Dear Northway Church,

I recently met with our entire church staff via Zoom and posed the following question: “How often are church members asking you about our plan to reopen?” The answer given was, “Only every single time I talk with church member.” I get it. We look around and see that restaurants have opened, beauty salons have opened, even tattoo parlors have opened. Naturally, many are asking, “Then why hasn’t the church opened for worship gatherings?”

As our Lead Ministry Team met this past week, this was exactly the question we discussed. After much prayer and deliberation, we decided that it’s still too early to schedule a reopen date. Although businesses are beginning to open their doors and (thankfully) many are returning to work, we are not yet ready to announce a firm reopen date for several reasons: 

  1. It is much easier to enforce protocols for social distancing when you are managing a few workers and clients or patrons in a business. It’s much more of a challenge to do this with several hundred individuals gathering in a building for worship.
  2. Our desire is to follow the state, local, and federal guidelines on large gatherings. We want to honor our leaders and those whom God has placed in positions of authority (Romans 13:1-5). Getting exact guidelines for churches has been a challenge, which is one of the reasons you’ve seen some churches beginning to meet while others haven’t.
  3. This has been an ever-evolving environment. As I write these words, we are in the tenth week of this crisis. Remember when we were told that we needed to stay at home for only two weeks? That time was extended, then extended again. While I would love to circle a Sunday on our calendar and announce to everyone that we would meet again on that date, there is a chance that we would be forced to reverse course.

Even though we aren’t opening for physical worship gatherings yet, we are putting in place a plan for when that date does arrive. As more information becomes available, we will share the details of this plan with you. For now, here is a broad overview of what you can expect when we are able to meet again: 

Northway Worship Gathering

  • We will ask all who wish to attend worship to register online. We will have a limited number of spaces available, and this online registration will allow us to meet with the proper social-distancing protocols in place.
  • Those who register will receive a email with a confirmation ticket and will be asked to show this at the door when you arrive for worship. You may either print this ticket out or simply show it on your phone. 
  • All who attend the service will be required to wear a mask. If they do not have one, we will provide one for them when they arrive. 
  • Everyone who enters the building will have their temperature taken via a non-contact thermometer. Anyone with a fever will be asked to return home. 
  • All who attend will be asked to keep an appropriate amount of distance between them and any other non-family members. Members of the same household are welcome to sit next to one another in worship.
  • There will be no childcare, Next-Gen programming, or Connection Classes meeting on campus. We will meet for worship only. 
  • We will continue to offer online worship on both Facebook and Vimeo. We strongly encourage those with preschoolers and those who are in the “vulnerable” category to utilize this worship venue until we return to a more normal state. 

I realize that for some of you, these sound like extreme measures. For others, you are wondering why we are considering meeting at all. Please know that our staff and leadership are working toward a plan that will allow us to meet while protecting you and our community. 

We anticipate being able to give a target date in the next couple of weeks. At that time, we will share more details of how you may participate in worship as well as changes being made to our campus to protect worshippers in our post-COVID world.

In the meantime, we are encouraging our FE groups and Home Teams to begin meeting as you are able and comfortable. While most groups are continuing to meet online, some are gathering together in outdoor venues. Please know that you may use our parking lot or the patio at Cathedral Coffee to gather with your group. 

Finally, I want to thank you for your support, encouragement, and prayers during this time. Lacking both a crystal ball and the wisdom of Solomon, I really appreciate the prayers for guidance as many so decisions are being made. 

I miss you, my church family, very much and look forward to gathering with you again soon!

Your Pastor,