FILL OUT THE GATHERING AGAIN ONLINE CARD HERE
- UPDATE: May 26, 2020 -
It is hard to believe that this Sunday will have been twelve weeks since we last met together in person due to the shut-down. That is a long time!
This is to let you know about the goals of our “Gathering Again” plan that our Elders have put together. Please take a few minutes to read through this and respond by filling out THIS FORM.
Our state is already a couple weeks into Governor Northam’s “Phase 1” for churches. Some churches have been meeting, some are still “closed,” and others are gathering in non-traditional ways to ease the list of requirements and recommendations from the governor. Factors such as facility size, family makeup, culture, volunteer willingness, and proximity to a Covid-19 hotspot all go into a church’s decision to begin gathering again. We are all trying to balance our Biblical mandate to gather (Hebrews 10:23-25), our submission to governmental authorities (Romans 13:1-7), and the safety and care of those most vulnerable (Matthew 25:31-46).
Also by now many businesses are beginning to open back up in a variety of ways, and people are becoming less socially distant. No matter what our view of all this is or what our experiences have been, one thing is certain: we miss each other! God created us for community and we have a “holy longing” to be together again. Thankfully, that longing and waiting is close to coming to an end!
This Sunday (May 31) at 10am we are planning on gathering again for worship and teaching outdoors behind the Fire Department in Churchville. We always look forward to these services by the creek, but this will be even more special because of the situation. Meeting outside allows us to be together as long as we want and maintain appropriate social distancing without having to worry about many of the virus’s risk factors. Plan on arriving early (by 8am if you want to volunteer), parking as far away as you are able, bringing a chair or blanket, and (if you have smaller kids) providing something to help them stay focused during the sermon. If it is raining, please join in on Facebook or at villagechurchva.com/live for one more week just as we have been doing.
As we move toward summer time, we will plan on either continuing to meet outside (if the weather permits) or move indoors (abiding by the Governor’s requests). More information on our services in June and July are below.
These first few services together will be very important because we will be communicating important updates about the current ministry of our church as well as future plans. In fact, as important as coming back together is, it is only the first goal of our Gathering Again plan. As you read THIS LIST, please join us in praying for (1) our church and (2) how God is leading you to respond. If you have any questions or concerns, bring them to our Church Family Meeting on Sunday, June 14 where our Elders will provide further details, answer questions, and hold a membership vote for the affirmation of our Pastoral candidate.
We are grateful for your unity, service, support, and generosity during this "stay-at-home” season. We count it a privilege to be your Elders and cannot wait to see what God is going to do through Village Church as we work together to make disciples of Jesus by reaching families with the hope of the Gospel.
The 5 goals of our Gathering Again initiative are:
1. Set a Plan
2. Update Database and Membership
3. Regroup our Dream Team
4. Position New Leadership
5. Cast New Vision
Please help our church enter this new season well by filling out THIS FORM.
- May 19, 2020-
The following is important information from our Elders on our plan of #gatheringagain during Virginia's "Phase 1" of reopening. You can watch the full video from May 16 HERE.
Throughout this difficult season, we have sought to balance our Biblical mandate to gather (Hebrews 10:23-25), our submission to governmental authorities (Romans 13:1-7), and everyone’s safety and care - especially those most vulnerable (Matthew 25:31-46). We have especially been concerned for those who are most vulnerable emotionally and mentally because of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. While some people may have continued life as “normal,” others are living in very dark times.
As you have probably heard by now, Governor Northam has invited churches to begin publicly gathering again as long as they follow several guidelines, particularly a 50% capacity limit. As a result of this new “Phase 1” opening, some churches around our state will begin meeting publicly, some will remain “closed” for now, and others will be gathering in creative formats (such as meeting outside, holding multiple services, staying in their cars, using overflow rooms, etc.). All churches planning to meet will expect their attenders to abide by a list of requirements and recommendations (that I have noted HERE). The many factors that we must consider in our decisions to gather again include facility size, family makeup, culture, volunteer willingness, and proximity to a Covid-19 hotspot.
After prayer and discussion with our Elders and Staff as well as consideration of counsel from the SBC of Virginia, we have decided to continue meeting ONLINE ONLY for the next two Sundays (May 17 and 24) and then hold our first public gathering on Sunday, May 31. As our pattern has been over the last 5 Springs and Summers, we plan to meet outdoors behind the Churchville Fire Department.
As God allows, we will also plan on meeting outside for at least the following Sunday (June 7), but possibly longer. This plan will allow us to keep an appropriate social distance between families, reduce many of the virus’s risk factors, and hold a worship service without having to worry about most of the indoor-specific recommendations of the Governor's “Phase 1.” No one knows what these next couple weeks will bring, so this also gives our leadership time to watch, learn, and plan accordingly before we move back indoors.
As we excitedly look forward to Gathering Again outside at the end of the month, let’s keep these details in mind:
- We will be in “full-family” mode. If you have smaller children, bring something to help them stay focused (here are some fun ideas). Our amazing Village Kid's Ministry leaders will also continue providing online material.
- Bring your own coffee. We will not provide refreshments to limit gathering spots and eliminate items that need to be touched by multiple hands.
- Bring your own chair or blanket.
- Bring a canopy or find a shady spot to sit. Plan to sit with any family or friends that you have already been close to during this shut-down
- Arrive early. We are all excited about seeing our church family again, so let’s take the time to hang out.
- Keep your "social distance.” Please keep 6 feet of separation between families. Park as far away as you are able to leave close spots for young families, elderly, or those that cannot get around well.
- Volunteer. If you are healthy and willing, we need several volunteers to setup and make our services happen.
- Use the restroom before you come. We will have restroom options there, but they will need to be thoroughly sanitized before and after usage.
- Wear a mask. The government has recommended everyone to wear a mask to cover their mouth and nose while socializing.
- We will not be passing offering baskets. Continue to give online, through the mail, or in the locked offering box
- We will still stream our service online. For anyone that is sick, not ready to be in public, or that cannot make it, we will continue to live-stream our service to Facebook and our website. Worshiping online will also be our “rain plan.”
- Embrace the awkward. We already know that socializing has to be different right now; let’s expect it and embrace it.
These first couple services back together will be very important for our church family. Not only because May 31 will be our first time in 12 weeks to worship together in person, but we will also be communicating important updates about the ministry and future of our church, including information about the candidate that our Elders will be prayerfully presenting as the new Lead Pastor for Village. Since we have not been able to move along with our pastoral transition during this shut-down, we look forward to discussing and celebrating this crucial next step for our church soon. Plan to be there if you can or join in online.
Later in June or July, we hope to hold indoor worship services either at the Elementary School or in another church facility when there is less concern for the spread of the virus. This “phase 2” approach will depend on the weather and how events unfold over the next few weeks. When we do move indoors, we expect to continue being health conscious through the use of hand sanitizers, limited contact, some social distance, no or minimal kids ministries, online groups, and other necessary steps for the sake of those most vulnerable. We may even need to hold multiple services or meet in different locations.
This shut down has affected everyone in one way or another. All we can do is respond the best way we can and continue to be flexible, wise, and unified as new opportunities are given to us. Let’s continue to pray for each other and walk in grace towards one another. Pray for wisdom to know the right decisions and boldness to make them. Pray that we will not live in fear or arrogance, but in faith.
We are certain that many of you will have questions and concerns, so our Elders plan on holding a Church Family Meeting on Sunday, June 14 to provide further details, answer any questions, and hold a membership vote for the affirmation of our pastoral candidate.
We are incredibly grateful for your continued unity, service, support, and generosity over these last several weeks during this "stay-at-home” season. God has provided us the challenge of maintaining togetherness and staying missional while being isolated, and you have risen to the challenge! We count it a privilege to be your Elders.
Until we gather again,
Pastor Robert Hampshire, Caleb Spence, Sam Lessley