Dear New Hope Family,
I am writing to inform you that after much prayer, discussion and discernment, the session has decided to postpone the Winter Retreat until a later date. For some of you this may come as a disappointment and for some of you, as a relief. Let me assure you that the leadership made the decision not out of fear or panic, but out of faith and prayer, out of love and care. It was not an easy decision to make, but we believe it was the right decision—for the sake of our church and for the sake of our society.
Here are four reasons why we have decided to cancel the retreat for now and postpone it to a later time.
1. Social Responsibility: Given the situation with the COVID-19 outbreak in our province, and the government’s recommendation to restrain large group gatherings, we want to be careful and caring. We want to be careful so that the virus does not spread through our gathering in any way. We want to be caring and good citizens by doing our part to “flatten the infection curve” by choosing not to meet in large groups. We as a church decided to suspend in-person Sunday corporate worship for the next short while for the same reason: we want to fulfill our social responsibility, and in so doing, love our neighbors.
2. Loving the weak and the vulnerable: We love and care for our members who are weak and vulnerable (including our children), and those who are living with elderly parents or are in contact with those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
3. Honouring God: We are not convinced that going to the retreat at this time will necessarily honour God more than not going. Again, we are not making this decision out of fear, but out of faith. Whether we go to the retreat or not is not a matter of faith, but a matter of wisdom. We trust that the Spirit has led us thus far and put a stop for now. We believe that we honour God by letting go of our original plan and by exercising prudence to wait for the next opportunity for us to go on a retreat.
4. Caring for the Guest Preacher: Pastor Mitch would be coming from Chicago where the situation with COVID-19 is worse than Ontario as of now. In response to my concern for his coming here next week, he jokingly responded, “It seems that there is a greater likelihood that I would bring the virus to Canada than catching it there!” We are very grateful that he is willing to come and minister to us, given the situation here and there. I believe it is right for us, however, to extend our care and concern for him, as well as his family and his people at church, at this critical time. Instead, we will have him for our retreat in near future!
A Way Forward:
1. Thank you: I want to thank the retreat committee and all who have fasted and prayed, and who have made so much effort to prepare for the retreat. I would like to recognize the Retreat Committee members (Deacon Terry Lim, Deacon Randy Kim, John Moon, and Ian Choi) and children/youth coordinators (Pastor Sarah Shin, Mrs. Lee, Caleb Shin) and Sam Pyo and the praise team. I believe the labour of love and the hours of sacrifice was receive by God as worship to him and that nothing was wasted. Thank you and we thank God for you!
2. Refund: Please give us some time to sort out the details regarding refunds and other logistics. The committee will provide the information in due time.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of the retreat committee members.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance and give you peace.
Pastor Charles Lee