Dear Church Family,
I hope that most of you have seen that on Monday, California released guidelines for churches to begin meeting for 21 days (followed by reevaluation), contingent on county approval. San Bernardino County gave their approval the same day. This was a big answer to my prayers and to many of yours as well. Praise the Lord! As a result, I am excited to announce that we will hold 3 identical morning services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m., this Sunday, May 31. The reason we are holding 3 services is because the CA guidelines require that we keep our facility at 25% capacity. I’m looking forward to seeing your faces and worshipping together.
While it’s exciting to be able to gather again, the fact remains that there are widely divergent opinions within our church about all things COVID-19, isolation, etc. I’ve been so thankful that we have not let these differences divide us for the past 11 weeks, and let’s make sure they don’t begin to divide us now. Let’s continue to “strive together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27), and let’s continue to love each other across our differences. In this context, loving each other especially means not judging those who exercise more liberty (Rom 14:4) and patiently bearing with those who are more cautious (Rom 15:1), all for the edification of the body (Rom 15:2).
That being said, we are going to operate under the assumption that this is a serious virus that possesses significant health risks for many people. As well, there are multiple cases where church gatherings have caused the virus to spread rapidly. As a result, the CA guidelines are 13 pages long and require/request a number of adjustments. We intend to comply as long as the guidelines don’t infringe on our biblical values. Our primary reason for doing so is love for neighbor. We don’t want our negligence to put others at risk, and we want everyone to feel safe and welcome to attend. Second, the Bible commands us to honor authorities.
I realize that some of you may question if it is wise and safe to begin meeting yet. While I am sympathetic to the concern, it seems that if we don’t start meeting now, we might as well wait until there is a vaccine, because this virus is not going away anytime soon. As well, there have only been 58 confirmed cases in Apple Valley out of 1,882 tests for a 3% positive rate. (That’s among people who qualify for testing.) Third, I’m confident that we can provide a safer environment than most of the other places people are frequenting.
Still, if you are elderly or at risk or if you simply are not ready to attend, please stay home until you feel comfortable attending. We will continue to provide the best live streaming service that we can, and we will continue to make phone calls, etc., as we have been doing. Also, please stay home if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., frequent cough, fever, difficulty breathing, chills, body aches, sore throat, etc.) or if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Please be cautious with these things, and feel free to ask if you have questions. We are also asking you to please tell us if you develop COVID-19 symptoms or receive a positive test after attending a service, so that we can inform those who were near you.
In keeping with the CA guidelines, we will be frequently cleaning the restrooms and frequently touched surfaces. As well, the playground will be closed, we will not put out hymnals, we will not pass the offering plates, we will not serve coffee, and the water fountain will be closed.
While you are at the church, please wash/sanitize your hands frequently and practice 6’ of social distancing. I know that we are all excited to see each other, but please refrain from handshakes, hugs, etc. As well, let’s move outside for most of our conversation. The CA guidelines do not require facemasks, but they are strongly recommended. Therefore, we are not requiring them either, but we are asking you to consider wearing one, if for no other reason than out of concern for others.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer nursery or children’s services for the next 3 weeks. I know this will be challenging for those of us with small children. To help with this challenge, we are planning to provide a live feed of the 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. services in the classrooms, and one of them will be designated for families with small children. The other room will serve as an overflow room. If you would like ideas for helping your children participate in the services, please speak with Heidi, Elise, or one of the other ladies who has experience working through this challenge.
You are welcome to attend whichever service works best for you, but we are designating the 8:00 a.m. service as primarily being for senior citizens and empty nesters. This will limit the exposure of our older people to children, and it will help parents for whom it would be challenging to arrive ready to worship by 8:00 a.m. We need to balance the attendance among the three morning services fairly evenly in order to comply with the 25% capacity guideline. You can help us out by signing up for the service your family plans to attend. To do so, please click this link and follow the directions. It’s pretty simple to use, but if you don’t feel comfortable using the online registration, you can also let us know your plans by replying to this email, or just come to the service that works best for you. We will not turn you or any visitors away.
We will have our regular Sunday evening service at 5 p.m., and Pastor Kris will continue his series on temptation. I will continue our study of The Power of Christian Contentment at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings, including tomorrow night. These studies will be available live at the church as well as through Facebook or the church YouTube channel. Obviously, we want you to come and participate in both as you are able, but please don’t feel undue pressure to come. We want to remain cautious about contact with each other, and the nursery will remain closed. Therefore, especially on Thursday nights, many of you would be better served to continue watching from home.
Wow, that’s a lot of details, but the opportunity to worship together is more than worth it. If you have any questions, please let us know. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you most of you on Sunday, and trust that the rest of you will be watching online.
Weekly Schedule & Live Stream Information
1. Children's Bible Hour – In lieu of in-person children's ministries, new episodes of Children's Bible Hour will still be available each week on our YouTube channel for kids to watch at home.
2. Sunday Morning Service – Please sign up to attend one of three idential services. Service times are 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m. We are asking our seniors and empty nesters to attend the 8:00 a.m. service, if possible. The 11:00 a.m. service will be available on our YouTube channel.
3. Sunday Evening Service – The Sunday evening service will be at 5:00 p.m. and will also be available via live stream. Pastor Kris will continue his series on temptation. Please let us know whether you plan to attend by using the same service signup link above.
4. Adult Midweek Bible Study – We will meet at the church at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Pastor Kit will continue teaching through The Power of Christian Contentment, by Andrew Davis. The study will also be available either through either Facebook Live or live stream. No child care will be available.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is this the right time to resume meeting? We believe that it is for the following reasons. 1) Meeting together in person (when at all possible) is a very important aspect of biblical worship. 2) Our state and county have given us permission to resume meeting as long as we abide by their guidelines (which we intend to do). 3) If we don’t start meeting now, we might as well wait until there is a vaccine, because this virus is not going away anytime soon. 4) There have only been 58 confirmed cases in Apple Valley out of 1,882 tests for a 3% positive rate. (That’s among people who qualify for testing.) 5) We are confident that we can provide a very safe environment.
2. What if I don't feel comfortable coming back to church yet? Stay home! We do not want anyone to feel pressure to attend if they do not feel comfortable. Also, we cannot stress enough how important it is for you to stay home if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., frequent cough, fever, difficulty breathing, chills, body aches, sore throat, etc.) or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
3. Will I still be able to access the services online? We are still working out the details, but yes, we will make sure that all of the services are available online for those who cannot attend.
4. What precautions will be taken in order to ensure a safe environment? In keeping with the California guidelines, we will limit our seating to 25% capacity in order to provide for 6 ft. of social space between families. We will frequently clean the restrooms along with all touched surfaces. The playground will be closed, we will not put out hymnals, we will not pass the offering plates, we will not serve coffee, and the water fountain will be closed. We will encourage all fellowship to take place outside the building in the open air.
5. Can I still shake people's hands and give hugs? Do I have to wear a facemask? We are asking everyone to please refrain from handshakes, hugs, etc. In keeping with the California guidelines, facemasks are strongly encouraged but not required.
6. Will there be any children's programs or nursery? Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer nursery or children’s services, at least for the next three Sundays. We know this will be challenging for some of our families. To help with this challenge, we are planning to live stream the 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. services in one of the classrooms for families with small children. If you would like ideas for helping your children participate in the services, please speak with Heidi, Elise, or one of the other ladies who has experience working through this challenge. Children's Bible hour will still be available online for the children to watch throughout the week.
7. How do I sign up for a service? Click this link or email one of the pastors.
8. Will the church bulletin still be sent via email? We are planning to provide both paper versions of the bulletin (at the Sunday morning services) and electronic copies (via email).