UPDATED MARCH 30, 2020
Yesterday, March 29, 2020, President Trump extended guidelines related to social distancing in a unified effort among Americans to slow the spread of COVID-19, aka coronavirus. You can read my previous post here, which describes our church’s intent to honor those guidelines and explains how we immediately adapted our ministry strategy to accomplish that guideline.
In light of the President’s announcement on March 29, we intend to continue our online approach to ministries and worship through the month of April. To that end, please note the following…
1. The regular weekday ministries and meetings that occur on the church campus are suspended until further notice. (The exception to this guideline is our food pantry ministry, which plans to determine week-to-week the ability to provide this ministry during this season of social distancing.)
2. All mid-week activities on campus, including our Wednesday night meal, are suspended until further notice. This does not mean that discipleship will not occur. Our student ministry currently provides their midweek gathering via Zoom (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information). Other Wednesday night groups in our church also plan to utilize Zoom for their midweek meetings. I intend to continue to provide a video-based Bible study each Wednesday via YouTube Live and Facebook Live.
3. Connection Groups (aka Sunday school classes) will not meet on campus until further notice. Some of these groups are already meeting virtually through Zoom or Skype, and other groups plan to do so in the coming weeks. Please speak with your Connection Group leader or teacher to see what he or she plans to do during this season of social distancing. If your group / class doesn’t plan to meet virtually, and you would like to be part of a Connection Group, please contact Randy Jackson (email@example.com), and he will be glad to suggest a group for you to join during this time.
4. Sunday evening ministries will not meet until further notice.
5. Our Sunday morning worship gathering will not meet in the sanctuary during the month of April. We will continue to offer worship opportunities online at 10:30 AM each Sunday morning. The livestream is accessible at our church website, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live. Accessing the service via the church website and YouTube Live is as simple as going to the linked sites. Accessing the service via Facebook Live requires that you have a Facebook account and that you “Like” and/or “Follow” the church’s Facebook page.
I hope you noticed the intentional wording that we “will not meet IN the sanctuary.” Our staff has been evaluating, and continues to evaluate, options to provide an opportunity for our membership to gather collectively while still honoring the social distancing guidelines. Plans for that paradigm will be announced very soon. We are not in a position to simply put up some speakers and plug in a microphone for an outside, “drive-in” style service. There are other churches in our immediate area, as well as businesses. We want to be considerate of their context, as well as to the neighbors who literally live within mullet-tossing distance of our church. It is our desire to create this kind of opportunity as soon as possible, but as graciously as possible as well.
During this time – especially through April – I would encourage you to remember that who we are and what we do as a church has not changed. We still have the same set of values that we had before the coronavirus crisis occurred. How we live out those values just looks different. I intend to share a series of short videos with you over the next week or so that will briefly explain how each of our six core values can still be embraced during this season in which we find ourselves.
I have spoken of the need for continued giving during this time. Though we aren’t gathering in the same building for worship or Bible studies, we are still providing ministry in numerous ways, all of which require funds. Many of you have been so faithful to give, and I’m very appreciative of that. Please continue being faithful. For others, this a great time to begin the discipline of giving and to become faithful in supporting your church and our mission through the giving of your tithes and offerings.
You can give online at any time, safely and securely, by visiting our “Giving” page on the church website. You may also bring your offering by the church office between the hours of 7:30 AM and 1:00 PM, Monday through Friday. You can also mail your offering to the church office at 6797 Caroline Street, Milton, FL 32570.
Please continue to pray for each other, support each other, and encourage each other. As each day passes, we move one day closer to having the coronavirus crisis behind us and getting things back to “normal.” I look forward to that day.
As always, feel free to contact me at the church office (850.623.3122) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m praying for you, I’m thankful for you, and I’m glad to be your pastor.