It has been said many times during this pandemic: “the building is closed, but the Church is open.” Jesus taught us that whenever two or more are gathered he is there with them (Matthew 18:20). We believe that. We have been the church throughout this crisis. And yet, we are also eager to be together. We want our church facilities to be a shared and common space to know God’s grace.
Staff and elders have formulated a plan for regathering that considers advice and regulations from the CDC, City, County and State that we pray will be helpful in leading the church reopening. This plan is not date dependent. It is important to note that it is possible that we may retreat ‘backward’ if circumstances require it.
In June of 2020, the Session formed a three-person committee comprised of an Elder, a Trustee, and a staff member known as the Regathering Committee, to provide guidance and consistency as we navigate this time of limited in-person gathering.
The Regathering Committee meets weekly to consider requests for restarting activities from our church ministries and other groups with whom we have a relationship. Circumstances are changing in ‘real time’, so details change as we learn more about how to regather safely in light of the current status of the pandemic and the vaccine rollout. At this time, our church building is open only for specific ministry activities and those authorized events that have met the specifications for safe gathering developed by the committee.
We will seek to communicate these plans and other resources for us to continue to grow in Christ together. We want to be wise and a good witness to our community as we return to a practice of gathering throughout the week for worship, mission, discipleship, and fellowship. If you have insight, concerns, or feedback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Session’s charge to the Regathering Committee:
- Protect our members and visitors (e.g., congregation, et al) from COVID-19 risks based on federal, state, and local government requirements and regulations.
- Consider and pro-actively manage the Boulder community’s (and our overall neighbors’) perception and comfort (e.g., PR, optics) with Grace Commons Church’s approach to regathering.
- Work with and guide our pastors and staff to regather our church for worship, ministries, programs, etc. to create workable solutions and options to continue services of the church.
Incarnational Worship: Scripture calls us to love and worship God with our whole selves, including our bodies (Lk 10:27a; Rom 12:1). This involves physical movement, greeting, singing, reciting, praying, and other tangible expressions of our worship, physically and materially. Corporate worship invites freedom and opportunity for these actions. When certain restrictions (numbers, masks, social distancing, screenings, etc) impede this freedom of expression, much is compromised.
Love for Neighbor: Love of neighbor is paramount in the Bible (Lk 10:27b). The way we love, welcome and provide for the health and safety of our neighbors, both inside and outside the congregation, demonstrates our love for God and for them. Our regathering policies are guided by this core value. A safe, clean environment, ease of access, crowd control, and offering general comfort of mind, body, and soul are tangible ways we express our love for our neighbors. Regathering must take into consideration all of these.
Warm Hospitality: In the Bible warm hospitality witnesses to the love of God and neighbor and is a central command (Rom 12:13; Heb 13:2; 1Pet 4:9). We want our worship gatherings to reflect Christian hospitality in ease of access, freedom of movement, and joy of welcome, conversation, food and refreshments. Strict restrictions on these diminish and distract us from this central calling.
Respect for Governing Authorities: As much as possible, we are commanded to love and respect the governing authorities (John 19:11; Rom 13:1). Our witness to our community is strengthened as we support and express the governmental guidelines for safe gatherings. Testing or pushing limitations serves no one well.
Faithful Stewardship of Resources: God has entrusted us to use his resources wisely and faithfully (Gen 2:15; Acts 6:1-6; Mt 25:14-30). We want our facilities and their cleanliness, our greeters and ushers, our custodial staff and volunteers, our music and worship staff, preachers and worship leaders to be able to work within their means in a sustainable way to support and enhance our corporate worship.