We are slowly and safely transitioning back to in-person gatherings, beginning with a few exciting events in June and July.
When will we...
...worship on campus again, David?! If I only had a dollar for every time I was asked this, I could finish my Promise/Ripple Campaign commitment! I am happy to answer that question today. You'll notice it won't be like flipping a light switch - more like a 'dimmer' switch', as we slowly and safely transition back to in-person gatherings. It will likely be later than some want, but too early for others.
The first big (and exciting date)...
...is Sunday, June 28 at 10am! We are hosting a great outdoor worship service that morning with simple and smart guidelines. You can stay in your car or sit on your lawn chair and enjoy the live music and message that day. For all of you who have been itching about missing in-person singing and worship - I look forward to seeing you there!
The month of June will also see us slowly reintroducing other smaller in-person gatherings on our campus. We have a special tailgate event this coming Sunday night, June 21 in the church parking lot from 6:30-8pm for small groups to connect in COVID19-friendly ways (I heard there will be some great giveaways at the tailgate - AND the Kona Ice truck is also coming!). Other small groups are now meeting on campus in June, as well as several other ministries (COVID19 Small-Group Procedures). Our church office is now open again two days a week and will be fully back the week of July 13.
In July, we will start videoing the service/sermon on our Worship Center stage with a pre-invited studio audience. We will start this with the staff and then invite all our guest services volunteers, so we're all trained on the new required coronavirus protocols and social distancing. Eventually, after several of these 'soft openings' in mid-July, we will have another outdoor service on Sunday, July 19 (similar to the June 28 one), all leading to our first public in-person worship services on Sunday morning, July 26 in our Worship Center. Each service will be limited to 230 attendees, and folks will need to RSVP. We are committed to regathering in a way that prioritizes everyone's health, safety, and comfort. As we get closer to that date, we'll be sharing the most up-to-date details/guidelines for that service on our website. We are still working on a date when our Harbortown KIDS and Youth Ministry will resume on Sunday mornings, but it will be closely tied to public schools resuming.
We know some of you are ready to come back right now (which is great), and some of you might not be ready to come back for awhile. That's OK, and we value all of you! We will continue to provide our quality worship experience through our Online campus. Remember - Whether on campus or online, we are still on mission!
Someone sent me this...
...so some of you do like Online/TV better! We will continue innovating and creating new ways to reach people far from God through our Online campus. There is so much untapped potential through this platform to help people find hope in Jesus!
Down the road
Down the road, I will share a list of the things God has been teaching me (and us) through this challenging but exciting time in history. I got an email from another great leader at Whitewater that illustrates what I'm talking about...
"It makes me wonder if God isn't allowing this time, using this time, to strengthen His Church. It will certainly never be the same from here forward. It's natural to be drawn back to the comfortable sameness, but maybe we're being called to more. Could it be that collectively, eyes will be open to the fact that the Church is not a location on a map? The more I talk to other Christian friends, it feels like an awakening is occurring. Is this the start of another Great Awakening? I don't want to miss it if it is! I'm as anxious to get back together in person as anyone, but maybe in this little bit more time, more people will awaken to find the campus is a tool to reach others for Jesus. The building is a tool to reach others. But if all those are tools, then so is my sidewalk, my living room, my lunch table, my barber chair, my kids' bedside."
Remember, with all the dates/plans above, they might change based on new information and guidelines we receive, so thank you for staying flexible my beloved Whitewater flock. Keep being the church working right! Your prayers right now are more vital than ever. This is a rapidly changing environment in so many ways - perhaps the most complex ministry season I've experienced in my long career. We will get through it because we serve an awesome God, we have a worthy mission, and a great team!
Love you much.
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