May 31st, 2020 Morning Worship

Dear members and friends of Ballantyne Presbyterian Church,

This is an update on our plans and what to expect when we resume meeting in-person for Sunday morning worship on May 31st, Lord willing. I apologize in advance for the length, but ask you to take the time to read it carefully.

If you recall, on May 11th we announced our intent to resume morning services only based on the expectation that Governor Cooper would amend his executive orders to allow us to meet and comply with the civil law. In answer to fervent prayer from many believers, that did happen. On May 20th, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order 141, which states: “Worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights are exempt from all the requirements of this Executive Order and Executive Order Nos. 121 and 138, notwithstanding any other provision of this Executive Order or of Executive Order Nos. 121 and 138.”

That effectively means that it falls to the wisdom of the officers of BPC to determine how to balance two priorities: “to guard and promote the spiritual welfare of the congregation” (ARP FOG 6.4), which include the “imperative” (ARP DPW I.3) to gather for worship, and to “shepherd the members … especially the sick; praying with them; comforting the sorrowing, encouraging the weak, guiding the wayward and the careless, and, in general, discharging all other duties in Christian love.” (ARP FOG 6.8.1). This is a daunting task in regular times, but in these, we covet your prayers, patience, and grace. We will almost certainly have gaps in our plan and need to course correct. The plan below represents our best effort to balance these two priorities based on our limited knowledge of the virus. We lay these plans at God’s feet and ask that He work through our failings as he so often does.

First, we acknowledge that some in our family should not return to worship in person next Sunday and perhaps for many weeks or months. If you are sick, have been exposed to someone who is sick in the past two weeks, are especially vulnerable should you become sick, or are simply uncomfortable returning to worship in-person, please stay home with absolutely no feeling of guilt or shame. Citing Romans 14:4 and James 4:12, the Westminster Confession helpfully reminds us that “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to his Word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship.”

Our diaconate is working hard to improve our live streaming capabilities. The Internet speed at the church has been upgraded and we have consulted with a video specialist from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Christ Covenant Church. New equipment will be setup this week and several of us will be trained on how to use it. Our plan is to offer the entire service live on a platform which (hopefully) has the best performance and is easy for as many of you to access as possible. The service will also be available immediately after worship concludes should you have any technical difficulty. If you don’t plan to attend but need any assistance accessing our online service from your home, please contact me at 704-604-0331. Many in our family with technical gifts would be glad to help.

Additionally, we hope to resume celebrating the Lord’s supper on the first Sunday of the month starting June 7th. However, both the Westminster Confession and our standards allow us to bring the sacrament to “those who are physically unable to attend public worship” (ARP DPW 8.c.9). If you expect to be away from in-person services for an extended time, we encourage you to reach out to us to arrange this.

For those who are able to join us in person, there will be many changes to the non-essential parts of our service while striving to be faithful to God’s commands on how He should be worshipped. Here’s some of what you can expect:

Cleaning – the entire church will be deep cleaned this week and cleaned during the week between each service. The best information we have says that the virus doesn’t live on surfaces for more than 72 hours, which is one of the reasons we are not resuming evening nor mid-week activities at this time.
Changes to physical space – many chairs will be removed so that the rows are at least six feet apart and families can take their seats while keeping some distance from other families. We plan to accommodate all who want to attend. If you haven’t responded to the survey which Christie sent last week, please do so now: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V3WS5NM. That will help us plan accordingly.
Seating – the deacons are working out the details, but it is very likely that your family will be ushered to your seats. This may mean that you don’t get to sit in your customary spot. We may fill the church from front to back or back to front.

Please arrive early, but be prepared to wait patiently in line with your family. We may also use the other entrances to the building to get everyone in and out as quickly as possible. Again, we ask for your patience and grace as we figure the best approach out.
Masks – we will not require face coverings. This was a tough decision after a significant amount of discussion. Dr. Nance does not plan to wear a mask while he is preaching. You will see some of your brothers and sisters in Christ with and without masks. As a reminder, the civil authority “encourages” the wearing of face coverings “to protect other people more than the wearer.” (NC EO141 1.4) Again, we remind you of the vow we all took as members of our church “to seek the peace, purity, and prosperity of this congregation” and pray that Satan would not use this issue or any other to drive a wedge between us.
Offering – at this time, we do not plan to collect the offering by passing the plate. These will be available in the back of the sanctuary. Online or mail-in giving are still encouraged, but you can drop a check in the plate on Sunday morning if that is more convenient.
Communion – we are still working out the details, but when we celebrate communion on June 7th (Deo volente), it will look different. We will not use a common loaf and will not pass the plates. We may use some form of pre-packaged elements. Whatever we do, it will undoubtedly not be the preference of some. The Confession helpfully reminds us that “they still remain truly, and only, bread and wine” — no matter how they are packaged – “for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death ….” (WCF XXIX.1 & 5)
Singing – we do plan to sing hymns as a congregation as a part of our corporate worship. The words and music will be printed in the bulletin so we will not need to use the hymnals. The choir is not planning to sing until September, but small vocal and instrumental ensembles will assist us in worship from time to time. We have read a few stories of virus outbreaks which could have been the result of choir rehearsals, but at this time, we do not have any specific guidance from medical nor civil authorities that singing requires precautions over and above those for other social interactions.
Children – we are blessed with many children at BPC. Their sweet fellowship as they laugh in the halls and run around on the lawn is one of the things I miss most. We realize this will be a challenge (please pray for parents of small children), but please be prepared to keep your kids with you while you are at the church. Football on the lawn and climbing the trees will have to wait. We will not offer a nursery for now, but we will make the four rooms in the back available for parents who feel the need to remove a child from the service. We will have the audio available via the speakers in the ceiling.
As stated above, we are working through all of these details and many more, so we dearly covet your prayers for wisdom, your patience with fallible men, and the grace you have always shown us. If you have any questions, please ask your shepherding elder or any officer of the church. I look forward to seeing many of you on the 31st and long for the day when we can all be together in person. As Dr. Nance often reminds us, we should claim David’s promise from Psalm 27:13: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!”

In Christ,
Kenneth Jackson (on behalf of the officers of BPC)

Worship Plan & Update

Dear members and friends of Ballantyne Presbyterian Church,

Last Wednesday night, the session approved a plan to resume morning worship in the sanctuary on May 31, Lord willing. We are prayerfully optimistic that the spread of the virus will subside enough for the civil government to move both North Carolina and the city of Charlotte to “phase two” of the governor’s plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions on that date. While we are technically allowed to meet – outdoors unless that is “impossible” – under the terms of the most recent executive order, phase two will “allow gathering at houses of worship … at reduced capacity.”

We are choosing to resume Sunday morning worship only – no evenings, prayer meetings, Bible studies, youth group, or Sunday school in the church building– to communicate that worship is the most important thing we do as a local church. There are also practical considerations. For example, because current data shows that the virus can live on surfaces for up to three days, we would have to disinfect the surfaces between morning and evening services and other meetings at the church. At this time, we do not have an estimate for when the other activities will resume in person at the church.

To resume corporate worship on May 31, we will need to implement a number of changes to our previous patterns to reduce the risk of transmission. These include:

  • Arranging for a deep cleaning of the church is accordance with government guidelines.
  • Coordinating with our regular cleaner on any changes to her weekly procedures which will need to be made after the deep clean
  • Physical rearrangement of the seating in the sanctuary to facilitate social distancing
  • Plan for safely greeting worshipers  and helping you find seats. This may involve entering and exiting the sanctuary through different doors.
  • Purchasing and installing the necessary equipment to live stream our services for those who cannot or should not attend in person due to health concerns, or who simply do not feel comfortable returning on the 31st. We want everyone to come back only when they feel comfortable doing so. For some, this will be the 31st, Lord willing.  For others it will be in subsequent weeks or months.  No one should feel pressure from anyone else to start attending in person on a particular date, but rather, to adapt Paul’s words about giving to our current situation, “Each one must return to corporate worship as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or in response to pressure, for God loves a cheerful worshiper.” (adapted from Paul’s words about giving in 2 Corinthians 9:7). 

There are many other things which we’ll have to work out. We covet your prayers and wisdom at this time. If you have any questions or concerns, please share them with your shepherding elder or any member of the session.

Finally, in his helpful new book, Coronavirus and Christ, John Piper gives us this exhortation:

What God is doing in the coronavirus is showing us— graphically, painfully—that nothing in this world gives the security and satisfaction that we find in the infinite greatness and worth of Jesus. This global pandemic takes away our freedom of movement, our business activity, and our face-to-face relations. It takes away our security and our comfort. And, in the end, it may take away our lives.
The reason God exposes us to such losses is to rouse us to rely on Christ. Or to put it another way, the reason he makes calamity the occasion for offering Christ to the world is that the supreme, all-satisfying greatness of Christ shines more brightly when Christ sustains joy in suffering.

The members of the session are reading this together and have purchased copies to distribute to our neighbors in Ballantyne. You may find it helpful, as I have, to understand some of what God is doing through this crisis, and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your friends and family who do not yet know him. The book is available for download in print and as an audio book for free at https://www.desiringgod.org/books/coronavirus-and-christ.
We love and miss each one of you and look forward to the day when we can all worship together as a family,

The Session of BPC

April 19th to 25th at BPC

This week is full of opportunities to connect with others for a time of encouragement and spiritual growth at BPC.

We would love to have you join us online at BPC!

Sunday, 4/19: 11 am Morning Worship Service and 6 pm Evening Worship Service. Both will be available on our Webcast page.

Tuesday, 4/21: 7 pm young adult zoom call. Contact Bobby at bobby@ballantynepres.com if you have any questions on how to connect.

Wednesday, 4/22: 6:30 pm Prayer Meeting zoom call. Please email Christie prior to 3 pm on Wednesday, so we can have our prayer list updated prior to the prayer meeting. Christie@ballantynepres.com

Thursday, 4/23: 6 pm youth group meeting zoom call. Contact Jacob at jacob@ballantynepres.com if you have any questions on how to connect.

Friday, 4/24: 7:00 to 7:30 am Men’s Bible Study. Keith Kowadlo will lead Men’s Bible Study using ZOOM, continuing in chapter 4 of the book “If God Already Knows, Why Pray?”

If you have any questions, please contact us at admin@ballantynepres.com

6pm Youth Group Meeting Tonight!

Good Afternoon everyone,

Tonight is our first Youth Group meeting using Zoom!!!

We will meet at 6:00-7:00 pm, and this will continue until we can meet in in person again. Let me know if you have any issues with accessing the Zoom meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing you tonight!!!

Yours forever in Christ

Jacob Jastrzembski

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting Online

Dear friends,

Hopefully you received the Zoom meeting invite for prayer meeting tonight at 6:30pm.

Please email Christie with prayer requests before 3pm Wednesday.  She will compile and send out for everyone to use during the Zoom prayer meeting.  I think sending in the prayer requests before hand will enable the time on Zoom to go more smoothly.  It will also provide a prayer guide for those who are not able to join us.

So, the format for the prayer meeting will be as follows: I will give a brief devotional. Then we will open it up for a time of corporate prayer, when anyone who would like to pray can pray what is on the prayer list (that Christie will send out) or pray for whatever else might be on your heart.  Then, after our time of corporate prayer, we will close with the doxology.

I am looking forward to praying with you via Zoom tonight at 6:30pm, Lord willing!!!

Yours as ever,

Mantle

Online Giving is Now Available

Dear church family,

One of the ways that we as a redeemed and blessed people worship our Triune God is through the giving of our tithes and offerings. We do so in thankful response to God’s generous grace towards us: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. . . . Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 8:9, 9:7)

As we continue to practice “social distancing” and worship the Lord remotely, we want to provide you with several ways to continue to worship the Lord, support all the ministries of BPC and our missionaries, and help those in need through your tithes and offerings.

1) ONLINE
Go to our the new giving page on our church website: https://ballantynepres.com/giving and follow the payment links. If you wish you may create an account to save your bank or card info, set up recurring payments, and view your donation history. You will also have the option of enabling the text-to-pay feature.
or
Go directly to the Church Center website: https://ballantynepres.churchcenter.com/giving which will take you to the same payment portal.

2) MOBILE APP for Apple and Android
To download the “Church Center” app to your:
– Apple device, click here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/my-church-center/id1357742931?ign-mpt=uo%3D4&ls=1
– Android/Google device, click here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ministrycentered.churchcenter
– Search for “Ballantyne Presbyterian” by name.
– Then click the “Give” icon on the bottom and follow the payment instructions.

We think you will find the software very convenient and easy to use. If you need further instructions, you may find the following video helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oqxqUbWiQE

Of course, you are still welcome to send paper checks to the church or use BillPay on your bank’s website. We will be depositing checks on a weekly basis. If you have any questions, you may contact our treasurer at treasurer@ballantynepres.com

Giving, like every aspect of the life of the church, is a team effort. As we all continue to trust the Lord, work together, and give with hearts of grateful praise, He will, amazingly, provide “more than enough for doing the work the Lord has called us to do.” (Exodus 36:5)

May the Lord continue to make his nearness and love known to you.

Yours in Christ,

Mantle