Hello CCV Family & Friends,
It has now been almost two months since we first entered the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order put in place by Governor Whitmer. For many of us this has been a challenging season of isolation, yet I've been hopeful and prayerful that all of us will come out of this season having drawn closer to the Lord and changed for the better through it. I've thought of this and tried to treat it as a forced Sabbatical from life as usual. On the upside, it has certainly given most of us more time at home and with our families.
At this point, the Governors mandate to stay home has been extended through the end of May, and may be extended yet again into June. However, there have been some very interesting developments that have caused our CCV Council to begin praying about and planning for our church to resume "in-person" worship gatherings no matter what decision the Governor makes.
Here is a short legal summary compiled by Michigan Family Forum:
Early in the "lockdown" period, Governor Whitmer exempted churches from any penalty if they chose to remain open. However, individuals could face fines and criminal prosecution for violating the stay at home order if they tried to attend a church service. That possibility effectively ended all religious services in Michigan. On May 7, the Governor enacted Executive Order 77 which said: "No individual is subject to penalty...for engaging in or traveling to engage in religious worship at a place of religious worship..." The measure largely restored the right of churches to hold services, though each church will need to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of attendees.
This legal development was due a law suit filed against the Governor by Salt & Light Global and Atty. William Wagner, a Christian lawyer who felt the Governors Executive Orders were actually unconstitutional. Upon reading the case against her, she agreed to change the language of her Executive Order, thereby allowing churches to legally begin meeting again. So to summarize and clarify, we are now allowed to meet legally without any fear of being ticketed, either personally or corporately.
However, just because meeting again is now legal does not mean it is also best or wise. A decision like this, with many diverse thoughts and feelings playing into it, could be divisive unless we are led by the Holy Spirit in determining what to do, and when/how to do it. My prayer with regard to this decision has been focused on claiming the promise of James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
With that as our goal, our CCV Council and Leadership Team have been discussing a potential plan to begin offering the option of in-person meetings again on Sunday, May 31st, which is Pentecost Sunday. Our thought has been to follow the President's National Guidelines, which detail a three phase process for re-opening. Under these National Guidelines we would currently be in Stage 2 - despite the fact that our Governor has chosen not to follow these National Guidelines and implement her own state specific plan instead. Under the President's Guidelines, Phase 2 allows for public meetings of up to 50 people in a room, and could officially begin after a continued downward trajectory of documented cases for 4 weeks in a row. Michigan has now been in such a downward trajectory since April 3rd (for 7 weeks), when the number of daily reported cases peaked at just under 2000/day. Michigan has also seen a downward trajectory in the number of deaths for a month now, since that number peaked at 230/day on April 21st.
Since our average attendance before this pandemic was only about 85/week and some will naturally be more cautious about attending under the present circumstances, we (the CCV PAC) have decided it is timely to begin resuming our in-person gatherings. We want to approach this cautiously and wisely, but not with a spirit of fear, which many in our nation seem to have embraced. Obviously, this is a delicate balancing act.
That said, with the idea in mind of potentially opening up our meetings just over a week from now, the PAC has come up with the following 20 Guidelines for how we can do this with appropriate care and caution:
Guidelines for Resuming CCV Meetings:
- Encourage our members/attenders to each pray for peace and wisdom from the Lord about when to come back personally.
- Ask people to review the symptoms of COVID 19, and be vigilant about staying home if they have any such symptoms.
- Post signage communicating the requirement to stay home if/when people have any sign or symptom of sickness.
- Add signage to encourage and facilitate frequent hand washing with soap or hand sanitizer.
- Spread chair rows further apart and limit to only 100 chairs in the Worship Center.
- Limit indoor Worship Center Seating to the first 50 participants with social distancing by Family Group, at least temporarily.
- Offer overflow seating in the Cafe and/or Youth Room, also with social distancing guidelines by Family Groups in place.
- Offer outdoor seating as well if needed, weather permitting. Encourage outdoor fellowship after the worship service.
- Encourage those at higher risk to be more cautious about re-engaging.
- Practice social distancing between family groups (for example, leaving 2 seats open between family groups in the same row).
- Have our Hospitality Team forego coffee service initially, and eventually resume by serving coffee instead of using a self-serve station. (BYO Coffee if you really want it!)
- Disinfect rooms/surfaces after every public on-site gathering.
- Request that people wear masks out of respect for others when they are not on stage. Make extra masks available upon request as needed.
- Offer Family Services initially, providing nursery care only, until further details can safely be worked out for resuming our other Kids Church Classes.
- Offer Prayer Ministry, with extra sensitivity and caution for those wanting to maintain social distancing.
- Encourage people to self-quarantine if they have recently traveled to an area with a high rate of infection or personally interacted with people known to be sick.
- Go on with Jesus Parties as planned for this summer, given the outdoor setting with less than 50 people.
- Continue a high-quality Livestream worship experience for those remaining at home.
- Continue praying diligently for God's guidance, wisdom, and protection, ready to adjust these guidelines as circumstances and/or revelation indicate that we should.
- As Always, we value your feedback. If you have any questions or suggestions we would love to talk Please give us a call at (517) 337-9121
If you are ill or caring for someone who is ill please stay home. In addition, please notify the church office if you or anyone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with COVID-19. If any church member or attendee is confirmed to have COVID-19, we will promptly inform all church members/attenders of their possible exposure to the virus while also maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Common Symptoms of COVID-19 can be reviewed here:
- Shortness of breath (not severe)
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
If you do have any of these symptoms, for the sake of others please stay home and seek testing and/or medical care.
Perhaps the most controversial of the guidelines above is number 14, regarding the wearing of masks. The US Surgeon General has made it clear that masks do not automatically stop the spread of COVID-19. They really only help prevent those who already have the virus from spreading it as easily as they might have otherwise. Just because someone is wearing a mask does not mean they cannot catch the virus. So the use of masks is not as completely protective as many think it to be, but they have become a symbol of social "consideration" for others. For these reasons, we are suggesting they be worn at CCV but not mandating it. Also, please understand that for the sake of being seen, heard, and clearly understood, those speaking or singing on stage will not be wearing masks as they lead us in worship and the ministry of the Word.
Finally, we welcome your input and feedback about this plan, and we want you to know that the decision to meet again with these guidelines in place is not set in stone. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and react to ongoing developments and information. We are actively seeking the Lord for wisdom and discussing this with our CCV Ministry Leaders. With these things in mind, please feel free and be encouraged to send an email with any thoughts or ideas you would like to share with us.
You can write us at email@example.com.
That He Might Increase (John 3:30),
Pastor Kevin Shoemaker
Pastor Kevin talks about the latest developments at CCV regarding the Corona virus. Please give it a listen.
Update: New Information Regarding CCV Livestream Worship Gatherings
In light of the changing restrictions on group gatherings, CCV will not be meeting in person this week, or for the foreseeable future. Instead, we will be having an online worship gathering on Sunday mornings where you can participate by watching our livestream broadcast. There are three options to choose from for those who would like follow the livestream:
1. CCV Website Live Page: go to live.ccvine.org
2. Facebook: go to facebook.ccvine.org
3. Youtube: go to youtube.ccvine.org
In addition, we are actively transitioning all of our Small Group, Prayer Group, and other smaller meetings to Zoom. The link for any of these meetings including our Pre-Service Prayer Mtg. on Sunday mornings is zoom.ccvine.org (Meeting ID 5173379121). This online meeting will take place as usual, from 9:00-9:55am.
Congregational Letter 3-14-2020
Note: Much of this information is now outdated... please see the update above.
Hello CCV Friends & Family,
It's been a tumultuous week for all of us, with the many cancellations and restrictions that have impacted our daily lives in a number of new and unexpected ways since mid-week. As many have realized, what we are experiencing is unprecedented. It's a season of mandated "social isolation", when many of the things we typically enjoy doing are suddenly unavailable to us. For many, this has brought profound disappointment at what's been lost, and anxiety over what lies ahead. My heart goes out to all of you as you struggle with these disorienting emotions and try to keep a godly perspective on these events and experiences.
Through it all, over the last few days I've found myself reflecting often on the need for us - as followers of Jesus - to walk in peace, not in fear or anxiety. Remember this: despite every adversity he faced, Jesus was never anxious or afraid. In fact, even in the Garden of Gethsemane, realizing that the cross lay before him the very next day, he prayed courageously, "Not my will be done, but Thy will be done." So let's take this season, and all of the extra time it will afford us, to draw near to the LORD and invite His will to be done, and His shalom to fill our hearts and minds. Let's draw near to Him in humility, and expect Him to draw near to us in response, just as He promised (James 4:8) As an example, our family has already made plans for some extended devotions and other family activities to fill the extra time that would have otherwise been given to our previous commitments. I encourage you to see this next month and make use of it as a little mini-sabbatical from the busyness of life as usual.
You're probably wondering how CCV should and will respond to the crisis at hand. For now, we plan to carry on with our weekly Sunday worship gathering tomorrow morning (March 15th). However, our Leadership Team will be meeting tomorrow evening to discuss and pray about the pathway forward over the next few weeks. As I've consulted with some of our leaders over the last few days, it has seemed prudent that we take some time to seek the Lord for wisdom, and not react too quickly. Our desire is to be faithful to him first, but also to the community that we serve.
This is a profound time for us to seek the LORD on behalf of our nation. In fact, President Trump has declared this Sunday a National Day of Prayer, so we will meet tomorrow with the intention to lift our hearts and voices to heaven. We intend to pray with unity, boldness and faith that God would stop the spread of this virus in it's tracks! In fact, I will also be sharing tomorrow about a National 3-Day Esther fast that is being called and organized for next weekend by Minister Lou Engle and others.
Since we are a smaller church, in meeting tomorrow we are not out of compliance with the Governor's mandate that no large groups of over 250 are allowed to gather until after April 6th. Yet, if any of you are uncomfortable about meeting under the present circumstances, I encourage you to follow your conscience and consider joining us via the Facebook livestream instead. This is a convenient way to follow our entire CCV Worship Gathering online in the comfort of your own home. It's not the same as being present in person to connect with others, but it's certainly the next best thing, especially at a time like this.
If you've never made use of it before, simply follow this link: CCV's Facebook Livestream
In addition, should you decide to join us in person tomorrow, we want you to know that there are several steps we are actively taking to mitigate the potential spread of the virus:
- We are disinfecting our facility both before and after every meeting.
- We are making extra hand sanitizers available throughout the ministry center.
- We are asking that you find creative alternatives to handshakes, like an elbow bump.
- Our Hospitality staff will be serving coffee upon request, as opposed to the usual self-service.
- We are encouraging those over 70 or in poor health (who are at greater risk with this virus) to join us via the livestream.
We also welcome your thoughts and suggestions, as well as your prayers for the LORD's guidance and provision over the weeks ahead. Feel free to contact the office if there's something you'd like to share with me, and our CCV Leadership Team.
Finally, during this difficult time I also want to invite you to remember the financial needs of the church, as well as our Biblical commitment to serve the poor and needy around us. I expect many people in our community may be struggling over the next few weeks if their jobs are impacted by an economic downturn. To meet needs like this, CCV operates a Benevolence Fund which makes resources available to those in need on a one-time basis. As the Spirit leads, I encourage you to give to this Fund in addition to your regular Tithes & Offerings. It's to the glory of God and for the blessing of others that we give joyfully and sacrificially from what the LORD Has provided for us. If you would prefer to do that online, instead of in person, you can do that through our online giving portal.
Friends, as I close this letter, I pray for each of you the hope and the peace that Paul describes in Philippians 4:4-9... that as we rejoice in Christ, and bring our anxieties to Him in prayer, his peace would be with us to guard our hearts and minds. Let your thoughts dwell on God's goodness and presence with you, even as the "storm" rages all around you.
That He Might Increase (John 3:30),