Our children love to swim in a pool or the ocean, even when the water is frigid. If we would allow it, I’m convinced they would happily jump into a pool in January just to get the opportunity to swim. Many times we’ve taken them to a pool at the beginning (mid-May) or the end (mid-September) of the swim season, when the water temperature hovers around the seventy-five degree mark. They will play for a while, then come to me or their mother and say, “Please get in with us.” As they make their request, I’ll notice their quivering lips have turned a deep shade of blue. “Is the water cold?” I’ll ask. “N-n-n-no,” they’ll respond. “I-i-i-it’s j-j-j-just r-r-r-right.” 

The older I get, the less inclined I am to enter a pool in late spring or early fall. However, there are occasions that their incessant begging will tug at my heart strings. “Okay, I will get in,” I’ll say, “but you’ve got to give me a minute. I’m starting at the shallow end and slowly, very gradually working my way into the deeper water. You’ve got to give me some time. And no splashing. You splash me, and I’m getting out.”

Then, just as I promised, I’ll enter the pool and move at a snail’s pace, allowing the water to creep up roughly an inch a minute. Typically, by the time I’m fully immersed in the pool, my children are tired of playing and ready to go home. I have noticed that they’ve quit begging for me to swim with them quite as much as they once did.

I share this story for this reason: Since the beginning of the quarantine resulting from COVID-19, our leadership has determined to move very carefully and gradually toward in-person worship gatherings and on-campus ministry events. Like my wimpy entrance into the cool waters of the pool, we have taken very careful, prayerful, methodical steps in returning. We want to use the wisdom God has given us and consider all the facts instead of simply diving head-first into the deep end of the pool. 

However, we also have considered the spiritual needs of our congregation and community. We recognize that as a faith community, our walk with the Lord is strengthened through worship, prayer, and serving together. The last thing we want to do is to completely ignore our spiritual needs in order to protect our physical bodies. 

Navigating the path between these two poles has been a great challenge. Our Lead Ministry Team has spent hours discussing things like aerosolization, social distancing, the wearing of face masks, and other COVID-19 related topics. We have sought wisdom from the Lord and one another. We have tried to carefully examine these issues from every possible angle before making any decisions. 

To that end, we are tentatively planning on offering preschool programming (through 4K) beginning on August 2. Our staff is working on putting the proper protocols in place in order to offer a safe environment for our children and volunteers. As we move closer to that date, we will share more information with you on exactly how this will operate.

The decision to reopen our preschool programming first was made primarily for two reasons: 1) Current data indicates that the infection rate of young children is lower than any other segment of the population, and 2) This provision will enable many of our families who have been unable to attend worship for these months to worship with us. While an elementary age child might think it’s boring, most can sit through a worship service with their parents. Obviously it’s much more of a challenge for a three-year-old. 

Our other Next-Gen programming is currently under discussion and I expect decisions to be made soon on when and how those ministries will reopen.

As I’ve mentioned before in these updates, our leadership covets your prayers and support during these extremely challenging times. Through the struggles, we are resting in the fact that God is still in control. Although difficult to see now, I’m convinced we will one day look back on this pandemic and see how the Lord used it for our good and His glory. 

Thank you for your love and support, and I look forward to seeing you in worship soon!

Your Pastor,