In order to protect our church family and our community, the Elders have adopted these guidelines for in person worship:
If you have questions, comments or concerns, please contact us.
THORNYDALE FAMILY CHURCH
FOUR PHASE PLAN FOR RESUMING IN PERSON WORSHIP GATHERINGS
Over the past several weeks, you may have seen articles and social media posts about “re-opening the church”. As we’ve said frequently before, the church has never been closed. The church is not a building, or even an organization. The church consists of the people who have been called by God to be disciples of Jesus. Therefore, the church belongs to Jesus alone and He builds His church. Nothing, not COVID-19, nor even the gates of hell, will prevail against it. So the church as a universal body and local churches like Thornydale Family Church have always been open – open to love God and to love others, open to share the gospel and pray and serve needs, and open to experience the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.
It is important to remember that when familiar passages like Hebrews 10:24-25 were written, the early church did not meet in large groups. There were certainly no megachurches and most of the gatherings were in smaller groups which met in small synagogues and in homes. It is doubtful that many of those groups even approached the size of our church. So even over the past couple of months we’ve still been gathering as the church, even though we’ve had to do that differently.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25 ESV)
But that doesn’t mean that we’re not all eager to resume meeting in person again. Since March 22, we have been unable to do that, but in the coming days we are hopeful that we will be able to begin to move forward with our plans to resume in person gatherings as soon as it is reasonable and wise. Out of concern for those who are most vulnerable in our church and in our community, we will do that cautiously and in a manner that adheres to guidelines provided by local, state and federal officials. We will gradually introduce opportunities for in-person gatherings in addition to the online experiences we have been offering over the last couple months in four phases:
*Precautions include, but are not limited to:
These precautions and the projected dates for each phase are subject to modification as necessary as the situation in our community changes and officials modify existing guidelines or issue new ones. We will continue to do all we reasonably can to protect our church family and our community.
While we expect our in-person gatherings to feel more “normal” when we reach Phase 3, like the rest of society, we expect that the way we interact with each other may look a little different for a while. But even if you see more face masks, and a lot more hand sanitizer, when we gather again in-person, we hope it will feel like coming home.
Some of you may have received an email earlier today from Sign Up Genius regarding the church picnic. Obviously that event has been cancelled, but I had failed to remove the sign up so it sent out an automatic email today. I've now taken that sign up down so you shouldn't be receiving any more emails.
Be the Church T-Shirts
Even though we're having to postpone the "Be the Church" Sunday that was planned for this coming Sunday, we had already ordered the t-shirts for that event. I want to get these out to as many people as possible since the message on the shirts is so appropriate as many of us are out being the church on a daily basis (while we stay safe, of course). I'll be scheduling a couple days next week when I'll be at the church to hand them out to those who would like to pick them up. Or I'd be happy to deliver them as I have time.
Live Streaming - Sunday 9:30 a.m.
Thanks for all of you who connected to our test on Wednesday night. We discovered a couple minor issues that we were able to fix thanks to your comments. In past emails, I've shared a number of ways to connect to the streaming, but the simplest is to connect to the streaming player right on the Home Page. It looks like this until the stream starts:
Now that we've hopefully worked out the bugs with getting our church online on Sunday mornings, we're going to be trying to help get some of our groups meeting again online. If you're part of a group that needs some help with that, or if you're interested in starting a new group, let me know. Our Men's Bible Study will be the first to go fully online next Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. If you're not already a part of that group and would like to join us, let me know. I'm also looking at some ways to share some daily videos that will help us all to be better equipped to feed ourselves and our families spiritually during this tim
The next big opportunity we're going to have as a church is to mobilize to really "be the church" and help meet needs in our community. As things continue to change rapidly, it's really hard to know exactly what that is going to look like, so we're going to have to be willing to be really flexible. I'm going to start doing that personally next week by volunteering with Mobile Meals and delivering food to those who can't leave their homes to get food. If you're aware of other opportunities like that let me know and I'll be happy to communicate that to our church family. And if you have needs of your own, we have people in our church family ready to help. You just need to let me know what you need.
We have discontinued meeting in person for all our small groups until further notice. We are working on developing some options for groups to meet online using the Video Chat feature in Faithlife. The Men's Bible study will be testing this out on Monday morning and if it proves to be a workable solution, we will be equipping our groups to use that feature and we may also be starting some new groups in order to keep people connected as much as possible.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation here in the United States and in Tucson continues to change rapidly. On Sunday, March 15, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines that call for the cancellation of all public events of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks. The Arizona Department of Health and the Pima County Health Department have adopted those same guidelines. In addition, those same guidelines recommend that individuals over 60 and those with chronic medical conditions not attend gatherings of 10 or more people or be around anyone with symptoms of illness. And just yesterday, the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America were released and they include a guideline to “avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people”.
The Elders believe that we have a responsibility as disciples of Jesus to be good citizens and to do what is good for our community as a whole. Therefore, we have decided to honor these guidelines, and beginning this Sunday, March 22, we will be primarily an online church until it is wise to resume our public gatherings. Fortunately, we have been live streaming our Sunday gatherings for several years, so the infrastructure is in place to allow us to do this rather easily.
We are not “cancelling church”. As we’ve talked about recently, the church is not a building or an organization. It is the people. So we will still continue to be the church, even though we’re going to be meeting in a different form and in different places. That means that we need to continue to care for each other. Let’s make sure that we check in on our elderly members and those that are at high risk and do what we can to meet their needs. And if you have a need, please let us know so that we can get you that help. And let’s make sure we do the same in our neighborhoods, families and places of work. As we said on Sunday, let’s be messengers of hope in our world.
At the present time the “level of community spread” in both the state of Arizona and in Pima County is considered to be “minimal”, so our small group Bible studies that are within the recommended maximum of 10 people may continue to meet if they desire. But obviously that situation could change at any time as conditions change.
Since this situation is so fluid, we encourage everyone to regularly check in on our Faithlife Church Group, which is our primary means of communication for our church family. If you aren’t already a part of that group, let me know and I can help you get connected.
I will be sending out another email in the next day or two that will contain some more details about how to connect to our online streaming as well as how to access an online bulletin so you can follow the message at home. We are still working on some of the details of how this is going to work for everyone, but we wanted to get this information out as soon as possible so that you can make appropriate plans for your family.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Pastor Pat Damiani for the Elders
The current coronavirus pandemic has certainly had an impact on all of us and it is easy to fall into the trap of fear and panic that we see being demonstrated all around us. So first and foremost, we need to remember that Jesus is in control. He is not caught off guard or surprised by any of this. So while we don’t know what the future holds, He does. And it’s also apparent that this crisis presents us with a unique opportunity to be messengers of hope in a world that is sorely lacking in that area. I’ll be talking more about that in the message tomorrow.
However, we also know that God has blessed us with common sense and reason so that we can take the appropriate actions and to adjust those decisions as new information becomes available or there are changes in the underlying circumstances. While we recognize that each person and each family will need to make different choices based on their unique circumstances, our responsibility as Elders is to lead and care for the Thornydale Family Church family that God has entrusted to us. In order to make the most informed decisions possible we are relying on reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and the Arizona Department of Health.
So after much consideration and prayer we are implementing the following plans and procedures which we consider to be prudent in the circumstances.
We are also encouraging all of you to care for each other by taking the following steps:
We are here to serve anyone in our church family who needs assistance during this time. If you are homebound and need assistance with groceries, running errands or obtaining medications, please let us know. And if you can help out with those situations, please let us know, too. And also let us know if you need some help getting connected online. Click here to email Pastor Pat.
Walking with you toward Jesus,
Pat Damiani and the Elders
Here is some additional information that you might find helpful: