Hello LCAH community!
As the calendar turns to June, many of us have started preparing for the unique rhythms of summer life. You may be wondering, especially in light of the most recent order given by our governor and news that some churches have begun resuming in-person gatherings, how we as a church are planning for the coming months. We wanted to share with you some of the conversations we’ve been having as a staff about what we are currently doing as a church and what reopening for us might look like.
There are several key principles that have guided our decision making. First and foremost, we reflected on our mission to make disciples in Auburn Hills that will make disciples of all nations. While many of us miss the feeling of connection that comes with in-person gatherings, we thank God for the ways that mission has continued. We’ve creatively cared for vulnerable members of our community through My Covid Response and individual acts of compassion for our neighbors. We’ve hosted critical conversations on race and faith during our Lunchtime Conversations that have led to new action for the sake of racial justice. So many of you gather each week to encourage and challenge one another in a Community Group–and often the virtual format enables people to participate in these groups who normally would not be able to. We are proud of the ways our church has responded to this crisis and continued the mission!
A second key principle is prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable among us. The apostle Paul guided the church in Corinth to be careful that “the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to those who are weaker” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Some of us feel the freedom at this moment to begin resuming “normal” life because we perceive the risks to be quite low for us and our families. Others of us feel a continued threat from the virus, oftentimes because we have experienced first hand the cost of losing loved ones to COVID-19. In short, when it comes to the gradual resumption of gathering as a church community, we want to prioritize the safety and care for those among us who are most vulnerable.
As Executive Pastor Yang Chen shared on Sunday, that has led us to begin planning for a phased approach to physical gathering, while also adhering to the recommendations from our state officials.
Practically, that means we intend to continue to prioritize virtual gathering and loving our neighbors by:
- Continuing with our current schedule of virtual gatherings and services for the time being. That includes a virtual Sunday worship service, Tuesday and Thursday prayer meetings, Lunchtime conversations, and other community events like our bi-weekly game nights.
- Continuing to meet virtually as Community Groups. Even as some restrictions around physical gathering are relaxed, we have found that a virtual gathering creates opportunities for increased participation and that our technology facilitates meaningful connection.
- Encouraging you to find creative ways to serve your neighbors, especially those who are most vulnerable. One excellent opportunity is to volunteer with and/or financially support the My Covid Response effort.
In the coming weeks and months, we also anticipate opportunities for physical gathering in the following ways:
- We plan to host an outdoor worship service on Sunday July 19th in the Avondale High School parking lot. More details will be forthcoming!
- We will begin considering ways to facilitate gathering in small groups (in adherence with social distancing guidelines) in the coming weeks, assuming we do not witness an increase in cases as restrictions begin to relax. That may look like a “parking lot” meet-up, outdoor BBQ, home-based Community Groups, etc.
- While it is our hope to resume in-person Sunday worship gatherings in the fall, a key factor will be whether we are able to meet at Auburn Elementary, due to restrictions on rentals many schools are implementing. Since we don’t own our own space, we face the added challenge of securing a facility that would accommodate our needs and enable the kinds of precautions that would ensure safety. Our first choice would be resuming gatherings at Auburn Elementary. We will send further updates as we hear more from the school this summer.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this update and we hope that it provides some clarity on where we believe God has been leading us. While it is true that this season has created unique opportunities to witness to the love and compassion of Jesus in our communities, we want to acknowledge how hard these months have been. We feel sad thinking about the moments of community that have been lost because of the pandemic, and know that physical distancing has taken a toll on many of you. Yet we remain hopeful: thankful for the technology that has enabled us to remain connected, to worship together, laugh together, and serve together. And we are thankful each morning for the gift of life itself — God is with you, God is for you, and God will see us through this valley.
We love you all,