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Worship Sundays at 9:30am

Worship: May & June 2020 (and until further notice)

Worship services in our building will resume on Sunday, May 31 ...but they will not be "normal" yet!

Dear First Christian Reformed Church,

Greetings to you all in the name of our risen and ascended Lord. May grace and peace be multiplied to you all during this time.

I’m writing to update you again on First CRC’s COVID-19 response. On Tuesday evening the team decided that our first in-person worship service will be this Sunday, May 31. We will be complying with advice from federal and state governments regarding social distancing and other precautions, so the services of worship will not be “normal.” Given the changes, I am including details and instructions below.

However, before I give those instructions, I want to communicate the COVID team’s concern regarding members of our congregation who are elderly or have underlying health conditions that might put them at higher risk for serious complications or death if they should get COVID-19. While we will be taking every precaution to protect everyone’s health by the way we conduct these services, we recognize that some level of risk will remain. Moreover, the statistical evidence indicates that this virus is very serious and often deadly for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Based on responses to the emails that First’s elders sent out to members of their care groups, we know that a significant portion of our congregation will be staying at home even once we begin in-person services. We would encourage you to prayerfully, and in conversation with other members of the body of Christ, discern the level of risk you are willing to take, and given the seriousness of COVID-19 for those in the at-risk categories we encourage those who are elderly and/or have underlying health conditions to continue worshiping at home via livestream. For those who do not have the technology to stream the service we hope to rebroadcast the morning service on KDCR (88.5 FM) on Sunday evenings at 6:00.

To comply with advice from federal and state governments regarding social distancing and other precautions, the elders and COVID team are asking that the congregation follow these guidelines:

  • If you are not feeling well or are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home.

  • Sunday, May 31 we will welcome care groups 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B into the sanctuary for worship while others livestream at home. On June 7 we will welcome care groups 3A, 3B, 4A, and 4B into the sanctuary. Please come on the Sunday assigned to your care group to ensure we have space to safely seat everyone. We will continue to rotate care groups every Sunday.

  • The nursery will not be open. Children will stay with their parents.

  • We would encourage individuals and families without small children to arrive a bit early (around 9:20) and those with young children to arrive slightly later (around 9:25) because the ushers will begin seating people at the front of the sanctuary, and we want those with small children to be able to be seated toward the back.

  • We encourage you to wear masks while entering and exiting the building. (Masks are encouraged but will not be required.)

  • Please keep at least six feet between you and others who aren’t part of your household while entering and exiting the building.

  • Please enter by the doors on the lower level of the building. The doors will be propped open.

  • Upon entering, please allow the ushers to direct you to your seats. They will be seating the congregation in order to maximize space while leaving ample distance between people who are not of the same household. As I said before, they will be filling the sanctuary from the front to the back, leaving two empty pews between members of the congregation.

  • We will not collect the offering during the service of worship. Offering plates will be placed at the rear of the sanctuary and near the doors at the front of the sanctuary. If you will be leaving cash offerings in the plates, please note the offerings for the evening services in the bulletin and use envelopes to indicate to the deacons to which offering you are giving. You can also continue giving online.

  • Following the benediction, the ushers will prop open the doors at the front of the sanctuary as well as those at the rear. Those in the front pews can exit out the front and those near the back of the sanctuary should exit from the rear. Please allow the front and rear pews to exit first, and then wait your pew's turn, maintaining at least six feet distance between you and the next person.

  • Please do not congregate in the fellowship area behind the sanctuary before or after the service. We encourage you to fellowship outside after the service as long as you continue to practice safe social distancing while you talk.

  • Bathrooms will be open and available for use, but we encourage you to use the restroom at home if at all possible and ask parents to accompany children to ensure proper hand washing.

  • The COVID-19 team will look into methods for safely celebrating the feast of the Lord’s Supper soon, but we will not be celebrating the sacrament this Sunday.

While expectations might be running high for in-person worship, please know that it is not going to be “normal.” The COVID team, consistory, and worship committee have had conversations about in-person worship in these conditions, and we all anticipate that, in many ways, we need to be prepared for a service of worship that will likely feel very odd, perhaps even disappointing. The sanctuary will feel empty, and you might feel lonely sitting so far from the person next to you. The singing will likely sound weak. The preacher might be out of practice with an in-person congregation, always searching around for a camera to look at! We won't be able to give and receive hugs and handshakes before and after the service. Moreover, as we make the transition, we will be sorting out how to make sure the audio mix is good for both those in the sanctuary and those live-streaming at home. I am personally grateful for the patience and grace extended so far and, at the risk of asking too much, would ask for your continued patience and grace!

This is actually a good reminder to remember what we are about on a Sunday morning (and Sunday evening when it is safe to return to two services per day): we gather for a service of worship. Every Sunday when we gather together, what we are doing is not predominately about our experience or our feelings. It is an act of service to God, rendered to Him out of our gratitude for what He has done on our behalf. And before our experience or feelings come into the picture, it is even an act of service to our neighbors. We are gathered for their sake more than our own; we gather that they might be encouraged, equipped, comforted, convicted, according to their needs. And above all things, it is a service of worship. The English word worship comes from the Old English word weorthscipe (essentially worth-ship). As biblical scholar N. T. Wright says, it means “to accord worth, true value, to something, to recognize and respect it for the true worth it has.” We gather, in these “abnormal” days as in all others, to serve our God and accord to Him the worth that is truly His alone because He alone is God. That is the task set before us, whether we remain at home or join our brothers and sisters in Christ in a mostly empty sanctuary: to speak and sing the worth of our God.

I wish you all the deep peace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Pastor Kurt