December 8, 2020
Dear Church Family,
This COVID-19 update is in response to a significant increase in positive cases in our community and the updated Tulsa city ordinance. The following thoughts and changes to our service format were written after approval from our leadership team, reviewing Tulsa Health Department recommended guidelines, and personally consulting with numerous health care professionals, including those who are members of our church.
The Coronavirus is a communicable disease that is spread from one person to the other through respiratory droplets as we speak to one another in close proximity. While most people who become infected with Covid-19 have mild to no symptoms, many people have become ill, hospitalized, and died as a result of contracting the disease. We do know that while anyone can potentially incur a severe case, vulnerable populations (like those over 65, people with other health issues, and those who may have a compromised immune system) for a great number of reasons are at greatest risk. All of us want to attend church. The commitment level of the membership of EBC is very high, and we want everyone to be able to attend.
Understand that masks are a source inhibitor and help in preventing the spread of COVID in the same way as other courtesies—such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, turning your head, and limiting contact with others when you are sick. Masks provide the same courtesy and deference. One of the key factors in understanding the spread of this disease is that people can have an asymptotic case of COVID and spread it to others unknowingly. There also is a viral load that occurs for some, that potentially allows people to spread the disease before they have symptoms. That makes all of us potential carriers.
With that science in mind, and armed with the Christian ethic to esteem the needs of others above our own, I am asking that we greatly improve the culture of wearing a mask while at church, so everyone can attend, and we can mitigate the possibility of having another person become sick while worshipping with us. If Jesus was willing to demonstrate His love to us the way He did in Philippians 2, then we can provide this simple courtesy to esteem others in our church.
With that singular motivation in mind, we will be implementing the following changes at EBC for a limited time:
We will offer an 8:30am service, starting this Sunday. We are encouraging our seniors, anyone who may be health compromised, and those who may feel more comfortable in a more distanced environment to attend this service. This will help us create more space in our 10:30 service, so we can practice social distancing there as well. We will also be livestreaming our services to rooms 208 and 143 on Sunday mornings.
No changes will be made to our current social distancing sections, for those who want to enter and exit the building without traveling through the foyer.
We will be asking about 100 people (identified by the Adult Bible Class they attend) to rotate into the Family Center main auditorium for Sunday evening services. The service will be livestreamed there, and be led by a staff member.
We will be temporarily asking everyone to sit with their immediate family, if possible, and we will be suspending the teen section.
No changes will be made to our existing Wednesday night services or children’s programs.
The 10:30 Sunday morning service will be livestreamed for those watching the service from their homes. Videos of livestreamed services will be available for viewing for 24 hours, not indefinitely.
New signage will be posted around the building to help direct traffic flow.
We are asking all Adult Bible Classes to suspend buffet-style food. Each class will either need someone to serve food, or have individually packaged/pre-plated servings.
Please be mindful to wear a mask, especially while in transition from one place to another and in close proximity to others. Be aware that singing increases the radius of potential spread.
For questions concerning quarantining review CDC guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html
Thank you for your cooperation with our plan, and for having a good spirit. As of the writing of this update, we have approximately 10 positive COVID-19 cases and 2 people in the hospital with coronavirus complications among the membership of our church. None of those cases have been traced back to our church, and we are thankful for that. These precautions are meant to continue to make EBC a safe place.
December 3, 2020
Dear Church Family,
This past week, Tulsa's mayor—along with our city council—signed an amended city ordinance into effect beginning December 11th. This amended ordinance makes provision to declare places of public accommodation and setting “public nuisances” for failing to comply with city requirements intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Churches legally fall under these designations, and are therefore asked to comply.
The new ordinance specially asks that assemblies of over 150 people submit a safety plan to the Tulsa Health Department for approval, demonstrating effort to comply with the city ordinance. Enforcement of this ordinance has been handed over to the Tulsa Health Department, which has been granted authority to impose a $1,200 fine for each time a meeting occurs that violates the ordinance, as well as possible abatement, or closing down of the violating entity.
In response, we have reached out to a number of legal resources including The Christian Law Association, and specifically we have communicated with a local lawyer who specializes in church law. We sent this legal counsel numerous questions to help us understand our legal and constitutional rights, and to provide legal advice. These questions included:
•Does submitting a safety plan infringe on our 1st amendment rights?
•Does this ordinance infringe upon RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) laws granted by the state?
•What constitutes sufficient enforcement efforts on the part of the leadership of our church?
•Can we meet in our current format without legally endangering EBC and subjecting it to possible abatement?
Our leadership team met to discuss the answers to these questions, and consider the following:
•Does anything being asked or required of us violate our rights, and—more importantly—does anything asked of us violate Scripture or the things we hold spiritually essential?
•What ethical obligation and response do we feel toward the membership of EBC, our burdened hospital system, and our neighbors?
•Where can we accommodate the city ordinance, minus its infringement upon the way we worship?
I feel it is important that you understand we sought the advise from a lawyer for legal counsel only. This advise helps us understand where we stand, legally, in relation to choices we may make.
Our ultimate responsibility is to do what’s right in the eyes of the Lord and His instructions concerning the church and meeting together.
We are also attempting to show every possible respect and courtesy we can toward local government. We genuinely want our choices to reflect love for our neighbors and demonstrate concern for the health care crisis the city of Tulsa is experiencing. We also want to protect our own church and vulnerable population in a way that none of us would have regrets for the decisions we make.
I will be communicating our specific response to these considerations this Sunday during the morning service. There will be changes made to our service and online formats that I will discuss, and specifics that I will be asking each of you to personally consider.
In the coming days, we all will have the opportunity to stand for what we believe in, be a part of protecting the integrity of the church, and to demonstrate love and deference towards the concerns of others.
I love each of you. I look forward to seeing you Sunday, and ask in advance for a spirit of unity and the determination to travel this challenging time together.
October 6, 2020
Dear Church Family,
It has been some time since I have written to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our church family, and I feel like it is an appropriate time to do so again.
Since the inception of the pandemic, we have been incredibly fortunate and have had fewer than 20 members contract the virus. However, it is the nature of a virus to spread, and in the coming months we are very likely to see more of our membership infected. To help mitigate the risk to our church family, I would like to rehearse a few thoughts.
Church attendance for all of us is incredibly important and valuable. It is something the Lord asks us to do, and something we all want to keep a priority. So—to protect the health of our church family and to allow our members to assemble with a measure of personal liberty—I would like you to consider the following:
1) Please be as guarded as you can throughout the week, and do everything possible to limit and protect your exposure to others. I feel like we often get this backwards. We go about our week as we always have, and then marginalize our church attendance and make that optional. If attending church is a priority, then we may need to give greater consideration to how we are navigating the time we are away from church, so that we can attend safely. I realize that, for many of us, this may not be possible, or is beyond our control, but I think it’s a consideration we can all think through.
2) If you are sick or have any kind of symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, it may be wise to stay away from church until those symptoms are resolved. A number of people who have recently tested positive thought they had allergies or a head cold. This is a place to exercise discretion and deference, until you know for sure what your condition is.
3) I realize there are privacy issues to contend with, but if you feel you can share with the church staff that you have tested positive for COVID-19, then we can pray for you and also notify the church family so everyone can do their own contact tracing. It’s a courtesy to the church, but we certainly will respect your privacy, if that is what you prefer.
4) Use the hand sanitizers when you enter the building and after contact with others. It’s a simple practice that helps protect our community.
5) Of course, we are all aware of the Tulsa city ordinance concerning masks. We are not policing or enforcing this ordinance, as I have stated in the past. That is a choice we are making, not because we are minimizing the authority or importance of the ordinance, but because the city does not require it and your personal choice, liberty, and ability to worship and fellowship is something you need to have autonomy over. Christian principle should guide everything we do.
6) Finally, we are continuing to provide social distancing sections within the church (on the north side, both in the balcony and on the main floor) that allow you to enter and exit the building with minimal exposure to others. Again, we feel the church is as safe as Walmart, Lowe's, a restaurant, the gas station, and many other places that most of us frequent. If you are venturing out to these types of places, I hope the church is a place you would feel safe going to as well.
For the time being, we will also continue to offer our services online. For those attending and worshipping with us through that venue, let me encourage you to be as faithful to that hour, continue your giving, and find ways to serve and be a blessing to others—just as those who are personally attending.
It could be quite some time until our authorities tell us this pandemic is over. It is time for all of us to develop a long-term plan and philosophy for church attendance, staying connected with others here at Eastland, and practicing and sharing our faith in the community. An “all clear” may never come, and each of us has to decide what that means and how that might impact our Christian identity, commitments, faith, and practice.
Even though the world around us is divided, and circumstances are working to keep us apart, we need the emotional connection, support, strength, and encouragement that our church family can provide. Let's find ways to pull together and demonstrate God's love to one another as we face challenging days ahead.
August 7, 2020
Dear Church Family,
As we begin to enter the final month of summer, and are looking ahead to what could be a unique and challenging fall season, I wanted to take a moment to communicate a few thoughts.
I want to commend you and thank the Lord for the way we have navigated an unprecedented 2020 thus far. Despite the present health crisis and time of social unrest, we have maintained our church unity, good spirit, and biblical purpose over the last several months. At a time when emotions are high and opinions are strong, we have managed to come together because of our higher calling in Christ. Thank you for the grace you have extended to each other and our church as we navigated the past several months. Our offerings have not suffered despite economic uncertainty, our physical church attendance has been exceptional, and our online community has been faithful, and we have continued to support ministry and demonstrate love for one another even when being together has proved challenging. I hope each of you feel as thankful and privileged as I do to be a part of Eastland Baptist Church.
Secondly, I want to encourage you to continue to be faithful and to purpose in your heart to rally around the mutual commitment we share as members of EBC. Circumstances, no matter how challenging, should never threaten our core beliefs and commitments. If there has ever been a time to renew your commitment to Christ and serve Him with all your heart, it is now. There has never been a more important and necessary time to support and love each other through our church than this moment in our history. If more challenging days are ahead, we need to face them together, in unity, and in a shared purpose to lift up Christ as we assemble and meet together. We have always needed the strength and support of meeting together as God has commanded, but we also need to realize our presence is a strength and statement to others that we are in this together. This fall is going to be an “all hands on deck” time for our church and the cause of Christ.
Finally, for those of you unable to attend services physically, know that you are loved, prayed for, and not forgotten. I know numbers of you have been faithful to our online services and have continued to be supportive of Eastland and an encouragement to others. We are doing our best to provide the best online presence we can, and are working to improve our real time streaming via our website. We have encountered limitations with YouTube, and now have our services embedded at eastlandbaptist.org.
The staff and I love you all. Please pray for us and our larger leadership team as we do our best to make decisions that honor God’s word and His purposes for our church. “For such a time as this” we are here…together.
July 18, 12:00pm
Dear Church Family,
This past week, Tulsa's Mayor Bynum and the city councillors passed an ordinance requiring face coverings in public places within the city limits. We are included in the definition of public places, under the definitions of “Public Setting.”
After communication with a city attorney, a city councillor, and the Mayor’s office, I think I can summarize the ordinance this way, as it applies to Eastland Baptist Church:
We are required to wear face coverings when we gather in our Public Setting, when and where social distancing cannot be maintained.
In response to this ordinance, we will place signage at our entry doors stating, "Please wear a mask upon entering the building. If you are not wearing a mask, it will be assumed that you are exempt according to ordinance 24408."
We will not be policing the ordinance, but instead we are asking you to read it and be responsible for the obligation it requires in the same way as you would for any other ordinance issued by the City of Tulsa. If you have strong feelings of opposition or appreciation for the order, I would encourage you to express your opinions to Mayor Bynum and the city councillors. We have already done this as a staff, and some of our deacons have done so as well.
If you have not yet listened to my message from last Sunday evening (July 12), as it relates to this subject, I would encourage you to do so. Wearing a mask is currently a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many states, municipalities, and businesses require them. Issues related to effectiveness, encroachment upon civil liberty, and appropriateness of response can be debated, and various opinions exist. In the proper venues and with the right spirit, our opinions should be voiced to those in positions of authority.
I have much I could share with you from a scriptural perspective, and have already done so in a limited way. I have discussed with our church the principle of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto the Lord what is His. Wearing masks may make us uncomfortable and be a concession in some ways. Many others view it as a simple safety precaution and a way to safeguard the rate of infection, so as not to overburden our medical system. Both views can be respected or held in contempt. As Christians, I’ve encouraged you to be mature and defer to one another.
I might add that the Bible warns us not to strain at gnats and swallow camels. To wear or not wear a mask is an issue. However, I would like for you to consider the following: “What do you believe causes greater loss to you and our country … being nominal and lukewarm Christians or wearing a mask?” It's not that it isn’t important—it's just there are larger issues which we need to contend with first.
The church staff will be wearing masks while not on the platform, and masks will be available for those who don't bring their own. Social distancing sections will still be made available in the auditorium at this time.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday and having a unified, spirit-filled, and joyous service. Standing together is of greater importance and significance now than it has ever been.
July 11, 12:00 PM
Dear Church Family,
I am taking a moment to write to you, as the COVID-19 infection rate in Tulsa is escalating, and we have had two families test positive with the viral infection.
For those who may have missed this past Wednesday evening service, I notified our church family that positive COVID-19 cases have been reported to us, and that all concerned parties have been notified. The two families are finishing up their quarantines, and we are praying for their quick recovery.
For several weeks now, I have been communicating from the pulpit that it would be reasonable to expect the COVID-19 outbreak to impact our church family, and that we need to be mentally prepared for that to happen.
In light of the local impact and the rising infection rates in our area, I wanted to communicate and reaffirm some things to you.
Gathering together as a church family needs to remain a high priority for the vast majority of our membership. While we believe it is an obligation and courtesy to stay home if you are sick, we also believe the instructions of the New Testament about meeting together have not been erased because of this virus. It is essential to who we are as Christians to identify ourselves with a local body of believers, as multitudes have done throughout the centuries at great peril and at personal cost.
Our strength as a body and as individuals comes, in great measure, from the time we meet together physically. A prolonged abstinence from meeting would threaten our church body, erode our commitments, and be in violation of the Word of God.
The COVID-19 virus is not going to go away anytime soon, and an effective inoculation most likely will not be available this year. Waiting for that day to come, minus involvement in church, should not be optional for the majority of healthy Christians. As I said this past Sunday, staying home if you are sick makes sense and is a courtesy to others. Taking precautions and observing safety measures can be wise and discerning. However, living in fear of getting sick can become an unhealthy mindset and can steal away the trust and peace God intends for us to have. The Bible tells us we are not to be governed by fear, and this present scenario does not provide an exception.
So, we are going to continue to gather in the manner that we have for the past several weeks. However, our current format could change, and we may re-implement reasonable measures to mitigate the risk that some may feel. Those measures could include going back to a two-service format and implementing social distancing. There is the possibility that we may need to wear masks for a time, if local officials make that mandatory. Again, we can cooperate by giving unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, as long as it does not impede our ability to render unto God that which is His.
At this time, we are going to enlarge our optional social distancing seating area, continue to sanitize the building between services, as well as offer masks as you enter our facilities for any who would like to wear one. We ask that you avail yourselves to the hand sanitizer that will be placed throughout the building and limit physical greetings to only those whom you have permission to physically greet.
Here is what I would like to ask of each of you:
Monitor your own health, and if you are sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home until you are well. Specifically, the CDC recommends isolation for 14 days after your symptoms end.
If you test positive for COVID-19, it would be appreciated if you would be willing to communicate that to the church staff so we can notify anyone you may have been in proximity to while possibly contagious.
If you have been in close physical proximity to someone who has received a positive result for COVID-19, it would be prudent and a courtesy to quarantine for a 14-day period. Per CDC guidelines, “close physical proximity” means you physically touched someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or you were within 6 feet of someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer.
If you are well and are not currently sick, it would be wonderful to see you as we assemble each week to worship the Lord. We need each other more today than ever before. Unprecedented changes are occurring around our country, and if we are not careful, we could give up more in personal liberty—and institutionally as a church—than we intend or that God intends for us in trying to navigate these changes alone.
For those who need to continue to worship online, I want to encourage you to remain faithful. Know that you are sincerely missed and loved, and that we are all praying for the day our church family can be completely reunited again. I recognize there are those who are protecting health-compromised children, seniors, and some who have medical conditions necessitating a greater degree of caution. Our online services are currently being posted about an hour after they are conducted, and we are working to get them actively live-streamed again soon.
Finally, we are all in this together and that’s what I’m asking each of you to help preserve...a unified church family serving the Lord and loving one another.
June 19, 12:00 PM
Dear Church Family,
This coming Sunday, we will be making another step toward our pre-COVID church format and schedule. Sunday School will resume at 9:30 am, followed by our 10:30 am church service. We will continue to meet at 5:00 pm for our Sunday evening service and 7:00 pm on Wednesday nights. The foyer will be opened up again for small-group fellowship, and the Book-N-Bean will be reopened as well.
We will not be passing offering plates during services, but will continue to collect your tithes and offerings in the foyer. Of course, you can continue to give online. Also, we will not have a formal greeting time during our services.
We will be providing two social distancing sections within the auditorium during our Sunday and Wednesday services. These sections are located at the north end of the facilities, and there will be signage at the north portico, instructing you where to enter the building.
While we are relaxing some of our social distancing guidelines, I want to strongly encourage you to still be very courteous and thoughtful about personally greeting others with a handshake or hug. Not everyone will be at the same stage of feeling open to receiving these traditional greetings, so please be socially aware and reserved, except with those from whom permission has been granted. Extending a handshake and failure to keep some distance from those in our two sections designated for social distancing would be discourteous and self-defeating.
I want to also ask each of you to please be responsible, and do not attend a service if you are sick, running a fever, or have recently been around someone who is sick or has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
I am excited about these changes and returning to a more normal schedule and format. This transition will go most smoothly if we will continue to be extra courteous, thoughtful, socially aware, and act as responsibly as we can.
June 5, 12:00 PM
Dear Church Family,
This coming Sunday, June 7th, we will be making another progressive step toward moving our services to a normal format. We will begin meeting again in person for our Sunday evening service. However, we are changing our meeting time to 5pm, and will follow all of the protocols we have been using for our Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services. We believe we will be able to get everyone into the auditorium and maintain our social distancing guidelines, but we will use rooms 206 and 208 as overflow rooms, if necessary.
The second addition accompanying this phase will be Super Church for those in 1st through 6th grades during the 10:30 service only. In connection with this change, we will begin utilizing our children’s check-in system again, so please find a check-in station before taking your nursery, preschool, or elementary age children to their designated rooms.
We have made a number of changes recently, so here is the current schedule for children:
• Super Church (grades 1-6)
No childcare will be provided for the 9am service.
• 2- and 3-year-olds
• 2- and 3-year-olds
While in the hallways, I am asking that everyone make a courteous attempt to provide distance between non-family members. At this time, we are still asking that you not congregate in the foyer, and once you are in the auditorium, please remain seated. Our ushers will continue to direct you to a seat, and your ongoing cooperation and good spirit are greatly appreciated.
When bringing your children to church, please use the east doors. We are asking all others to enter and exit through the north and south portico doors.
I realize this slow march back toward normal is taking time, but we are being mindful of the larger community integration efforts, and are trying to make everyone in our church feel safe. We believe our church is as safe or safer than most of the other social institutions people frequent on a weekly basis, and hope to have the majority of our church meeting together soon.
May 16, 10:15 AM
Dear Church Family,
This coming Sunday, we will begin to implement Phase 2 of our back-to-church plan. We are making these changes while consulting and cooperating with other churches, following state guidelines, and receiving guidance from our own leadership team.
This Sunday, we will be providing nursery and preschool programs during our 10:30 service only. We are asking for all those families who will be dropping off infants and preschool-age children to enter the building through the back (east) doors of the church. All other families and individuals, please continue to enter through the north and south portico doors.
At this time, we will continue providing two services, utilizing every other row, cleaning and sanitizing between services, and our ushers will direct you to a pew. Until we are able to move to Phase 3, please continue to enter and exit the church facilities promptly, do not congregate in the foyer or hallways, maintain social distance from non-family members, and refrain from handshaking. We do not have a hard timeline for moving to Phase 3, but you can anticipate that we will continue in Phase 2 until at least the first of June.
Thank you for your patience and continued good attitude as we work our way back to a new normal. We had a tremendous Wednesday night service, and I am looking forward to seeing even more of you on Sunday. We will continue to provide streaming services for the most-vulnerable of our church family, and encourage you to join us this Sunday morning online.
April 26, 11:30 AM
Return To Church Plan
Over the past several weeks, we have faced a unique challenge as individuals and as a church family in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In choosing to participate in the national and global strategies to slow the spread of the disease, we chose to meet together by holding online church services for the past 7 weeks. Though challenging, I feel we have proven ourselves faithful and resilient during this time, and have grown as a church family and staff.
This past week, both our president and governor have given churches the approval to assemble together again. While we do not believe it is the state or federal government's decision to tell us whether we can meet together or not, we have decided to cooperate with their guidelines in the spirit of Romans 13. Also, we have wanted to make every effort to mitigate the spread of the disease in our own church family.
So, after consultation with our leadership team, other pastors, and local officials, we have decided we will assemble together again physically beginning Sunday, May 3rd. Our format will continue to be modified to provide greater protection and safety for our church membership. We will phase into our normal routine and format over the next weeks, and I am asking for your continued patience and cooperation as we make our way back to normalcy.
PHASE 1 PLAN
- Two Sunday morning services at 9:00am and 10:30am.
- No Sunday evening services for a week or two.
- We will also meet together on the church property Wednesday evening, May 6th at 7pm.
Online streaming services will continue indefinitely. We do not want those with greater health risks or compromised immune systems to feel pressured to come back to church immediately. Everyone should have a plan and timeline to come back to church, but we want you to phase back in as you feel safe doing so.
Please attend our online services if you are currently sick or have symptoms of illness such as coughing or fever.
Our ushers and greeters will be wearing masks, and please feel free to wear one if you would like to, although masks are not mandatory to attend.
We ask that you refrain from shaking hands and hugging at this time.
There will be two entrances open into the building. You may enter at the North or South portico doors at either side of the foyer.
We will only be utilizing every other pew in our auditorium to allow for social distancing. We are asking space to be maintained at all times between non-family members while on the church property.
Entrance into and out of the building will be controlled by our ushers. Family members must enter the building together if they wish to sit together. All services will be family services. Nurseries and children’s services will not be provided during Phase 1.
You will be escorted to your seat by an usher. Please maintain an arm's length of distance between non-family members while seated in the pews.
Once seated, please remain seated and minimize movement in the auditorium.
Offerings can be given in the foyer, or you can continue to give online. No handouts or bulletins will be distributed at this time.
You will be dismissed by row at the conclusion of the service.
Please do not congregate in the foyer after service.
The facilities will be sanitized between services, and hand sanitizer stations will be accessible as you enter and leave the building.
IMPORTANT SERVICE INFORMATION
We are suggesting that the Prime Time, Freedom, Open Door, Compass, and Heritage classes meet during the 9:00am service. Please arrive between 8:40 and 8:55.
We are encouraging the Journey, Synergy, YMC, and the Married Life classes meet at 10:30. Please arrive between 10:10 and 10:25.
We will have one service on Wednesday nights beginning May 6th, which will start at 7:00. Please arrive between 6:40 and 6:55.
These are suggestions and are not mandatory. However, once auditorium seating becomes full, we will use rooms 206 and 208 as overflow rooms.
Room 143 will be used as a cry room. We are shortening our services to accommodate these family services, but do ask if your baby or children are disruptive, please use the cry room.
Please be patient with these necessary modifications as we phase back into meeting together. Normalcy will return in time. Please understand we are simply trying to make everyone feel safe, limit liability, and act responsibly toward each other and our community.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!
April 15, 12:00 PM
I want to provide our church family with an update on our response to COVID-19, and give a word of encouragement as we make our way through these challenging days.
Because of our love for one another, and a mindset to participate in our nation's strategy to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus, we have chosen not to assemble together physically for the past few weeks. However, I believe we have still been able to maintain our strong sense community, we have been unbelievably faithful in our giving and demonstrating support for our church, and we have worked hard at staying connected in safe in responsible ways. I have nothing but words of commendation and gratitude for the way we are navigating this challenge.
I do not know when our leadership team will feel it appropriate and responsible for us to meet under the same roof again. I hope we might be able to assemble sometime during May, even if in a modified format. However, there is the very real possibility we might not be able to do that until the month of June.
With that reality in mind, I want to encourage you to continue to give your best effort toward staying connected via our online services, through your Adult Bible Classes, and through your personal efforts in reaching out to others.
As the weeks go by, the temptation to fall out by the way or to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (in this modified format) might become very real. Forsaking is the intentional neglect of meeting together; falling out by the way speaks of an incremental drift away from the right path.
My exhortation during these next few weeks is, let’s not forsake or be slack about meeting together in our online format. I believe there is great value and importance in assembling unitedly, albeit in our separate homes, at 10:30 on Sundays and 7pm on Wednesdays. Doing this allows us to meet together, even while we are physically separated. So, please continue in your faithful attendance and participation in these services. Don’t allow convenience to substitute for dedication and commitment. Let’s not grow slack in our giving, our efforts to stay connected, or in maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
I love each of you! We are all in this together, and are doing a great job. Let’s keep it up and pray we can be back in our church building soon.
March 25, 7:45 PM
Dear Church Family,
With the continued spread of COVID-19, and the recent executive order by our Governor for all non-essential businesses to close for the next 21 days, our online services of necessity will continue for a few more weeks.
On Tuesday, President Trump said that he would like to see churches open to hold services by Easter, but this timeline conflicts with our Governor's recent order, so our expectations of meeting on Easter or before should be muted. Each state is in a slightly different progression of the spread of the Coronavirus, so adjustments of when we can meet together again will depend—in some measure—on what is happening here in Oklahoma. Nationwide, the pandemic continues to escalate, and therefore decision making and adjustments will be fluid.
So, let me encourage you to resolve yourselves in a greater way to continue to be faithful to our church by participating in our online services on Sundays and Wednesdays. Maintain the habit and discipline of viewing the services at their scheduled times, and talking about the messages with your family. It is important that we connect with others by engaging in communication and fellowship with those in our Sunday School classes and church family through safe and creative ways.
We are expanding our attempt to connect with our church family by the addition of children’s videos on our YouTube channel and a dedicated Facebook page. We will be utilizing the Zoom teleconferencing tool for our teens, so they can meet in small groups on the web, and we are encouraging greater communication from our Sunday School teachers and department leaders.
We also want to make sure we are made aware of any needs or concerns you might have during this time. There are some in our church family who have recently lost their jobs, and we want to pray with you and make sure we are doing all we can to help. Some are facing health issues and procedures that need our prayers. If you are simply lonely and feeling isolated, please let us know so we can arrange a visit for you and someone to talk to. If you have any prayer requests or special concerns, please contact your Adult Bible Class teacher, children’s teacher, or the church office, and let us know so we can add you to our prayer list, and direct you to someone who can assist you.
Let’s apply the message we heard tonight from Jeremiah 29 by making the most of our present situation. All of us can trust in the Lord in a greater way and use this time to grow in our faith. We can grow in our appreciation for our church family and look forward to meeting together soon. Let’s make sure we do not take for granted how easy it was to meet before this crisis, by resolving to meet together online, and then even more faithfully when we can assemble physically again.
The staff and I love each of you,
March 22, 9:00 AM
Dear Eastland Family,
As we prepare to gather together this morning for our first Sunday morning service online, I would like to offer a couple of thoughts to make the experience more meaningful.
First, let’s all be together in spirit by meeting at 10:30 am this morning. Even though our service remains posted online and can be watched at a later time, let’s maintain the discipline of meeting at a shared time, knowing our entire church family is gathered together in their homes, all worshipping at the same time.
Secondly, during the service time, minimize distractions. While participating in the service, let’s put away our cell phones, minimize conversation, and give attention in a reverent and meaningful way to the singing and preaching time.
Thirdly, let me encourage you to personally participate by taking notes, giving your offering online or writing out your check to be mailed later, and praying together as a family at the conclusion of the service. This can be a unique and special time in our homes, and an opportunity to train our children that God and His church are a priority, even when we cannot meet together. Instead of allowing this challenge to minimize our commitment, let’s purpose in our hearts to utilize this time as an opportunity to make the Lord an even greater priority in this challenging time.
Finally, reach out and contact or connect with someone in our church family today. While our ability to fellowship may be limited in one way, we can still maintain connection in other ways. Send a text of encouragement to 3 or 4 friends. Share our service link with someone who may not have a church home or is isolated during this time. Consider creative ways to be a personal help or blessing to someone in our church or your community. Let’s all continue to think of others, and do what we can to still be salt and light in the coming days.
March 17, 5:00 PM
I trust that by now you have read Pastor’s commentary regarding our response to the COVID-19. If not, please take the time to do so on our website at: eastlandbaptist.org.
I want to inform you of a few items as they relate to our operations in the weeks ahead:
1) Online Services
Services will be held online, Wednesdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 10:30 am.
Services will begin on time, just like they do each week.
Currently our website is under construction as we make these changes and will be ready by service time tomorrow evening.
You can join online services by going to our website and clicking on the “Online Services” button on the home screen.
Or, if you have a smart TV, you can go to our YouTube channel: “Eastland Baptist Church Tulsa” and view the service there.
2) Online Giving
You can still give online through our website by clicking on the “give” tab at the top.
Also, checks and cash can be mailed to the church or dropped off at the office Monday through Thursday between 9 am and 4 pm.
We want you to continue being a help and support to others. Invite people to view our online services and be aware of needs that others may have during this uncertain time. If you become aware of needs that you cannot meet, please notify the staff.
This a time to be especially thoughtful about our church family and people who may not be as closely connected.
If you know of someone who is not on our churchwide text thread and would benefit by the information being shared, simply instruct them to sign-up by texting: “JOINEBC” to 474747.
Additionally, all updates will be posted to our website and can be viewed at any time.
If you have questions, our staff is standing by to help in any way we can.
We look forward to being together online, tomorrow evening at 7 pm.
March 17, 9:00 AM
Dear Eastland Family,
We are all aware of the rapidly changing situation being caused by COVID-19. There are reports across our country of escalating measures being taken to protect our population from this virus. Our President and local leaders, in cooperation with the CDC and health officials, are asking all Americans to avoid socially gathering in groups larger than 10 people for the next 14 days.
After meeting with our deacons, trustees, and staff last night, it was unanimously agreed upon that we should move our service meetings to an online streaming format for the remainder of March. We will evaluate and monitor this situation each week, and will be in continued communication with you.
If you have not yet listened to my Sunday morning message where I communicated our heart and motives for ongoing decisions, please do so. Here is the link:
I want to strongly encourage you not to view this as the forsaking of assembling ourselves together. We are not deciding in antagonism or indifference not to meet. Rather, we are trying to honor a reasonable request made by the authorities God has in place, demonstrate genuine love and care for those in our own church and community who may be in greater health risk, and share a spirit of cooperation with our nation in combating the spread of COVID-19.
This is a time for us to all draw together as a church and be strengthened in our commitment to each other and the Lord. The staff and deacons will continue to be available to you for any needs at all times. Our Helping Hands ministry can assist anyone with special needs, whether it is getting necessary groceries, etc., or providing help in your home.
The office will be open to take calls, and of course you can email us at anytime with questions or concerns.
This is new and uncharted territory for us, so please have a heart of understanding, cooperation, and grace. I would ask each of you to give effort and attention to other members in our church as much as possible. I'm asking our adult and children’s teachers to stay connected with all of you and be aware of your concerns and needs.
We need to love each other in the greatest possible ways in the days ahead. Eastland pulls together in difficult times, and I expect this to be no different. We have always been our best in the most difficult times.
Finally, I would ask that you be faithful to your commitments in tithes and offerings. Our obligations and commitments should not change because of this temporary crisis. We still have monetary obligations to staff, missionaries, building payments, and all of our associated ministries. We have staff who can help you with online giving, or you can mail in your tithes and offerings to the church at:
1835 S 129th E Ave Tulsa, OK 74108
If you prefer, you can physically bring your commitments to the church.
I will have Bro. Daniel and Bro. Jesse communicate with you later today on the details of how to view our upcoming services. Our first attempt to meet together online will be this Wednesday evening at 7pm.
March 14, 3:00 PM
In light of the growing health concern presented by Covid-19 I would like to encourage all of us to be mindful of a few courtesies as we gather together tomorrow.
Please be willing to greet one another with a smile and cheerful countenance instead of a handshake. This is a simple act of deference and courtesy we can extend to one another while health concerns are so prevalent. All of us are connected to someone who may have a greater health risk, and this can help us minimize their risk and make everyone more comfortable while we are together.
Secondly, you can extend courtesy and thoughtfulness to others by staying home if you are sick. In a culture looking for excuses and reasons for missing church, staying home when ill is not one of them. It is responsible and thoughtful.
Thirdly, if you have a cough but are not contagious please make every effort to cover your mouth and, if appropriate, use our live stream room.
There will be some minor modification to our service format tomorrow to reduce risk and ensure greater safety. We have done all we can to clean and disinfect the building and entryways. We ask for now that every adult class suspend bringing food from home to our Sunday school classes. Potential future modifications based on a changing health climate may be necessary. We are monitoring all recommendations from local government and health officials.
Despite the circumstances surrounding us, great things are happening at Eastland Baptist Church and I am looking forward to our time together tomorrow.