Update on Weekend Services
Updated June 18, 2020 at 8 pm
Updated June 18, 2020 at 8 pm
Dear Church Family,
I pray that you are staying strong and encouraged during this season. Our prayers and love continue for you and your family. We continue to pray for those suffering from Covid-19 and the families grieving the loss of loved ones. We’re also continuing in prayer for our nation. We’re asking God to strengthen, bless and protect each of you.
Our Montgomery County Executive has announced that we will progress into Phase Two this Friday. I wanted to provide an update on what this means for our church, and share with you Church of the Redeemer’s criteria for resuming onsite weekend services.
As you know, our church hasn’t been “closed” during this pandemic, instead, we have been actively serving our community and celebrating the hundreds of souls giving their lives to Christ through our online weekend services! Although the weekend services are online, we’re still very engaged in ministry!
We’re eager to see you and return to our onsite weekend services. We know that many people have varying perspectives on when this should happen. We have been actively monitoring reports from our government and health leaders, conducting thorough research, and consulting with churches across the nation of similar size, culture and philosophy. After much prayer, research, discussion and deliberation, we have decided upon the following criteria to guide us.
We anticipate that onsite weekend services will resume when:
The risk of large gatherings is reduced.
As we enter Phase Two, government and health leaders continue to recommend that people avoid large crowds and large indoor areas. Montgomery County has been classified as a Covid-19 hot-spot and the Washington DC area was ranked as the number one metro area in the country for positive Covid-19 tests. Additionally, the size and multi-campus nature of our congregation present some unique challenges that we must consider. As we observe the world around us, we see other large indoor gatherings waiting to re-open, including schools, universities, sporting events, and conferences. We want to be conscientious, learn from other venues and apply best practices and timing for a church of our size to resume onsite weekend services. Furthermore, the numbers of attendees allowed to attend worship services under current guidelines prohibit a gathering of larger numbers.
We can ensure the highest level of safety and care.
Our desire is to create comfort and assurance to all those attending our services. For this to happen, the required procedures and necessary resources to ensure the health and welfare of people must be addressed. Having the required cleaning processes, social distancing signage, ingress and egress issues, etc. in place is vital to us. We are committed to resuming onsite worship when it can be done safely and in compliance with health and governmental guidelines.
Our weekend services require a significant number of staff and volunteer to work in close proximity, and in hands-on roles. It is important for us to provide a comfortable, safe experience for those serving our congregation as well.
Guarding the spiritual, emotional and physical health and care of our congregation, volunteers, and staff is primary to us. A love for God and our neighbors is the heart behind this. By being conscientious and patient, we give ourselves access to more information in order to make wiser decisions.
We can create a positive, people-focused worship experience for all ages.
The quality of the worship experience must be considered in our decision to resume onsite services. Certain regulations and precautions significantly affect our congregational experience. For example, if worshipers are widely dispersed over our worship centers with strict social distancing, wearing masks, discouraged from singing, ushered in and out in a contactless way, and with no children’s ministry or nurseries available, the experience is certainly affected.
When we resume onsite weekend services, our goal is to do so in a welcoming, friendly, Christ-exalting and people-focused environment.
We can include and reach more people.
We strive to create an atmosphere of worship conducive to all generations. Resuming onsite weekend services too soon will likely exclude portions of our church, including older people, others who may be at higher risk, children, and many who are simply not comfortable with large gatherings at this time. By remaining online for a bit longer, we can come back together in a more inclusive way.
After careful review of Montgomery County’s Phase Two guidelines for churches, and what we believe is the most prudent approach based on the above criteria, we have decided to continue with online services for the present, and resume onsite weekend services at a later time. While Frederick County is a bit farther along than Montgomery County, we are committed to the same care and criteria for our Frederick Campus congregation and volunteers.
As further guidance on Phase Three becomes available from our local government and health leaders, we will evaluate our next steps and keep you informed.
We miss you and are eager to be back worshiping together! These are tough decisions, but know that we are attempting to be as wise and careful as possible, with you and your family in mind.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. Remember to stay connected with our church family through small groups, campus Facebook groups, weekend online watch parties, social media and online services. The building is not the church. We are the church!
We love and appreciate you!
Pastor Dale O'Shields
Senior Pastor of Church of the Redeemer