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The church isn't an organization or a building. The church is a family—God’s family, filled with redeemed sinners that are now his children because of Jesus.
Just like a vine grows best with a good trellis, our church family grows best with good programs. Our programs and ministries are tailored to support the community and mission God has given us.
It has now been thirteen weeks since we last gathered together to worship in person. No matter how much time goes by, we still aren’t used to the experience of “virtual” worship. It’s just not the same, and we continue to grieve our physical separation with you. Still, worshipping together via live-stream is the best alternative at the moment and we are thankful to God for the technology and ability to do it.
As churches around the country begin to gather in person again we know that the question looms large: When will we be able to gather again in person on a Sunday morning? Our short answer is: We do not have an exact date yet. But we are currently working, planning, and preparing for the time when we will begin gathering in person again in a limited way. And we hope to begin doing so by the end of the summer.
In the meantime, we want to provide you with an update on our thinking so you can be informed, and to ask you to keep praying for wisdom as we navigate this unique moment.
First, we want to share the practical priorities we are working from.
We believe that in-person corporate worship is an extremely important part of nurturing our relationship with God (Heb 10:25, Eph 5:19). As such, we also believe that gathering together via live-stream is a necessary, but not sufficient or sustainable, replacement for our corporate gatherings. Therefore, we desire to gather together in-person as soon as we can.
We also believe that it is our responsibility, in love for one another, to care for and protect one another physically—especially those who are particularly vulnerable (Eph 2:3-5). Therefore, we desire to be appropriately cautious in our gathering in a way that reflects the best research and recommendations available to us, in order to not carelessly spread this very contagious disease.
We also believe that it is our duty, as citizens of a particular country, state, county, and city, to submit to the restrictions placed on us by those God-given authorities (to the best of our understanding), unless those restrictions require us to sin or neglect our commitment to God (Rom 13:1-5). We believe this is not only the most God-honoring course of action for all citizens, but it also is an important component of our uniquely Christian witness.
Unique Factors for Our Church Family
While these priorities are being applied across the country by countless churches in their own unique contexts, there are a number of factors unique to us (Cornerstone WLA) that are shaping our plan as we move forward.
The State of the Pandemic in LA County
LA County has been hit especially hard by Covid-19, especially in comparison with other parts of the country, and even other parts of the state. As such, we expect to hear about many other churches in other locations that are gathering together in person long before it is wise for us to do the same.
Our Multi-Lingual Church Family
One of the unique dynamics at play in our return to in-person corporate gathering is that we are preparing for three separate gatherings in order to facilitate the worship of the three language groups that make up our church family. This includes procedures for in-person worship in all three languages as well as maintaining the ability to live-stream in all three languages in two separate locations.
Our Multi-Generational Church Family
Our church family is also diverse generationally. Given that this disease disproportionally impacts the older members of our community, we are also seeking to put in place a plan that does not marginalize the older members of our family but facilitates their engagement with us in ways that are safe, wise, and loving.
As you may remember, prior to the pandemic we were in the process of renovating the sanctuary as a part of our years-long process of updating the campus and addressing decades of deferred maintenance (utilizing our Legacy Fund). Since construction is one of the industries that has been allowed to continue working during this time, this was a great opportunity to both keep a number of our contractors employed and get a significant amount of work done. As such, the sanctuary is currently emptied of pews and filled with scaffolding while new lighting, ceiling panels, acoustical treatments, and eventually carpet are being installed (see attached pictures!). We are optimistic this work will be completed before we are ready to begin using the sanctuary for corporate worship again, and would appreciate your prayers that everything stays on schedule.
Our Current Plan
While we do not yet have an exact date for when we will begin inviting people to gather in-person for corporate worship, there are a few parts of our plan that are currently in place we want you to know about.
First, we intend to continue to live-stream our corporate worship services indefinitely for those that are not able (or for whom it is not wise) to join us in person.
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Second, in preparation to move toward in-person corporate worship while continuing live-streaming, we plan to move our English service back to the sanctuary in early July, in order to work out the logistics of live streaming from two different locations.
Finally, we hope to begin inviting people to join the live-streamed service in-person by the end of the summer. The timing, size, speed, and procedures for this will be guided by the latest health information for our county and the guidelines provided by our local and state governments.
In the meantime, we would encourage you to continue to creatively and safely find ways to connect with one another, care for one another, and point one another to Christ in the midst of this uniquely difficult season.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us pastors. We genuinely long to do everything we can to comfort you, exhort you, care for you, and help you find your ultimate hope and security in Christ.
To him be the glory in this moment and forever.
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