As much as our situation is still variable and changing, in an effort to provide clarity going forward, and to enable you to make decisions for you and your family, this is our plan for reopening.
We are confident that it is wise and achievable. Taking all factors into consideration, we’re not going to rush the process. Our guiding value is our mission—not permission. What serves our purpose of transforming lives in our communities best?
It may be a frustrating process because of the pace and the precautions that are a necessary part of it. So let’s be sure to imitate Jesus’ attitude and have a servant heart as we navigate this period of reopening.
Expected process of restarting Church ministries:
Under the published guidelines for Recreation, Life Groups of any size can starting meeting outdoors. Or, under the guidelines for Faith Organizations, groups involving less than 5 family groups can meet indoors. In both situations precautions including social distancing need to be observed.
Groups of up to 50 people can begin meeting indoors, so that means in Phase 3 our Life Groups can meet again in person in our homes. It also means most of our Ministries can all begin functioning again pretty much like they were. But precautions including social distancing must be strictly enforced for official church events on our property due to liability issues.
Weekend Gatherings can begin. It’ll be a family service type gathering with children involved (there will be no children’s ministry available initially). Precautions will be implemented including social-distancing between family groups, so you’ll be ushered to and from your seats, and face masks will be encouraged. We’re planning to continue to live-stream our weekend gatherings permanently. Each phase is expected to be a minimum of 3 weeks so it will be 6 weeks at best (mid-July) before we can enter Phase 4 and restart Weekend Gatherings.
Let’s not be quick to rush back into doing what we used to do. This season has taught us what matters, what contributes to our mission as a church and what really doesn’t. We’re having this conversation in leadership, and we encourage you to have it with your family too.
A slow reopening with all the precautions will likely be frustrating, so we’re really going to have to persevere. Romans 5:3-4 says: we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Between suffering and hope is perseverance. Perseverance is the in-between bit. As we go into this ‘in-between’ bit of reopening, it’s going to demand perseverance: enduring things we don’t like, settling for less than what we think we should have to, and serving others by observing all the health precautions. The outcome is going to be character. The question is “What kind of character are we going to have at East Park when we’re fully back?” That will be determined by our willingness to persevere through this next couple months—or not.
Let’s not rush through this season as fast as we can. Let’s persevere and be patient and learn what God wants us to learn as we go through it.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss any of this, please feel free to contact us:
Dave Lawson (lead pastor)
Chuck Kelpar (associate pastor)
We’ll provide more information as we get closer to each phase, and we’ll continue to update you in our weekly Friday email.
On behalf of East Park Church leadership,