Update – July 16, 2020 – Worship This Sunday – 9 AM!
Greetings, Grace Church!
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the new county lockdown procedures. This is certainly disappointing – for the church, for all the work we put into our new facility; but also for many of us personally, on multiple levels. We all feel vulnerable to the shifting forces effecting us. I wrote on this early in the week: “Your Labor – In the Lord – Is Not in Vain”. Take a look.
Now, to this Sunday:
I invite you to watch this video summary from me here:
Here is a summary of our approach for this Sunday:
- We are prohibited from any indoor activities, as a house of worship.
- Therefore we are meeting outside, in our parking lot, at 9 am.
- Just because we sometimes miss important details: we are meeting this Sunday at 9 am.
- Our service will be shorter – 1 hour total.
- Temp is expected to be a pleasant 70F at 9 am.
- Canopies will cover seating.
- Bring your own chair if you can. However, our padded chairs will be available.
- We will continue to livestream the service at gracechurcheg.org. To those of you who must remain separated due to health concerns, know that we understand, and we miss you!
- We are endeavoring to offer audio by car radio. If this is your preference, park on the east edge of the parking lot. The radio frequency will be provided on Sunday.
- Due to the lockdown order, there will be no official children’s activities – contact Veronica Quintanar for details.
- Join us after the service for muffins and juice – thank you, Women’s Ministry!
One more thing: I want to commend you, for how you have borne up as a church under this lockdown. You have show great grit in “rolling with the punches” and figuring out how to continue worshiping as health orders change. And you – like the vast majority of churches in our country – have submitted admirably to these changing orders, even when it has been inconvenient or difficult to understand.
Well done; keep going! As Paul said and I wrote about above, your labor – in the Lord – is not in vain! If you are able, I look forward to joining with you in worship this Sunday.
All posts listed below are kept here for archival purposes only, and therefore contain some expired information:
Update – July 3, 2020:
Worship Service Agenda and Procedures for July 5, 2020
Here is our agenda and procedures for our worship gathering this coming Sunday, July 5, 2020. These procedures are meant to account for the recent health order issued by Sacramento County on July 2.
- Gather (10 am): We will first gather in the auditorium/sanctuary, utilizing social distancing, according to “family pods”1. We will seat on the far end of the auditorium first, and then dismiss on a “last-in, first-out” basis.
- Opening announcements, instructions, and prayer
- Worship in Song and Communion: We will then dismiss to the parking lot, where we will sing songs of worship:
- Two Songs
- Communion elements will be prepared by Dan and Judy Russell, according to food-service guidelines (masked, gloved, etc.), in individual containers.
- The elements will be served, as we congregate outside, by the elders, masked and gloved, by handing individual elements to each person.
- Please note: if these procedures don’t suit you, for any reason, there is no “spiritual imperative” to take part. The Lord will faithfully nourish you by other means.
- One more song
- After the third song, we will return to the auditorium, last-out, first-in.
- Elder Prayer: All participants up front have been cleared by the County to remove their masks, assuming a 15-foot distance from others.
- Reading of Scripture
- Dismissal: We will be dismissed to the foyer and parking lot, last-in, first-out.
- Masks are required for entrance into our building.
- Bulletins will be placed on seats in advance.
- Those who need to exit the auditorium during the service are asked to move to the back of the room first, and then to the exit.
- Social distancing is required in all spaces inside the building.
- We will accomplish Worship in Giving by using either online giving (see here), or the green giving box in the auditorium.
- Our “tailgate” afterwards will continue, with one caveat: there will be no sharing of food. This event is a completely “bring your own ____________”.
- If you would like to think further about Christians’ greetings to each other in the season of COVID-19, we invite you to read Pastor Jed’s note, “Greet One Another with a Holy Kiss”.
- Elders and staff will continue evaluating these procedures weekly.
- Lastly, as above with our comments on communion: if you feel it best to stay home, due to compromised health or exposure to other compromised folks, please know that there is no command, no “spiritual imperative” for you to come to church. God will bless you and keep you, and make His face shine upon you, even during, especially during, times like this.
One more comment:
This procedure may not please you or anyone completely. But perhaps the Lord is doing something very instructive for us in this moment. That is, might it be that, on the day of our move to a new building, He is graciously reminding us that this building is a gift – to be received with joyful gratitude. And, that the building is only a gift – the central thing is the Giver of the gift! He is the reason we gather – to delight ourselves in Him. Perhaps He is working, in the unsettling of long-standing habits of worship, and in the inconveniences imposed by health orders, to focus the eyes of our hearts most intently on Him.
1 “Family pods” may be made up of unrelated people who have nevertheless chosen to live in close proximity to each other throughout this period.
Update – June 27, 2020:
As we “reopen”, from the lockdown in our new space, I would like to explain further our approach to “social distancing” as a church:
General Measures: Our approach from the beginning has been to follow the County’s guidelines. That has not changed. At present, we understand the best preventative measures to be:
• Staying at home and physical distancing
• Wearing a face covering, among other times, while inside public places – like a church
• Washing hands frequently
• Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
• Avoiding being around people with COVID-19 symptoms
For questions about the Public Health Order, call the Public Health hotline at (916) 875-2400.
Having said this, the application of common sense and creativity is still needed, as we apply best efforts to work out the guidelines for our situation. Thus for our initial gatherings:
- Necessity: Understand that there is no “spiritual imperative” to come to church, if you feel it’s best for health reasons to continue to self-isolate. If this is you, we still want to keep in touch with you, for your spiritual nourishment during this season.
- Worship: During worship, we will seat ourselves according to “family pods”. Because we are limited in our space to 25% capacity, overflow seating may be provided outdoors or in the main foyer, or in an adjacent room. (However, we are still working on the details of how this might work.) As for leaders and the worship team up front, we have been told by the County that, as long as they are 15 feet away from other people, they do not need to wear protective gear while leading.
- Children: We will not offer children’s activities, for now. Children should join their family in their “pod” for worship. If that results in a more “vibrant” worship, the rest of us can patiently give thanks for the children the Lord is raising up! At the same time, there are three rooms in our new facility dedicated to children (they will serve as our nursery, pre-school and elementary rooms). These three rooms will be open to be used by parents as needed, first-come first-serve, while exercising social distancing.
- Online: We will continue to provide a weekly worship service online, at 10 am each Sunday.
After each gathering, elders and staff will evaluate how our procedures are working. If we make adjustments, we’ll let you know. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Last of all, please pray for our church as we proceed forward, that God would protect, provide for and lead us. Please pray for energy for all who are working tirelessly to prepare our new space for worship. Please pray that we would be wise stewards in our purchases. And please pray most of all that God would work among us, and spark an even deeper, richer spiritual vitality among us, regardless of the physical circumstances of our meetings. As Paul said in 2 Tim. 2:9, writing while imprisoned: “But the word of God is not bound!” Join us in prayer, “as if” that’s true!
Update – March 25, 2020:
Here’s a brief summary of our present approach to the Coronavirus situation. We aspire to continue moving forward as a church, in a responsible, caring and God-centered way. Therefore:
- All gatherings related to Grace Church are canceled, until further notice. This includes gatherings held at the church office, in homes or elsewhere.
- We are following the governor’s and Sacramento County’s directives. Also, EGUSD is currently not allowing us to use Harriet Eddy Middle School.
- We encourage everyone to follow the governing authorities’ directives in our personal life decisions.
- We’ve put the biblical basis for these decisions on our website (see below).
- Expect a call soon from one of our elders; please share with them how you are doing and anything we can do to help you stay safe, healthy and connected.
And most importantly, keep the main thing the main thing: be in the Word; be in prayer for each other, our community, governing authorities, delivery people, etc.; and long for our fellowship to be quickly restored.
To watch online on Sunday click here:Pastor Jed