Dear Redeemer Church of Dubai,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus. These are trying days as the world strains to respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Amidst the confusion and challenges, we pray your hearts are fixed on the hope that is yours through the gospel of Christ.
Your Redeemer Church elders have continued to evaluate the situation and determine how best to respond and engage during this time. As some would have heard, last week we began to suspend some ministries of the church such as Tweens and Youth. This morning we met together and came to a more complete response that will shape how our church experiences our covenant community for the foreseeable future.
The decision we have taken is that effective immediately, Redeemer Church of Dubai is suspending all formal and official gatherings of the church — including weekly worship services, Community Groups, Women’s Bible Studies, and Midweek Bible study until further notice.
Gathering is an essential component of our life together as a church, and to temporarily suspend those meetings is a significant grief. We did not come to this decision lightly, but it did come with complete unity amongst us as it seemed to be the wisest step at this time.
We made this call for two primary reasons:
Firstly, what’s being called “social distancing” is the nearly universally agreed best means to stop the spread of this deadly virus. Calling our members and friends to open gatherings together goes against this advice. We want to be wise and selfless in loving our neighbors by limiting human suffering and thus suspending our gatherings appears to be a very essential way to do that at this time.
Secondly, the UAE government has issued a number of directives and guidances to protect this city we love against a wider outbreak. The Community Development Authority (under which churches are permitted) has specifically requested social groups not to meet. We desire to honor the wisdom our government is showing by following that guidance with our gatherings.
We read from 1 Peter 4 this morning in our elders meeting: “... therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep on loving one another earnestly…” These words and the verses around them remind us to keep clear heads amidst chaotic times. To not withdraw in fear or to act out in panic. Rather, as Christians we ought to prayerfully make wise decisions and earnestly pursue one another in love.
During this time, your elders and our church staff will be seeking to develop ways to continue to help us live out our church covenant together. If you are a not yet a member, we invite you to begin to pursue this covenant community lifestyle with us, and even in this time of trial join as a member of this church. Our membership covenant outlines the biblical commitments we have made toward one another as fellow members. We believe this will be a season where we as a church can grow in unique and creative ways in how we engage one another in love.
In the coming days we will be sharing more resources and opportunities with you. For now, let me give you some brief information in a few categories:
We maintain that upholding the preaching of the Word of God is central to our identity and commitments as a church. Thus, we will be providing a weekly broadcast or upload something similar in content to our weekly Friday services and encouraging all our members and friends to receive that and to continue to sit under the teaching of the Bible and lift up our praise to the Lord.
We will let you know in the coming days how this will look and ways for you and your family and friends to engage with it.
FORMAL MEETINGS ARE SUSPENDED & PEOPLE ARE TO BE PURSUED
As mentioned above, effective immediately and until further notice, all Redeemer Church of Dubai Friday services, Community Groups, Women’s Bible Studies, Midweek Bible Study, Tweens, Youth, and other events are suspended. No formal and official events or gatherings will be conducted by Redeemer Church of Dubai.
What we are not saying is that Redeemer Church of Dubai members or friends should stop pursuing one another or even gathering together informally in small numbers. In fact, we want to say the opposite.
Our prayer as elders is that personal pursuit of one another would take place like never before, even as official gatherings are suspended. We encourage you to make calls and video calls, email and Whatsapp, and – if possible and responsible – continue to meet one another in person. We encourage you to stay in community with people from your Community Group, even if it isn’t formally meeting. And also consider reaching out to members and friends who had not yet developed relationships in the church and include them in your Zoom discussions, Google Hangouts, small meetups, and other times of connection. We’ll include some link below that could help give shape to personal health and safety practices at this time.
In addition to pursuing one another personally for our growth and encouragement in the Lord, we realize that some will be facing personal stress and suffering during this time that may lead to need for benevolence assistance. We will be working with our benevolence team to continue the good work that ministry does and think of any new ways to conduct it during this season.
These will be very difficult days for many of us. Some will be facing financial shortage and pressure, others will realize they are able to be even more generous than they have in the past. We ask that each one consider in their heart before the Lord what they can continue to give towards the work of the ministry through this church. While not meeting in the hotel reduces some expense, without our current giving levels continuing, we will quickly be running short of cash to pay staff and meet other ministry opportunities.
Most of us give by cash on Friday mornings. Without this opportunity, we will need to think of other ways to give. I will list some of them at the bottom of this email. Please continue to contribute cheerfully and generously to the advance of the gospel through this church.
We want to keep you as informed and as resourced as possible. We will continue to send weekly email updates to all, occasional email updates to members, and post information on Facebook and Instagram. If you are not receiving emails from Redeemer and would like to, please first check your spam folders, and then also feel free to let us know (via email@example.com) so that we can update your email address on our side.
In closing, at the end of his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes this benediction: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess 3:5). Friends, that is our prayer for you. May the love of God fill you with joy and hope as the gospel of Christ makes you steadfastly faithful in difficult days.
Be on the lookout for further communication, and please do reach out if you have questions or concerns.
Pastor Scott Zeller, for the elders of Redeemer Church of Dubai