June 23, 2020

Dear Grace,

Hard times call for hard decisions. And one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make is closing our doors to in-person worship because of the pandemic back in March.

Unfortunately, this week, I’m making that decision again. Grace is temporarily closing to in-person worship and classes effective immediately — we’ll have online only weekend services again beginning June 27-28. Here’s why.

If you watched my video messages or came to our volunteer nights, you might remember that we had four goals with re-opening:

  • to stay focused on our mission,
  • to offer the maximum care for the maximum number of people,
  • to represent Christ well in our city, and
  • to stay responsive to data.

A month ago, those goals and numbers led us to re-open. Florida cases were low and, even after five weeks of opening our state, our local county numbers remained even lower. When we decided to open our church doors again, our local hospitals had been virtually emptied of COVID patients. Our city was on the move again. Churches around us were opening. And our government officials were personally encouraging us to meet again.

As with everything this year, a few weeks changes things dramatically. Now, in our conversations with both local officials and local health professionals, we know that:

  • COVID cases are rapidly on the rise in Orange and Seminole Counties over the last two weeks
  • Hospital admissions are on the way up, including PCU and ICU patients
  • Patients admitted for complications are far younger than in our area’s previous case spike

We’ve also seen a few churches right around us forced to close because of COVID cases in their church or on their staff teams.

We are fortunate to know of no positive confirmed tests right now at any of our campuses (we know of one pending case at Grace Oviedo of a person who did not attend this past weekend). But our deep love for our staff teams and our Grace family means we would like things to stay this way.

There is no one who wants the church doors open more than I do. But we are in agreement as a staff, leadership team, and elder team that closing again right now is the right thing to do.

In the meantime, we are going to do everything we can to make this season a fruitful one and to help people take their next steps toward Christ. We are thinking through new ways of worshiping, connecting, and learning even beyond what we did in our first online season. Stay tuned for more!

Please pray for us as we pray for you in these days.

Pastor Mike Adkins