City Church Family,
As we begin Advent, we hope you find great encouragement from remembering the wonderful gift of our Savior coming into this world. The message the angels proclaimed to shepherds in their fields thousands of years ago is the same message our hearts all need to hear again this year: "Fear not for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). May that message ring in our ears and fill our hearts with joy this Christmas season.
We would like to update you on the current state of affairs regarding our COVID response as a church. As you know, we have been meeting outdoors at First Magnitude for weekend services now since June. This has been a tremendous blessing as we have been able to safely worship together in a large outdoor environment not far from our building nearly every week. Praise God for his provision for us all these months!
While we are eager to get back to our building and resume indoors services and activities, it is not feasible to do that yet without a lot of restrictions (masks, social distancing, limited capacity, etc.). Given how well our outdoor service is going, we think the best option for us as a church is to continue with that for the time being. We plan to transition back to indoor services once we are able to do so safely with limited restrictions, which we do not have a timeline for yet. We can reasonably expect to be outdoors at least through February, at which point we will reevaluate.
Because there are many families with little kids in our congregation, we wanted to especially note that we are continuing to expand our ministry to children during this time. Every week we offer a "family style" service at 9am, with kids' singing/dancing and activity bags during the message. We have also just added a 3rd-5th grade outdoors class during that 9am service. Vickie Parker has organized monthly activity days for a few families at a time and continues to do so (look for her posts on Realm to RSVP to these). And we, of course, continue to personally check-in with our families. We want to do all we can to care for you and your little ones through this challenging season.
As we are reminded by Advent, times of waiting can be both beneficial and active. During this season of "waiting," we hope that you will stay connected and involved in the church community life. If you are able, we would love for you to join us for outdoor services, community groups, or other events. If you are not comfortable with or able to attend in-person gatherings, we miss seeing you but completely understand. We will continue to post the pre-recorded services online. There are also community groups and various studies hosted on Zoom each week. You can find more information about those on the CG page, or contact us to get connected.
As the Apostle Paul encouraged the Galatians, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Gal 6:9). In a year of weariness, let us all press on in walking closely with God, sharing the good news of our Savior, loving our brothers and sisters, and serving others.
Please stay healthy and safe!
Yours in Christ,
Ryan Harding, Executive Pastor
City Church Family,
Chipper and I, along with the elders, are thrilled to announce our reopening plan! Of course, we never closed. We have continued worshipping and meeting online. But reopen is the simplest way to summarize "resume in-person worship gatherings," which is what we are praying and working towards.
A huge thank you to our health team for all the hard work they did putting this together. We appreciate your labor of love!
Please find the documents for our plan below. We encourage you all to take some time to read through them carefully. If you have any questions or feedback for us, please direct that to my email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
God bless you!
Ryan Harding, Executive Pastor
5/20 City Church COVID Update:
Dear City Church Family,
We hope you are doing well. We sure do miss seeing each of you in person! I wanted to give you a quick update on our reopening process. The health team and the elders are making progress on developing our "reopening" plan for gradually returning to in-person gatherings, activities, and Sunday services. We are also continuing to monitor the developments in our state and around the country regarding the coronavirus. We will keep you updated with new developments!
Last week, we opened up community groups to begin meeting in person for huddles, provided the gatherings were fewer than 10 people, followed social distancing measures, and preferably met outdoors (or, if indoors, with masks).
This week, we want to take the same step for Sunday morning worship. We want you all to feel free to meet up with a few friends in small groups to worship together on Sunday mornings. Here are some guidelines for your small gatherings:
- These gatherings would need to follow all the same precautions listed above (no more than 10 people, maintain physical distance of 6 feet, and preferably meet outdoors or wear masks if indoors).
- Everyone should BYO communion
- Hosts should sanitizer high-touch surfaces prior to and after the gathering (e.g. door knobs, restrooms, etc.)
- Reach out to fellow CG members, ministry team members, or even someone in the church you just want to get to know better to for your gathering
- If possible, we would encourage you to join in on the Zoom watch party as a group at 10am. It would be really wonderful to see the groups gathering and enjoy corporate worship together. However we recognize that not everyone can do that, so there is also the YouTube video available to watch at any point.
- Because singing increases risk of virus transmission, singing along with the worship music should be done outdoors with people spaced 6-10 feet apart. If indoors, individuals can sing gently provided they are wearing a mask.
We will leave the organization of these different watch parties up to you all, since they will be smaller in scale. If you want to host one and your home is a good space to meet the criteria above, go for it! If you are interested in attending one but don't know where to go, reach out to others in your CG or to one of the elders, deacons, or CG leaders about helping connect you with someone that is hosting a watch party.
Also, please don't feel any pressure or obligation to do this! If, for any reason, you are more comfortable worshiping with us from home right now (or that is the more practical thing given your circumstances, e.g. small kids), please continue doing that. And, of course, if you are sick, have recently been sick, or are in the at-risk category (65+ or have underlying health conditions), please stay home and worship with us online that way!
Our Lord loves you, and so do we. We can't wait until the next time we see you.
Yours in Christ,
Ryan Harding, Executive Pastor, with the City Church Elders