The Churches of Christ in Christian Union

General Superintendent's Statements & Updates on COVID-19

General Superintendent Dr. Mike Holbrook shares, "I encourage you to be the church in these days. God has not been asleep or caught off guard. He will see us through, and my prayer is that the church responds in a way to bring Glory to God." Read on for the latest updates from our General Superintendent.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Greetings Pastor and Church Leader,

I often wake up with a song on my mind and in my heart. I just can’t seem to get it out of my head so I sing and think it all day long. Today was one of those days. The song today was ‘Such Love.’ I love the message of love and grace written by C. Bishop, R. Harkness in 1926. The message is still true today.

That God should love a sinner such as I
Should yearn to change my sorrow into bliss
Nor rest till He had planned to bring me nigh
How wonderful is love like this?

CHORUS
Such love, such wondrous love
Such love, such wondrous love
That God should love a sinner such as I
How wonderful is love like this.

That Christ should join so freely in the scheme
Although it meant His death on Calvary
Did ever human tongue find nobler theme
Than love divine that ransomed me?

That for a wilful outcast such as I
The Father planned, the Saviour bled and died
Redemption for a worthless slave to buy
Who long had law and grace defied.

And now He takes me to His heart a son
He asks me not to fill a servant's place
The far-off country wand'rings all are done
Wide open are His arms of grace.

C Bishop, R Harkness © 1926, 1956 Lillenas Publishing Co.

God continues to love us even through a pandemic. His grace is still sufficient and His love is still wonderful and He is Enough. Praise His Name. I want to thank you for your perseverance during these unprecedented times. God’s love and grace continues to be showered on His people. God is working in our churches and He continues to make all things possible. These are challenging days but also exciting days as we see God at work in our midst.

Some of our churches are beginning to have services again while others are making plans to do so in the near future. This is very exciting but why we are meeting? What is our purpose? May I share some thoughts with you. 

  • We are not meeting to be rebellious. We are not fighting the government or any political system.
  • We are not meeting so we can have a good offering. If you are a member of a church or an attender you should already be paying your tithes, offerings and other giving such as missions and church planting.
  • We are not meeting because we missed each other. I am energized by being with people and during the time the churches were not having services I missed being with people. To be with one another is not the best reason to have church.
  • We are meeting first and foremost to Worship the only true God. He deserves to be the object of our worship and the purpose of returning to church. God is love and He is so good. Let us gather once again to worship Him.

I am attaching a link for you to read more on what others are saying concerning the church gathering once again.

I want you to know you are loved and you are in my prayers. Thank you once again for all you do to make us a GREAT COMMISSION MOVEMENT.

Blessings and be safe,

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Greetings in the wonderful and lovely name of Jesus. During this unprecedented time may we be reminded that our Lord is still alive and is worthy of our praise. Thank you for ‘hanging in there’ and for all you are doing to spread the Gospel and helping us to be ‘A Great Commission Movement.’ I am trusting that someday we are able to get back to our NORMAL but in the meantime we all have had to adjust, change plans and move forward the best we can.  I am thankful we have a God who was not caught off guard with COVID-19 and one who is faithful.

Allow me to share some information with you. I trust by doing so it will answer any questions you may have.

Opening of Church services

I am now leaving it up to each pastor and church board to decide when it is the right time to open up your church and have services inside your building. Again, each state may have different guidelines.  Please know what the President and your Governor are recommending. Until further notice I recommend that when you start having services you follow these guidelines:

  • Maintain social distancing. This may require having different times for your people to meet for the same service.
  • Have cleaning and sanitizing supplies available and clean and sanitize after each meeting.
  • I still recommend no children’s church or nursery. Have families sit together in the sanctuary.
  • Locate offering plates where the people can place their tithes and offerings in the plates rather than pass them.
  • No hugging or handshakes.
  • Be mindful of the facts concerning this pandemic.
  • Use wisdom and be considerate of your congregation to keep them safe.

Mount of Praise Camp Meeting

  • Mount of Praise will be moved from June to August this year.
  • Because of the ruling to not meet in large gatherings we will not have camp meeting in June. Hopefully things will open up more by August and we can gather for camp. The location of camp is still to be determined.If we are able to meet in person, we will share that location as soon as possible. If we cannot meet in person, we will have a virtual camp meeting on these dates.
  •  The dates are August 20th - 23rd. More information will be coming out soon.
  • Global Impact Rally will be held on August 19th.
  • Ordination Service will be on Sunday, August 23rd.
  • Teens of Praise will be cancelled for this year. The General ECY Board is looking to host a special teen event sometime later this year. Stay tuned for more details. 

General Council

  • We are planning on conducting General Council during the Mount of Praise Camp in August. Thursday, August 20th will the first day of council, providing we are able to meet in person. We will conclude on Friday. Again, this is a fluid situation and things could change. I will do my best to communicate any changes as soon as they would arise.

ECL Banquet

  • Due to COVID19 restrictions, the ECL Banquet will need to be cancelled this year.
  • The ECL will be communicating any future events or special gatherings.

I trust these updates will allow you to plan ahead as much as possible. Know you are loved and in my prayers. Let us look and see what He is doing and continue to be His church. I am reminded of God’s amazing grace every day. 

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

His Grace Is Sufficient,

Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 (p.m.)

Dear Church Family,

I am sure you have read my previous email concerning the opening up of our churches and how to go about doing this. I would like to add a few more comments. I have responded this way because a number of our churches are saying they are going to start having services again. Knowing this I felt it necessary to at least lay out a plan for our churches that are going to meet.

I did my best to think through what I have heard from the Ohio Governor and from other leaders during this time of change. I did mention those things however I feel I need to highlight a few and give a better explanation of some of the guidelines. I believe we have wise people so I am asking that you use wisdom in this phase of change of the stay at home order. We want to worship but we also have an obligation to our people to keep them safe. As far as a time table I know some churches want to start the first Sunday in May however it might be best to wait until the second phase is underway. That would be the a little later in May or the first of June or whatever time table works best for your church.

Different states will have different recommendations and again I believe each one needs to be aware of their state and local guidelines. I believe the state and local officials have tried hard not to mandate what the church does, however the church needs to be the greater example for the safety of the people. (“Ohio is one of 14 states that is exempting religious services from shelter-in-place rules so long as they practice physical distancing measures, such as keeping six feet apart and avoiding direct contact.”)

  • I did not mean to come across that you had to start having church services. This recommendation should be stated, IF you decide to have your church meet in person during this first phase that you have no more than one service. Many of you may want to wait and I personally think that would be a good idea especially if you are able to do services through the social media venue.
  • HOW the church begins to meet is crucial. Ohio has not mandated how the church responds and how they decide to meet but Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Acton are still concerned with having large gatherings. Please keep this in mind as you move forward as an individual church. That is why I stated you need to think of having several times to meet for the same order of worship so that you are able to keep with the recommended distancing. If you are able to conduct drive in church or have services online that is still a great way to have church for a while longer.
  • COVID-19 will end and how the church responds today will allow us to have a strong influence in the future. Let us be wise. Let us be patient. Let us think of others.
  • It is reported that our elderly still has the highest risk of getting the coronavirus. Keep your elderly in mind with your decisions.
  • It is reported that children are the greatest carrier of the coronavirus. Please keep this in mind if you decide to begin to meet.
  • Again, each state and local authorities may suggest different recommendations. I do urge you to keep these recommendations.

Remember we are the church whether we meet in our church buildings or not. I know some of you are anxious to get started and I don’t blame you. Please continue to use wisdom and love as your church moves forward.

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 (a.m.)

Dear Church Family,

Greetings in Jesus name. I woke up today with a song in my heart. I love to sing as a part of my worship and today the song that came to me was, ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus.’ With a glad heart I rejoice in this truth that we can trust in Jesus.

I want to share several things with you.

First, I am so thankful for God’s presence and help during the coronavirus pandemic. The Lord has given us strength day by day and has been faithful to all of us. It has been a couple of months that we have navigated through COVID-19 and the Lord continues to be faithful.

Second, I am thankful for each of you and how you have worked through these uncertain days. Thank you for your understanding and faithful service to the Lord. You are loved and continue to be in my prayers.

Thirdly I want to share with you a plan on how we can move forward. Because of the way things change on a daily basis these guidelines will be for the month of May only. I will share future guidelines as things change. I want to serve you the best I can and keep you safe. I believe if we move forward the right way, we can protect each other and start opening up our churches for worship.

I Recommend:

  • One worship service a week. Hopefully a few weeks from now we can recommend opening up for even more services and ministries.
    • Keep the social distancing rule. This may mean that some of our churches will need to have more than one service so to allow for the proper distancing. Some may want to rope off every other pew. I recommend greeting times be suspended until a later time. If you have one be creative and keep the proper distance.
    • I recommend no nursery, youth services or children services for now. Have your children join their parents in the sanctuary for services. The nursery should be used for emergency use only.
    • Greeters should greet at the proper distance. No hugs or handshakes.
    • Offering plates should not be passed out. They should be located where people can place their giving.
    • I highly urge that masks should be worn when with others. I cannot mandate you to use masks, however I recommend masks for the safety of others.
    • Please keep in mind the elderly of your church.
    • Have cleaning supplies on hand. Sanitize and disinfect often and after each use of your church. Be sure to disinfect everywhere people may have touched.
  • Along with having a service in your building, if you can, continue to have worship opportunities through social media and other forms of online services. Many people have been reached and have heard the Gospel message through this venue.
  • Listen to and follow the recommendations of your state and local authorities. Each state will be different in some areas but there should be some commonality especially in the area of social distancing and sanitization.
  • Things to remember:
    • The coronavirus is still dangerous and should not be taken lightly.
    • Continue separation.
    • We serve a great God who will help us through this.
    • We need each other.
    • Pray, Pray and Pray.

I will give more information and other recommendations in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. I know God has this and we can trust Him. ‘Tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus.’

I believe in you and I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

Dear Pastor and Church Family,

I am so grateful for each of you and the way God is using you to make a difference during these strange days. I know it has been difficult and challenging to walk through this pandemic. However, we have a God who has been faithful and you have shown that you are more than up for the task to take on any challenge thrown at you. Thank you for your faithfulness.

These past weeks of navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging yet I believe we are facing new challenges as we move into the month of May. Reports are coming out daily from our President and Governors. They are sharing concern primarily of the affect COVID-19 is having on our economy. The ‘Stay At Home’ order is to be lifted with restrictions. This is exciting news and yet there are new challenges we will face.

Now that April is coming to an end, I know you have questions and want to know if we have a plan for May and even longer. I am praying fervently for God to give me wisdom as we move forward. I also am having discussions with denominational leaders, church leaders and community leaders to see how they plan to move forward. I want to have as much information as possible and with this information along with the help and wisdom of God make the best decision and give the best plan possible. I have one more informative meeting Monday morning and then the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, speaks Monday afternoon on how Ohio is to move forward. After these events I will get to you and our churches my response and plan. I will share this plan Monday evening or Tuesday morning. I know the Lord is good and He will help us.

Tomorrow is the last Sunday in April and I want you to know I am praying for a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. You might be doing Facebook, drive in church, recordings or not able to have a service at all but God’s Spirit can work in the lives of our people. He Is Lord.

  • I have been praying for you during this time. I pray daily for you. These are a few of the things I ask God to do for you.
  • That you and your family are safe.
  • That you are healthy spiritually, physically and mentally.
  • For your financial situation both personally and the church.
  • For continual understanding.
  • For God to give you new ways to spread the gospel.
  • I ask God to give you a heart of peace, grace and love.

As we move forward, I am praying for the Lord’ wisdom, grace and mercy. I am praying He gives us patience and understanding. I pray for courage and strength. I pray we continue to be A GREAT COMMISSION MOVEMENT and used of God for His Kingdom. It is exciting to think of how God wants to use us for His glory.

Be looking for more information Monday or Tuesday.

Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Pastor and Church Leader,

The sun is shining bright as I write this and it is a beautiful day. It is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. I pray you are well and safe. I want to share a thought about God's Grace and some prayer requests with you.

I have been thinking today of the grace of God. John 1:16 tells us that we have received God's fulness and grace. I believe that God is with us and He will see us through any challenges we face and provide the grace we need to
face it.

II Corinthians 12:9 reads: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." The grace mentioned here is a form of strength or power to not only endure but able to make our weakness a source of strength. We are amazed at God's grace. We can depend on His grace as He even sent HIs Son to die for us and send the Holy Spirit to be with us and sustain us. I read Max Lucado recently and he wrote, 'Stand in the shadow of God's crucified Son and ask your questions. "Is Jesus on my side? Look at the wound in His side. Will he stay with me? Look at His supreme sacrifice He made in giving HIs Son to die for us. God's grace is sufficient.

We have no strength against disease or the pain that is among us today but it may be through our weakness we serve Him best. It is through our weakness that will bring Glory to Him. HIs Sufficient Grace Shows Us That:

  • It Causes Us To Be Humble: We need God and we need one another.
  • It Causes Us To Depend On God: I am weak but He is strong. I cannot but God can.
  • It Causes Our Character to Grow: We grow every day in the INWARD MAN.
  • It Causes An Openness to God: We constantly are to be reminded of our need for God.

I am thankful for the Grace Of God. I received this text this morning that because of God's Grace, every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. This is because of the Grace of a God that never fails. The song “He Giveth More Grace” says it best.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done;
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit.
His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

May we never forget that God’s Grace Is Sufficient.

Urgent Prayer Requests:

  • The Wayne Knisley Family - Wayne went to be with the Lord Monday, March 30th.
  • Debbie Cartwright’s mother and brother who are fighting the coronavirus.
  • Veronica Leatham - wife of our pastor Joannes Leatham also fighting the coronavirus.

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Greetings in Jesus name. I pray you are well and you are sensing God’s presence. He is here and He is faithful. A chorus of the church comes to mind as I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit. This was sung by the Gaither Vocal Band.

"I sense an awesome moving of the Holy Spirit and I see His countenance resting on your face. I know that there are angels hovering all around us for the presence of the Lord is in this place

He is here, Hallelujah!
He is here, Amen!
He is here, Holy, Holy
I will bless His name again
He is here, Listen closely
Hear Him calling out your name
He is here, you can touch Him
You will never be the same

I searched for peace among the shadows, dark and lonely
Gave up on finding that strong and lasting love
I tasted all the things that sin could fear to offer me
But today I feast on manna from above

He is here, Hallelujah
He is here, Amen!
He is here, Holy, Holy
I will bless His name again
He is here, listen closely
Hear Him calling out your name
He is here, you can touch Him
You will never be the same
He is here, you can touch Him
And you will never be the same"

Your faithfulness and perseverance through the COVID-19 pandemic is a great encouragement to me. I have visited as many LIVE feeds on Facebook and church website services that I know about. Pastors you are doing GREAT. We as a denomination and churches are still getting the Word out and I am praying that as we sow God’s Word there will be much reaping.

We continue to see changes every day because of COVID-19 and we do not know when the pandemic will end. I believe we need to be the church today. Help those who need help and healing. Pray for our leaders and medical workers. Reach out to our communities with the love and heart of Jesus. Offer to help those in need. Do all we can to be the church today and prepare to be the church when this is over.

I am sending you a reading that might interest you from Rev. Randy Saultz:

Learning to Be the Church – Randy Saultz
March 24, 2020

"When March began, I was pretty sure that our walk through the season of Lent would include several discussions during our Wednesday Evening Study that would challenge common notions of what it means to follow Jesus. I was pretty sure it would include a variety of people reading for us during Sunday Worship. I was pretty sure it would include listening to the Gospels as they offer us words with more substance than what we tend to hear from the voices of culture.

Instead we have found ourselves in unknown territory. We are living in the age of COVID-19. The church in the United States is not used to things like quarantine and concerns about new disease. It is not new for the church, but unprecedented for the American Church in this generation.

To be honest, this has been incredibly inconvenient. I am used to stopping on my way to the office to drink iced tea and use someone’s Wi-Fi. I am used to listening to people share stories and concerns in person. I am used to gathering with others to sing, pray, give, and read Scripture together. Yet, here I am getting used to a changing schedule. And we are all learning to be the church differently.

I am thinking this is good for us. I am thinking it may be good to be shaken out of our routine. It is good to be reminded that we are not in control. The natural response to cancellations and quarantine are about how difficult it becomes for us. Our experience has prepared us to become anxious or resistant. It is more difficult to think about what we can learn and how we can grow during this period in time.

And yet, the Bible was written for a church that clawed and fought to encourage one another in any way possible. A church that wasn’t always able to gather but found ways to support one another in community. A church that knew there is a real possibility for people to feel isolated during difficult times. That is where we find ourselves at Christ Reformed Church. We recognize that we are a distributed people. We are seeking for new and even unorthodox ways to connect and serve. Our identity is not based on a virus but on a great God. We will continue to follow that God as we walk toward the next chapter. Whatever else is going on right now, I am convinced we are learning to be a better church."

FYI - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has issued a Stay At Home order for Ohio except for essentials. In trying to be a team player and to protect our employees, we are transitioning to doing a lot of work at home until April 6th. However, the Global Ministry Center will have a few people in the office daily to do what needs to be done for our churches. Please feel free to call the office if you need anything and as always you will be directed to the proper place. Our desire is to serve you and help you any way possible.

May we continue to pray at 4:31. This goes along with Acts 4:31.

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Let us pray together:

  • To Be Shaken
  • To Be Filled with The Holy Spirit
  • To Speak The Word of God with Boldness

You are loved.

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Greetings CCCU Family:

Greetings in the faithful name of Jesus. I am thankful for you and your ministry and during this time I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness.

As COVID-19 continues to unfold I want to let you know I am praying for you. I praise the Lord daily for the CCCU family. We are not facing these days alone, but we have the Lord and each other. This is a time for us to be unified and realise we need each other. We are all different and diverse, but as I always say I believe in Diversity in the Kingdom but not Disunity. This is a time to put our different gifts and abilities to work and make a difference in our world. God wants to use each of us during this time. I pray we join together to bring Glory to Him.

I for one do not know where the coronavirus pandemic will lead us, but I do know we serve a God who does. He loves His Church and His children. May I remind each of us, that we are the Church. The Church is not a building or a program, the Church is His followers. There are three (3) pictures of the Church in the Bible. These are:

  • The Building - The place of worship.
  • The Bride - Jesus is coming again to receive his church the bride.
  • The Body - Together we are the body of Christ and together we can do more! We need each other.

I am reaching out to as many resources as possible to be able to share the most up-to-date information possible. Our churches have been given direction and information from the General Department and the Districts. The recommendations to be safe and to follow wise council is appreciated, heartfelt and on target. I am sure we are all praying for God’s wisdom. Let us continue to seek God and His wisdom for our families, churches and communities.

I would like to share some thoughts as we head into another weekend of the COVID-19:

  • Let us remember that God is Here. He has not left us nor forsaken us. He is with us.
  • I encourage you to GIVE-GIVE-GIVE. Please give more than less at this time.
  • Continue to give to the church. There will still be bills and salaries to pay.
  • Our evangelists and missionaries will need continued support and financial help.
  • Let us learn from this experience. God wants to teach us new and exciting ways of doing ministry and being the Church.
  • Be understanding and be an example of our Lord. No one knows exactly what to do but everyone is trying to do their best.
  • Be Great Commission Christians.
  • Take this opportunity to worship with family. Build a family altar where possible.
  • Look and prepare ahead. I believe the church needs to prepare for when the pandemic ends. As I have been praying this is what I see:
    • We need to encourage one another.
    • I believe people will be wanting answers to their questions.
    • I believe the church will be filled and have the opportunity to minister to and share the Gospel message to more people than ever before.
    • Our pastors and churches will be in a powerful spirit of revival.
    • In our communities because of the shut-downs and limited travel everyone will be ready to get out.
    • People will flock to our churches, restaurants, barber shops, hair and nail salons and coffee shops. We will build relationships that will lead to people being saved.
    • I believe the best days are ahead for the Church.

I have never been through anything like this, but I can get excited believing what God can do. I encourage us to keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus. My God can do all things. He will see us through.

FYI - If you want updates, we have established a COVID-19 Response Team for the denomination. Updates will be coming weekly or until this situation is over. We have also improved and updated our website. There is a dedicated area to share about COVID-19. You will be able to find all our communications as well as up-to-date information from many agencies and resources. You will find ways to set up online communication with your people as well as online giving.

The link to our website is: www.cccuhq.org/covid19

Thank you and know you are loved and in our prayers. I want to hear from you so please feel free to contact me if you have any questions as well as needs. I will do my best to serve you or direct you to the right place for help. WE NEED EACH OTHER!!!

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Dear Church Family,

Greetings in Jesus name. I want you to know I am praying for you today as together we navigate through the challenges around us and the changes this brings into our lives.

Many of our churches met but for shorter services, while some cancelled all together. Others with the capability to livestream their services went online. These changes are difficult, but I want to remind us that together we can get through these days. The Lord is still with us and in our midst.

I was reading out of Psalm 78 this morning and came across verse 28 which peaked my interest. Psalm 78:28 reads. "And He let them fall in the midst of their camp. The Psalmist is remembering how God took care of His people while they were wandering in the wilderness. He fed them and this feeding was not hidden from them but He sent the manna and quail right into their camp. He did not make them climb high mountains or seek for this blessing. No, He placed this blessing in their camp and in their midst.

I thought of how God is always in our midst. He never will leave us nor forsake us. Joshua 3-4:13 relates the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan river with the Ark of The Covenant going before them. They placed 12 stones in the Jordan for all to be reminded in the days to come of the great things God did and to not forget He is always in the midst of His people.

You and I are the Lord's. He has and is in our midst even today as we go through challenges. We have a strong foundation as The Churches of Christ in Christian Union. We have wonderful memories but we have more than memories. We have great pastors and the best people you can find anywhere. Our memories are precious but I believe God wants to do something fresh and new in our lives. May I suggest several things from Joshua 3-4:13:

I. God's Presence is Permanent

A. We are walking in new territory.
B. We are crossing into unknown and possibly dangerous territory.
C. We are assured that God is always with us.

II. We Must Not Forget What God Has Done

A. Let's not concentrate on misfortune but how great our God is.
B. Rejoice and Encourage with a spirit of gratitude.
C. Our children need to know the greatness of our God.

III. We Must Prepare For War

A. Satan is still fighting against us.
B. We need to get out of our comfort zones and fight back.
C. Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.

IV. We Need Each Other

A. I Believe In you and our churches.
B. I Believe God has brought us together for the purpose of bringing glory to Him.
C. I Believe in God. He is not forsaking us but is wanting to use us.

V. Remember God's Blessings Await Us

A. We are not alone but we have each other.
B. We have to cross into this uncertain territory to receive His blessing.
C. God's blessings are bountiful and more than we can ever imagine.

I believe in you, and I want you to know that together we can do more than we can on our own. Thank you for being a part of my family. You remain in my prayers.

I want to also remind us that President Trump has called today the National Day of Prayer. Let us pray for the unsaved, our world, our nation, our leaders, our pastors and churches and one another.

President Trump's Words:

"It is my great honour to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these. No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL.

With Love and Prayers,
Mike Holbrook

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Dear Church Family,

Greetings in the faithful name of Jesus Christ. These changing days, but there is one thing for sure, Jesus never changes and He never fails. Thank you for standing strong.

I am receiving word from our churches around the world with concerns and questions concerning the COVID-19 and what measures they should take in the local church and communities where they are located. While we are not to live a life of fear or panic but one of faith, love and hope, we also need to be wise and prudent through situations we find ourselves in today. Wisdom does tell us to plan and to proceed with caution.

Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, spoke at a news conference yesterday afternoon and issued an order to temporarily prohibit gatherings of 100 or more people. Many other states have issued similar orders. Although the Ohio order did not include religious gatherings, he gave a strong message that we all need to work together to stop the spread of the virus. I am encouraging each church to establish guidelines. I also want to share some decisions we are making as a denomination as well as give some directional thoughts.

How Should The Church Respond?

We are the church so I pray you will be the church to your congregation and community. I suggest the church contact the hospitals, community leaders, school officials, food banks and other community organizations. Let them know who you are and ask what you can do to help during this time of need. At this time, just as important as our time together inside the four walls of the church, will be time spent ministering outside the four walls of the church.

Worship Services:

This needs to be monitored by each church. I might suggest you limit the times you meet. One of our churches is cancelling Sunday school, Sunday nights and other meetings and will only have their morning worship. Others have decided to cancel services altogether. Each church will need to make decisions wisely and with caution.

If you have the capability to streamline services, I would suggest you use this tool and have your congregation tune in from home. There will be those who choose to stay home so find some way to stay connected. If you cannot stream services then try to record or write them and email them to your people.

These changes in most cases are taking place for a two-week period or until the first of April and at that time will reevaluate their situation. Continue to evaluate your situation and respond appropriately.

Other Thoughts:

If anyone is feeling sick: I encourage you to stay home. Use wisdom.

Be patient. God will see us through.

Pray. There are so many who are suffering and need our prayers.

Be flexible. Be in a constant state of evaluation.

Be Understanding: There are many different opinions and views about this situation. Please know we are praying and seeking the Lord on what to do as a denomination.

Be Faithful: Faithfulness is a priority at this time. Faithful to our Lord and to the church we serve. This is a time where some of our churches will feel a financial burden. Find creative ways to have tithes and offerings paid. Make plenty of calls and stay connected.

Denominational Update:

Because of the order from our Governor that affects our schools and universities, we are going to cancel our Ministerial Conference and Engage. I will get more information to you next week about future plans. I want to move this year’s Conference to the fall. If you have already paid your fees for the Conference there are several ways to handle this.

1. Your payment will be set aside with your church’s name and will be applied to the next Ministerial Conference. Again, we are looking to reschedule this event in the fall.
2. You can ask for your money back. If we are going to have a Fall Conference it would not be long before this amount would need to be submitted again.

I encourage you to be the church in these days. God has not been asleep or caught off guard. He will see us through and my prayer is that the church responds in a way to bring Glory to God. I ask for your prayers as we strive to honor God and make wise decisions. We have the greatest people in the world and together we can make a difference in this time of great need.

I will be sending updates periodically. Know you are loved and I am for each and every one of you.

Below is a post that came from Dr. Doug Carter. I know we are reading and hearing from different sources. I thought this particular post was good, so I wanted to share it.

“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW??

Yesterday was one of the craziest days in memory. Governors assured us they are doing everything they can to stop something they have no control over. Every media channel screamed that death is imminent. President Trump banned Europeans from coming to America. And the NBA suspended their season just when we need them most.

In the midst of the craziness I woke up this morning thinking I had the coronavirus. Stuffy nose, dry cough, unreasonable panic. And then I remembered I wake up every morning with everything but the panic; I have seasonal allergies. It turns out I don’t have the virus.

Which brings me to my question for pastors, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? Schools are closing, governments are banning large meetings, and the economy is in free fall. Everyone who is paying attention knows that the next few weeks and months will likely be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. So, what do we do?

Here’s what we’re going to do:

1. We’re going to care for our own souls and our own families
2. We’re going to calm the fearful, care for the vulnerable and love the unlovable
3. We’re going to connect with other leaders and pastors and lean into wise counsel. We are all in this together, so nobody rides alone. If you don’t have other pastors to lean into, let me know and I’ll hook you up.
4. We’re going to adapt. If we can’t meet in groups over 200, we’ll meet in smaller groups. If we are advised to maintain social distancing, we’ll follow that advice. It is not brave or evidence of faith to ignore the wisdom of trained medical experts, it is stupid. Jesus called us to be wise as snakes and harmless as doves. Having people infect others is dumb and harmful.
5. We are going to offer an opportunity for people to connect, worship, pray and learn online. If you do not already have an online experience all you need is a smartphone and a Facebook account. Here are instructions if you don’t know how: https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/facebook-live
6. We are going to encourage people to give online.
7. We are going to look at our budgets and trim all non-essentials so we can be lean and compassionate as the need arises.
8. We are going to facilitate our people volunteering with our local community services to be a resource when they need help.
9. We are going to offer easy ways for our people to share their prayer requests with their fellow believers. We are going to mobilize a team of prayer warriors to pray around the clock.
10. We are going to be salt and light in a lost and dying world.”

To quote an unknown source, "It’s all going to be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end."

With Love and Prayers,
Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent