Summer is now well and truly upon us! Graduations have actually taken place this year and we want to congratulate Ethan Pang, Michael Ghiraduzzi and Zach Hernandez who managed to complete their high school studies in this strange school year. We wish them God’s richest blessing in the next episodes of their lives. Congratulations also go to Gianna Hernandez on her graduation from SF State!
It has been wonderful to resume our in-person services and to welcome some visitors who have joined us for the first time. If you have not felt safe enough to come I trust the increased numbers of the vaccinated will soon enable you to join us. In the middle of this month, on June 20th, our friends at St. Andrew will be resuming in-person services. We will of course once again need to be conscious of the need to consider the needs of both church families each Sunday.
I hope many of you will be able to take advantage of the gradual opening up of travel opportunities to take some vacation in the next few weeks. Maggie and I will be going away from June 21 until July 7th. As we have a surprise speaker on Father’s Day (June 20th) that means I will be out of the pulpit for three weeks. The first week (June 27th) Barney Wiget will be preaching and the second (July 4) we will be welcoming Kirk Davis once again to the pulpit. As our current series is taking us through the Big Story of the Bible I have asked them both to speak about their approaches to and love for the scripture.
Finally, I did want to say something about the fact that, as many of you have noticed, there are a significant number of people who have felt it right to leave our church family over the past year. This has left noticeable gaps in our worship and tech teams as well as healing, children and men’s ministries. Their reasons for this have been many but we want to be sure to bless them and pray for them as they seek new places of worship and opportunities for service. If there is someone you have noticed is missing I encourage you to make contact with them to make sure that important relationships are not lost.
Please be assured that our prayers are with you all for a healthy, restful, and joyful summer that will prepare us for all that is in store when we return in the Fall.
God’s richest blessing on you all,
Jonathan (For the Elders and Staff)
What a joy it has been for the past three Sundays to be able to worship together! If you have not joined us I hope that it will not be long before you feel safe enough to be with us. We are still making sure that we observe all the safety protocols, including; wearing masks and keeping socially distanced seating.
Paula Cahill’s unique gifting and warm personality have blessed our church family in so many ways over the past five years as she has served as an elder. However, everyone needs a break from such heavy responsibilities and she feels that now is the time to step down from the position on May 31st. Happily, she has made it quite clear that she intends to continue as an active participant in the life of our church for which we are extraordinarily grateful. I know we all would like to express our thanks for all she has done and wish her God’s richest blessing in the weeks to come. In the meantime please pray that, in His perfect timing, God will reveal people that He is calling to take on the task of eldership.
As I mentioned last month, there are still many opportunities for blessing (and service!) that make such a difference in our life together. We often talk about how our Heavenly Father has equipped each of us to play a crucial part in the life of His church body. That has never been more important than right now so I am asking each of you to pray about which of them you might be willing to try! Don’t worry if you have never done anything like it in the past or are not sure about your gifts, those are the circumstances in which God often does His most remarkable work. At the end of this letter, I have included the list I shared last month of opportunities along with a contact email for each area of ministry.
By the time you read this our wonderful Mothers Day weekend will be over but we will be anticipating our joint church workday on Saturday, May 15th. This is such an important time when we can share in the care of the building that God has so generously provided for our two churches. Then of course we are looking forward to the excitement of summer including the chance to get away to Kidder Creek! Don’t forget to register!
We are very conscious that there are a multitude of changes occurring in the life of our church family and we wanted to remind you all if that if you have questions or would like something clarified please do not hesitate to contact one of the elders or staff.
Together in His service
Jonathan (For the Elders and Staff)
Protocols for In-person Services beginning April 18 2021
Dear New Life Friends,
Today, April 18, we are excited to welcome you home to 1125 Terra Blvd for In-person services. Please remember that the safety of our church family must always be our first concern. We are well aware that the range of opinions about what should or should not be permitted is considerable.The scriptures call us to “love and prefer one another” (Roman12:10 and
1 John 4:7) and so we are asking that we all take care to observe these protocols and follow all posted signs regardless of your opinions so everyone who attends will feel safe.
- Masks will be worn at all times by all except for those speaking or leading worship who will be permitted to remove masks while they are fulfilling these tasks.
- Windows and doors will remain open except in extreme weather conditions.
- People will be asked to maintain social distance for people not in their “household group” at all times.
- Enter the sanctuary by right-hand side door and exit by left. This is both from the outside and into the sanctuary.
- Please do not bring any food or drink into the building.
- Everyone will use the automatic hand sanitizer at the entrance to the sanctuary.
- Entrance will be by the right side aisle and exit by the left and people will be asked to maintain six foot distances both as they enter and as they leave.
- Seating will be in the central part of the sanctuary. Every third seat will be removed to ensure distance between seating groups. Seats will be grouped in twos and threes but family groups will be permitted to move seats to accommodate larger family groups as appropriate.
- Singing while masked will be permitted. Pew bibles will not be distributed.
- Only one person will be permitted to use the bathroom at the time. Door handle should be wiped on exit.
- Following the service coffee and cookies will be served in the olive garden.
- Following the service chairs will be misted and handles wiped down before leaving and locking up the building.
We recognize that there may be adjustments in these requirements as time proceeds so please keep a flexible and loving attitude at all times so we can continue to move forward together
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has been tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, please worship with us online. Sunday service will be posted shortly after the in-person service on our Facebook page.
March 9, 2021:
February is over and we are well into March and at first glance not much seems to have changed since we last wrote to you. But in reality, just below the surface there are some wonderful signs of hope. We are no longer in the purple tier and the red tier brings us one step closer to the time when we will be able to gather in our sanctuary once more. The increasing numbers of those who have received the vaccine also indicate that we are making real progress towards being able to gather safely again.
Although we are not in the “orange tier” yet we have made the decision to have an in-person service outdoors in the olive grove on Easter Sunday. We will be wearing masks and maintaining all the protocols of social distancing and no hugging but it is going to be such a blessing to be together on this extra special Sunday.
St. Andrew are also planning to have their Easter celebration in the olive grove so we are working together to make the transition as easy as possible. We will also be holding our Easter children’s ministry in-person in the beautiful area at the back of the fellowship hall. In addition, we are planning some special treats so we can spend some fellowship time together after the service as safely as possible. We will certainly not allow Easter Saturday to pass without decorating our floral cross. Pastor and Maggie will be doing the decorating but we need everyone to bring flowers from their gardens or purchased to ensure the unique appearance of the cross once again this year.
Of course, re-opening plans are uppermost on the agenda of so many of our meetings and we will certainly be thinking carefully about how we move forward after Easter. In the meantime, we continue to have regular children’s events in the parking lot that are proving to be wonderful gathering times for not just children but families as well. We have begun regular worship and prayer times on the first Friday of the month which have proved to be such a blessing. If you have yet to join one of these events make a note in your calendar you won’t regret it! The men have been able to have in-person breakfasts in the olive grove and the ladies are enjoying a wonderful study on the life of Elijah. The Tuesday Growth Group plans to host an opportunity for us to paint together on March 21 so make sure you are registered for that.
As we anticipate the joy of celebrating Easter together please continue to take every opportunity to connect and communicate with each other in creative ways, and once again keep loving each other well.
In the continuing abundance of God’s Grace,
On behalf of the Staff and Elders
February 1, 2021:
As we approach the end of January, once again time seems to rush relentlessly past us. As we promised, we wanted to update you on plans for the time when we will be able to meet together again in our sanctuary.
It was good to hear just last week that the “stay at home” order had been lifted, but we remain in the purple tier. In our November letter, we explained that after much discussion we reached the conclusion that we would wait until we are in the “orange tier” for a month before beginning reopening plans. The subject remains on the agenda for almost every staff and Elders meeting and we continue, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to feel that this is the right position for us.
We know that one of the most urgent needs felt amongst us is the need for fellowship so we plan to recommence our in-person fellowship on the first Sunday of the month weather permitting. In addition to being able to meet “mask to mask” we are planning to include communion at that in-person gathering.
As we continue to prepare, we are purchasing materials, including items like two automatic sanitizer dispensers, so we are ready when the time comes. As a result of a very generous gift, we are planning a significant upgrade to our audio/visual equipment to ensure our ability to maintain the quality of our online offering. This will enable us to continue reaching out to our online congregation in the months to come.
Each Friday during our 21 days of prayer and fasting, we experimented with prayer and worship gatherings on Zoom. Many expressed how much they enjoyed that time and sensed the presence of the Spirit strongly amongst us despite being on Zoom. We will continue worship and prayer nights once a month over Zoom.
The private Facebook group proved to be a real blessing so please continue to connect as a community. It is a great place to share things that bless us to encourage each other. Recently, we had a game night hosted by the Thursday Growth Group. It was so much fun and there were prizes! Other groups are now planning to host other social activities. Contact LiLing (firstname.lastname@example.org) to check out a growth group.
Please be assured that plans to gather again are never far from any of our minds. Every comment and suggestion is given careful thought so please keep communicating, keep experimenting, and above all keep loving each other well.
In the abundance of God’s Grace,
On Behalf of the Staff and Elders
November 20, 2020:
Following the ‘What’s Working and What’s Not’ zoom gatherings, the leadership (pastor, staff, and elders) has spent much time in discussion and prayer about our way forward. We have decided on a three-part strategy for the immediate future:
1) We all long to be back together for in-person services however, we believe it will not be safe to return in 2020. In the New Year, we will be closely monitoring the recommendations of health authorities and when we have been in the “orange tier” for a month, we will begin making plans to return to the sanctuary. In January 2021, we will be sending out a monthly letter to keep you up to date.
2) To encourage spiritual growth and the development of deep relationships, we will continue to focus on our small group strategy: Growth Group Information Here
3) Recognizing the importance of personal contact, we continue to encourage creativity in providing opportunities to meet in person in a safe and healthy way.