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Church Update from Pastor Ron | May 7, 2020
What started as an order to stay home for “14 days to stop the spread” has become a near shutdown of society in Illinois. Though there are glimmers of progress, the Governor’s new plan introduced a few days ago shows ‘normal’ is far off. Schools, businesses, sports and churches are having to adapt to a once-in-a-lifetime-event. The plan for Illinois is a five-phase plan that divides the state into four regions; each region must meet certain metrics to move from one phase to the next. We are in the Northeast region along with Chicago and DuPage county. Currently, our region is in phase 2. According to the Governor’s reopening plan, churches have been given the following ‘guidance’:
- Phase 1: We can have gatherings up to 10 people if social distancing is observed and face masks are worn. Also, it is strongly suggested that those most vulnerable to the virus not be a part of the gathering.
- Phase 2: We can have gatherings up to 10 people if social distancing is observed and face masks are worn. Also, it is strongly suggested that those most vulnerable to the virus not be a part of the gathering.
- Phase 3: We can have gatherings up to 10 people if social distancing is observed and face masks are worn. Also, it is strongly suggested that those most vulnerable to the virus not be a part of the gathering.
- Phase 4: We can have gatherings up to 50 people if social distancing is observed and face masks are worn. Also, it is strongly suggested that those most vulnerable to the virus not be a part of the gathering.
- Phase 5: Once a treatment is available that reduces the intensity of the disease dramatically or there is an available vaccine, Illinois will fully reopen with no limitations.
The time a region must be in a phase is 28 days, at minimum. Then, there is an evaluation of three metrics and if the region has met the requirements of all three metrics, it can move to the next stage. If it hasn’t, it must remain in that phase another 28 days or it can even be moved back a phase. (Do you have a headache yet?)
Until phase four, there is no possibility of in-person church services. Once in phase four, we have a tentative plan in place to offer multiple services across campuses that meet the Governor’s requirements. These services will be ticketed and enable us to stay under the 50-person requirement.
In the meantime, we are the scattered people of God.
Even though we are scattered, we are working hard to find ways of being together during this pandemic. What follows are the initiatives we are working on for this summer:
- Starting June 14th, each campus will once again have their own online service. It is possible that our regions will be in phase 2 or 3 for several months. It is important that each campus connects, ministers and declares good news to its church family and to those God has called them to reach. The services will air at different times. Stay tuned for service times!
- We have received numerous requests for live, drive-in services (Robert Schuler would be proud!). We hear you! I really love this idea and I am thankful for the individuals that have written me or shared with the church this idea. Right now, we are working through the logistics and equipment needed to pull off this kind of service. Our goal is to have our first drive-in church service in early June. The date is dependent on a couple of factors outside of our control. Depending upon response and the feedback of church leaders, we will then decide how we might integrate this option into Sunday mornings. More information coming soon!
- We are permitted to have 10-person gatherings. Though this is a very small group, we are working on ways to leverage this option to serve you. If you have any ideas, please share with me, the staff or an elder. We have a few ideas that we are working on, but many times God shares with the community what he wants to do. We want to hear it!
- We have several opportunities to serve, connect and grow as a church during this time. These will continue through the summer. Check out our website thisiscalvary.org to see what is available.
I want to end this update with just how thankful I am for all of you. So many of you are connecting with other Calvary folks to build community, pray and serve. So many of you are preparing meals for the least of these. So many of you are delivering and dropping off needed groceries to those in need. So many of you are part of online Bible studies, connect groups and Sunday mornings. Many of you have reached out to me and the rest of the staff just to check in, see how you can serve us and just to share a laugh. I am overwhelmed with joy for Calvary Church.
Two other things come to mind that stir thankfulness. The first is the way that you are leveraging this moment to reach friends and family online. We have hundreds of families joining us each week that are visitors; this is because of you! Continue to share service links and make invitations. People are meeting Jesus and their lives are being changed. Jesus is right, the harvest is plentiful.
The second thing that comes to mind is your faithful financial giving. Though the present and future is obscured by many unknowns, our giving is better than last year (January-May)! Many churches are shutting down or laying off its staff just to survive. Calvary, we are running hard for you and our community. We are not restrained but unleashed for gospel ministry. THANK YOU and I humbly ask that you continue giving as the Lord provides! May God fulfill all your needs according to his riches and glory.
I say it often and I mean it. I love you. Christ is being formed in us, and we are embracing the process. Calvary Church will be radically better because of this pandemic. We are learning to live the life that Jesus lived. Nothing makes me more proud than to see you all following Jesus. Don’t stop. The best is yet to come.
Filled with hope and joy,