Friends & Family

We will be providing updates and keep you informed on this page, on Realm, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on our Anchor Church App during this season. If you’d like to opt-in to receive church-wide communication such as updates like these and our newsletter, sign up here. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need support, assistance, or for prayer. We are here for you and would love to support you in any way we can.

Head to our Home Church Kit page to see how we’re encouraging others to stay in community. From there, you’ll find various resources for groups and individuals to study and worship on their own.

You can read Pastor Kris’s full briefings and updates below by clicking the hide/show buttons.

March 13, 2020 Update

Taking as much into consideration as we can over the last two weeks regarding the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (CoViD 19), our leadership team, including elders and staff, has decided to cancel our Sunday services for the next two weeks, March 15th and March 22nd. We’ve been discussing our plans to cancel for the last 48 hours and working on a plan for communication moving forward. Our plans were confirmed by the Sandler Center administration late Friday, March 13th: the building is not permitted to host large gatherings over 150 people for at least two weeks. For now, we will not be canceling our community groups, so each group leader and host home will have the freedom to cancel or continue their smaller gatherings. If you are not involved in a community group, we encourage you to contact us to find one nearest to you! We will make any decisions about future gatherings and events next week as we hear more information. We will also be sharing various resources for groups and individuals to study and worship on their own.

We’ve seen the perspectives on this issue range from panic to dismissive, so as a church, we want to embrace a middle-ground, both-and approach to having faith and exercising wisdom and showing love to our neighbors: “We will not be motivated by fear, we will stand together in faith for our community, AND we will be considerate toward our community by canceling larger gatherings and looking out for those who are vulnerable to the disease or to the economic impact of the disease.” I don’t consider this to be the only way to respond, by any means, but at least we can demonstrate that the social ethic and rhetoric of our day can be changed if the church takes the lead in empathy and nuance to uphold tension (instead of trending toward either of the extremes in any debate) and serve as peacemakers.

Because we have several families in our church with children who are immunocompromised, even though they may opt-out of attending on Sunday, they’re concerned that they might show up at community group along with someone who DID show up on Sunday. Also, because we want to show solidarity with our community, and because our government officials are asking organizations to limit their large gatherings, we want to do our small part in protecting you and our community from the possible spread of illness.

Public Gatherings and Large Events

“In accordance with advice from state public health experts, the Commonwealth of Virginia will cancel all specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for a minimum of 30 days.

Governor Northam is directing state agencies, through the Department of Human Resource Management, to limit in-person meetings and non-essential, work-related gatherings.

Governor Northam is also urging localities and non-profits to limit large public events, effective immediately. Localities should make these decisions in coordination with their local health departments and the Virginia Department of Health. Highly populated localities and those with close proximity to positive cases are strongly encouraged to announce updated event guidance by Friday, March 13, at 5:00 PM, in advance of the weekend.”

https://emergency.vbgov.com/coronavirus

As new COVID-19 information continues to be released, we are prayerfully seeking the next steps for our services and will continue to provide updates on upcoming gatherings. Again, at this time, we are not canceling any other events or gatherings, but we will keep you informed on our website, on The Realm (our in-house communication platform), on Facebook, on Instagram, and on our App.

In the meantime, the people of God have work to do! During the Black Plague (not to be an alarmist here! but to give an example…), while others with financial means were fleeing their cities, many Christians opted to stay and serve the sick and the poor. As a result, the message of Jesus spread. During that time, Martin Luther wrote these wise words:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person. I shall go freely as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Luther’s Works; Vol. 43, pg. 132

In a time like this, our faith needs to be demonstrated by love for others. Here are a few ways we can do that:

  • Refuse to participate in Asian-American profiling or racism (either in rhetoric or in refusing Asian-American business);
  • Check on neighbors who may have lost hours at work or those who are immobile to see if you can share some of the goods you’ve saved up;
  • Check on families whose children will now be home for at least 2 weeks because schools have closed to see if they need meals during the day or other assistance;
  • Check with organizations like AidNow, Union Mission, PIN Ministries, and local Food Banks to see what assistance they might need serving populations in need;
  • Contact your friends who are first responders or medical personnel to see what assistance you can provide through a meal or care package or prayer;
  • Wash your hands, wear your seatbelts, take your medications and supplements, go to bed at a decent hour, limit all media interaction, read your bibles (had to throw that one in there!);
  • Continue to meet with people, because although you may not feel as alarmed as others, the single greatest antidote to loneliness and anxiety is community. We might be engaging in what some have referred to as social distancing by canceling our larger events, but that can’t be at the expense of actually meeting with people, praying with people, and affirming our love and service.

I imagine that there’s more we could say, and perhaps more we will be able to say in the coming days. Dr. Francis Grimke, the pastor of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in D.C. said over 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu:

“The fact that churches were places of religious gathering, and others not, would not affect in the least the health question involved. If avoiding crowds lessens the danger of being infected, it was wise to take the precaution and not needlessly run in danger, and expect God to protect us.” 

As mentioned, we are prayerfully seeking how to proceed in the coming days and weeks. We will be providing updates and keep you informed on our website, on The Realm, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on our Anchor Church App.

Let’s join together in prayer for our community, our nation, and for the world at large. Pray for those who are ill, and encourage those who are anxious or fearful about the current events. Let’s continue to place our hope in Jesus, who is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19), and let’s press in to stay connected to your neighbors and community groups.

We’ll miss being together this Sunday! We love you all, and we hope to see you soon!

If you have any specific prayer requests, would you reach out to us by contacting Melanie Rivera so that she can pass it along to our leadership team? Her email address is melanie@anchorchurchonline.org.

Pastor Kris

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March 20, 2020 Update

Our leadership team plans to follow the guidelines set out by federal and local governments, and since we anticipate that they may add even more restrictions beyond limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, we’ve decided to cancel all groups and gatherings associated with Anchor Church through the end of March including community groups, bible studies, the Men’s Retreat, and the upcoming Partner Fellowship.  We haven’t heard, yet, whether we’ll be able to worship at the Sandler Center in April, so we’ll keep you posted!

We’ve invested in each other for years with messages of how the Good News of Jesus helps bring hope to people around us. Our leadership development cohorts and seminars have prepared us for this moment by teaching us to empathize with others (learn to listen, seek to understand) and to be considerate in our communication toward others (careful to nuance, exercise critical thinking, look for both/and instead of polarizing comments, etc.). Our ministry philosophy has paved the way for Anchor Church to exist outside the walls of any church building with biblical community happening in living rooms across the region and a strong emphasis on living like missionaries in our own neighborhoods and workplaces. In other words, these next few weeks and months are what we’ve been preparing for!

I’m envisioning an army of men and women who are not trembling at the sound of famine or plague, but who are full of faith and willing to serve others in love. The church has never been held back by not being able to meet publicly, so we’re going to keep moving forward making the best use of our time and technology. I’m asking you to consider yourself to be a functional partner in ministry with me during this time. If you need assistance, then reach out to our staff and leaders so that we can assist (email melanie@anchorchurchonline.org). But, if you’re not feeling the weight of losing a job or not immediately threatened by the virus, then help me lead people to the hope we have in the Good News of Jesus by setting up video chats with friends, texting family and friends to check on them, making a few phone calls to lonely or isolated friends, speaking to neighbors who may be out walking or checking their mail, collecting extra food and supplies to donate, etc.

To help you do that, our staff has assembled a Home Church Kit that any of you can use from home. We want you to have weekly resources like some music, a weekly message, study guides, children’s lessons and activities, prayer guides, communion guides, and some additional resources for community service and hosting groups online. Each week, we will update the Home Church Kit with new resources and any new information that we find; and, every Sunday morning, we’ll drop a new guide for the week, so be sure to check that page regularly for any updates or to share the links with others.

As we navigate the complexities of COVID-19, we’ll continue to update you with our plans for church gatherings and continue to share any resources we have to stay connected with each other through this time.  If you missed our last update, please check it out here. We will continue to send out emails (subscribe to our mailing list to stay in the loop), post updates to Realm, and post to social media outlets from week to week as things unfold. Again, just because we’re limited in the number of people who can meet – and even if we’re taking extra caution to keep to ourselves completely – we can still be engaged in community! Social distancing is not social disconnecting! We may not be able to engage physically, but we can still engage spiritually, emotionally, and relationally with one another.

Of course, if you need anything or need prayer for anything, please do not hesitate to let us know by emailing Melanie at melanie@anchorchurchonline.org. She will be able to direct your email to one of our leaders who can assist or pray with you. I love each of you dearly, and I will continue to pray for you every day.

Until we can be together again in person,

Pastor Kris

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May 15, 2020 Update

We’ve missed being together in-person for almost 10 Sundays, now… Of course, nothing can replace being together, but I’m encouraged to see how many of our men, women, and groups have been getting together over Zoom calls and in smaller gatherings around firepits and driveways. We’ve had several people donate to our COVID 19 Assistance Fund, and we’ve already been able to help several families within our church who have been impacted negatively by the closures and quarantine. It’s also been encouraging to hear a few of you mention how you’ve been using the Home Church Kit and listening to the music and messages on our YouTube page.

In terms of gathering together again, our staff and leaders are working to come up with a phased approach, but the limited and fast-changing information has made it harder to make plans. Just last week, the Governor announced that Virginia could enter Phase 1 for 2-4 weeks before entering Phase 2. We don’t have any details about Phase 2 (or when it will begin), yet, so as we work to develop a plan/strategy, we’re having to keep them flexible and hold them loosely. For now, Phase 1 allows churches to meet indoors at 50% of their facility’s capacity. We’re trying to consider what options we have and especially what might be the safest for our church family and community. In addition to that, the Sandler Center is a city-owned building and deemed non-essential because it’s an entertainment venue. They’re closed through June and possibly July, but we’ve asked the Sandler Center staff to work with the city of Virginia Beach to allow us to hold gatherings within the state guidelines for churches, and we are waiting to hear back from them. At this point, we are not planning to gather this Sunday or in any other formal capacity until we can have a clearer pathway forward.

I encourage you to continue watching the services online, and perhaps to consider including some trusted friends and neighbors to watch with you. Our groups may consider alternating men and women’s nights in outdoor settings where space and weather permit. And, of course, you can always use your own discretion to have someone over for dinner or to gather with friends.

If you have any questions or if you have any financial or other needs, please feel free to reach out to Melanie Rivera. If you have any encouragement or any stories of God at work during this season, we’d love for you to share that with Melanie, as well. Please continue to pray for our church family and leaders and for our local and national leaders. I hope to send another update with clearer information soon, particularly after we hear back from the Sandler Center. Thank you for your prayers and for your consideration of how complex it is to sort out the next steps for our church family. I can’t wait until we can see each other again!

Pastor Kris

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