Regathering Plan

It has been said many times during this pandemic: “the building is closed, but the Church is open.” Jesus taught us that whenever 2 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 the facility of our church to be a shared and common space to know God’s grace.

Our staff and elders have been formulating a plan that we pray will be a helpful guide to reopening. 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. Below you will see that we have defined 5 stages of regathering that are dependent and will be responsive to expert advice from the CDC, to circumstances in Boulder County, and to city and state guidelines.  These stages are not date dependent. It is important to note that it is possible that we may retreat ‘backward’ along this 5-stage spectrum if circumstances require it. Many people have participated in the creation of this plan. If you have insight, concerns, or feedback about it, please email Janet.Schultz@gracecommons.org and she will forward to the right person on the team. Circumstances are changing in ‘real time’. So, details may change about this plan as we learn more about how to regather safely. We will seek to communicate with you regularly about these plans and other resources for us to continue to grow in Christ together.

GRACE COMMONS VALUES FOR REGATHERING

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.

REGATHERING STAGES

Download the above graph as a PDF.

STAGE 1

The community is under a Stay at Home order and gathering in person is not permitted.

Sunday worship is pre-recorded and shared online through simulated live stream and on demand offerings.  

Discipleship and Community and Church-wide Communication moves online. Online Pastors’ Book Groups and Prayer Groups are introduced. Videos and emails are sent daily. Post-worship Zoom Coffee Hour begins on Easter Sunday. 13 people join the church in the first online Covenant Partnership class. Ministry Programs and Small Groups move to online gatherings. Online giving is encouraged.​

Grace Commons Kids celebrate and equip families to worship at home together, with virtual Sunday school, virtual gatherings, daily devotionals and at home spiritual parenting tools.

Grace Commons Students
worship from the safety of their homes, devotionals are delivered to students, Wednesday night virtual small groups begin, leaders check in with students every week. Every other week there is a large group Zoom gathering for all the students and leaders.​

Mercy Ministry to homeless/essential services continue. Thursday morning coffee is served at church. One gloved/masked person prepares and serves the coffee.  

STAGE 2

Safer at Home orders limit in-person gathering.

Sunday Morning Worship continues to be pre-recorded for simulated live stream and on demand access. Preparations are made for live stream online worship.

​Discipleship and Community continues online. Pastors’ Book Groups, Bible Studies, and Prayer Groups continue throughout the summer. Post-worship Zoom Coffee Hour continues. Common Space Groups are being organized for the 2020-2021 Discipleship Emphasis on prayer. Outdoor drop-by/walk-up invitations (for all ages) are hosted at designated locations and provide socially-distanced in-person connection.

Church-wide Communication returns to a Monday/Thursday/Sunday rhythm. A 5-question Check-in Survey measures the congregation's reactions to the church’s COVID response and gathers information about spiritual health, personal and community needs, and re-gathering hopes and expectations. Weekly video updates begin from the pastoral staff.​

Grace Commons Kids celebrate and equip families to worship at home together, with virtual Sunday school, virtual gatherings, daily devotionals, and at home spiritual parenting tools. ​

Grace Commons Students continue Wednesday night virtual small groups, weekly check-ins with students, and in-person one-on-one meetings when encouraged by parents. Every other week there is a large group Zoom gathering for all the students and leaders.​

Mercy Ministry as an essential service continues.​

Deacon’s Closet resumes outside with the balanced perspective of personal/corporate safety and hospitality as follows: ​

  • Signage welcomes people and details safety expectations for social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing hands
  • Volunteers engage with guests to ensure social distancing and mask wearing
  • Volunteers distribute masks to guests and provide hand sanitizer
  • A “personal shopper” model is used.
  • Volunteers retrieve supplies for the guest.
  • Guests are not allowed inside to use the restrooms.
  • Deacon volunteers share the location/hours of nearby restrooms and other services.

Food Service

  • All food is pre-packaged and prepared and distributed according to health regulations
  • Volunteers engage with guests to ensure social distancing and mask wearing
  • Volunteers distribute masks to guests and provide hand sanitizer  

Staff are expected to continue working remotely unless absolutely necessary to return to the building. They may return to the building if they are healthy and no one in their place of residence is sick. Staff must adhere to safety regulations.

Volunteer Service Groups, fewer than 10 (Work Krew, Garden Team, etc) may return and do projects that are outside only.  Masks must be worn, social distancing, and group size limits must be observed, and tools/equipment should not be shared.  One church restroom will be made available for workers. Everyone must adhere to safety regulations.

STAGE 3

As restrictions continue to ease, we anticipate meeting in smaller groups (in homes, outdoors, at the church) so that people can worship with others from home, gather for prayer, and enjoy fellowship. A blended set of online and in person offerings will be provided.

Sunday Morning Worship will continue online. As households are able, they are encouraged to gather with others to worship in their homes. Online Coffee Hour will continue.​

Discipleship and Community small gatherings will be encouraged to meet in person when possible. Seasonal weather permitting, backyard gatherings and local park meet-ups are a way for people to gather in mid-size groups for fellowship and outreach. ​

Church-wide Communication will continue with Monday/Thursday/Sunday email rhythm. Possibilities for online communication are many and will take shape to meet the needs of our community.​

Ministry programming is permitted outdoors for group sizes as indicated by state/county/city regulations.  Number of groups on site will be limited.  ​

Grace Commons Kids will celebrate and equip families to worship at home together, with virtual Sunday school, virtual gatherings, daily devotionals and at home spiritual parenting tools.

Grace Commons Students
small gatherings will resume in-person. Mid-week programming will continue online and in smaller group gatherings outdoors.​

Mercy Ministry as an essential service will continue. City/county/state regulations will guide expectations for participants and leaders.​

Staff may return to the church building as their work requires. They may return to the building if they are healthy and no one in their place of residence is sick.  Staff must adhere to safety regulations.

STAGE 4

As restrictions ease even more, social distancing is relaxed or no longer required, we will begin to gather in larger groups at the church for worship, ministry programs and outreach. We will continue to provide online worship and fellowship for those who may not be ready or comfortable returning to in-person gatherings.

Sunday Morning Worship will continue online. Gathering in groups for at-home worship will be encouraged. The Sanctuary will be open for a limited number of people to worship in person. A reservation process will ensure that the correct size groups are gathering. ​

Discipleship and Community mid-size gatherings will resume on Sundays and throughout the week. ​

Ministry programming will resume in church facilities for group sizes as indicated by state/county/city regulations.  Number of groups on site will be limited. Program leaders must communicate health and safety expectations and practices for volunteer leaders and participants including but not limited to: entry screening, masks, distancing, restroom occupancy limits, and sanitizing practices. Participants must obey all health & safety signage.​

Grace Commons Kids will be setting families up for success to worship together in the Sanctuary. We will provide disposable worship kits for kids, encourage families to worship in the front rows of the main floor and balcony, open the nursery up for nursing and diaper changing (having the service piped in). Stay tuned for mid-week programming, as we explore smaller gathering opportunities.​

Grace Commons Students will be invited to worship alongside their families in the sanctuary.  Mid-week programming will resume in mid-size groups.​

Mercy Ministry as an essential service will be permitted inside the building when 50 or more are permitted to gather. City/county/state regulations will guide expectations for participants and leaders.

Staff will resume pre-COVID work rhythms.

Discipleship and Community small gatherings will be encouraged to meet in person when possible. Seasonal weather permitting, backyard gatherings and local park meet-ups are a way for people to gather in mid-size groups for fellowship and outreach. ​

Church-wide Communication will continue with Monday/Thursday/Sunday email rhythm. Possibilities for online communication are many and will take shape to meet the needs of our community.​

Ministry programming is permitted outdoors for group sizes as indicated by state/county/city regulations.  Number of groups on site will be limited.  ​

Grace Commons Kids will celebrate and equip families to worship at home together, with virtual Sunday school, virtual gatherings, daily devotionals and at home spiritual parenting tools.

Grace Commons Students
small gatherings will resume in-person. Mid-week programming will continue online and in smaller group gatherings outdoors.​

Mercy Ministry as an essential service will continue. City/county/state regulations will guide expectations for participants and leaders.​

Staff may return to the church building as their work requires. They may return to the building if they are healthy and no one in their place of residence is sick.  Staff must adhere to safety regulations.

STAGE 5

When there are no longer health-related restrictions affecting our community, we will regather in large and small groups and resume our worship rhythms and practices. We will continue to provide online worship and uphold increased sanitation standards for the health and safety of our community.

We look forward to getting to know you. Let us know if there are any ways we can help.

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