:13-21). More details on the specifics of what that will look like will follow within two weeks.

We remain committed to Enjoying God, Embracing His Word, and Engaging His World.

We are praying for you and look forward to seeing you soon!

Updates & Sunday Services

at Midland Free

(Posted - 12:30 AM, Sat., June 6,  2020)

 

To our dispersed church family of Midland Free:

We, as the Elder Board, wanted to take a moment to keep you informed of our discussions and planning around our coming together again for worship as a body.

Thus far we have been respectful of the directives of our government officials and the advice of the CDC and local health officials. We plan to continue to consider those directives and advice as we understand them to apply to Midland Free and our interactions together. It is very difficult to find the balance between caution for the health of all (especially the more vulnerable) and eagerness we sense from many who desire the sweet community of fellowship. Resolving this issue has become even more difficult with the additional time, energy and resources needed to adequately respond to the flood crisis that has affected many in our church family, as well as neighbors, and those alongside whom God is guiding us to walk.

We ask for your prayers and understanding as we continue to seek the Lord's clear direction. Equally as important, we ask that you show abundant grace to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who may feel differently about the potential risks associated with reconvening our services. Satan would like nothing more than to pit us against each other on these kinds of non-essential matters. This is a chance for all of us to think less about ourselves and our rights or preferences and instead look out for the interests of others as we're instructed to in Philippians 2:2-4.

With the recent executive order change that allows for social gatherings of 10 or less, we recognize that this affords a first step to begin meeting together in small groups in our homes for those who feel comfortable doing so. As we mentioned at the start of restrictions back in April, this would be a wonderful opportunity to also have a meal together, to pray, and encourage one another before or after the streaming the worship service. This may be a Life Group you're already a part of or a new group you may want to start by gathering with some friends, relatives or neighbors. As an Elder Board, we encourage these kinds of fellowship, but ask that you remain respectful and inclusive of others who may not yet feel comfortable in gathering in these ways. This may include following government guidelines, practicing appropriate social distancing, and good hygiene practices as well as connecting electronically with those who are not yet ready to meet in person.

Please know that we have spent many hours praying over and discussing various options in which we might be able to meet together as a larger gathering. Our drive-in time of worship and business scheduled on June 7th is an example of one of those options. We are continuing to review the necessary steps that the church body, as well as our church office staff, may be required to complete before we can open up our facility under the current set of robust and ever-changing directives.

At this time, we're hoping to have some more solid direction on larger gatherings by the start of July. Our ultimate hope is in the Lord, and that coming through this we'll be better on the other side. We will keep you informed as things develop via email, our weekly newsletter, Facebook, and Sunday morning streaming announcements.

Thank you for walking faithfully together during this time!

In Christ,

Your Elder Board

Len Bogan, Troy Griese, Marty Hill,  Jeff Koehlinger, Mike Ladenburger, Josh Stevens, Pastor Jeremy Lobdell

 

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Here’s how we ask you to continue to participate and engage with us as we continue to be the church during these challenging circumstances:

  • ONLINE STREAMING SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP: On Sunday mornings we will continue to host a time of worship and teaching online at 10:45 AM. You can view the streaming video on our YouTube channelVimeo channel or Facebook page. We strongly encourage everyone in our church family to connect live at 10:45 AM to participate corporately in our time together. The Bible (see Hebrews 10:23 and Acts 2:42) is very clear about the importance, for the church body as a whole and each of us individually, to meet together regularly for purposes of encouragement and stirring one another up towards love and good deeds. We look forward to seeing you there Sunday morning!
  • SMALL CHURCH & SMALL GROUP FELLOWSHIPS: We continue to encourage these groups to meet virtually on Sunday mornings, or in groups of 10 or less during the 9:00 hour.  We continue to work with Small Church leaders on creative ways and supportive technologies to facilitate these online gatherings.  Please continue to watch for more from your Small Church or Sunday morning study group leaders.
  • LIFE GROUPS: We also encourage Life Groups to continue to meet weekly in groups of 10 or less. These meetings could also occur online, thorough Facetime, Webex, Zoom or other similar apps. You should expect further communication about this from your Life Group Leader. If you are not in a Life Group or a Small Church but would like to join one, please contact Pastor Gib at 989-859-6137.
  • BLAST CHILDREN'S MINISTRY: The BLAST Children’s Area will continue to be closed on Sunday mornings. Watch for more information from Kristi Smith on how you can continue to engage your children with our BLAST Ministry.
  • YOUTH MINISTRY: JAM and XTREEME will no longer meet in person but are meeting virtually. Please watch for further communications from Pastor Chuck and his staff each week about how to connect within those ministries, including DG Groups.
  • CARING FOR NEIGHBORS: We also want to continue to be the light of Christ to others in our community and neighborhoods. Jesus gives us tremendous hope during this time of cultural uncertainty and change. If you are able and comfortable doing so, reach out to your neighbors to connect, to see if there are needs you can meet, or how you can otherwise be of assistance. This is a wonderful opportunity to pray and encourage one another.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Based on the guidelines set forth by the CDC and others, please consider the health and safety of everyone in our church family as well as our neighbors. Meeting together in groups of 10 or less is permitted, and connecting together in meaningful ways is an essential part of your spiritual health and growth.  We encourage you to exercise sound personal judgment, be sensitive to God’s leading, and find creative ways to keep engaging as the united bride of Christ during these times. Be a light in the darkness to all you encounter.

    Decisions an all other ministry events and activities will be made on a case by case basis as we move forward through June. We will communicate updates, invitations, and changes through our social media pages, website, emails, and messages from ministry leaders to their teams.
  • GIVING & TITHES: We are taking prudent cost-saving measures as a staff during these unprecedented times. However, the financial needs of the church and facility continue, as nearly 71% of our annual budget is “fixed” costs (such as our mortgage, utilities, and salary and benefits costs). Our giving in March and April has been strong, and for that we are thankful to God and our congregation!

    We hope you will continue to give as you are able so we can continue to meet the needs of our body and also work toward our shared goal of spreading the Gospel locally and around the world. 

    Online giving is the most convenient and preferred method to receive your generous contributions to our ministry.  You can contribute in one of the following ways:

 

God reminds us in Psalm 46 that He is our refuge and strength, and our ever-present help in trouble. Armed and confident in this truth, we hope and pray that we will, as a church body, use this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and a light of love, peace, and faith in these dark and uncertain times - through our prayers and our care for others we encounter in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and community.

Please reach out to the Elders via email if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Trusting in His Sovereignty and Goodness,

Your Elder Board:  Len Bogan, Troy Griese, Marty Hill, Jeff Koehlinger, Mike Ladenburger, Josh Stevens, and Pastor Jeremy K. Lobdell

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Is Midland Free open?

  • Firm Foundations is open with
     restrictions to protect the safety
     and health of the children and staff.

    Our office and building
    are closed to anyone other than
    individuals necessary to conduct
    minimum basic operations, and the coordination of flood relief efforts through ReachGlobal Crisis Response.
     
    We'll communicate other scheduling changes directly through individual ministries, by email or Facebook and reflect those changes on the website and social media whenever possible.

 

Will Midland Free be open for Sunday worship services?

  • We will continue to hold a single online service at 10:45 AM. At this time, we're hoping to have some more solid direction on larger gatherings by the start of July.
  • You can view the service online on our YouTube channel, Vimeo channel or Facebook page.
  • While we are not meeting together as a full church body, we are encouraging our Small Churches to gather in groups of 10 or less or on-line during their normal Sunday meeting times and continue to study, pray, and care for each other. We are also encouraging our Life Groups to meet together in groups of 10 or less or online to worship together, study God’s Word, pray, fellowship, and otherwise care for each other.
  • All of these opportunities are subject to the guidance in the “TAKE PRECAUTIONS” section below, and we encourage everyone to err on the side of promoting and preserving health and safety if there is any question about whether to attend one of these smaller gatherings.

 

How can I continue giving if I am unable to attend worship gatherings?
  • While we will not be formally meeting for the together for the foreseeable future, we do understand that people want to be faithful and obedient in making their tithes and offerings. And, while we are not having Sunday services together, our “fixed” costs for the building and staff, which comprise about 71% of our budget, continue with little or no practical ability to reduce them.
  • Online giving is available for your convenience and continues to be our preferred method for giving.
  • Click here to give online.
  • You can also give by texting the word GIVE to 989-244-7155.
  • And, for those who you prefer to give by an actual, physical check, you can do so by mailing a check to our main office at 7221 N. Jefferson Ave., Midland, MI 48642.

    Thank you!

 

Are there any cases of COVID-19 within the Midland Free church family?
  • As of Friday, June 5, 2020, we are not aware of, nor have we been informed of, any known presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Midland Evangelical Free Church.

 

What is the difference between "presumptive" and "confirmed" cases?
  • “Presumptive” is when a medical assessment is completed and an initial diagnostic test has come back positive with an additional diagnostic test sent for confirmation. “Confirmed” is when additional diagnostic test has come back positive (usually within 48 hours).

 

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

The well-being of our Midland Free church family, visitors, staff and community is a top priority. We can all contribute to safe environments, whether we’re at home, school, work or church. Here are reminders we’ve gathered for paying attention to good respiratory etiquette and great personal hygiene:

  • Regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds (about the time it takes you to sing the Doxology) especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. >>Watch this hand washing video.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick. You should be fever free for 24 hours before going back to work, school, or public gatherings.
  • When possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid shaking hands and other unnecessary contact. Use an elbow bump, air hug, friendly smile, or Vulcan greeting.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover it with a tissue—then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean/disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.

 

 

UPDATES & CURRENT INFORMATION

Like many of you, Midland Free is paying close attention to updates from organizations that are monitoring the illness, like the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local health and safety officials:

  • Information is changing quickly and misinformation is circulating. The CDC's Coronavirus Disease website is the best place to get the most accurate information about the virus.
  • Other local resources include:
  • We will make decisions about other church related activities on a week by week basis in light of the then current circumstances.
  • Midland Free recognizes that positive cases of the virus have been recorded in Midland county, and that there are cases of those severely impacted by this virus. Let’s all continue to be diligent, stay informed and pray for these families and regions that are especially experiencing the effects at this time.

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT AT MIDLAND FREE

 

INCREASED FLEXIBILITY AND EXTRA MEASURES OF GRACE: Our Pastors and Elders will make decisions to promote the safety and wellbeing of our church family and are carefully monitoring this situation as it unfolds. Please be flexible, as the situation is very fluid and we might need to make decisions on short notice.

 

While we expect the shelter in place restrictions to begin to be lifted in May and June, we expect that process to be slow and that we will not be free to meet all together for Sunday worship for quite some time (likely well into the summer).  We do, however, plan to explore how we can begin to resume some of our more normal small group activities (Life Groups, prayer groups, ministry team meetings) in person in compliance with governmental and health department orders and guidelines.

 

As we do so, we plan to err on the side of slower vs. faster and health and safety vs. physical proximity.   And, we will continue do what we can to reflect the widely different personal circumstances that will exist and  protect you as you engage with us in ministry, including, live streaming of full Sunday morning services online at 10:45 am for the foreseeable future and encouraging and continuing to provide creative opportunities for our other ministries, from Small Churches to Life Groups, to BLAST, to JAM and XTREEME, to meet and engage on-line.

 

Please also extend an extra measure of grace to each other as we walk through the next few weeks together. Remember that each of us will have varying levels of sensitivity and concern about this situation, particularly as we emerge from shelter in place.  Please be politely and lovingly clear about your own personal boundaries and respect those who may have personal boundaries more protective than your own.

 

Mindful of the need to be safe and responsible, we do encourage you to continue to look for new and creative opportunities to create community or fellowship in smaller settings, particularly online, whether through your Small Church, Life Group, or otherwise. God promises that where two or three are gathered together, whether in person or on-line, He will be present in the midst of them. Look at these uncertain times as an opportunity to reach out with the light of the Gospel of Christ to those around you.

 

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this uncharted territory together. Let's commit to praying for those who have been impacted by the virus, check on our neighbors, be ready to serve others in our community, and pray for the spread to end.

 

ABOVE ALL

The uncertainty of this outbreak is creating anxiety and even fear in our workplaces, schools, and day-to-day activities. Yet, as believers, we remain certain of God’s steadfast love, presence and careful attention to all that is happening. Please join us in praying for those who are affected by this illness, as well as their caregivers and those who are working around the clock to minimize the impact of this virus.

In Psalm 46, we are reminded that it is God who is our refuge and strength, and our ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, let us not fear, but with confidence use this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus through our prayers and our care for others we encounter in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and community.

 

Please call us or contact the Elders if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you.