March 9, 2021:
Dear New Life Friends,
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:
Dear Church Family,
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.