Friday, March 20, 5:00pm
Tuesday, March 17, 5:15pm
This past Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended there be no large gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. Yesterday, the Alabama Department of Public Health made the same recommendation, and then today enacted a prohibition of gatherings of 25 or more within Jefferson and the surrounding counties, including Shelby County, through April 6, with the possibility of extending that deadline. In light of these recommendations and restrictions, we have developed the following plan.
#1 WORSHIP GATHERINGS - In compliance with the new restrictions, we are suspending our regular worship gatherings through, at least, Sunday, April 5. In light of the other recommendations, we expect the suspension will likely need to be extended beyond that date. However, we want to remain hopeful while also recognizing the fluid nature of these guidelines. If any adjustments to these plans are needed, we will share those with you as soon as possible through our website, email, and social media.
Suspending our gatherings is not something we want to do, but in light of all the information we have right now, we believe it is what we need to do to contribute toward stopping the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Our hearts are extremely heavy. The thought of not gathering together with you all each week, up to this point, would have been unfathomable. We need each other. We need you. We need our church. So, we are praying diligently for God to work in mighty ways and ask you to join us in doing the same. In the meantime, we will continue to gather for worship online each Sunday at 10:00am at brookhills.org/live.
#2 OTHER MINISTRY AREAS - In addition to our regular worship gatherings, we are also suspending all other on-campus ministries until further notice. However, we are currently working on some ways to stay connected and continue to encourage and equip our faith family. Our age-group and small group ministries will be providing resources through their weekly parent emails.
#3 SMALL GROUPS - While our on-campus small groups will not be having their regular meetings during this time, we are encouraged by some of the ways we’ve heard that you’re already reaching out and connecting with one another. However, in a White House briefing yesterday afternoon and reiterated today, government officials urged all Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. So, we are encouraging all of our small groups to avoid meeting in person at this time. With that in mind, our Adult & Small Groups Minister, Jay Gordon, is going to be providing leaders with some helpful ideas about how small groups can continue to connect and care for one another during this season.
#4 HOW YOU CAN HELP - Circumstances being what they are, it can be difficult to know how best to help. We’d like to offer a few suggestions.
Pray - Pray for God, in His mercy, to cease the spread of this disease. Ask God to grant wisdom to leaders of our church, our city, our state, our country, and our world as they direct us in the best courses of action for prevention and care. Pray for healthcare workers and others serving on the frontlines to treat and stop this virus. Pray for the partners we have serving around the world to be protected and comforted. Ask God to help us all make the most of any opportunities we may have to point people to the comfort and salvation ultimately found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Give - Thank you so much for the generosity you exhibited in your giving this past week even though we were unable to gather in person. Your faithful giving to the general budget helps us continue in ministry and respond to the needs of the people in our community and world, which can be significant in times like these. Your giving to our Family Assistance offering affords us the opportunity to support members of our church in need, as well. Giving online or by mail are the best avenues for making a contribution during this season.
Reach Out - Without our weekly times together in person, it is even more important for us to intentionally engage with one another and those around us. So, check on the members of your small group, other friends from church, and your neighbors who live next to you. Offer prayer, support, and encouragement.
Specific Needs - As we become aware of more specific areas of need in our church and from our partners, we will be sure to share them with you.
Oak Tree Ministries is currently helping to ensure all the children of Marks Village who normally rely upon school meals have enough to eat. Their current need is for financial donations to assist with this effort.
Serving You Ministries is also helping provide nutritional assistance for fellow Birminghamians. However, their greatest need currently is for volunteers who will bag groceries inside to be delivered to cars.
We want to ensure we are meeting needs in our church and community. We also want to help care for any who might require special attention during this season. So, if you have or know of a particular need, please let your small group know. If your small group is unable to meet the need, please contact us. If you are in need and do not have a small group or know of someone who might benefit from us reaching out to them, please let us know so we can help.
While it pains us to be unable to gather together, we take comfort in knowing that though we are separated, God is never far from us. In fact, He is with us. Let’s continue to trust Him and look to Him to lead us as we follow.
We love you, Brook Hills.
Your Elders and Staff
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Friday, March 13, 10:00am
In light of further recommendations from local leaders and medical professionals, and in the interest of the health and safety of our members, we feel it is wise to temporarily adjust the plans for Sunday gatherings and midweek ministries that we shared previously. You may have even heard some of our plans reported on the news this morning, but we have made additional changes since then. So, please read carefully.
Yesterday, officials with both the Jefferson County Health Department and the Alabama Department of Public Health recommended citizens avoid large gatherings of over 500 people. In light of these recommendations, we have developed the following plan for how we might honor our city and state leaders, love one another, and love our neighbors in our community.
#1 Sunday, March 15 - We will NOT gather for worship or small groups on campus this coming Sunday, March 15. Neither will we have our Faith Family Gathering that was scheduled for Sunday evening. Instead, we will provide an online gathering that will include music, prayer, and a message from Pastor Matt. This gathering will be different in many ways from what we’re normally used to, but we believe God will still be honored as we worship together, seek Him in prayer, and proclaim the gospel. You will be able to join this online gathering at 10:00am on Sunday, March 15 by visiting brookhills.org/live.
#2 Future Gatherings - We will continue to evaluate the possibility of resuming regular on-campus gatherings as well as other options that might exist for gathering online should it become necessary for us to continue doing so. Once decisions are finalized, we will share that information with you through our website, email, and social media.
#3 Small Groups - We will not have any on-campus small groups this week and encourage off-campus small groups to be prudent and use discretion in deciding whether or not to meet. However, we encourage all of our small groups to be intentional in connecting with members in other ways as well, by phone, text, email, etc., in order to continue to stay in touch and lift one another up in prayer.
#4 Midweek Ministries - We are suspending all of our midweek ministries at least through March. Though, as we continue to evaluate, this timeline may be extended.
#5 Other Weekday Ministries - We are also suspending the Homeschool Co-op classes, Women’s Ministry, and ESL classes for the next two weeks, but may determine it is necessary to extend this timeline, as well.
#6 Early Learning Center - Our ELC will follow the direction and decisions of the Shelby County School System, as is our standard practice.
#7 Office Hours - At this point, our staff will continue to have regular office hours Monday through Friday. If we can be of any assistance to you, please let us know.
Our goal, as we’ve considered options and made decisions throughout this week, has been to both honor God and care for you, our church, and our community well. This continues to be our prayer, and we thank you for joining us in asking God to work all these things together for our good and His glory.
We look forward to “seeing” you online for worship Sunday.
Your Elders and Staff
Thursday, March 12, 4:15pm
We want to update you on what’s happening at Brook Hills in light of the increased concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Like you, we’ve been closely following this evolving story with concern. As staff and elders, we’ve had a variety of discussions in consultation with medical professionals about how to best move forward. Developments are changing hour by hour, which may ultimately impact this Sunday. For now, please read through this entire email as it contains detailed plans for keeping our campus safe along with suggestions about how you can help.
#1 Gatherings: Our current plan is to remain open and to gather for Sunday worship and small groups, as well as midweek ministries. In the event that local and state health officials recommend further closures, or we determine it is in the best interest of our faith family to suspend gathering or ministries for a period of time, we will inform everyone to the best of our abilities through our website, emails, and social media.
#2 Sanitation: We will continue to work hard to keep our campus clean, paying special attention to our preschool and children’s areas and commonly used surfaces like door handles, seats, and counters. We will also have hand sanitizer readily available through our main building and our student center. Additionally, our staff and volunteer teams will wash their hands frequently and will stay home if they are sick. We’re also encouraging our leaders in preschool and children’s ministry to help ensure our children are washing their hands and using hand sanitizer.
#3 Communion: At this time, we believe it is wise to temporarily suspend our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Our current plan is for this suspension to last through Sunday, April 19. However, we will reevaluate by April 10 whether or not we believe this suspension will need to be extended.
#4 Offering: We are also going to suspend passing our offering baskets at the end of our worship gatherings for the same period of time we are suspending the Lord’s Supper. Instead, we will have the large baskets we typically use for Global Offering placed throughout the room for us to use as we worship through giving our tithes and offerings. You can use these baskets as you enter or exit the worship center. This is also a good opportunity to utilize our online giving options where you can give one-time gifts or even set up recurring giving using a debit or credit card or bank draft.
#5 Greeting: We want to continue to welcome one another graciously and display hospitality to everyone around us. However, for the period of time related to communion and offering, we will also be suspending our official greeting time that often begins our worship gatherings.
#6 Worship Guides: At this time, we will continue to distribute worship guides and have pens available at all entrances to our worship gatherings. Feel free to bring your own pen, but if you do take a pen, we encourage you to keep it rather than return it. If you do not wish to take a worship guide or pen, though, we certainly understand. You can always download a digital version of our sermon listening guide on our website or through our app.
#7 Prevention: During this time, it’s also good to remind ourselves of what we can do to help prevent the spread of this and other viruses. These include:
- Wash your hands frequently. Soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective at killing viruses.
- Observe good cough and sneeze etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose in the crook of your elbow or with a tissue that should be immediately thrown away.
- Be aware of your risk of transmitting infection to others. Please stay home if you or your child are feeling sick. Contact your medical provider to let them know you’re ill, and follow their advice. We also ask that you or your child be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning.
- Get in the habit of not touching your face as often.
- If you or someone you know tests positive for COVID-19, please let us know so we can find a way to help, pray for everyone involved, and take any necessary precautions here at Brook Hills.
#8 High Risk Groups: If you are one at higher risk of getting very sick, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, we want to help care for you. We know some of you may feel the need to avoid gathering together with us for a period of time. Know that our weekly sermons will be available online at our website and through our app by Monday morning each week. We are also exploring other options for how to include you in gatherings online and will let you know as soon as we have a plan in place. In the meantime, if you find yourself in need, please let your small group leader know or contact us at the church office.
This situation is ever-changing, which means our response will need to be as well. We are working to consider any future contingencies that may be required. As we adjust our response, we’ll continue to let you know through email, website, and social media.
Thank you, faith family, for your ongoing concern and support as we all walk through this together. Though the days ahead are unknown to us, they are well known to the God we serve. In times of uncertainty, let’s look to Him in faith to remove our fear, calm our worries, and lovingly guide us through as He always does so faithfully.
We love you, Brook Hills.
Your Elders and Staff
Saturday, March 7th, 10:38AM
We are likely all aware of the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation unfolding around the world. Like you, we are continuing to stay up-to-date on the latest information so we can be as prepared as possible. Our pastoral staff thought it would be beneficial to share with you how we are thinking through this situation and the steps we are taking in regard to our church in the days to come.
Please understand we are not in a position to be a source of information about coronavirus, nor a source of medical advice. To get the latest information, we recommend you pay attention to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. And naturally you should always seek medical advice from qualified medical professionals. One of our Elders, Dr. Scott James, is an infectious disease specialist and recently contributed to an article for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that is helpful for Christ-followers considering how to think about our response to coronavirus.
After receiving some wise counsel from medical professionals, our purpose now is simply to let you know we are thinking ahead about ways we can mitigate the spread of illness during our weekly gatherings, and to ask for your help, as well.
#1 Pray: Let’s continue to pray for all those here in our country and around the world who have been affected by this disease. We want to ask God to comfort the grieving families who have lost loved ones. Additionally, please pray for our workers we have serving around the world, for God’s provision and protection, and pray He might use this as an opportunity for the spread of the gospel as we have the opportunity to point others to the only God we can trust in times of uncertainty.
#2 Gatherings: Our current plan is to continue gathering together weekly for worship, small groups, and midweek ministries. We may make slight adjustments to our regular gatherings if they become necessary, and we, of course, will be paying attention to recommendations from authorities, especially the Alabama Department of Public Health. Our Early Learning Center will also continue to align with the plans of the Shelby County School system, as we do in all matters.
#3 Sanitation: We will continue to work hard to keep our campus clean, paying special attention to our preschool and children’s areas and commonly used surfaces like door handles, seats, and counters. We will also have hand sanitizer readily available through our main building and our student center.
#4 Global: Chip Bugnar, our Global Pastor, recently sent out an email to all of our short-term trip participants and summer mid-termers. We have decided it’s prudent to cancel some of our upcoming trips to certain areas of the world. However, our goal is to be as patient and measured as we can be in order to minimize impact on our global mission efforts. As this situation continues to unfold, we will be in touch with team members who are currently signed up for a short-term or mid-term trip. So, if you are signed up for a short-term trip but haven’t yet been contacted, your trip is currently moving forward as planned.
#5 Prevention: During this time, it’s also good to remind ourselves of what we can do to help prevent the spread of this and other viruses. These include:
Wash your hands frequently. Soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective at killing viruses. Observe good cough and sneeze etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose in the crook of your elbow or with a tissue that should be immediately thrown away.
Be aware of your risk of transmitting infection to others. Please stay home if you or your child are feeling sick. Contact your medical provider to let them know you’re ill, and follow their advice. We also ask that you or your child be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning.
Get in the habit of not touching your face as often.
If you or someone you know tests positive for COVID-19, please let us know so we can find a way to help, pray for everyone involved, and take any necessary precautions here at Brook Hills.
While we cannot control the virus, its spread, or the impact it has in our church, we want to assure you we’re doing everything we can to make our campus as safe and clean as possible by taking some easy, common-sense steps. We appreciate your cooperation and commitment to help us do just that. We’ll remain in conversation with medical professionals to help us think through anything else we should do.
We certainly don’t want you to be worried about coronavirus, just prudent. Remember that God has not called us to live in fear but in faith. So, even as we try to exercise wisdom in these circumstances, we trust in our sovereign God, that He is working all things according to the counsel of His will and that He is in absolute control.