Plans to Regather

by Steve Hatter on May 13, 2020

Dear Church Family,

As we livestreamed our Sunday morning worship service this past weekend, it marked eight weeks since we met together physically as a congregation. These have been difficult times for all of us, and it’s hard to contemplate the impact the virus event has had on us individually, as a church, and as a society. At the same time, we’ve seen God provide for our church so we can continue to worship and learn together despite the physical separations. We’ve also been challenged to think creatively about how to do ministry under unique circumstances. Our venture into livestreaming and blogging has revealed a broader influence that our church has for gospel ministry and has paved the way for more opportunities in the future. Throughout all of the challenges, God has been incredibly good to us!

As of May 8th, we’re beginning to see restrictions lifting at the state level. Under Phase 2 of Governor Dunleavy’s plan, there are opportunities to meet together again in larger groups. We’re praising God for this positive development while we prayerfully seek how best to move forward in wisdom and faithfulness.

Our intent is to discern how to meet together as a church in a way that inspires our faith and encourages our hearts, but also reasonably complies with the safety protocols mandated by the government, such as screening participants, maintaining social distance, and cleaning and disinfecting facilities. To do this, we're looking carefully at government communications, so we're up-to-date on all relevant rules and restrictions. As we move forward, we want to balance out gathering safely while still accomplishing our mission as a church. Of course, in everything, we want to operate in a way that manifests trust in the Lord and not give in to fear.

While we comply with mandated protocols, we also want to continue to preserve and even build upon the things we’ve been doing since we started our time of “hunkering down.” In particular, we want to continue to livestream our services even while we begin to meet together again, so the Word ministry we do here can have as wide an influence as possible.

God has blessed us with a robust facility, and we’re looking carefully at how we can leverage our building to maximize ministry opportunities while we cautiously move toward meeting together physically as a congregation. With the current restrictions under Phase 2, we’re limited to a maximum of 50 persons in the building at one time. With these limitations in place, we’re planning multiple services—three, back-to-back, with disinfecting time in between—as the best way to leverage the opportunity for up to fifty people in the building.

To make this happen, we will be diligent in following disinfecting protocols. But we’ll also need to set up a reservation system so we can ensure that we don’t go past that upper limit. We don’t want to turn anyone away, but we also want to submit to the safety mandates put out by our governing authorities. We appreciate your patience as we try to balance both of these things. The Lord is sovereign in all of this, and while we don’t expect this phase to last a long time, we simply don’t know how long it will be before that upper limit is expanded.

In all of this, we want to do things with excellence, creativity, wisdom, and care. That means walking before we run and testing ideas before we adopt them too quickly. As we test ideas, we’ll learn what works and what we need to change to best meet together under the current limitations.

With all these changes, we recognize how important it is for us to communicate with you as we implement ideas and changes. Our goal is to communicate clearly, and with intentionality, so you understand what's happening as plans unfold and when plans need to change. We also want you to know how important it is for you to communicate with us. Your feedback is critical as we try our best to develop ways to meet together while keeping everyone safe.

Finally, we want to emphasize a few things as we look forward to the future: First, please stay informed. Subscribe to Quick Connect, follow us on social media, and visit our website. We’ll work hard to communicate with you as plans develop or change, and these are our primary avenues to push communication out to the church body. And if you can’t find the answer you're looking for, you can always call the church office. Second, continue to pray, both for the church leadership and staff as we develop plans to bring all of us back together and for each other as we all adjust to ever-changing circumstances. Third, continue to give as the Lord enables you. The ministry we do at Anchorage Grace rests on the generosity of those who give faithfully to the work of the ministry. And finally, in the words of the apostle Paul, "Be patient with all" (1 Thess 5:14). Show each other lots of grace as we figure out how to be the church and meet as a church in circumstances we’ve never encountered before.

We're excited about what the future holds for Anchorage Grace Church. As we cautiously move ahead with plans to meet together again, we want to continue to hold fast to the truth, proclaim the gospel, and demonstrate Christ's love to one another.

In Christ,

Anchorage Grace Church Elders and Pastors

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