Please note: While we will be closed through April 6th, Social Distancing does not mean Social Disconnection and we encourage you to stay connected with us online. You can always find our Sermon messages Sunday Afternoon on our Youtube Page @OakHillOxford.
By now, you’ve likely heard of the Governor’s announcement allowing churches to reopen. With this news, we are prayerfully discerning the best way forward, guided by the following principles: living in a way that brings glory to God, supports the witness of the Church, and calls people to live from a selfless, sacrificial love modeled by Christ. We will be hosting a limited number of people by RSVP for an InGathering on May 31st.
This email is long but we encourage you to read it all, as it includes an in-depth overview of our safety protocols as we explore gathering in person for worship. With any questions please contact Pastor Josh or Pastor Glenn
PHASE ONE: SAFETY PROTOCOLS
We are prayerfully discerning the best way forward, guided by the following principles:
Living in a way that brings glory to God.
This includes respecting and honoring governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13.) This DOES NOT mean we are never called to civil disobedience, dissent, or protest. This does dictate HOW and/or WHY we do it. During this time, while our preferences have been disrupted, we are still able to worship.
As we gather as a part of Christ’s body, we desire to reflect the transformational power of the gospel as it relates to,
Supporting the witness of the Church.
When Jesus sent His disciples out, He warned them they were as sheep among wolves and to conduct themselves wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16) While there will always be those who attack and malign the body of Christ, unfortunately, the way those who have proclaimed Christ have conducted themselves in the past has given reason for people to doubt the intentions of the Church.
We do not wish to provide additional ammunition, but to “live such good lives among” your unbelieving neighbors, “though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)
Living a life of grace empowered by the Holy Spirit allows us to,
Live from a selfless, sacrificial love modeled by Christ.
James Madison once wrote, “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks--no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.”
We live in a time where society is made up of individuals and an individual trumps society. Consumeristic, materialistic, and self-focused feel like the traits of the day. As narcissism continues to plague us, selfishness begins to show its ugly face.
As children of God, we are invited to lay down our desires for the sake of others. We are encouraged to give up our lives for the benefit of those around us. God never asks us to do something He hasn’t already done. This was what Jesus modeled for us.
Paul urges us, as we walk in this new life, to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) And model the humility of Christ, “who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:17)
This is NOT easy. It is NOT natural. It is a supernatural, humble way of living that relies fully on the wisdom, strength, and discernment of God.
When dealing with viruses, we cannot 100% guarantee safety from exposure. We CAN take steps to reduce the risk. Not necessarily for our sake, as people who have hope in Christ, but out of an expression of love for neighbors and those we might come into contact with.
With this as our starting point, based on the guidelines and recommendations provided by the State of Massachusetts, (available for review here), we are implementing the following protocols:
LIMITING BUILDING USE
To reduce the amount of space that will require cleaning and to reduce contact areas, we will only be using the upper level when we gather Sunday mornings. This means:
Only the upper parking lot will be used.
Please enter through the Main Entrance off the side parking lot (double-glass doors) only (see Social Distancing)
The lower portion of the facility will be closed.
To reduce contact, and as recommended, there will be no childcare provided. If it is beneficial, families with children will be invited to use the table seating areas.
There is a changing table available in the former prayer room by the offices.
For a very similar reason why we cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, we are adhering to the recommendations for anyone attending service to wear a face covering or mask.
Everyone (age 6 and up) must wear a face covering or mask. The wearing of a face covering or mask for children between age 2 and 5 is at the discretion of parents.
If you’ve been out shopping or have gone anywhere, you will know THIS IS NOT COMFORTABLE. There are times you might need to step outside for a breath of fresh air. It’s annoying, but eyes will be on religious gatherings as these reopening phases continue.
If anyone who participates on a Sunday morning tests positive for COVID-19, we are required to notify the Local Board of Health. They will be reviewing our conduct and we desire to be diligent and above reproach (1 Tim. 2:3.) We’ve seen in other instances how this virus can spread in gatherings, we want to take every precaution to not be part of an outbreak.
If you do not have a mask, or if you forget yours, one will be provided to you.
Again, while nothing is “perfect,” it has been shown that distance plus covering reduces risk of exposure. This will be one of the challenging aspects of gathering as a larger group, to be together, but still be distant.
While on the premises and in the building, we encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and give each other space.
CDC recommends 6ft between households. To accommodate this, the sanctuary has been arranged in seating clusters, each with 6 ft. all around. Clusters are labeled by number and a member of our hospitality team will be able to assist you in finding space to sit.
We currently do not plan “traffic control,” please keep distancing in mind when entering or exiting.
- We will not be passing a plate for offering. Offering plates will be located on the back wall for tithes and offerings. As part of worshipping through giving, you can put yours there upon entering, or during music. You can also continue to give online or send your gifts by mail.
- Hand sanitizers are located throughout the facility
- No coffee or water is available during our gatherings. Not only is it to reduce contact opportunities, it’s also difficult to drink while wearing a mask.
- Reducing touch contact points. Before service, and pending weather, the double doors will be open. If not, a greeter will open it for you.
- James 4:8 “Wash your hands” is still one of the best recommendations.
Oak Hill Bible Church
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
As we continue to stay physically apart we want to encourage you to stay connected with the church body and the members of our community every way we can. Please see the following reminders and new information for ways for us to remain connected.
As a reminder each Sunday at 9:30AM we will livestream. This gathering will feature worship in song, scripture, and study from God’s Word. We’ll be streaming from our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channe...
To join, visit the site on Sunday at 9:30AM and the stream should be available. The link will also be posted on our Facebook page as well. You’ll be able to (and are encouraged) to use the live chat to connect with others, leave comments, and ask questions.
This week there is an option to call into our service. If you, or anyone you know, does not have access to the internet/a computer to watch on youtube, you can call in to hear the audio for our service by calling one of the following numbers on the telephone:
+1 929 205 6099 / +1 312 626 6799 / +1 669 900 6833 (any 3 of these will work fine!)
When you dial you need to enter the Meeting ID: 392 239 759#
Then you'll be able to hear the audio! Please note these are toll numbers.
As we stay connected with our community we remind you that you can reach out via the phone and mail to our church body with the church directory: https://servantkeeper.com/directory/oakhilloxford/. The password is OHBC0287.
To support our community at large we encourage you to mail cards to senior citizens at CareOne in Millbury. This is the facility where Bill Stevens is staying. Cards can be sent to:
Cards For Residents
Att: Annie Greenow
312 Milbury Ave
Millbury, MA, 01527
Additionally, we will be posting regular reflections through video, song, articles, and other resources as we navigate these coming weeks. Look for them on Facebook and Instagram, and Youtube page.
We continue to pray for each of you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Grace & Peace,
Pastor Glenn & Pastor Josh
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Life has changed and is changing, significantly since the coronavirus (Covid-19) was declared to be a global pandemic. For people in this country and around the world there is a new “normal” quite unimaginable to most of us just a short time ago. Clearly efforts to ensure the health and safety of people is the highest priority of our government and the reason for the drastic measures executed by our governor. We may not like the strategies put in place to prevent or slow the spread of this disease, but we are complying with them and encouraging the Oak Hill community to do the same. As a community, we want to act with faith AND wisdom (not fear and foolishness.)
Recognizing that the corporate worship of God’s people is an integral part of being the Body of Christ, Oak Hill leadership agrees that we must provide a resource to our community that will help unite and encourage God’s people while maintaining our public witness for Christ. We humbly acknowledge that we cannot re-create what happens when dozens of us are together in the same room on a Sunday morning. The very essence of “Church” is an incarnational, physically present gathering. We also declare that this is not our goal. Rather, we want to supplement what we do on a Sunday morning without trying to duplicate our corporate worship experience.
To that end, here are a few things we’re planning right now:
Phone/Text Network: You haven’t already, you most likely will be contacted by one of the Deaconesses calling to check-in with you. Please be encouraged to call or text one another, especially those you might not have a regular opportunity to talk with (or have never talked with). Embrace the potential awkwardness to contact and encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13). Pray for and with one another. The Oak Hill directory is available https://servantkeeper.com/directory/oakhilloxford/login Password: OHBC0287
Sunday Gathering Online: Each Sunday at 9:30AM we will Livestream. This gathering will feature worship in song, scripture, and study from God’s Word. This Sunday we will be looking at Mark 10:17-31
We are making adjustments as we go, but for this Sunday we’ll be streaming from our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ-LPsRvnE03PdzOXUc4kcw?view_as=subscriber
To find our channel on a new device without the link, go to youtube.com and search @oakhilloxford you should see our green leaf logo pop up (you might need to scroll down a bit)!
To join, visit the site on Sunday at 9:30AM and the stream should be available. The link will also be posted on our Facebook page as well. You’ll be able to (and are encouraged) to use the live chat to connect with others, leave comments, and ask questions (The pastor who is not preaching will be monitoring this comment section and replying. This week Pastor Glenn will be replying to questions & comments.)
We understand not everyone has a computer to access this page and we are looking into other options for us to use.
We continue to pray for each of you. We join with others in the hope that effective treatment and a vaccine for this disease will soon be discovered. We pray for those who are more susceptible to this illness, especially those on the front lines in healthcare and public safety (police, fire, EMTs).
May we be reminded that as Christians we already know what we must do: point people to God and bear witness that our only hope is found in Jesus Christ. He is our refuge and strength and as the only true and living God, He remains the hope of all the world. May the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil.4:7)!
Grace & Peace,Pastor Glenn & Pastor Josh
On Sunday March 15 the decision to suspend Sunday worship services and Wednesday evening Dinner & Discussions for two weeks was announced. On Sunday evening the Governor of Massachusetts banned all public gatherings of 25 or more people. This order shall remain in effect until April 5, unless further extended.
Here's what this means. We cannot meet for worship services, Bible study/discussion times, youth group and/or other planned/special events through April 4th (at least). Visits to hospitals and nursing homes has been restricted or banned. Because visitation in homes may cause exposure and greater risk for certain people in our church community, we are severely restricting such visits. We are currently developing plans to stay in touch with the Oak Hill community, especially those confined to their homes. We are actively working on a plan to assist people in need with meals, food purchases, rides to doctor visits, etc., while remaining sensitive to and monitoring changes in CDC guidelines.
Life Groups may continue to meet per the decision of each local Life Group/leader. Please contact your Life Group leader for questions or concerns. We are presently working on an alternative plan for Sunday morning "gatherings" which will be announced as soon as possible. We will keep people apprised of updates through email (or use of the Calling Post as needed). We strongly urge everyone to set aside time each day for prayer according to the suggested guidelines below. Families are encouraged to pray together. This is a wonderful teaching opportunity for children. Parents of youth/children keep an eye out for an email from Jess with more information on how we’ll be connecting remotely. Please feel free to contact Jess (email@example.com) if you have questions or would like to receive resources for youth and children during this time.
We would remind you that although we will not be meeting together for worship, the financial obligations associated with ministry continue. These include missions and denominational support, staff salaries and housing costs, building insurance and expenses, and other obligations. You may continue to give your tithes and offerings as planned to the Lord in several ways. We encourage you to send your offering in the mail (OHBC, P.O. Box 277, Oxford, MA 01540). You may also give through the church website (oakhillbible.org/GIVE.htm).
Please use the OHBC Facebook prayer group (LINK) to communicate any prayer needs. These may also be submitted online (LINK) or emailed to the church (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also contact the pastors with any special needs or concerns at <email@example.com> or <firstname.lastname@example.org>
UPDATE 3/15/20 (Afternoon)
Dear Church Family,
I hope this email finds you well and in peace this Sunday Afternoon. I’m writing to pass along an update that we at Oak Hill will be canceling all events for the time being. There will be no meetings, dinner & discussion, youth group or Services for at least the next 3 weeks given Governor Baker’s latest update (article linked at the end). TOMORROW we will be sending out an official update from our Pastors and Elders. In the days ahead I encourage you to use your time in the Word and turning over all your feelings to our heavenly father who has control over today and every day. Remember that good social distancing does not need to mean social disconnecting. Stay in touch with your church body, friends and family with the technology we’re lucky to have. You can keep connected with us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (with all our latest messages) at @oakhilloxford. Get connected with our prayer request page here https://www.facebook.com/groups/903638353091894/.
Again, more information will be coming tomorrow, know we’re praying for your health and peace.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21)
The Song Pastor Glenn quoted in today's sermon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7jXASBWwwI
UPDATE 3/15/20 (Morning)
We continue to monitor the outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19. At this time, there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus among the Oak Hill community or in the Town of Oxford. We want you to know that out of an abundance of caution and desire to serve our church and local community, Oak Hill leadership is taking proactive measures to monitor and exercise caution in light of this virus. We are following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) steps and are making ongoing adjustments to our practices in the life of this faith community.
At the present time, we plan to continue weekly worship services and regular activities/events, until it is necessary to change or discontinue our practices. We are making modifications to help keep our community healthy and safe. Adjustments and new updates are listed below.
- Every bathroom has antibacterial soap. We strongly urge the frequent washing of hands for at least 20 seconds, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Hand sanitizing stations will soon be located in the lobby and sanctuary. Mini sanitizer bottles can be found throughout the facility. Please do not remove these from the church facility.
- Bulletins are being prepared and distributed by people wearing disposable gloves.
- We are not “passing the plate” to take the collection. Instead, you can place your offering in the Joash chest during the Greeting Time.
- All doorknobs and high-touch surfaces (e.g. tables, light switches, remotes, handles, pens, etc.) are being wiped down after services/events. Nursery and children’s areas are being disinfected in an effort to remove germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces.
- We are limiting access to the facility to scheduled services, activities and planned events, to help ensure that the facility remains clean for scheduled services/events on the church calendar.
- Anyone whose health is compromised is encouraged to stay home. Plans to Live-stream Sunday morning services are in progress. If you are not feeling well you can soon join our worship from home via the internet. We will endeavor to provide assistance to those who have difficulty with technology.
- Visits to hospitals and nursing homes are being curtailed or reduced due to imposed restrictions or limitations. We have plans in progress for a team of people to maintain contact with shut-ins or those self-quarantined via telephone or text messages.
- We are prayerfully considering ways in which we can provide practical assistance to our church and local communities, continuing to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world around us.
- We strongly urge daily preventative care by washing hands frequently with soap and warm water (20-30 seconds ); avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; staying home if you are sick; frequent cleaning and disinfecting at home or work; and the practice of healthy habits (plenty of sleep, drinking fluids and eating nutritious food, and managing stress).
The CDC reports that patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with such symptoms as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Should anyone from the Oak Hill community begin to experience any of these symptoms, or have been exposed to others who have traveled to affected areas, we ask them to contact the Church office at (508) 987-0287 as soon as possible.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We are reminded of Paul’s instruction to Timothy, which is a good guide in times of crisis or not. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2Timothy 1:7 CSB) Please know that Oak Hill leadership is taking this matter seriously, as instructed in God’s Word. We trust in God’s Sovereignty, rest in His Peace, and believe that God can and will use our witness in this season for His glory.'
SOCIAL MEDIA LETTER 3/14/20
Dear Church Family,
In recent weeks, our world has been gripped by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, and the threat seems to keep inching closer and closer to home. Over the last few days we’ve begun to see social distancing and extra disease-prevention measures implemented around the United States. What does this mean for us? We at Oak Hill Bible church are approaching this matter with two considerations guiding our response – the honor and glory of the Lord and the safety and protection of the congregation at OHBC. As we walk through these unprecedented times together, let us remember that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Governor of Mass has banned all gatherings of 250 or more people in one place at a time. This Ban does NOT apply to Oak Hill and our small church gathering. We WILL be meeting tomorrow 3/15 for our normal 9:30am service and Sunday school hour. We’d encourage you all to do what you can to #flattenthecurve but after prayer, our Elders and Pastors will continue to host service in person and encourage all those feeling well enough to join us. You can always find our Sermon messages Sunday Afternoon on our Youtube Page @OakHillOxford.
In light of this and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Oak Hill has initiated some cautionary steps to better protect our congregation. As always, Oak Hill is committed to using best practices and making informed decisions as we seek to be led by wisdom and love, rather than driven by fear. To see the immediate steps that Oak Hill has taken CLICK HERE for the latest letter from the Pastors and Elders.
If there is any group of people in the world that should not be shaken by the events surrounding COVID-19, it is Christians. Our theology and worldview lead us to respond with peace and joy, generosity and love, patience and hope. Christ is seated upon His glorious throne and we have nothing to fear. We will remain wise and diligent in preparation as we seek to honor the Lord and care for those He has brought to our community at Oak Hill. Thank you for your partnership in ministry and for responding to these events in a manner worthy of our high calling in Christ.
Grace and peace,
The Staff and Leadership of Oak Hill Bible Church
Dear Oak Hill Family,
The recent challenges associated with the flu and the spread of Coronavirus in the United States—and in Massachusetts in particular—have brought about a desire by leadership to ensure that Oak Hill maintains a healthy environment for our church community. In light of new information coming out every day, we are taking some measures to strengthen and communicate our commitment to provide a healthy environment for all. Here are some measures we will implement.
- Reminders to wash and sanitize our hands. We added signage in the restrooms and around the facility, reminding people to wash their hands for the appropriate length of time. There is a passage of scripture (Psalm 121) that can be read while you wash. When you are done reading you can be done washing!
- Purchase of hand sanitizing stations. In addition to bottles of hand sanitizer in the lobby and other locations throughout the church, hand sanitizing stations have been ordered and will be installed in strategic places for your use. Please use them!
- Changes to the greeting portion of our service. When it comes to greeting one another, a favorite activity at Oak Hill, for the time being, we are encouraging the use of a wave, a big smile, or even the use of an ‘elbow greeting’ to avoid the usual handshakes or hugs customarily given to one another. Please refrain for the sake of others’ health!
- Joining us from home. The blessings of meeting together are innumerable, but we also recognize that when people aren’t feeling well, it’s best if they remain home. Especially with heightened concerns for people’s well-being. For those unable to attend a weekly worship service, we are presently working on making our services available through live streaming. Please stay tuned for more information about this new feature!
- Reviewing possible changes to Communion. We receive Communion together as a church community on the
first Sunday of each month. That is a treasured opportunity that we don’t want to change. However, we are exploring ways to make our celebration of Christ’s sacrificial death less of a health concern for all. Recently we have added allergen-free Communion bread for those with special dietary needs. We are exploring alternative ways to enhance the Communion experience for all. Please look for more details in the coming weeks!
As people of faith, we are not driven by fear. These and other actions are not fear-based reactions to the Coronavirus. Fear begets restlessness, panic, and a desire for self-preservation. Fear cripples our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are compelled to use wisdom and act prudently as God directs. That is what we are endeavoring to do in this time of uncertainty. However, one thing is very certain: whatever external threats may loom, faith in Christ for our present and for His promised future is what is most needed. With this future having been secured for us at the cost of Jesus’ life, and in the assurance of His abiding presence, we can live free from fear and be faithful to our calling as Christ’s servants.
Because of God’s grace,
Oak Hill Pastors and Elders