An update from the Leadership Team
Dear Church Family,
As you know, on March 15 we made the decision not to physically meet together on the Lord’s Day due to growing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Little did we know, at that time, that months later we would still be restricted from meeting. After 105 days apart, however, we are overjoyed to announce that, Lord willing, we will resume our Lord’s Day corporate worship gathering on June 21, 2020 at 10AM. Praise the Lord!
While we thank God for the precious opportunity to physically gather for worship, our time together will be unique so we ask that you look closely at the considerations below. In the following encouragements and protocols, we intend to provide you with necessary information and a few service opportunities as we navigate this time of transition together. Much of this information was derived from the helpful guidance provided by our state and we will continue to make appropriate adjustments as state guidelines develop.
Location: Since places of worship are strongly encouraged to meet outside if able, on a trial basis, we will begin re-gathering by meeting outside on the lawn behind the 20 School St building. Please do not park in this space. In instances of inclement weather or flooding, we will meet inside the building in our sanctuary. With this in mind, we encourage everyone to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on and sunscreen if you feel you’ll need it. Please also pray for nice weather and thanks for your grace as we try something new.
Arrival: Please park on the street near the church building. When you arrive, you will be greeted by an usher who will give directions and answer questions. From there, we invite you to walk down the driveway into the backyard space while practicing social distancing. Once on the lawn, please set up your chair or blanket 6 ft away from other parties. Family units may sit together, but everyone else must maintain a distance of 6 ft at all times. Once seated, please remain in your spot.
* On weeks when we must meet inside, an usher will greet you at the front door and direct you to find a seat upstairs in the sanctuary. On these weeks, please plan to arrive 15 minutes or so early so we can be sure seating is organized. Additionally, at the conclusion of these services, the worship leader will read the benediction and coordinate our dismissal, dismissing one row at a time
The Building: Other than the bathrooms (every week) and the sanctuary (on weeks we must meet inside), the building will be closed.
The Worship Service: Our worship service will likely be a simplified and shorter service than normal. Though subject to change, a typical service might include: Announcements, Call to Worship, Singing (2 songs), Pastoral Prayer, Scripture Reading, Sermon, and Benediction. We will provide digital worship guides (bulletins) on the website with the order of worship and lyrics to that morning’s songs. Please print or download one to bring on Sunday morning. And if you forget, we will have a few physical copies to distribute.
*During this phase of regathering, we will not be observing the Lord’s Supper together, but will be waiting for the entire body to gather and for a time when distributing the elements is less of a health concern.
Livestream: We are aware that due to medical concerns not everyone will be able to regather. Please know that while we will miss you, we understand and respect your decision. In no way should you feel guilty about violating Hebrews 10:24-25 if you are staying home for medical reasons. To serve those who aren’t able to attend, we plan to offer a Livestream of the service on our website through YouTube. You’ll be able to access this livestream on the same page where you accessed our ZOOM meeting information in previous weeks.
Bathrooms: Please take care of bathroom needs before coming to church. If you should need to use the restroom, we ask that you wear a mask in the building, wash your hands well, and apply hand sanitizer before rejoining the group.
Offering: Since we should avoid passing physical items, we will provide a basket or box to drop our offering in after the service. Online giving is also available and the church continues to receive checks by mail.
Refreshments & Fellowship Time After Service: Both serving coffee and refreshments as well as holding fellowship times before or after the gathering are mandatorily discouraged by state guidelines. With that in mind, we unfortunately will not be able to hold coffee time after service. If you find yourself chatting after service, please make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Masks/Face Coverings: While meeting outdoors will afford us the opportunity to worship without wearing masks, we ask that you still bring a face covering. If we must move our gathering inside the church building for some reason, we will all need to wear masks inside. Also, if at any time, you go inside the church building to use the bathrooms or for another reason, you will need to wear a mask. Thanks for bringing and wearing a mask when appropriate! The only exceptions to this rule, according to state guidelines, are children 0-2 who should not wear masks, children ages 2-5, who may wear a mask at the parents’ discretion, and people who have a medical condition that makes mask wearing impossible.
Social Distancing: As mentioned above, please practice social distancing at all times. This includes maintaining a distance of 6 ft from people who are not in your immediate family unit. Social distancing also includes our proximity to one another on the way in and out of the church service.
Nursery & Cornerstone Kids: Due to state restrictions we are unable to offer nursery care or the Cornerstone Kids ministry. All children, therefore, will participate with the larger group in worship and must remain with their parents at all times.
A word to parents: All children are encouraged to join us for worship. This is an excellent opportunity to train your children how to behave properly during a worship service. We also understand that training our children is a process and navigating this time with little ones can be difficult. Please know that we expect and welcome busy children so don’t feel hesitant to join. We will provide sermon helps for children and would love to know if there are special ways we might help you maneuver this time. If at any point, you need to exit with your children to take a break, you may always do so.
Bring A Blanket or Chair: Again, please bring a blanket, chair, or whatever might make you comfortable outside.
The Goodness of Honoring the Above Guidelines: We know this is a cumbersome list of protocols, but we believe that seriously following these guidelines is important and meaningful for several reasons:
- Our witness to our neighbors: The last thing we want to do is provide our neighbors with a careless and self-centered witness. Rather, we want to show them that we love God, love one another and love them enough to inconvenience ourselves by taking these precautions. Please also pray that God would use this time to perform the miracle of conversion in our neighbors’ hearts and they witness us regathering.
- It honors God to honor government authorities: The Lord, in his sovereign wisdom, has placed these authorities over us and as we read in Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
- It is loving to one another: Oddly enough, one of the most practical way we can love one another right now is to abide by these guidelines for the sake of one another’s safety.
Dwelling Together in Unity and With Charity: We are aware that while we are all facing challenges related to COVID-19 we are doing so in different ways, with different concerns, and in varying degrees of conviction. As a church, we must be careful to consider the interests of others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). The pandemic and the implications for meeting again bring us an opportunity to deploy the particularly beautiful Christian virtue of love. We can do this by not coming to church when we are sick, forbearing amid differing convictions, and even embracing restrictions for the sake of the good of others.
The Privilege of Worship: While these guidelines are not preferable, by God’s grace, we will once again have the unspeakable joy of worshipping the Lord together. There’s nothing better in this life and praise God for making it possible.
New Opportunities: While we would not have chosen to walk through this challenging time, God has and His understanding is higher and His ways are better. With that in mind, let us pray that God might open our eyes to see new opportunities to proclaim the gospel, love one another, make disciples, and grow as a healthy church in these circumstances. Let us also move forward with joy that pleases God and showcases to a watching world that our Lord is worthy and is our unfading treasure.
As we transition into this time, we have a number of needs as a church. If you are able to serve in any of these areas, please let us know by emailing Ryan@CornerstoneNorthShore.org.
- Greeting and Ushering
- Cleaning in the church building
- Technology (live streaming, audio, visual, website, social media, etc.)
Thank you all! We are excited for the sweet moment when we are physically gathered together to the glory of Christ, our King!
With much love,
The Leadership Team