Miss you and praying for you!
We found out just this week that the Governor Mifflin Middle School will most likely not be available to us for some time.
Many of you have had your eyes open looking out for possible alternative locations for us to meet if that was the case. Thank you all so much for carrying the church on your heart like that. You are a blessing, and your heart for Jesus and His people is very glorifying to God!
After much prayer, along with getting counsel from the deacons, care group leaders, assistant care group leaders, and wives, John and I along with the pastors in training believe that the Fairview Christian School in the south side of the city of Reading is the best option to pursue for reopening, and we are planning to have our reopening service at 3PM on June 21 at the Fairview Christian School in the gymnasium (410 S. 14th St. Reading, PA 19602.)
Luis Cintron very kindly reached out to Fairview to see if that would be an option, and we are happy that they were willing to allow us to meet there. Thank you Luis for your doing this! Dale and Darla Martin's children attend the school, and Luis and Jason likewise have contacts there, and they are willing to allow us to rent the school at less cost than our rent at GMMS. It will have air conditioning, and will be able to accomodate our church size. The 3PM start time is due to a current construction project. It may be that we will be able to meet there at 10AM later this summer after their project is complete. We are going to do a walk-through Lord willing next week to get a feel for how we can best utilize the facility for our church family. Parking accommodations we believe will be sufficient for us, and we will give you more details on that as soon as we can.
We had considered other leasing options, but the ones looked at were much more expensive, and we also explored the idea proposed by a number of you, of having an outdoor service at the church house. This would have given us the benefit from the open air, and we researched tents in case we would have had a tent meeting there. That would be fun, and who knows, we may need to do that at a future date, but we thought that the benefits of an indoor service with air conditioning secured a stable location for us in case of extremely hot or rainy weather, and provides us with a possible option for the fall if the Governor Mifflin Middle School does not open up for us by then.
We are looking at the Fairview Christian School as a temporary location for us. It may be that we need to move again at some point in the near future. So our mindset initially is to stay there temporarily, and to continue to pray for best options for us going forward.
In addition to having the public service on June 21, at 3PM at the Fairview Christian School, we are aiming to continue our livestream and/or recording of our service, in order to serve those in our church who are unable or not yet comfortable with publicly meeting on June 21. If that is you, please know that you are very much loved and respected, and we will look forward to being with you when you are ready!
For the rest of us, we are excited to meet again, but just as shopping at the supermarket or Lowes/Home Depot is unusual during this season of social distancing with the virus and the wearing of masks etc, our church gatherings will feel a little different as well. In our meetings as a local church, we are aiming to operate with respect toward the CDC guidelines that have been given. Flowing out from the CDC suggestions, we developed the guidelines attached below for our church after getting much counsel from other local churches in our area as well as throughout the NE region for Sovereign Grace Churches. Special thanks to John for creating those documents, and to Ethan who helped him. We will keep our eye on changes in regards to the CDC, but as we begin to gather again in person with care groups and Sunday worship, we are going to aim to walk with respect to these suggestions for the good of the whole church. In addition to the attached documents below, please also read this post, which is an interim guide from the CDC for churches: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/faith-based.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fphp%2Ffaith-based.html
We recognize that some of these guidelines represent hindrances to our normal way of interacting with each other, and that is hard. We genuinely sympathize with any of you who are saddened and/or frustrated with the restrictions. We are aiming to do all we can to look out for your health and the health of your loved ones, and will monitor updates closely with the hope and prayer that we can return to normal again soon. As a local church, we also have liability concerns for any meeting we have officially as a church, both during our Sunday worship and smaller group gatherings like care group. We trust the Lord in all these things, and also want to be able to say that we complied with our church policies in all of our meetings, out of respect for and honor toward the government in accordance with Romans 13 and out of a desire to look out for the health of everyone in our church. We understand that in this current season these policies may make it difficult for some to participate in public meetings, and that is why we are aiming to make care groups and sunday meetings accessible virtually as well.
Change can be hard for all of us by nature, so please feel free to reach out to John and I over any questions you have concerning all of this, for yourself or others. We love you, and are here to process all of this together with you. These are unusual times, but our Lord Jesus is with us church! May we never forget that, and let us fix our eyes on Him, for he died for us and is risen! Pray that God would really bless our church in Christ during this next season. I'm looking forward to worshiping Christ together with you all in person soon!
With much love in Christ,
Alos, please see attached PDF
for Guideline Letter