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06/25/2020 Update from Pastor Jim
Dear Journey Church,
I want to take a moment to let you know where we’re at in our plans to reopen and begin our public gatherings once again as a church. I want you to know that as an elder board and staff leadership team, we’ve continued to seek the Lord, gather information, and assess our situation. And while God has been very good to us throughout these crazy months, in many ways, this has been very difficult and exhausting for all of us. Churches, organizations, businesses, and our nation is in a real opportunity, and we are a world divided. We are divided about race, about police officers, about COVID-19, about face masks, and about politics. We know of several churches in our state or city that have opened and have already had to close again because people have attended their services and then tested positive for coronavirus days later. These kinds of situations have left pastors and church leaders around the country confused, exhausted, and discouraged.
You know that we’ve gone slow in our process of reopening. Slower than I like, for sure. But I also need to let you know that we also have people who are a part of this church who have tested positive for the coronavirus within the last week. Things really are quickly getting worse with this pandemic here in Tucson. For that reason we are thankful that we’ve taken the time in order to learn and understand infection rates, how this virus is spreading, and how best to move forward as a church. We also know that there are consequences to remaining locked down. So our plan is to move forward with reopening knowing that things are risky and difficult. We want to be wise, but we don’t want to be paralyzed. We want to start small and we want to start carefully. But in order to do this, we need to have a little talk.
You know as a church, it is in our DNA to protect and honor our most weak and vulnerable populations. So, instead of opening up for the strong and confident to come and be blessed, we’ve been working hard to figure out how we can open in a way that our elderly, our medically compromised, and our friends with special needs can safely attend. Those who are strong and healthy, who claim to be Christians, according to the teachings of Jesus, should defer to and prioritize the weak, the elderly, and vulnerable. Church isn’t only for the strong, but the strong should bear with the needs and concerns of the weak.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
What this means for us is this—As we navigate these times together, it is of utmost importance for each one of us to be reasonable, walk in humility, be a person of grace, be considerate, and have respect for others.
This is so important as we move forward, because members of our body have experienced these past few months in different ways. We have people who have caution fatigue or think that COVID is overblown or even a hoax, and people who are cautious or vulnerable or even deeply fearful that this virus could take out someone they love. Some of us have experienced annoyance and frustration and some real loss and deep isolation. So here’s the Christian way: if you consider yourself “strong” in the face of this pandemic, defer to your impacted brothers or sisters! Whether effects have been physical, medical, spiritual or emotional. This is not an issue of standing strong in the faith! This is not about trusting God for protection from the virus. This is about pleasing the Lord Jesus as we walk in wisdom and love for one another.
Service: We plan to begin meeting again on Sunday July 5, with one 9:00 am service. We plan a one hour abbreviated service that includes limited worship and singing.
Social Distancing: We have room for 100 people to attend with proper social distancing. We ask that all participants respect the CDC guidelines and allow for 6 feet of space between households.
Service Registration: We will be posting a registration form and asking everyone to RSVP to attend an in-person service.
We are happy to open up the opportunity to RSVP first to those with the greatest need for connection. Many in our body, including our Friends with special needs, singles, elderly, and others, have experienced difficulty connecting online, deep isolation or contraction of their limited social circles. Some have had to be extra cautious due to medical needs or difficulty social distancing. We are asking those less impacted and easily able to join us online to kindly wait 24 hours before completing the RSVP to ensure those most in need of the opportunity to gather have the opportunity to register first.
Ventilation: We will be keeping the doors of the auditorium open throughout the 1 hour service.
Sanitizing: We will have plenty of hand sanitizer on hand, and will thoroughly clean the campus between uses.
Masks: In alignment with Pima County guidelines we are requiring everyone who attends to wear a face covering.
Children: Kids ministry will continue to be online for at least the first month of services. Children are welcome to join in services with their parents and we will have worship kits available for them. Additional resources can be found weekly on the Journey Kids page of our website.
Students: Student ministry will continue to meet for small groups on Wednesday nights with options to join via zoom. Students are encouraged to join parents for Sunday morning services.
We look forward to all the ways God is going to use us, Journey Church, in bringing the gospel to our community and to our world.