I hope you’re having a GREAT July 4th weekend! I spent the last week and a half on vacation in Ruidoso, NM and it was hard to leave that cool mountain air. Thanks for your generosity in allowing me some time to get away with my family and relax.
I’m writing because of a hard conversation I just had with our pastoral team. We’ve decided to cancel our in-person worship gatherings for this weekend (and this weekend only.) This was not an easy decision and the reasons that factor into our conclusion are complicated. But this is what we’ve decided to do. Here is WHY we are making this decision.
As you’ve probably seen on the news, COVID-19 cases have drastically increased in the city of Abilene. The latest update (July 3rd) includes 40 new cases and 23 hospitalizations. The vast majority of these new cases are among young people 20-40 years old (as you can see from the graphic below).
Some of these infections include people from our very own congregation. I personally know of two people who have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms such as high fevers, body aches, coughing, etc. One of our members is even being tested for pneumonia due to his extended fight against this virus over the last week. Things are hitting “close to home” and it’s difficult to watch.
None of these are the reason why we are cancelling our “in-person” gatherings this weekend. They are facts that contributed to the decision but were not themselves sufficient to cancel gathered worship.
The reason we are cancelling our in-person worship gatherings in because of a potential COVID-19 outbreak among our staff.
Obviously, that’s a shocking statement so let me explain what we’re facing. Last weekend, a person attending our West Campus came down with COVID-19 symptoms shortly after service. That individual later tested positive for COVID-19. That individual also (before being tested) had close and extended contact with someone on our staff. That staff person is now experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms and has undergone a test that is awaiting results.
We won’t have the results for that test until after this weekend (Monday or later.) It’s possible this staff member’s symptoms are just allergies but given their extended exposure to a confirmed case, the dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations and the extended exposure our staff has had to this potential positive case, there are simply too many uncertainties to move forward with “in person” worship gatherings.
Some may say this abundance of caution is unnecessary. Why not just have church and hope for the best? It’s possible this staff person isn’t infected and therefore our other staff weren’t exposed. It’s possible this is all just an overreaction. I sympathize with that sentiment. That’s basically the way I felt until this staff person started experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms. The truth is, WE JUST DON’T KNOW FOR SURE.
I’d rather take an abundance of caution for ONE weekend until we do know for sure than try and take a risk and someone else in our church get sick because of that. If we had a negative test result for this staff person then the risk would be far lower. The fact that we don’t know one way or the other gives me too little confidence to move forward with gathered worship.
Given that we are cancelling the “in-person” worship gathering this weekend, where do we go from here?
We will still live-stream a worship service on Sunday morning at 9:45. There will be music and preaching and a time of response. Just because we cannot meet in person doesn’t mean we cannot meet together for worship. We will gather together ONLINE this Sunday morning at 9:45. We will also have a Children’s Worship Service at 9:15.
We are also planning to resume our in-person worship gatherings NEXT WEEKEND. As you know, we were very excited about our July 12th kick-off because we were going to restart our preschool and children’s ministry programming. We do not plan to cancel any of these plans. The rise in cases doesn’t mean we can’t continue our reopening plans. We just need to do so with wisdom and care in light of our new reality.
We will discuss, as a staff, the particular changes we need to make in each environment. For now, the only changes we know for sure are the worship service times. Our original plan was to have our traditional service at 8:20 and our contemporary service at 9:45. We thought that would give us enough time to keep people distanced between services. The rise in cases and hospitalizations has caused us to rethink that timing.
The new meeting times for Sunday morning worship will be 8:30 (traditional) and 10:15 (contemporary).
For now, we are going to discourage small groups meeting on Sunday morning as we cannot ensure the proper social distancing if everybody meets at the same time on Sunday. Instead, groups will be encouraged to meet at other times on campus throughout the week. Once our cases go down we will reassess Sunday morning small groups.
We will also encourage the use of masks on our campus. If you’ve been joining us for in-person worship gatherings this has always been a recommendation but we’ve been very relaxed about it. Once people have gotten seated in the sanctuary, most of the masks come off. I’ll be doing more research on that in light of the new executive order given by Governor Abbot. The order went into effect at noon today.
You can read the full text of his executive order here. As you can see, religious services are exempted from this new order about wearing face masks but their use is still strongly encouraged. I would encourage you to watch the video of Governor Abbot discussing this order and the uptick in cases. Wearing a face covering really does help to slow the spread of COVID-19. Future times of gathered worship need to take this into consideration (especially during times of increased spread).
I know this isn’t what anybody wanted to hear. I long for the day when COVID-19 is behind us but that day doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. I predict this virus is something we are going to have to learn to live with for the foreseeable future. We need to live with wisdom for our own well being and love and concern for the well-being of others.
With all of this being said, I want to sign off by expressing my gratitude for your patience and love during this time. You’ve demonstrated a spirit of perseverance and sacrifice as our church has navigated this season. It’s been a trying time for all of us. You really are a shining example of how to shine the light of Christ to our city during a dark time. I hope you will not grow weary in light of this setback.
Our confidence can remain strong that God is in control and that He is working all of these things together for our good. We need to celebrate the good and wonderful things that God has already done through these days. Tomorrow is the fourth of July. What a great reminder of God’s grace to our country. We are a free and independent people. Let’s celebrate that and use our freedom to further God’s purposes in these trying times.
Now, more than ever, people need to hear about and respond to the freedom that is ours in Christ. Now, more than ever, the Church needs to shine bright the hope of heaven and the promise of eternal life through Jesus. In the words of the apostle Paul, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” (1 Corinthians 9:19)
This verse has been a guiding light for me as we navigate this season. I hope you’ll continue praying for myself and the other leaders in our church. I also hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday. If you’re able, please spread the word so we can get this news to as many people as possible before Sunday morning.
Have a great fourth of July weekend!
Until He Comes,
Both of my children are involved in therapies at our local therapy center. The waiting room is shared by children with all ranges of physical and mental abilities as well as children of all races. One week we were sitting in the room waiting when a child came in who was in a wheelchair. I could tell Hunter noticed him and he quickly turned to me. Before I could say anything, he asked loudly, “Why is that boy in that chair with wheels?”. Every bone in my body wanted to put my hand over his mouth, look down the rest of the time, and say nothing more. But when I looked into the eyes of that boy and his mom, I knew I could not let that wall be built between us. So instead, I looked at Hunter and said, “He is in a wheelchair because it helps make his body stronger and helps him go places. Why don’t you go ask him his name. Look, he has a Toy Story shirt on! You should see which one is his favorite.” We spent the next few minutes having a shared conversation about Toy Story, light-up shoes, and construction trucks. I watched as both us moms relaxed and smiled at how quickly kids see past the surface when they are lead to go there. Now I know there is so much more I should have said. I replayed this conversation in my head a thousand times, but the idea is this: don’t hide from the differences, find the common ground, and show kindness. Later, in the car, we had a more detailed conversation about how God has created us all differently and our bodies work in different ways and God has given doctors the knowledge to make things like wheelchairs, walkers, and medicine. We talked about how we need to be thankful for this and continue to pray for God to help people through miracles, doctors, and ordinary people.
These same principles can be used with race. Let’s allow our children to see the differences and ask us about them. When they do, instead of shaming them or burying the embarrassment, let’s use that moment to teach them to celebrate those differences. Let’s teach them boundaries on what is kind and not kind. Let’s have the conversation of how hatred and sin have caused people to say and do awful things but we can make a difference by what we say and do. Let’s teach our kids to find a common ground with others, to show kindness by inviting them to play, and most of all, getting to know them for who they are, not simply what they look like.
These conversations take time and these conversations have to be had over and over again. I encourage you to read Scripture to your children about God’s heart and love for the world. Research and discover the countless resources available for teaching our kids about different cultures, races, and abilities
What a fun time we had last week! I absolutely loved seeing the beautiful art you all drew at the church! It is so encouraging to see the common love we all share for our church family and the shared desire to be back together in person when the time comes!
This week, we are changing gears once again as the majority of our members are finishing their last days of school. This week we are going to focus on celebrating the end of a school year and cherishing the memories that were created.
I know that the end of this school year is unlike any other we have experienced. Instead of throwing up textbooks and past assignments as the last bell rang, students were forced to pick up their belongings at set times while still making sure to social distance. While I think this is what had to happen to respect our community, the sadness is not lost on me. My heart breaks for the preschool children who missed the joys of growing their social skills, kindergarten students who will never get a normal first year, and the fifth graders who will leave elementary without being able to truly say bye to their primary school days. With all that said, this is where I see our God’s faithfulness! Kids are resilient and are thermometers. They adjust to the climate that is put around them. As a parent, we get to set that temperature! As this school year ends, I challenge you to set a “temperature” of thankfulness, joy, and hope. Let’s celebrate the memories that were created at school, at home, and anywhere in between. Let’s have deep conversations about the growth that took place in our ideas, in our hearts, and in our abilities. How many have spoke the words, “I could never homeschool my child”, yet here you are! You made it! Let’s choose to have hope for next year. Let’s make goals on how we are going to cherish school like never before, and how we are going to make the most of every moment we are given there.
To help you celebrate, this week I will be posting some of my favorite end of the year activities that I loved to do when I was a classroom teacher. Most of all, I will be praying the sweetest blessings over each of your children and over you as a parent. Whether you have been counting down the seconds until this school year ends or are a little sad to see this new role come to end, you did it, and that deserves to be celebrated!
Please make sure you are connected to our Facebook groups so you can have access to the activities! If you are not currently on social media, email me at Tiffany@broadview.church to receive the activities through email.
Kindergarten Parents, please don’t forget to send up to 3 pictures of your child to me by Wednesday, May 20th, so they can be a part of the Kindergarten Graduation slideshow in the church livestream this week.
Ora, Sherry, and Tiffany
What a beautiful week full of great weather! I hope you had fun outside and were able to start intentional conversations with your children about God and the events in the Bible. For those who missed last week, we focused on using everyday moments to talk to our kids about God, His amazing power and love, and the incredible events that played out in the Bible. I hope that you will continue to seek out opportunities to discuss these topics with your children!
This week we are going to do something very exciting! One thing I have loved seeing the last couple of months is the chalk art you and your children are doing. Those fun drawings inspired me to make this week, “Chalk at the Church”! This week I invite you and your family to come to the church and draw an encouraging picture or message on the parking lot for our church staff and family. After you have finished your art, take a picture of it with your family and post it to social media with the hashtag #ChalkattheChurch. To make sure we are respectful to our church family and community, I ask that you maintain social distancing while in the parking lot and make sure you are at least 6 feet from any other family unit that is participating. I am so excited to see the beautiful work you all do! I will be posting some ideas of chalk art on the Facebook groups throughout the week to give more ideas!
Please make sure you are connected to our Facebook groups:
We are continuing to pray for all of you and cannot wait until we are together again!
Ora, Sherry, and Tiffany