I shared this update about what is happening at AACRC fall 2020 during worship on August 23.  Wanted to share it again here, in case you missed it.   – Pastor Ryan


I am a servant of this church as one of your three pastors and I’d like to give an update to you about what we’ve been working really hard on. Council members, elders, deacons, staff, pastors, we’ve continued to work very hard, as many of you have. We continue to think about what this church looks like heading into the fall and I wanted to give you that update. 

I’m going to talk about a few things: worship, faith formation, stewardship, logistical items. But first, I want to say that even with this pandemic we want to continue to have a fully engaged ministry at the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church heading into the fall. To do that we need three things. We need flexibility, we need creativity, and we need grace. We need these three things from one another as we plan, as we maybe have to change those plans, as we have to undo those plans. As we have to do all of the things that happen in the right now, we need flexibility, creativity, and grace. I rejoice to tell you that I’ve already seen a lot of those three things within this faith community, so it’s no doubt in my mind that those three things will continue as we move ahead. 

We need flexibility, we need creativity, and we need grace.


I want to talk about worship a little bit. 

We can acknowledge that if we’re here at 1717 Broadway, we miss our brothers and sisters who are not with us. And, if you are at home, I don’t care how comfy the couch, how high quality the coffee, we know we’d all rather be together. I want to tell you, that is the goal. When it’s safe, when we can, we want to be back here. The church is a gathering of the faithful, and boy, do we want to gather again. And, I want to let you know that the shepherding elders, the pastors, and staff are all having regular conversations about when and how we can do that. We’re really grateful for all of the health professionals that we bother all the time. I’m just so thankful that we can come together as a team with regularity and discuss what that might look like. 

The right now: We’re worshipping online, and for right now we’re going to be worshiping with no one or limited people in the building, only those that are executing services. We’re going to keep re-evaluating that decision, and as soon as we can, we will figure out how we can begin to invite people back to the building. In the meantime, though, the elders would like for you to consider that we know worship is great when you can be with other people of faith from this community. So, if you are comfortable, the elders want to provide an opportunity through the vehicle of house groups for you to gather on a Sunday morning. Many of us are in house groups—that’s the small group ministry of the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church—and so our house groups are going to stay the same from last year into this year. If you’re in a house group, it’s the same one and you have the same facilitator.  If you’re not in a house group, reach out to Rachel in our office to join one. What we want to commend to you is that until we can meet again in person safely, while it’s warm outside, maybe you would consider meeting in your house group for Sunday worship? Gathering outside, socially distanced, however you need to do that, taking all of those precautions, and you can worship together. You can join Paul as he sings, join Pastor Noah as he plays and sings, you can join us in our prayers of confession, you can join us in reflecting on the word that way, and you can also join one another and do that work together. If this sounds good, we really want to commend it to you as an opportunity this fall.

Your pastors are going to be going through the book of Acts. Acts is a great story of an early church trying to figure things out in the middle of a lot of transition in their world. There was pandemic and there was persecution and there was upheaval and there was change. And we don’t know anything about those things, right? But, the church in Acts had to deal with a lot of the changes, a lot of the situations we’re talking about right now and are pressing for us. The Church of Acts grounded itself in the mission that they received from Jesus Christ and were led into brand new territory and led into the unknown by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, we’re going to reflect on those stories, because that’s our story. And, we’re going to figure out together where God is calling us to be. And, we’re going to follow faithfully. So, that’s going to be the sermon series. That’s also going to be your house group materials. Going forward is a chance for us to gather and ponder some questions together about what’s God asking of the church right now. We want to make sure that you get involved in that!

So, we’re going to reflect on those stories, because that’s our story. And, we’re going to figure out together where God is calling us to be. And, we’re going to follow faithfully.

Faith Formation

The second thing I want to mention is faith formation.

At the Arbor Christian Reformed Church, we are used to right after Labor Day welcoming a bunch of people into new programming. A new group of second graders come up for GEMS or Cadets. We get to welcome people into preschool church hour or Kid Connection, our Sunday school program. All these wonderful things! We, as adults, get to start in the new season of discipleship ourselves, with Big House Sundays or house group ministry or with other volunteer opportunities that we enjoy or discipleship opportunities that we enjoy. I just want to tell you, we again are planning a fully engaged ministry fall. It’s not going to look the same, which is why we need that flexibility, that creativity, that grace. 

For our children and for our youth, I just want to say we have program leaders who are working so hard to come up with great plans for how they can still build relationships and build faith with our children and with you. I know that Cadets and GEMS are planning some things and all of the program leaders are going to be reaching out to you. So, if you’re involved in those programs, program leaders will reach out to you, better than I could right now. For Kid Connection, for Sunday school, our denominational Faith Alive resources has come up with an amazing Dwell Flex program that you can find on the crcna website, and you can discover what that’s about.  But, we’re going to be doing that from home and with family, so you get to engage with your kids, if you have kids that age, and you can participate in that grade curriculum and continue to form faith at the same time as others form their faith in this community. I’m here to tell you that our Roots leaders for middle school are continuing to think about how they can walk alongside relationally with our students. Our Reach leaders are going to continue to do that for senior high as well. Your pastors are working on and almost done creating—I need a little more time to get done—a fully online profession of Faith curriculum, because it’s that year again. So, a series of videos will be coming out that students can work on together. And, maybe parents you need to brush up on that profession of faith, a little Heidelberg for you too? You can join them in that video series and you can participate. So, we’re planning a lot of great programming. And while we have said we can’t gather in the building until the end of 2020, that decision, like every decision, is something we’re constantly evaluating. But, saying that early for that amount of time gives our program leaders a way to prepare, to plan, and to program well for their students, for their children, and for all of us. 

Some things that are happening on the adult side. Again, house groups. If you’re not in, reach out and let’s put you in one so that we can be discipled in this season. I also want to commend to you the women’s study. They’re still taking new names and looking for people to join them (email Kellie to connect). They’ve got a book study planned and it’s a great one by Kate Bowler, so I want to commend that to you as well.  Also I want to point out to you that some creativity, some flexibility, and some grace has already been happening around here. I know that Friendship is not able to meet in the way they want, but I talked to some of the leaders of Friendship and they’re still reaching out to the St. Louis Center, because of course we love our Friends. And men’s Wednesday morning Bible study is still meeting outside in our parking lot, because they still want to be discipled, still want to have the fellowship. 

Flexibility, creativity, and grace. There’s lots of opportunities for you to both come and be involved and there’s a lot of ways in which people are working really hard to stay involved at the AACRC. We’re so thankful for that. 


I also want to share some logistical things.

Jim Wagner, our custodian, and his team are still here making sure that this building is constantly clean. So, for staff, if you do need to come into the building, if you need to drop something off, if you need to get something, we know that this building is still needing to be open to do some tasks you need to. Be assured that when you walk in here, this building is clean, and it’s a safe place for you. The church office will continue to be open through the fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And, no, that doesn’t mean that your staff gets a two day work week! We’re trying to angle for that, but council is not going for it! Just kidding. We’re not angling, but work is being done, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays you can find Rachel Redder at her post, being welcoming as always. If there’s something you need from the church here or you need a phone call to the church office, Tuesdays and Thursdays. 


Lastly, I just want to say something that has marked this church in this season so profoundly has been service, the way that we have engaged with the community over and over and over again: donations for Hope Clinic and Hesed Community Church in Detroit, walking alongside and being an encouragement and prayer support to our local organizations, hosting men for rotating shelter. Those relationships have continued. Thank you for being so faithful in that. 

When we talk about giving here at the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church, we like to talk about giving of time, talent, and resource. Time, talent, and resource. Through this pandemic this church has given all three in ways that have overwhelmed and blessed this community. So, thank you for that and keep it up! Keep up that continued faithfulness of time, talent, and resources. Remember the church in your giving. 

This is still a community that is doing a lot, even though we’re separated by some distance right now, and we want to keep doing a lot, because there’s a lot of organizations we partner with, there’s a lot of work being done by people that normally are in these pews, but are right now out in the community doing work. Keep that up and as always may God bless us in all of those things.