We want to hear from you during this time of uncertainty.
- Want to talk to someone? Email Andrew Kerhoulas, Pastor of Discipleship at
- Do you have a need or know of a need in which the Diaconate may provide or connect resources? Please let us know by emailing
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- Praying for One Another Email your prayer requests to .
- See below for the latest updates.
Reintegration Committee Update
October 3, 2020
As COVID-19 continues to affect our ability to gather indoors, GMR’s Reintegration Committee (a dedicated team of church leaders and staff) continue to meet regularly to analyze and discuss the current advisories, predictions and restrictions, in order to make recommendations to Session as to how to proceed in our “reintegration” efforts.
GMR will continue to seek creative ways to grow and flourish within this new paradigm. In keeping with the changes that have come and continue to occur, we realize we cannot simply return to the “old normal”. As we navigate the many paths involved in addressing our current issues, several initiatives are employed to work in conjunction with each other. We continue to place the physical safety of our congregation as the highest priority.
- “Our commitment is to ensure the health and safety of all attendees while encouraging community and re-connection among the church body. All actions will be within NC state guidelines and reinforce their guidance on minimizing the spread of the virus, but will seek to broaden our connections with fellow church attenders and worshipers.” (from GMR Leadership update, 5/14/20)
- Sunday morning Outdoor Worship Services will continue (weather permitting).
- 150-225 folks are gathering to worship together each Sunday
- Online Worship Service recordings will continue to be available.
- Weekly Adult Bible Studies/Discipleship Groups continue to meet at the Pavilion and online via Zoom/Facebook/Livestream.
- Calendar of events: http://www.gracemillsriver.org/connect/calendar/.
- In-home Worship Groups begin later this fall! Watch for registration opportunities beginning Sunday, October 18th!
Plans for Indoor Services
Phase 2.5-3 guidelines for NC, which are effective through October 23, continue to restrict public gatherings to no more than 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, all properly socially distanced. An exemption for places of worship has been petitioned and allowed by our Governor. However, the Reintegration Committee is recommending for GMR to continue our outdoor services as long as the weather permits. The outdoor services allow for a larger number of attendees; indoor attendance would be restricted to 75-100 people to allow for social distancing.
Specialized cleaning / sanitizing equipment has been ordered and proper cleaning procedures for the entire building have been established as well as traffic flows, directional signage and seating patterns to accommodate safety guidelines. Several tests will be conducted to ensure these processes and procedures work properly. A video will soon be shared showing these changes and how we will be conducting future indoor services.
Regarding ministry groups meeting at Grace, a few test groups have been permitted to meet on a regular basis in the Education Building to help us gain knowledge on additional cleaning regimens that will be necessary when the building is opened for other Grace activities.
If you have any questions concerning this update, please email the GMR Reintegration Team at: We will send out new information advising you of any additional developments and changes as they are made. Be on the lookout for our next communication about Worship Groups forming!
Thank you for continuing to pray for our leadership and staff as we navigate these unprecedented times together.
GMR Reintegration Committee
GMR Steps to Re-Opening
GMR has modified our plans for re-opening, beginning with Sunday morning Outdoor Worship Services, starting August 2 at 10am. Online Worship Service recordings will continue to be available.
Watch Patrick's announcement below that was shared in the July 19 online worship service.
*Image above updated on 7.14.2020 to reflect the change of date for re-opening in early August with outdoor-only worship services.
The first outdoor worship service will be held August 2 in the parking lot! Details to come!
07.08.2020 Updated Message Regarding Re-Opening
We have a hope in a firm future but we would not presume to predict the more immediate one—which is why we’ve needed to make a change to our plans for worshipping together.
A few weeks ago we shared with you a preliminary plan for an indoor service to be held in mid-July, with a limited number of people permitted to attend in keeping with both directives and a prudent effort to mitigate risks. But with the governor’s most recent order to keep some Phase 2 restrictions in place, the elders and key staff of our re-integration team thought it best to delay that plan until August. The plan as it currently stands imagines a service of around 50 which will be by RSVP; we’ll share more details about the process for registering in due time.
As we must with everything in this strange season, we hold plans loosely—continuing to pray, listen, consult, and discuss. Which is why we ask for your patience with us, insist on your prayers for us, and welcome your questions of us.
Meanwhile we’ll meet again for a brief time of worship outdoors in our parking lot on Wednesday, July 15th, at 7pm. You’ll be welcome to bring chairs as you practice social distance, remain in your vehicles to hear the liturgy through our radio broadcast, or participate from home through our livestream.
The season sifts us, beloved. It asks of us in ways few seasons have or will. It illuminates what most animates us, and invites (makes?) us to rely on Him rather than ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). But He is able. And He is good.
05.14.2020 GMR Update & New Gathering on 5/27
Grace Mills River Family & Friends,
On Friday, May 8, our Governor modified his stay-at-home order and declared NC to begin Phase I of the Covid-19 reopening process. GMR leadership has created a committee to address how we, as a church, will modify our operations to continue to meet our congregation’s spiritual needs. We are at the very early stages of planning, but want to share with you some recommendations for actions that we are making.
The committee’s commitment is to ensure the health and safety of all attendees while encouraging community and re-connection among the church body. All actions will be within NC state guidelines and reinforce their guidance on minimizing the spread of the virus, but will seek to broaden our connections with fellow church attenders and worshipers.
Phase I currently does not allow more than 10 people to meet within the auditorium and therefore, we cannot consider services in the church until at least Phase II. We are permitted “to hold services that exceed the mass gathering limit of ten people if those services are held outdoors in an unenclosed space and if attendees follow recommendations to promote social distancing and reduce transmission”.
We are recommending the following:
- Attenders who are considered vulnerable, we ask that you properly assess the risk of participating in any activity on the church grounds or in small groups. To provide church resources to the vulnerable who chose to stay at home, we are planning to indefinitely continue providing online access to worship services and activities.
- We encourage members to get together with several friends, small care groups or neighbors (but in gatherings of less than 10) in an outdoor environment like an open garage, patio or deck to listen / watch the weekly Sunday service videocast, Thursday virtual night prayer gatherings or other GMR online activities. This will be a first step in reestablishing the critical social contact we need to feel more like a church. Please observe all social distance guidelines and wearing masks is strongly recommended but not required.
- NEW GATHERING - We will host a “Praise and Worship” gathering in the main front parking lot on Wednesday, May 27 at 7 PM. This will be a time to see one another, sing worship songs, read scripture and pray in a service that will last no more than 30 minutes.
- Weather permitting only
- We ask you bring folding chairs that you can set up and conform to guideline spacing (or you can participate from your vehicle)
- Bathrooms will be closed
- The building will be closed to the public
- Children are invited but we ask that parents reinforce that they respect social distancing guidelines
- Wearing masks is strongly recommended but not required
While we do not know when the state may enter Phase II, we are already ordering necessary equipment and supplies to properly sanitize and clean the sanctuary before, after and between potential services. We are also evaluating several alternative ways to adapt the facility to meet distancing guidelines and minimizing potential spread of the virus.
In Phase II and III, there will probably be limits placed on the number of attendees allowed to gather at one time and we are investigating several alternative systems to allow us to manage attendance in an organized manner.
We will update you as we learn more about the timing and guidelines for future phases and we look forward to worshiping together as one physical body once again.
Grace Mills River Leadership
04.30.2020 GMR COVID Survey
We want to hear from you!
03.26.2020 Communication Update
From Grace Finance Committee
Grace Members & Regular Attenders,
The sudden emergence of the coronavirus has had a significant impact on our ability to gather for worship as the body of Christ. Despite the unpredictable impact of this global pandemic, our staff are attempting to keep church operations and services ongoing (staying within the boundaries of our government’s advisory restrictions). As for almost everyone, this has presented unique fears and challenges.
In light of this, the GMR Finance Committee felt the need to extend assurances to our staff employees, particularly given the fact that church staff are not eligible for unemployment (churches and religious organizations are exempt from paying into the system which in turn keeps staff from benefiting). GMR’s current cash position, without accounting for congregation giving into the future, is sufficient for us to guarantee payment of staff salaries for at least two months. They have been informed of this assurance and we plan to make similar assurance for our global missionaries.
We are truly thankful to you for offerings made in the past that allowed us to make these assurances at this time. We know that many of you face your own financial challenges due to these extraordinary times. For those of you who can, we appeal for your continued generous giving. This can be done in the following ways:
- Online Giving -
- Text to Give - Text the amount you wish to donate to 828.548.1786, then follow the prompts to register. . OR
- Mail a Check - 495 Cardinal Road, Mills River, NC 28759 *The staff will continue to monitor the mail during this time.
In this way, we hope to continually be able to provide similar assurances into the future for our beloved staff and missionaries.
We are grateful for you,
Grace Mills River Finance Committee
03.25.2020 Communication Update
Due to revised mandates, we will continue with online services through May 17.
Stay Connected with your GMR community:
• Online Sunday Services through May 17
We will follow public health recommendations moving forward.
• Virtual Weekly Prayer Gathering
• GIVE HELP & GET HELP
Visit GraceMillsRiver.org/Ministries/Mercy for more details.
• Want to talk to someone?
Email Andrew Kerhoulas, Pastor of Discipleship,
03.17.2020 Communication Update
Good morning friends! Pastor Patrick Lafferty has a special message to share with you over on our YouTube channel.
03.16.2020 Communication Update
Please note: The Grace Mills River church offices are closed as staff are working remotely at this time. To get in touch, email , or visit GraceMillsRiver.org/contact or GraceMillsRiver.org/about-us/leadership
ALL scheduled activities & events are CANCELLED at GMR through Sunday, March 29. This includes small group gatherings, bible studies, community groups, etc.
Sunday Worship Services are CANCELLED through Sunday, March 29. A weekly LiveStream Service will be held at 10:45AM each Sunday in collaboration with GBV.
All GMR activities outside of the GMR building are strongly discouraged. Our desire is to care for our community as best we can, especially those that are the most vulnerable.
We are continuing to use our GIVE HELP & GET HELP forms on the website to assist folks that need care. Visit our Mercy Ministry Page for more details.
The Congregational Meeting scheduled for March 15 has been postponed. Please watch for updates for a new date.
Please watch the website or our Facebook page (GraceChurchNC) for updates throughout the week.
03.13.2020 Communication Update
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. . . .
Psalm 46: 1, 2
In our last communication we shared with you adjustments to our plans for this Sunday’s activity. We write today to further amend that plan, in large part on the basis of yesterday’s new recommendation issued by our state’s Department of Health and Human Services--namely that gatherings greater than 100 people be canceled.
For the sake of the most vulnerable among us, and in light of that recommendation, we are choosing this Sunday to cancel our gathered worship, and instead stream the service online. In collaboration with our sister church Grace Brevard (GBV), we’ll hold one service online at 10:45a. The link to access the livestream will be available at our website about an hour prior to the service. Musicians and pastors will lead a revised liturgy from GMR with time for singing, affirmation, prayer, and the preached word.
Furthermore, both the installation of Andrew Kerhoulas and our Congregational Meeting have been postponed. As both those elements are irreducibly family occasions, we all thought it best to wait until we can witness them as a gathered community.
It will be a new experience for us all--likely a bit clunky at first. But because we believe worship is more than just any event, we thought it important to preserve this vital part of our common and spiritual life.
Some might think this decision is based in fear, or at least premature. While the number of cases in this state are far less numerous than other states, and there are still no confirmed cases in Western Carolina, we act on the basis of wisdom, borne of well-attested and recent history, that preemptive and proactive measures best serve not only those at high-risk but also the wider community.
Events have unfolded so rapidly that this communication serves to explain our most immediate plans. We’ll have more to share early next week with regard to the plan for the next several weeks. The Session has appointed a group of elders and staff to make necessary decisions, in consultation with those in government and health-care.
We know this will affect many in the days and weeks to come in ways they could never imagine. We know the disruption and disorientation will place a strain like few things can, but this is also a time that presents a unique opportunity to express courageous love in action--even in the simplest gestures of kindness. We’ll have suggestions for that with our next communication.
For now, make use of the multiple communication channels to remain up to date (our website, Facebook page, and through Church Center emails. Check in on each other--in particular those who could be at higher risk of infection. Contact your elders and pastors for prayer and encouragement. Read and meditate upon promises that endure no matter the moment. Pray for (and support where you can) those on the front lines of healthcare.
Lastly, while we know that, should schools and businesses close in the coming days, many may face a new financial burden, we might humbly ask those who can to please continue to give through our Online Giving channel so that we can keep paying the bills in a timely fashion.
“See” you Sunday (online!) at 10:45a.
The peace of the Lord be with you, GMR
Patrick and the Session
03.11.2020 Communication Update
We want you to know we’re listening carefully and often to those in the know, and collaborating with each other on what are both proper and timely responses to the rapidly developing coronavirus situation.
As of today we know that even though there are cases of the virus in North Carolina, neither Buncombe nor Henderson County has any reported presumptive or official cases. Even so, we’d like to take some pre-emptive steps, as they say, out of an “abundance of caution,” to minimize the chances of spreading sickness of any kind. One step is to encourage good hygiene while we’re with another. Another is to encourage anyone feeling unwell to stay home and rest. Still another would be to learn the new way they greet each other in Wuhan (we’ll practice this)!
On good advice we’re going to forego serving coffee and pastries this week, as well as cancel the lunch portion of our congregational meeting. The meeting will continue as planned and begin promptly at 12:15p. We’ll have some individually wrapped snacks and bottled water on hand to serve you but feel free to bring snacks for you and your children. We promise to be efficient in sharing our updates and look forward to a short time of gathering as a family.
All of these measures are only precautionary, and may only represent some temporary and good habits to form while we face this season of uncertainty.
Joseph, while in the service of Pharaoh, made it a point to prepare for the unexpected. The editor of the Proverbs called for wisdom with every decision. And the Lord Himself counseled us to be anxious for nothing. Know that we’re taking all that well-tested guidance on good authority, and the good information we receive from people in the know, and acting with concern for the ministry of GMR and your welfare.
It will be a Sunday of both information and celebration, including the installation of our new assistant pastor Andrew Kerhoulas! As we ask you to exercise a little extra care as we gather, we also hope you’ll look forward to a day to mark together as a family.
See you Sunday!