On March 16, 2020 at the church at 7:00pm Pastor Jay Gibson called a special Elder
meeting to address several people in the church’s concerns about the global pandemic
known as the Corona Virus and what the church had planned concerning this issue.
Earlier
that morning before they even began to meet for prayer, scripture reading, and searching
God’s Will for Harvest Oaks, they received word that the city of Allen had preempted their
meeting with a declaration.  The City of Allen initiated a local disaster declaration for public
health emergency. To help contain the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in our community,
the City made the following changes which will go into effect immediately:
Community
gatherings of more than 250 people are prohibited. This applies to gatherings which are
likely to bring together 250 people or more at the same time in a single confined or enclosed
space, such as restaurants, theaters, churches/houses of worship, stadiums and meeting
halls.
The Elders want the church to know that they have prayed extensively concerning the
virus, everyone who has lost loved ones during this time, those who are affected by this
illness and have tested positive, those who have not been tested positive at this time but may
show symptoms, those who haven’t been around anyone with it and so far have been
spared, those who have been affected by the financial burdens this whole issue has brought
on them unwarranted, and those who will be affected by the financial strain this will put on
our economy.
 We want to declare as a church several things: First, we are Children of
God and we have not been given the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) but has given us a sound
mind and we will use it in all of our decisions and will never act in such a way as to show
anything different. We truly believe God is still on the throne and is still in control. At the
same time we have no idea why He has chosen to allow this to happen, however we are
trusting His purpose and plan and will allow it to draw us closer to Him.  
Second, we also
believe that we need to let our light shine (Matthew 5:16) as a church especially during this
time (and not dim or go dark).  The world needs to see God in this and see our strength and
stance as children of God with hope, trust, and confidence in Him and not in any other
entity.
 Third, we also believe in a spiritual warfare that is real.  Even though flesh and blood
is not our enemy (Ephesians 6:12) sometimes the enemy can use things or people to try
and overcome God’s church or cause chaos to bring division.  Division is the downfall of any
organization, any nation, any organized entity, and any church body (Matthew 12:
25).  Jesus says that a house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25).  Therefore at this time it is
more imperative than ever for each of us as members of Harvest Oaks to continue to do our
parts to be united and unified under our common cause and goal and that is to continue to
make disciples through our DISCIPLESHIP, through our FELLOWSHIP among other
believers and stay faithful to be an encourager to each other and to help each other bear
one another’s burdens, and through our WORSHIP of our Heavenly Father, our glorification
of our Lord Jesus, and with the help and power of the Holy Spirit who empowers us through
all things.  Fourth, we also believe in the power of prayer! We believe God’s Word teaches
us that we have not, simply because we ask not (James 4:2-3).  We also believe His Word
when it tells us if we ask according to God’s Will He will give it to us, so we are making this a
serious matter of prayer. (John 15:7, 1 John 5:14). This is why we love this verse from our
Elders to those entrusted with our care, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it,
do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will
in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” Colossians 1:9
 Lastly, we believe in a God of
peace that can provide all the needed peace during any kind of crisis or chaotic situation in
our life.  We believe God’s Word when it tells us in Philippians 4:4-9, “Rejoice in the Lord
always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at
hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which
surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally,
brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if
there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The
things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of
peace will be with you.”
 So knowing all these things and believing that we are under the law
of Christ and His Word as opposed to under the law of man, we will not be swayed by what
an official or nation, state, city, or county may or may not declare (Acts 5:29-32). Our
declarations come from the Lord and we will have to one day stand before Him concerning
all we do or do not do.  He is our ultimate judge (John 8:16, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 2 Timothy 4:
1, 2 Timothy 4:8, Hebrews 10:30, Hebrews 12:23, Hebrews 13:4, James 4:11-12, James 5:
9, 1 Peter 4:5, Revelation 6:10) and no matter what time will tell here, our eternity will always
tell a different story.  However, at the same time God’s Word tells us that there are reasons
why He (Daniel 2:21, Daniel 4:32, Jeremiah 29:7, John 19:11, Colossians 3:22, Titus 3:1,
Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13, 1 Peter 2:17, 1 Timothy 2:1-3) puts authorities over us that we
need to obey and follow their leadership, as long as it doesn’t go against God’s Will, His
Word, or what we feel is His Way for our lives according to His Word.
 In light of these
verses
, the Elders have made a few decisions that we feel are in line with our directives from
God’s Word and which we feel are God’s Will at this time for Harvest Oaks concerning the
Corona Virus situation and the city of Allen’s emergency declaration.  This is a fluid scenario
and an obviously on-going national crisis so we also believe that we can adjust these
decisions based off of any new data as it comes along.  If so, we will make updates or
changes to this initiative with the new updated date and time and new changes
in parenthesis at the beginning of this document.  Until then, we have decided to make a few
changes to our current schedules and services. The changes we have felt led to make are
not out of fear or in blind obedience to a civil authority who does not have authority over God’
s church, but rather to do our part to help lessen the percentage curve on how many people
may be affected by this current virus. Effective immediately, we are asking each family
to pray about and search out what they feel is God’s Will for them concerning all of the
following schedules and scenarios.  According to some of the highest authorities and
professionals in our land those most vulnerable to the virus are older individuals, the
youngest of individuals, and those with compromised immune systems.  If you are found in
one of these categories we definitely understand your decision to stay home at this time
during any of our scheduled activities or services. According to the City of Allen’s Emergency
Declaration we are under the requirement of no more than 250 people meeting together in
one single place.  The National CDC states a lot smaller recommended number of 50
individuals.  With a few families who have already chosen to self quarantine their self or their
family, we are still even under that number.  Therefore, we have chosen at this time to
make a few changes to our activities and services.  Effective immediately we will postpone all
of our mid-week services being held at our current facilities.  This includes but is not limited
to Elevate (our student ministry), The ROCK (our children’s ministry), any of our Chinese
friends book clubs or gatherings or any other meetings at this time.  This includes our Ladies
Discipleship.  However if our ladies want to hold their Bible Studies at someone’s house and
make sure that the numbers are under 50 people (as of today’s CDC numbers) then that will
be up to them.  For those who have, after much prayer and conviction of God’s Will for you
and your family, chosen to continue to meet as a church at this time we have made some
decisions concerning our facilities and services to help alleviate some concerns some people
may have.  We will still meet on Sunday mornings for our Worship Service only at this time.  
This Sunday we will try a video feed on “Facebook Live” as an option on the Harvest Oaks
Church Facebook page and possibly download to our YouTube page for those who choose
not to come.  This may take a few weeks to work out bugs, so be patient with us. We
will also practice what has become known as “Social Distancing” and ask that we each have
some space between each other where we sit in the sanctuary.  We also ask at this time to
not do hand-shakes, touching, or hugs at this time.  We will also have hand sanitizer for
everyone who comes through the door and they will be asked to use it.  There will also no
longer be coffee, drinks, or usage of the refrigerator at this time. We will also have a sign-up
sheet asking a different family to clean and disinfect the church each week.  We are asking
that this be done between when the last person leaves on Sunday morning through Tuesday
night (whichever time works best for you).  This will give several days to allow any smells that
some people have allergies to, to disseminate in the air before the next Sunday service.  We
are also going to replace the door knob to the nursery with a key lock.  Sherren Tripp our
Nursery Director will be the only one to unlock and open the nursery on Sunday morning.  
No kids or children will be allowed in this room any longer for any reason except those who
are dropped off for watching and only those at Sherren Tripp’s discretion.  She will also be
watching for any kids who may have any symptoms of any sickness and they will be asked
to come back another time.  If there are no kids to watch at that time she will not open the
nursery.  She will also clean and disinfect ALL toys, tables, chairs, and room after the last
kid has left and lock the door not to be opened until the following Sunday to assure all
parents of the cleanliness and safety of the nursery.  If she has to miss a Sunday for any
reason we will not be providing a nursery option at this time, but those misses will be made
known before a Sunday morning to make other arrangements, so that all our procedures will
be done the same way and with the same professional care we know and have come to
appreciate that comes from Sherren’s awesome care for our kids!
 Lastly, we are asking
each person to be mindful of a couple things:  First remember that the church still has bills
and needs. We have missionaries that count on our monthly checks for their well-being and
a bank that wants their monthly mortgage payment just to name a few important ones.  So if
you choose not to come please mail in your financial support to the church or drop it off into
the mail box located at the entrance to the church property. Second, at this time also
remember ALL who are effected by all of this financially.  If can continue to patronize the
local establishments such as restaurant drive thru’s and carry outs and any other
businesses you may think of that you can help.  This will help our community with the
financial burdens during this crisis.  Also if you know of anyone who needs anything let one
of our Elders know and we will try and get the word out to all as well as help ourselves. Let’s
bear one another’s burdens.  Lastly, let’s not judge each other nor criticize anyone or their
decisions during this trying time. We all have to stay strong and love each other and watch
out for our enemy who is “…a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour…” and he does it
through causing division whether it is in a nation, state, city, or church.  May God continue to
guide, direct, protect, and provide as we look to Him for all things! For His Glory and for our
good!

Because of Him,
Pastor Jay and the Elders of Harvest Oaks (Submitted March 16, 2020)  
1403 E. Bethany Dr., Allen, TX 75002  (214) 495-9651
Sundays @ 10:30 am  &  Wednesdays @ 7:00 pm