Hope's Ministry Plans & COVID-19 Update - July 31st, 2020
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Hope Ministry Plans and COVID-19 Update
July 31st, 2020
Dear Members and Friends of Hope -
How are you? Unbelievably, it’s been almost five months since we’ve gathered in person for worship together. So much of life is not what we imagined it would be this year and there is much reason to think and feel all kinds of thoughts and emotions in this time of upheaval. I invite you to pray with me the prayer of David: “I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands; Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.” (Psalm 31:14-15a, 16) Isn’t that great news? No matter how unpredictable life becomes, our times are in His strong and loving hands - God’s unfailing love is with you and me even and especially now!
I am writing to share an update regarding our plans for the Hope ministry for the next three months as we continue to navigate life with COVID-19. There is a lot to think about and there is no plan or playbook - governments, churches, schools, businesses, families, and individuals are all figuring this out as we go. At Hope there are a variety of factors that have been considered in making plans for the future:
Facts of the Current COVID-19 Situation in King County:
- The rate of new infections in King County continues to be at 150-200 new infections per day - some of the highest since the pandemic began.
- While churches and other public venues are allowed to open for events in King County at this time, there is significant inconsistency in terms of what is considered “safe” from one sector of society to another - this ultimately creates confusion and makes it difficult to achieve clarity on decisions of whether, when, and how to re-open.
- It is widely acknowledged that gathering large groups indoors for extended periods of time is the best possible way to encourage transmission of COVID-19.
- Governor Inslee has paused all further progress of re-opening across Washington state and re-instated some restrictions in an effort to curb the sustained higher number of infections.
July Congregational Survey:
Over 100 people completed this survey.
- 59 % said they would attend an outdoor worship service, 41 % said they would not.
- 44 % said they would attend an indoor worship service, 56 % said they would not.
- 52 % said they would attend an online Zoom gathering with small group discussion.
- 34 % said they would attend an in-person small group gathering with two to three other households.
- 80 % had watched one or more online Hope video worship services.
- The thing about regular pre-pandemic Hope life that people said they miss most is seeing other people.
- Significant interest in digital spiritual growth content was indicated.
- When asked to rate how they are doing on a scale of 1 to 100 in the midst of the change and upheaval of COVID-19, the average response was 62.
Hope Leadership Consensus
Hope’s Board of Directors, Board of Elders, Church Staff and I have all prayerfully discussed the various factors of the current situation. Even though this time is surreal, we deeply believe that God is alive and well and that He is calling us to serve Him in new and creative ways in this time. We are filled with hope in Jesus as we step out into this new frontier and share the following plans for Hope’s ministry:
- The current plan is that Hope will not resume in-person worship services until at least the end of October, but will continue to evaluate the situation monthly and make adjustments as the situation develops. This has not been an easy decision to make, but it is made out of love for the members and friends of Hope in order to maximize the health and safety of our people.
- Beginning in mid-September, online video worship services will be hosted at specific times with a live interactive chat feature, and some or all services will be streamed live from the sanctuary. Recordings of all services will still be available on the Hope website for viewing on-demand at any time after Sunday morning. We are also working on recording a number of hymns with the organ for those who typically have attended our traditional service.
- Given that the thing people miss most is seeing each other, we are going to work hard on creating opportunities for interaction with other Hope people:
- We will be strongly encouraging you to join an online Zoom small group for personal connection, study of God’s word, and prayer.
- We will be creating a variety of other interactive and live online events.
- For those who feel comfortable doing so, some households may choose to gather with one or two other households in a socially-distanced way for conversation, Bible study, and prayer.
- Our Board of Elders and staff will continue to pursue relationship with members and friends of Hope via phone, text, and email. If you would like a call from an elder or staff person, please contact the church office to let us know. If there’s any other way we can assist or encourage you at this time, please let us know.
- We are working on plans to involve more people in the online worship services to provide greater connection with a larger number of people in the congregation.
- We are working on a plan to provide technology to the small number of people who do not currently have access to our online worship services.
- We are working on creating a plan to expand opportunities for Hope members and friends to serve others in need in a variety of ways.
- Our youth ministry will offer some very small outdoor groups for middle school and high school youth beginning in September, while also continuing online youth events.
- You are invited to a special outdoor drive-through event in the lower parking lot called “Hope See and Be Seen” - there will be live worship music, a few surprises, and a number of Hope staff waiting to greet and encourage you, and hopefully bring a smile to your face and some encouragement for your soul as you drive through the Lowers to experience a little bit of socially distanced “Hope”. This event will take place Thursday August 20th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm and you will be required to sign up for a particular time in advance on the church website in order to help us manage traffic well.
I understand if you may be discouraged by some of these changes to the methods of how the Hope ministry works at this time - I am too! The good news is that while the methods can change, the message of our faithful God who loves us in Jesus will never change! In many ways, we are in a season similar to that of the early church when they met in primarily smaller groups in people’s homes. The Spirit of God is working through His word and through His people, even when we are not gathered as a large group inside the church building. This is a season for us to be the people of God, distributed in our community, to receive His love and shine His light in the darkness!
Things are different than they used to be - but Jesus Christ is the same - yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8) May we cling to Him in faith and trust that He will keep us strong!
In His Strength and Peace,