Due to the challenges of COVID-19 in our community, we are suspending our Saturday night worship for at least the next four weeks. We will still have “in-person” worship on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. Online worship will again be available on both Saturday and Sunday.
If you are coming to “in-person” worship on Sunday mornings, we want to encourage you to wear a mask. Please, please wear a mask. We are not requiring it. However, we want attending to feel and be safe for everyone.
The “mask issue” is causing division in churches. It has become a source of hostility and self-righteousness. We are hearing stories from church leaders who are being criticized for “not doing it” or “for doing it.” Let’s not make this an issue at Seven Rivers. We encourage you to let the gospel have its way with you.
On June 6th and 7th we will begin offering public, in-person services again for the first time in 12 weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has swept through our world. These have been extraordinary, unprecedented times, but you have risen to the occasion by trusting God and loving your neighbors. You have engaged faithfully and joyfully with online worship to a degree beyond what anyone anticipated. And you have continued to give generously and sacrificially to the mission. On behalf of all the staff, elders, deacons, and leaders of the church, thank you.
We know that there may still be difficult days ahead, and no one knows the future except God, but with the support of government officials and health experts, in conjunction with other sectors of our society, and after much prayer and planning, we believe it is time to move forward with reopening. Our hope is that through gradual phases we will return to a new normal concurrently with the beginning of school in August.
We want to reaffirm that anyone should feel complete freedom to continue online worship with no stigma attached. Sanctuary worship is not to be regarded as more faithful or obedient behavior; in fact, the decision to stay home may be the wise choice for many. Virtual worship will continue indefinitely, but it will not be available until Sunday mornings because the preaching will be recorded at the Saturday night service. If you are 65 and older, you are not forbidden to attend, we just want you to be particularly careful and we want to support your caution until you feel confident about returning. Special care will be taken to provide a safe environment for our children.
- May 2020 (Phase 1) – Online worship only. The church office will reopen on Monday, May 11.
- June 2020 (Phase 2) – On June 6/7, we will resume sanctuary worship and continue online worship. Nurseries and children’s church will resume with special precautions for maximum health and hygiene. Our target number for sanctuary worship is 200-300 people per service (20-30% of capacity). Those 65 and older, those with compromised immunity or other health issues and those who are uncomfortable attending for any reason are strongly encouraged to continue worshiping online. During this slow on-ramp toward “normalcy,” congregants should feel free to continue online worship with no stigma attached. Sanctuary worship isn’t to be regarded as more faithful or obedient behavior, in fact, the choice to stay home may be the wise and obedient choice for many.
- July 2020 (Phase 3) – Continue both sanctuary worship and online worship. The target attendance for sanctuary worship will be 300-350 per service. The Summer Bible Conference in July has been canceled. Camp Seven Rivers has also been cancelled.
- August 2020 — With the onset of school, we will welcome back all who wish to attend on weekends. Online worship will continue indefinitely for those who cannot yet safely attend.
Finally, a word about mask wearing. Unfortunately, like too many things, the decision to wear or not wear a mask in public has become politicized and a source of division. Current CDC guidelines encourage the use of a mask when social distancing is not possible, but your decision whether to wear one in worship remains a matter of personal choice that at this time we will not mandate. If you want to wear a mask then please feel free to do so.
If you have any questions or concerns, in a spirit of unity and love, please call the church office and one of us will be glad to speak with you.
We are looking forward optimistically to what God has in store for Seven Rivers Church in the coming months.
The SRC Pastoral Team