A PASTORAL LETTER:
When Will Christ Church Re-Open?
On Friday, the President declared houses of worship “essential” and demanded that Governors allow worship services (provided such houses meet CDC guidelines). Some may have interpreted from that announcement that Christ Church would immediately re-open; it is a bit more complicated.
First of all, the President asked Governors to open churches and the Governor of Illinois did not choose to comply. Secondly, we closed before we were legally mandated to do so because that is where God led us; we will open using the same criteria. Third, having our style of worship services with a myriad of restrictions would be unmanageable. Finally, when we do return to worship, it needs to be very close to the worship environment we enjoyed before the shut-down.
Here is what we are doing as we prepare for reopening:
- Seeking God
- Continuing to offer financial help to people who attend here
- Continuing to offer shopping, rides and errand runs for folks not comfortable getting out
- Allowing the Reopening Task Force to make recommendations
- Putting safety precautions into place as we plan for reopening
- Deciding upon “deal breakers.” For example, we are not reopening worship services if we can’t sing, have to severely limit numbers or do temperature checks as people enter.
- Improving our on-line experience and content as we phase in live resources
- Reminding folks they can worship on-line as long as they wish.
- Reopening the church office June 1
- Encouraging the development of “house churches” beginning June 1 (more information is coming)
- Listening to the congregation. If you have some thoughts or ideas, I would love to hear from you!
I believe we will be back soon.
For those who fear we may come back too soon; we will clearly state what you can expect and the guidelines we will be following before we open. When we do open, please stay home if you don’t feel comfortable. For those who believe we should be back in June with no guidelines; I ask for your patience as I don’t yet feel released to do so. The bottom line is this: We will return when God gives us confirmation to do so and when we can offer the warm and energetic worship services that define Christ Church.
As your Sr. Pastor, I am committed to hearing from God; not waiting on politicians to tell us what to do and when to do it. We can never fully eradicate all health risks from public gatherings but your church leadership will do all in our power to minimize them. Churches have a constitutional right and a Biblical mandate to meet. We also have an obligation to keep people safe and to be reasonable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be a tipping point that brings us back to church and we are nearing it. Pray for us as we lead.
This will not last forever.
You are not alone.
You are a part of this family.
God is Good!
Rev. Shane L. Bishop
Fairview Heights, Illinois