5-22-20 LETTER FROM LCC LEADERSHIP

Dear Friends of Life Covenant Church,


We are excited to announce that we will be saying “Welcome back!” to our IN-PERSON services at Life Covenant Church on May 30 & 31 at our regular times of Saturday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 9:00am and 11:00am.


We’ll also say “Glad you joined us again!” at our online services at the same times. Many of us, our survey indicated about half of us, are not ready quite yet. So we encourage people who are vulnerable for various reasons, currently ill, caring for others who are vulnerable, or, frankly, just not comfortable returning yet, to continue to join us online.


You’ve been clearly grateful for this new online experience and we are now committed to an online presence. It’s going to be the new normal around Life Covenant Church.  We had to navigate the move to online services quickly, and make some changes along the way. In the same way, we’ll be monitoring this new pattern of simultaneous in-person and online services, discovering what’s most valuable, and modifying what we do in the next months.


Our in-person services will look a little different. Here are some guidelines:

  • We encourage everyone to follow the health guidelines that we are all very familiar with these days and, with a common sense approach, use them in all areas of our lives right now, including what we do at church.
  • The sanctuary will look a little different with chairs arranged for social distancing.
  • Families will be asked to sit together and children will stay with their families during the entire service.
  • We won’t provide snacks or beverages initially, but you are free to bring your own for your family.
  • We want to provide access for everyone, even for those who are more vulnerable. Because of this, for one of our services, the 11:00am service, we will ask everyone who attends that service to wear a protective mask. At the other services, masks are optional. We have about 200 cloth masks ready to go, sewn by people in our church and those will be available in the entryway at all services. 
  • We will be cleaning surfaces between each service.

Our online experience will also have a somewhat different look. The front of our sanctuary currently looks like a television studio. We are going to have to make changes in order to return to in-person services. Having said that, we are working hard to provide a warm, personal, meaningful, and worshipful event. At each online service, we’ll sing, interact with children, hear Biblical teaching and you’ll be able to interact with others in the comment section of Facebook Live as many of you do now. You can also view the online service from a direct link on our mobile app and website (lifecchelena.online.church). But there is no “chat” option through this link. Further, we’ll keep the last service up online all week for you to watch on our Facebook page, on our website or app.


Join us in whatever way you are comfortable right now. I again thank you for your response to this situation. I am honored to serve a congregation that seeks to live out their faith in a time like this. You have sought to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to others. You have built others up according to their needs. You have sought understanding and wisdom. You forgave and sought forgiveness. You have turned to God as your refuge and strength. You have pursued God’s peace in a storm. Thank you. And as we take these next steps, let’s continue on this path.


Sincerely in Christ,


Keith Johnson

For our Leadership Team

5-15-20 LETTER FROM LCC LEADERSHIP

Friends,


Here’s another update about how things are progressing at Life Covenant Church.


First, thank you for your overwhelming response to our survey. We received 208 responses! Thank you for many supportive comments toward the Leadership Team and staff who are navigating this.


The tone and spirit of many of your comments brought tears to my eyes—comments like that of a senior citizen wanting to leave a spot for families because it’s more important that they return first, or exactly the opposite of families saying senior citizens should go first and expressing their concern for their vulnerabilities.


Your comments did direct our thoughts. Here’s an example. We were concerned about whether or not families would attend if we didn’t start offering Kid’s church from day one. I personally thought that most wouldn’t attend. The survey, however, revealed that 70% of families with children said they would attend if children were required to remain in the service and another 17% were unsure. I was wrong and your answers guided our thoughts.


One person said that the survey itself gave additional insight into the challenges Life Covenant is facing. And while your comments ranged from, “We’ll be there tomorrow and let’s get going,” to “We won’t be returning until phase three,” the bottom line is that less than half of us are ready to return to in-person weekend services right now.


We want everyone to know that regardless of where you are, we want to be a church that comes alongside you, walking with you during this difficult time. Again, thank you for your input.


So, what’s going to happen? We are moving toward reopening but will do so incrementally. Life Covenant Church Small Groups of 10 or less are now allowed to meet at the church. We expect that social distancing will be maintained in each group and we ask that the group leader be responsible to wipe down all surfaces after participants have left. This means that all our sermon reflection groups will meet in room 201 AND via Zoom at the same time for the immediate future. Join a group in the manner that you are comfortable. For other groups, we would ask that you consult with your group leader to determine what your group will do. GriefShare will be back underway soon. To be clear, I believe that some groups are not ready to meet yet and other groups are. If you want to be back now, please come to one of my sermon reflection groups this week!


Our staff is now preparing plans for weekend services. As previously announced, we will continue with our online services (no in-person services) this weekend,  May 16 and 17. Initially when we start meeting in-person, we will NOT have Kid’s Church, but I am so eager to see the children again. Further information about weekend services will be included next week when I send you another update.


Until we are back in the sanctuary you might consider watching one of our weekend services with a small group of other people as a way to begin the move toward re-opening. You can do this on your own or we can help. If you want our assistance, if you are willing to host a “House Watch Gathering” or would like to attend a small group like that, tell us via this link to the House Watch Gatherings Online Form, or you can find this link on our website or mobile app. Or call the church office.


We are pleased that the online Facebook Live services have been helpful during this time. Someone said, “The live worship services have been a real blessing to assist us in navigating through a difficult time and helped to chase away the loneliness.”  We will be continuing that online presence as a part of our ongoing ministry. Also, please understand that the video format that you are now experiencing live on weekends will NOT be possible when the sanctuary is filled with people. So your staff will work to figure all of this out.


Let me be clear. As you read all of this, I don’t want you to feel any pressure to attend anything right now or to feel any pressure to stay home right now. We are at different places in our health, in our mental state, and in our spiritual lives. We’re going to have to make some individual choices in the coming weeks. I am very eager to have conversations with any of you who would like talk about what is best for you and your family members. Please call me on my cell phone at 406.461.9491.  Others on staff and other leaders and Elders are willing as well.


Also, several people in our congregation have been sewing protective masks for us. We have 165 ready to go as of today. While we won’t require people to use them, we’ll have those available for anyone who wants one when they attend a small group meeting at church.


Finally, if you drove past the church in last couple of days and saw piles of dirt, the sewer line from the office building was replaced this week after a series of problems. It’s not complete yet, but we have water back in the office again and the project will be complete next week.


I miss all of you and can’t wait for us all to be together again. In the meantime, I want to encourage you to continue to reach out to others with phone calls, Skype, Facetime, Zoom or other app that can help us interact. In some cases, a personal visit is now the correct call. But let’s love one another in creative ways in the days ahead.


Sincerely in Christ,


Keith Johnson

(along with our leaders)