June 25, 2020
Dear Littlerock Community Fellowship,
On June 24th, Thurston County was approved to enter Phase 3 of reopening. In Phase 3 churches are allowed to meet at 50% occupancy (136 in our auditorium). In light of this, the elders have decided that this Sunday (June 28) we will return to a single gathering at 10:15 AM. Additionally, our Wednesday evening Bible studies will begin meeting in-person starting Wednesday, July 1.
While we are incredibly excited for more of our people to be gathered together in-person, we know that some of you will make the decision to remain at home due to age, compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions, or proximity to those who fit in these categories. If this describes you, please know that our hearts break for you and we long for the day when our entire church family will be able to gather together. We miss you and love you dearly.
At this time, we remain committed to livestreaming both our Sunday service and our Wednesday Bible study on Facebook Live for those who make the decision not to gather with us in-person. We will also continue to send DVDs of the Sunday worship service to those who unable to access our livestream.
As in Phase 2, our Sunday service will be open to anyone who would like to attend with the following stipulations:
- If you have exhibited any sign of illness (with or without a fever) within the previous 14 days, please do not attend.
- If you are considered “high-risk”, please prayerfully consider the risks of attending before making your decision.
(Note: according to the CDC this includes people who are 65 and older, people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, people who have serious heart conditions, people who are immunocompromised, people with severe obesity, people with diabetes, people with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and people with liver disease.)
As in Phase 2, we will not be having any nursery or children’s classes. That said, children are more than welcome to attend and participate in the service with their parents (or grandparents)! We do ask that parents keep a watchful eye on their children before, during, and after the service. We also ask that parents not let their children go into the nursery, the children’s classrooms, or any of the other classrooms in the building. We will not be handing out any children’s activity clipboards, so parents should bring whatever they need to keep their children attentive during the service!
Finally, as in Phase 2, we will be taking the following steps to help mitigate potential health risks.
- We will be slightly abbreviating our services.
- We will not be partaking of Communion.
- We will be separating the chairs in the auditorium into small clusters for family units to use. And, we will have additional seating in the foyer.
- We will not have any printed bulletins. However, bulletins will be on our website by Saturday morning for you to print out or download.
- We will not be serving any food or drink.
- We will utilize the main entrance into the building and all three entrances into the auditorium, all of which will be left open during the duration of the service.
- We will be leaving the doors to the bathroom ajar to minimize germ transfer. Additionally, all water to the drinking fountains will be shut off to minimize germ transfer, so bring your own water or appropriate beverage.
- We will ask everyone not go into any of the classrooms.
- We will ask everyone to do their best to maintain six feet of distance from people who are not part of their family.
- We will ask you to spend time fellowshipping with one another before and after the service outside of the building.
- We will be thoroughly sanitizing the building before and after each service based on guidance provided by the CDC.
Wednesday evenings and other small gatherings
Beginning on Wednesday, July 1, we will be meeting in-person for our 6:30 PM Bible study. These will continue to meet in-person until our series “Letters from the Apocalypse” is completed (July 22). At that time, we will break for the rest of the summer.
Our Wednesday Bible studies will follow the same guidelines as mentioned above.
Additionally, we are making the building available to other small, adult gatherings (men’s and women’s fellowships, Bible studies, etc.) These gatherings must be cleared by one of the pastors and they must adhere to the same guidelines mentioned above. (Additional guidelines about cleaning and sanitizing will be given to you by the pastors when your gathering has been approved.)
The issue of wearing a mask (or face covering) has become a point of contention in our society. Even within our elder board, we have been forced to work through differences of opinion regarding this issue. However, by God’s grace, we remain unified in the following commitments.
Our state government requires masks or face coverings to be worn in indoor public spaces. Therefore, we remain committed to obeying God’s word in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
More importantly, we are aware that some of our members are not comfortable attending our gatherings, unless people are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. To that end, we remain resolutely committed to showing them loving deference.
The New Testament is abundantly clear that Christians are called to joyfully lay down their rights, privileges, preferences, and desires to serve one another. This is nothing less than the law of Christ, the law of love. And, it is to this law, not human laws, that we owe an exceedingly greater and more joyful allegiance. Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Now, the question might be raised: why do we have to lay down our rights, privileges, preferences, and desires to serve them?
While this is a logical question, this is not the question we should be asking. Love doesn’t walk into a room and ask, “How can those people lay down their rights, privileges, preferences, and desires to serve me?” Love asks, “How can I lay down my rights, privileges, preferences, and desires to serve them?” Indeed, it was Christ Himself who said (Matthew 20:28), “[He] came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In light of these things, we are requiring masks to be worn during the worship service (and all other official church gatherings). Please bring your own mask from home. A limited supply will be available for those who forget.
Exceptions will be made for:
- Young children
- Those who, because of medical conditions, mental health conditions, or disabilities, are unable to wear a mask
- Those who are participating in the service from the stage, while they are on the stage
Of course, if during the service, your mask is causing difficulty breathing, please take the necessary steps to protect yourself!
Beloved, in our fractured, hostile, accusatory, and divided society, we must be reminded of what Jesus says in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This fractured, hostile, accusatory, and divided world will know that we are followers of Jesus Christ by our love for one another! May we, as those who have been loved by Jesus, Himself, strive to love one another in the same way.
Pastor Greg on behalf of the elders of Littlerock Community Fellowship