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Welcome! We are glad that you are exploring our church website! You will discover that we are a community united through our faith in Jesus. We sincerely invite you to contact us for more information or join us for our community worship on Sundays at 10 AM.
We look forward to having you join us this Sunday on our virtual service!
New Hope EFC Friends and Members,
The Elders’ Decision About Resuming In-Person Worship Services:
I appreciate your prayers for the elder team, especially over the last couple of weeks. I believe God heard and answered your prayers. After praying and considering the Scriptures, the COVID-19 data, the guidance from authorities, and the results from our congregational survey, the elders have come to a decision. We have decided to resume in-person worship services on 7 June 2020.
We have four main reasons for this decision. The first is that almost all of you stated in the survey that you are willing to come to in-person worship services with some basic, temporary adjustments. While we don’t make decisions upon survey results alone, they have been helpful to understand what you are ready for.
The second reason is that President Donald Trump considers houses of worship as “essential” as of 22 May 2020. He called on governors to therefore allow houses of worship to begin meeting immediately. While Governor Kate Brown is an authority figure that we ought to honor, it seems fitting that within our form of government for us to submit to the highest authority on this matter which is the president (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:1).
The third reason is that the data shows that our county is in a relatively safe position to resume such gatherings. Douglas County has entered phase 1 and should be entering phase 2 of reopening on 5 June 2020. As of 21 May 2020, the Douglas Public Health Network reports that there have been only 2 new cases of the corona virus since 15 April 2020. This brings the total number to 25 cases in Douglas County out of Oregon’s 3,817 cases. In addition, none of these 25 cases have resulted in death. With phase 2 is an expected increase on the limit for group gatherings, rising from 25 people to 100 people. Worship services for New Hope EFC averaged an attendance of about 75 people in the sanctuary before the pandemic. With that number, it is feasible to spread family units 6 feet apart throughout the floor and the balcony of the sanctuary thus heeding the physical distancing requirement.
The fourth and final reason for the decision is that we need time to prepare for resuming our in-person worship services. We need time to mail letters to those without internet access. We need time to address any concerns or questions that you might have. We also need time to make some basic, temporary adjustments. It is our desire that our first in-person worship service is not chaotic, but is orderly (see 1 Corinthians 14:40).
However, this restarting date of 7 June 2020 for worship services is still subject to change. If a sudden surge of COVID-19 cases happened in our county between now and then, we might push the date back further. But we hope that such a thing doesn’t happen.
The Elders’ Decision About Adjustments During In-Person Worship Services:
Even though we are regathering, the elders have decided upon ten adjustments for our worship services beginning on 7 June 2020. These are temporary and truly meant to look out for your physical well-being. The first is that we ask you to RSVP to Jan Patton, our office manager, by 3 June 2020. We would like to have a sense of how many people are planning on coming so we can accommodate. So please let her know if you and your family members plan on attending. She can be reached at 541-679-4317 or . The second adjustment is that food and drink will not be offered in the welcome center. But you are welcome to bring your own. The third is that there will be no Sunday school class on 7 June 2020. The plan is to resume the class at a later date. The reason is to keep things simple and straightforward for the first Sunday back together.
Fourth, the offering will not be collected by offering plates, but by an offering box. If you would like to continue giving online at the church website, you may still do that. Thank you for financially supporting our church’s gospel ministries through the pandemic. The fifth adjustment is that hand sanitizer bottles will be distributed throughout the welcome center. However, if you have plenty of hand sanitizer, we encourage you to use your own so that the church’s supply doesn’t run out too quickly. Sixth, tables and handles throughout the welcome center, fellowship hall, sanctuary, classrooms, and office will be wiped down before and after each worship service. If you would like to help with this, please contact our custodian Dave Smith.
The seventh adjustment is that the front door of the building will remain open before the worship service and the front door of the sanctuary will remain open throughout it. This is to help with ventilation and to minimize contact. The eighth is that there will be a designated area in the church facility for mask-wearers only. We know that some of you want to come, but prefer to wear a mask and be around those who also wear masks. Our hope is that this added distance will meet this preference. Ninth, we ask you to maintain six feet apart. We will have some members helping you and others to grab chairs and sit according to your household throughout the sanctuary. Some items in the sanctuary will be rearranged to provide more seating space. In addition, we are also looking for members to volunteer to worship from the balcony. Please let Jan know in the RSVP if you would like to volunteer for this. Finally, we will shorten our worship services for the time being to reduce exposure. Our worship services averaged about 75 minutes in length. Our aim is to shorten them to about 45 minutes at least for the month of June.
Even with these adjustments, I ask you to please respect the preferences of others. Some of you are ready to start fist-bumping and handshaking, but others want a 6+ foot bubble. Let us demonstrate the mind of Christ in our relationships by considering the interests and needs of others before our own (Philippians 2:3-5). Also, we recognize that some of you are immune-compromised or living with someone who is. Therefore, you might not be ready to gather in-person by 7 June 2020. However, we will continue to post the worship services on our church website. You are not and will not be treated as a second-class member of New Hope EFC. As your pastor, I will still strive to care for you with the same love as those who regather.
Lastly, we understand that there is a lot of tension between people in light of reopening procedures. Some think there should have never been closings in the first place. Some think the reopening process should have begun earlier. Yet, others think that the reopening process is premature. These tensions have arisen in political parties, families, and even congregations. Therefore, I call upon you to join me in fasting and praying over the next few weeks as we regather for our worship services. If you are able, fast from one meal each week and use that time to pray for our church and the global church. Ask our LORD to help us display faith, wisdom, humility, unity, hope, truth, perseverance, and love as we begin to regather for the purpose of fellowship and worship. Of course, there is more to pray for. But the point is that we want to regather in a manner that glorifies our God.
Praying for you,
21 May 2020