An Update on Cornerstone and COVID
The year 2020 has been the longest five years in history, or so the joke goes. COVID, however, for all the humor we encourage one another to see in inconveniences of the pandemic, is no laughing matter. Cornerstone has attempted to respond with appropriate sensitivity to the personal and community needs presented in this time of global concern. We have also kept our spiritual eyes and ears open to the Spirit of God and to the word of God. These are two factors upon which the very nature and existence of the church in the world depends.
Cornerstone has stepped up to the changing ministry scene by promoting online worship services and other digital ministry opportunities. But we have also pondered carefully what it means for the very soul of the church when the Body, meant to be fully integrated and interacting, is forced into extended isolation and segregation. We have considered God’s admonition that we should not lightly nor easily give up meeting together. We have endured in good faith the early tracking and control measures requested by the medical and social experts. But now, there is another call, a call for togetherness, a call for integration, a call for connectedness, a call for relationship that we can no longer simply set aside in hopes that someday some earthly authority will tell us what we should be and do next. We hear the call to faith and faithfulness as well as the call to avoid presumption and arrogance.
Six weeks ago we gathered a committee of interested and informed Cornerstone family members and asked them to consider all the current CDC, MDH, local and state government documents related to developing a regathering plan for Cornerstone. The members of that committee are John and Laurie Hill, Pat and Tracy Scully, Tom Fleming, Jim Chupurdia, Micah Avery, and Jim Mattson. They began with a draft plan written by Micah Avery that the elders had requested of him. The plan was then supplemented by ideas from the rest of the committee, Pastor Dale, and elder John Hay.
The current regathering plan includes protocols recommendations for personal masks, social distancing, facility sanitizing, hand washing/sanitizing, as well as procedures for contact tracing, should that ever be necessary. It includes recommendations for the physical layout of seating in the sanctuary and the use of non-critical space within the building. It includes recommendations for small group meetings within the facility and for food service. A commitment to understanding and adopting state and local “best practices” to the best of our corporate ability is included in the plan. The plan also includes a keen consideration for the biblical, theological, spiritual nature of the church itself.
Under this plan, which we will forward to those Cornerstone family members whose email addresses we have on file, we are projecting a return to the sanctuary worship service on Sunday November 29, 2020 at 10:30 AM. We will continue the online broadcast as an additional ministry of Cornerstone. We have invested in a consultation with an audio/video professional to address technical concerns that have become evident over the last few months (especially sound production and broadcast volume inconsistency.) We realize that broadcast and digital ministry is a new mission field the church cannot ignore. We are doing what we can with the personnel and resources we have to respond with the level of excellence we are able to reach.
Cornerstone’s leaders, in conjunction with the members of the Regathering Committee, will pay close attention to the course COVID-19 takes in our community. While we plan, if the Lord wills, to return to onsite worship on November 29, we are not throwing caution to the wind. Should it become clear that standard procedures are insufficient for congregation or community safety, we will return to online services until those procedures can once again be depended upon to meet expectations.
The church of Jesus Christ lives by faith and not in fear. We have a plan not because we are afraid of viruses or human authorities, but because we are constrained by love to respond to the challenges of our social context by loving God first and foremost, and then by loving others as ourselves. We are committed, as Christ has loved us, to love one another, for by our love for one another, the world will know we belong to Him.