In March, the congregation suspended all in-person gatherings. This decision was made by the CMR elders in light of national and local leadership and consultation with our COVID-19 task force and ministry staff. This was not done out of fear or panic, but as part of our Christian service to our fellowship and our community to help prevent spread of a virus that is targeting so many.
Since then we have learned to live in a “new normal” that has challenged us with continued change. As new guidance comes from government and medical organizations, the COVID-19 task force has met regularly to review and update their recommendations for the congregation.
You can read their recommendations as we continue our online worship and begin to implement small-group gatherings.asd
Update from the COVID-19 Task Force
First - and we cannot express it enough - thank you for the amazing ways you continue to respond with faith, grace, and commitment in these challenging times. We have been truly amazed at the ways the Cole Mill Road family is remaining a connected and faithful community through this year. You have been prayerful, creative, adaptive, and resilient. All of those qualities have helped us remain rooted & grounded in God’s love against the backdrop of a very topsy-turvy year.
As more parts of our community begin to open up, we know many of us are eager to begin resuming in-person gatherings as part of our life and ministry together. This e-mail is notify you of the next steps we’re taking in that direction.
As you know, we’ve been doing our best as a church to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of COVID-19’s presence in our communities. The COVID-19 Task Force is a group of dedicated volunteers, many from a medical or research background, who have been asked to help us negotiate this as a community of faith.
As we’ve continued on this unexpected challenge, we’ve come upon a few guiding principles:
- In order to live out Christ’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves, we want to continue following the guidance of state and local health officials -- erring on the cautious and conservative ends of their recommendations.
- In order to live out Christ’s call to love one another, we want to hold out the values of staying in relationship with one another AND keeping one another safe. We recognize that holding both of these values right now creates tension, and we are doing our best to manage.
- In order to live out Christ’s call to remain unified together under God's love, we want to be aware of and cautious about anything that may further divide the ability of all God’s people to share life and ministry together. We’re now having to consider different horizons of division than we were pre-COVID - such as digital access, health background, access to childcare, and more.
- In order to live out Christ’s call to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we want to remain committed to keeping corporate worship at the center of our life together.There are many challenges to do this under the current conditions, and we appreciate your continued flexibility, support, and patience.
In keeping with these commitments, and in light of the state moving to Phase 2.5 of the response to COVID-19, we’ve recommend that our ministry leaders begin thinking about and working to implement outdoor, in-person gatherings across CMR ministries.
In so doing, we've asked them to seriously consider the following guidelines and recommendations:
- Please honor the state’s outdoor in-person gathering limits (50 under Phase 2.5). We also encourage that you stay on the conservative and cautious side of that limit.
- Please encourage and enforce wearing masks and social distancing at all CMR ministry events.
- Please adopt a “both/and” approach to offering in-person and digital opportunities for connection in your ministry. For instance, if your Care Group is already meeting digitally, please don’t abandon that meeting for an in-person meeting. Those transitions may happen over time, but we want to keep both digital and in-person options open for now.
- If you’d like to use an outdoor space on the church property, please contact Pam Dolejs and Natalie Beyer to schedule the usage.
- For use of CMR buildings, we ask that you still follow the policies laid out by John Shoun (facilities ministry leader) & Natalie Beyer (fellowship ministry leader) in an August 18, 2020 e-mail titled "Church Building Usage During COVID-19" (read building guidelines here)
- Please be conscious of the complex and highly-charged emotional reactions and responses of our congregation. We want to encourage all CMR members to exercise their best personal judgment in making decisions about their safety and the safety of their family. In all of your ministry communication, please do your best to speak to any who might be feeling guilty or pressured to make decisions that betray their personal commitments to staying safe. Also, please embody and encourage respect for those who may make decisions different from those we are making.
- If there is a way for you to let people know in advance who will be attending your in-person events, please do so. This may help some people feel more confident in making decisions.
We also know a lot of individuals and families are finding ways to connect with one another in “unofficial” and informal ways. This is wonderful and encouraged. We only ask all CMR members to consider that everyone’s comfort level with such gatherings are different, and to honor those perspectives which differ from our own.
To those who are not comfortable with the risks of in-person gatherings right now and want to continue to utilize on-line ministry resource exclusively: we hear you. On-line worship and care group meetings are not going anywhere.
As always, we welcome your feedback, questions, concerns, and affirmations. We are here to serve you as we all seek to serve God together.
The CMR COVID-19 Task Force,
John Beyer, Ben Fike, Carol Garth, Bethany Gray, Wayne Massey, & Caroline Smith