Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 9:42am
We are experiencing unprecedented change. Your pastor has never had to pastor a church through a pandemic before. I know that not everyone will agree or be happy with the decisions that are made. However, I hope you know that I have prayerfully sought the Lord for the direction Pioneer should go. I am thankful that I pastor the most amazing people. Please know, there is NO ONE that wants things to go well at Pioneer more than I do. More than anything, I need your prayer and support right now.
As many of you know, on Monday afternoon Governor Kate Brown held a press conference in which she ordered the cancelling of all events with 25 or more people and encouraged people not to meet in groups larger than 10. Earlier that day, President Trump urged people to not gather in groups of ten or larger. Please understand, I know what our constitutional rights are. I know that it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” While I take the information and suggestions from the government seriously, the decisions we have come to at Pioneer are not based solely on those things. As a pastor I am faced with the decision of whether or not this should be viewed as an Acts 5:29 issue or a Romans 13:1 situation. At this time I have made the decisions to respond to this health issue in accordance with Romans 13:1, recognizing that what is being asked of us, at this time, is not an issue of persecution or direct control over the biblical convictions of local churches. The following decisions are being made based on a desire to follow the recommendations, not only of our officials, but also from the medical professionals within our own congregation. In the end, I believe it is best to exercise extreme caution in order to protect the members of our church who are most vulnerable.
On Monday I did something I should have done from the very beginning. I had detailed and transparent conversations with the medical professionals in our congregation. I want you to know that what I am sharing with you did not come from some media source or government mandate. This came from Emily Tucker and Kelsey McLeod, who are on the front lines of this situation in some of our local hospitals. Emily spent most of Monday dealing with people who were being tested for coronavirus. Many of which, she said, had all the symptoms, and will most likely come back as positive.
To quote Kelsey McLeod, she says, “Leaders and decision makers are being faced with making decisions unlike any in our lifetime. We are now in a pandemic, the situation will get worse before it gets better. Now is the time to learn from what is happening in places like Italy and China, so that hopefully, the United States is able to endure COVID-19 just even a little more easily. Our healthcare system is in flux, unsure of what is to come, and if there are enough medications, resources, and personnel available to care for the sick. While it may be too late to be proactive, our efforts are better late than never. Take to heart what leaders are recommending, it is for your best interest. Take care of your neighbors by staying home. COVID-19 is a real threat to each of us. Be patient as recommendations continue to change, be prepared, but practical, concerned but not fearful, and always with our communities best interest at heart.”
In my conversations with Emily, she told me that what Pioneer and other local churches should do was on her mind all day. It was also a source of conversation in the work place. She echoed Kelsey’s admonition to not be fearful, but admitted that much is currently unknown. She wisely reminded me of last years theme of “Together”. The decisions we are making are for our members and our community. It may cause some isolation and separation, but we are together in purpose. Many of the decisions we are making are being done with the goal of “flattening the curve” or slowing the spread of a virus so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time. If you are unfamiliar with this terminology, I encourage you to take a little time to read about it.
At this point I believe a delayed reaction may be as bad, if not worse than an overreaction. The health of our people is very important. I am not so much worried for myself as I am for how I may affect others. To quote Kelsey McLeod again, she said, “It is past time to be proactive. We may be late, but it is better late than never. We need to think about those who can’t withstand the sickness and try our best to curb the severity of what is to come. What we want to do must be trumped by what we need to do. Take to heart that what we are doing is not just for us but for our neighbors.”
I believe we need to have a balanced approach as to the REALITY of what is going on and the IDEAL response to that REALITY. While it can be difficult to get reliable and accurate information, and while some government decisions may be under or overreactions to the problem, the crisis we are facing is both deep and real The stock market has tanked, borders are closing, businesses are struggling, and freedom and mobility disappearing. On top of that, people are sick, and some are dying.
John 13:35 says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Love has the idea of doing what is best for the other person. Mark 12:31 says, “…Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself…” If you were susceptible, how would you want others to respond? Luke 6:31 says, “And as ye would that men should to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
There is so much more that I would like to say, and I am sure many of you have questions or thoughts. The reality is, there is no PERFECT solution. If there was, every pastor would be implementing it in their church. Please know that i am desiring to make the best decision for Pioneer. I love each and every single one of you, and I want all of you to be around for many more years. I know that was a lot to take in, but let me share with you the decisions we are working on and implementing:
- Pioneer will be canceling all in person meetings until further notice. We will evaluate every week and make and communicate appropriate decisions. We will livestream our Sunday morning worship service at 10:30am. Our livestream equipment is supposed to arrive on Thursday. Please pray that there are no delays and that we get it all figured out by Sunday. Even if we do not livestream, we will have a sermon up from our missionary Adam Steed no matter what. Lord willing those will be available on our website. If not, please check our Facebook page.
- If you are healthy and desiring community, maybe consider getting together with one or two families or persons in your area to watch the livestream together and worship together in community. Please understand, I am not encouraging everyone to do this! I am not even recommending it. I am just offering it as an option. Please understand, in doing so, you could potentially be putting yourself or someone else at risk. However, if it is mutually agreed upon by the parties involved, then that is a decision you can make. I just wanted to offer an option here.
- If you are not on social media, I would encourage you to sign up. It may be one of your few opportunities for social engagement with your local church over the next few weeks. Again, I understand many of you may not like that, but it is better than nothing! If you really don’t like social media, I encourage you to sign up, use it as a tool for the time being, and then delete it once we get past this. Facebook would be the most practical and helpful at this time.
- We are working on more social media and video content throughout the week, including stuff for kids. We may play fun Bible trivia games or host small group discussions and much more, so stay tuned. If we host those things online, we will let you know how to get connected. Let me encourage you to participate! It will be a great way to interact and stay connected. As we roll more of this content out, we will be sure to notify everyone.
- Call one another and check on each other regularly.
- Take time every day to read your Bible. Turn off the news and fill your house with good, uplifting Christian music. Pray for each other, including the sick, the doctors, the nurses, the medical professionals, etc.
- While I do not believe we should be panicked or impulsive, I do encourage you to take stock of what household items you have and be sure that you can live comfortably within the current circumstances. If you need anything, please reach out and let me know and we will see what we can do.
- We were planning to roll out some new outreach ideas at the end of Missions Month. Please pray for wisdom concerning this, as it may be a great way to reach our community in the coming days.
- We have been in contact with the City of Wilsonville and the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce. I have made ourselves available to serve our community in any way we can. As requests come in for help, I will be sure to pass those along.
- Keep your eyes on the eastern skies! I don’t know when Jesus is returning, but we should be living with an expectant hope of His return! Live today like Jesus could return tomorrow!
The last thought I want to share with you in this post is Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” May we continue to look to Him during this time. As Sid Stone said on Sunday, He is the “rock that is higher than I”. These decisions are not ones I expected to be making when we started this month. They are certainly not ones I ever want to have to make again. However, I know that God is in control and that He is a good God and he can be trusted. Even when it doesn’t make perfect sense to me I know “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Even this? Yes! Even this!!!!
You will hear me say this a lot over the coming weeks, but here it is…I LOVE YOU and am praying fervently for you!
Love In Christ,
Pastor Edwin Lugo
Posted: Monday, March 16, 3:30pm
Along with many of you, I just finished intently watching Gov. Brown's latest press conference concering COVID-19 and the restrictions and recommendations she has enacted. One of those being the restriction of gatherings larger than 25. This situation is constantly fluid. It is ever changing.
I believe the church does have a duty to safeguard public health and the health of it's people by observing the Lord's day in smaller gatherings or remotely. If you have listened to me at any time over the last couple of weeks, you know my desire has been to meet corporately if at all possible. I have not made a detailed decision yet, but I want you to know, there will probably be changes coming to the weekly schedules I gave out even just yesterday. Lord willing, by tonight or tomorrow, I will inform you of our new plan.
Isaiah 41:10 says, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Believers, now is not the time to be fearful or dismayed. Now is the time to ask God for His strength and His help. Now is the time to put in to practice all the things we believe. The right hand of his righteousness will not fail us. This is not how I would plan things out, but God has saw fit to allow this at this time. We should be asking God, "why have you given us these circumstances and what do you desire for me to do during this time?"
Thank you for your support and patience during this very difficult time. I love you all and pray for you fervently!
Pastor Edwin Lugo
Posted: Friday, March 13, 8:54pm
Earlier today, Friday, March 13, the City of Wilsonville informed us that they would be temporarily suspending all public activities at the Wilsonville Community Center. However, they are allowing us to meet at the Community Center this coming Sunday, March 15. With the current state of circumstances and with a desire to act in a cautious manner we have decided to make some temporary adjustments and changes at Pioneer.
We still encourage everyone to act with an abundance of caution. Please consistently wash your hands and sanitize. If you have any symptoms such as a fever or cough, we ask you to stay away from any gatherings. Avoid contact with those who are sick. Keep your hands away from your face. Disinfect surfaces regularly. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and throw it away…then go wash your hands. Seek medical advice if you are feeling sick.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I believe it is imperative for us to pray for one another, to pray for the current state of our nation and the world, pray for the sick, pray for those in leadership, pray for those that treat the sick, pray for a cure, and much more. I do not believe this is a time for fear, but a time for prayer and trust in our powerful God. He has promised to give a peace that passes all understanding. Along with being prayerful, I believe it is our responsibility to act practically, and I will share some things we are doing below. I also believe we should be proclaiming. In a time when people are nervous and fearful 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…” This is a wonderful opportunity to share the hope of Jesus Christ with others.
With all that being said, let me tell you what Pioneer’s plan is for the next few weeks:
*Pioneer is currently working on a livestream option and we will share more information about that once we have it. Audio of morning services is always available a short time after the end of the service on our church website: www.pioneerwilsonville.org
*Saturday, March 14-Elevate Youth Outing-12:00pm-3:00pm: they will no longer be going to the Sherwood Ice Arena, instead they will be enjoying pizza and a video game tournament at the Tucker’s home. Contact Daniel Tucker for more information.
*Sunday, March 15-Sunday Morning Services: This Sunday will go on as planned. 9:30 Discipleship Class and 10:30am Worship Service with Bro. Sid Stone. Immediately after the service we will have an Information Meeting to communicate with everyone in person and to go over a small bit of business.
*Small Group for the next two weeks (March 16-28) will be CANCELED and then we will reevaluate after that and communicate what will be happening.
*Sunday, March 22-There will be no morning service. HOWEVER, with a desire to meet together at least once a week we will continue with the Men’s Mission Cookout (Lugo’s House) and the Ladies Missions Activity (Location TBA). Adam Steed will preach for the men and we plan to livestream it to the Ladies meeting. We will use this as a time for fellowship, prayer, and possibly even some singing! For right now, the planned time is from 5pm-7pm.
*Sunday March 29 and April 5-Sunday Morning Services: we will host Sunday Morning services from 10:30am-11:30am at the Best Western Wilsonville Inn and Suites, 29769 SW Boones Ferry Rd. Wilsonville, OR 97070. It will be a very basic service with no planned nursery or children’s classes. All children are welcomed and encouraged to be part of the service. We just ask parents to be attentive and sensitive to potential distractions. We do plan to livestream these services as well. We will be postponing the Lord’s Supper portion of the service that was planned for April 5.
*Easter Sunday, April 12-Lord willing, we will be back in the Community Center on Sunday, April 12th for our Easter Service.
*Livestream-If you are healthy and doing well, we encourage you to attend our weekly service. If you are not able to we encourage you to utilize the livestream option.
*Giving-We also encourage you to be faithful in your giving as well. We will be paying rent for the Best Western, investing in some livestream equipment and still fulfilling our financial obligations to missionaries and other areas of ministry. If you attend a service you will still have the opportunity to give. You can give via our church website and on the church app.
*Encouraging-once again, this is a wonderful time to encourage others in the Lord, share your faith, and be a help to our community. We will share some more details about that on Sunday.
As more information comes in or changes are made, we will communicate that via our social media channel, our church app, the church website (tab that says COVID 19 Updates), and email.
I love you all! Keep looking up and keep serving the Lord!
Pastor Edwin Lugo