Mountain Park Church
Thursday, May 14
As you may already be aware, the White House released new guidelines last month for phasing out social distancing measures related to COVID-19. These guidelines included gating criteria related to downward trends in the spread of COVID-19 as well as steps to be taken by the states to guard against a rebound. Earlier this week, the Governor announced that Arizona has met the federal guidelines for Phase One of reopening and issued an executive order with additional direction. We had already been working on developing our own procedures for a phased reopening (based on the federal guidelines) and began implementing them today. This includes the following:
- Offices and building will remain closed
- Sunday services will continue to be online only
- Gatherings of ten or less are permitted on the patio (or other outdoor spaces) with appropriate physical distancing
- Ministry related activities of less than ten people (such as pastoral counseling, planning meetings with volunteers, etc.) may resume with appropriate physical distancing
Although many onsite activities remain suspended until further notice, ministry is not! In addition to our Sunday services, many of our groups and classes have moved online and we’ve launched new virtual small groups. Additionally, our Family Ministries team is continuing to offer virtual gatherings for kids and students and we hosted a food and clothing drive last week for those struggling with homelessness (thank you to all who participated!).
If you are feeling discouraged or disheartened by the continued procrastination of getting back to normal, that's completely understandable - even biblical! In the words of Proverbs 13:12 "hope deferred makes the heart sick." So don't be surprised. Some level of frustration is to be expected and we encourage you to process through what you are feeling with the Lord and with other believers.
As we move forward, let's continue to pursue Jesus, to put our hope in him, and to encourage and pray for one another.
If you are looking for some truth to hang onto, here’s some great verses in Psalm 33:20-21 that might be worth memorizing right now: “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
Jan van Amerongen
Tuesday, March 31
During our services on Sunday we announced that all onsite activities are suspended until further notice. This decision was based on ongoing interactions with public health officials and concern for your safety and the safety of our community. Since that time both federal and state governments have extended social distancing measures through the end of April, including a “stay at home” order for Arizona beginning today Tuesday, March 31st at 5:00 PM.
While this order may feel unsettling, it was not unexpected. Although our offices will be closed during this time, we are prepared to continue offering our Sunday Services, Noon Day Devotionals on our Facebook page, and other family resources online. In addition, we will be broadcasting our Easter services at the originally scheduled times of 6:30, 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 AM, and 12:30 PM. There will be no other onsite activities for Holy Week. We are exploring alternative experiences for Stations of the Cross and will keep you posted.
As a staff, we are committed to serving you – and our community – with the grace and truth of Jesus. Please let us know if you have questions, suggestions, or if you just want to pray with someone. We are in this together. And so is Jesus. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
We are incredibly grateful for the way so many of you have continued to engage with us and hope you will continue to pray with us for God’s guidance, protection, and provision.
Jan van Amerongen
Friday, March 20
During his message last Sunday, Allan reminded us that “fear sees a problem in every opportunity, but faith sees an opportunity in every problem.” This week our staff has embraced the opportunity to think prayerfully about how we do church under our current circumstances - and we are excited about how God has led us! Here’s a quick rundown of what’s planned.
We can’t wait to gather as a church Online this Sunday! Please join us for our Live-Streamed Services at 8:00, 9:30, or 11:00 AM. While you’re at it, why not invite a friend? This is the perfect time for people to see how faith in Jesus can truly make a difference in their lives. Besides, it’s never been easier to visit a church! They don’t have to talk to anyone, worry about what to wear, or even spend money on gas for their car!
Parents, check out the family resources available through our Resources page. We’ve provided age-appropriate video content, devotionals, at-home activities, and parent guides so that your whole family can continue to grow in their faith. We suggest that you take a look at those resources ahead of time so you can make a plan for how to make the most of them.
During The Week
Because our faith isn’t just a Sunday thing, we want to encourage you to connect with Jesus every day of the week. So we’ve made our Journals available for download directly from our website. We’ll also be posting some additional journal-related video content throughout the week on social media and encourage you to interact with us there.
Stay Up To Date
To get updates in real-time for our church, continue to check ourWebsite and/or follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates.
We look forward to worshiping with you this weekend!
Jan van Amerongen
Wednesday, March 18
In order to serve and care for our community in an increasingly quarantined world, we are making some changes to our programming. Based on guidelines recently released by the White House, the CDC, and ADHS, we are moving all our Sunday services online (instead of meeting in our building) for the next two weeks (March 22nd and March 29th). Despite the circumstances, we are very excited about how God wants to use this time and believe it provides some unique opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible for a normal Sunday service in our facilities. We will have more information on what that looks like, and how you can participate, in the next couple of days - so stay tuned via email, Website, or Facebook & Instagram.
In addition, we are suspending all onsite midweek programming from now through Saturday, April 4th. This includes Marriage Mondays, HOPE Groups, Yoga, and all other classes/groups that meet on site. Some leaders may elect to meet online and, if so, will send an email with additional information to their participants.
This is a good time to remember that the church is not a building. It’s us. We do not stop being the church simply because we aren’t physically gathering. We are still the body of Christ, the family of God, the community of saints. Our role in God’s story doesn’t change even if the context requires us to express it differently. We are still witnesses, worshippers, grace-givers, and more. So, as it says in Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, or if you just want someone to pray for you, please do not hesitate to contact us. As a staff, we are still committed to praying for you, encouraging you, and serving you. You can email any staff member through our website at mountainpark.org or call us at 480-759-6200. While we do not have a 24 hour receptionist, we are checking messages every day, so feel free to call anytime leave a voicemail so that someone can get back to you.
Jan van Amerongen
Monday, March 16
We wanted to give you a quick update on our programming. This afternoon, Governor Doug Ducey announced on Twitter that Arizona would support the CDC’s recommendation to cancel large gatherings. We will be considering how this affects our Sunday services in the coming days. Please continue to check our website and social media for updates.
In addition, we are suspending all onsite programming from Monday, March 15th – Saturday, March 21st. Many of our mid-week programs are led by faithful and committed volunteers. This will give those leaders the freedom to focus on their families and other issues that have arisen as a result of COVID-19. It also honors and supports leaders who may be uncomfortable with continuing their programs as normal. This includes Marriage Mondays, HOPE groups, Yoga, and all other classes/groups that meet on site. Some leaders may elect to meet offsite or online and, if so, will send an email with additional information to their participants.
We hope you were able to join us for the “circuit-breaker” services today – either online or in person. Both the worship and the message were a powerful reminder that this is a time when we are called to truly live out our faith. Or, as Allan put it “if you have faith, this is the time to use it.” So let’s look for ways this week to demonstrate our trust in God’s loving leadership through our thoughts, our speech, and our actions. As it says in Hebrews 10:23-24, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Jan van Amerongen
Saturday, March 14
I apologize for “adding to the noise.” On the topic of COVID-19, I know that you have already heard from us and continue to get emails from every organization or business that you have ever interacted with!
As Jan indicated in a recent email, we are carefully monitoring information regarding what is best for you and your family in terms of a large gathering here at the church. The reality is that information, and therefore planning, is changing constantly.
We will still be meeting this Sunday morning at 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM. While it pains me to suspend the 8:00 AM service (after all, it is the best of all the services!), it is clear that some who attend that service may prefer to stay home. This will be the plan for the next two Sundays (March 15 & 22), we will then re-evaluate from there. Please continue to check our Website and/or follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates.
If you prefer to worship from home, please know that both the 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM services will be available via Facebook Live as they are every Sunday. Some people refer to this as “pajama church.”
I also wanted to remind you that “pajama church” is also fully functional in terms of giving. You can do that HERE if you would like to participate.
Peace, love and hope to you all. Whether you choose to join us in person or online, this is a perfect time to worship our God and celebrate his faithfulness!
Honored to serve with you,
Thursday, March 12
In light of the growing concern regarding COVID-19, we thought it would be helpful to let you know how we are responding. You’re probably already overloaded with warnings, advice, and doomsday scenarios (yay, social media!), so we don’t want to spam you with one more reminder to wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, etc. (but please do those things!). We do want you to know that we are paying close attention to the appropriate health organizations and, based on current information, plan to continue all regularly scheduled activities - including Sunday services. Our facilities are being cleaned on a regular basis and we are giving extra attention to surface areas such as door handles, tabletops, handrails, etc. Hand sanitizer is also available at the information desk and we are working to provide additional sanitizing options throughout the building.
The best way to stay up to date on any potential changes to our programs is through our website and social media accounts, Facebook & Instagram.
Finally, let’s remember that COVID-19 did not catch God by surprise. He is not scratching his head thinking “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” Nor is he wondering how we feel about it. Not only does he see our hearts, he also understands them as one who has walked in our shoes (or sandals!). He experienced worry, anxiety, and fear. . . and when he was getting ready to experience the greatest trial of his life, he reminded his disciples “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) So let us place our worries at his feet (1 Peter 5:7) and center our hearts on the reality of his eternal love and sovereignty.
We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Jan van Amerongen