(As of 3/30/19, 10:40pm):
In little over two weeks everything has changed for how we “do” Church. We’re relying on Jesus day to day, and encourage you to do the same! After three weeks of online services, we’re seeing just how amazing the Church has shone in times of uncertainty.
While the paramaters around the COVID-19 virus is still evolving, our in-person services and events remain suspended, and new services and digital events have taken their place. As we’ve said before, keeping the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of our church family intact and thriving remains our top priority.
We believe more than ever that The Church, when rightly defined, has never been a building, and has never been a place.The Church is a people called by God “out of darkness and into his marvelous light.” Now more than ever is our chance to be the kind of church who takes that light and shines it around to bring hope and joy to others. God is in control, and we trust in Him! Below is a list of changes we’ve made in order to adapt to the safety measures we’ve put in place to do our part in stopping the spread of the virus:
- All our in person events have been canceled until further notice and replaced by these digital events.
- All our in person services have been canceled until further notice and replaced by Online Gatherings which you can access at this link. They happen on Sundays at 9:00 am & 10:45 am, as well as Wednesdays at 8:00 pm.
- We’ve our approach to servolution and created new COVID-19 serve opportunities for you and your family.
- We’ve created a 24/hr prayer and care line which you can text at (857) 228-5514. You can text anything you may need and a pastor will be there to pray for you.
– StoryHeights Church Staff
(As of 3/19/19, 5:30pm):
In light of the rapidly developing situation surrounding COVID-19, our services and community are moving online until further notice. While this isn’t our first expectation of how Church should look, we’re excited for the opportunity to grow and develop. Keeping the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of our church family intact and thriving remains our top priority. Our church staff has worked diligently to create digital touchpoints for you to connect with throughout the week on our social media chanels, and right here on our website. While we can’t physically be together right now, we hope you’ll prioritize engaging in community and fellowship with us.
We know these are unprecendented times, but this is an opporutnity for us to shine as Jesus intended His Bride to shine! Eventually we’ll be back together in person, but for now, we’ll see you online 🙂
– StoryHeights Church Staff
(As of 3/14/20, 7:30am):
As promised, we’ve been staying closely tuned to the rapidly-changing state of affairs. Due to yesterday’s COVID-19 developments, we no longer feel our original plan to host Sunday services with modifications that we released on Thursday is the right course of action. We are cancelling our Sunday services both tomorrow, March 15th and Sunday, March 22nd at this time.
We will broadcast our God I Never Knew teaching series at here at storyheights.com and invite you to participate in a live community chat at 9:00am and 10:45am.
In addition, while you’re stuck at home two more right-on-time messages will be available weekly on our watch page on this website and our Facebook page.
We are thankful that our church can worship together virtually, even if we can’t be together in person. We are praying for you, our city and country at this time!
(As of 3/12/20, 8:00pm):
Dear StoryHeights Church,
Pastor Crystal and I took time this morning to pray, worship, read Scripture, and go through all of the information and resources available to us from our network, Association of Related Churches, our church management company, Tithe.ly, the Town of Newton, and other churches in the area in order to make the best decision of how to proceed as a church in response to COVID-19.
We know you’re being inundated with information, fear and panic. Pastor Crystal and I want to assure you that your health and safety and our church’s collective responsibility to be the Light in these dark times remain our two highest priorities.
As you know, every organization is handling their response to this virus on a case-by-case basis depending on their context, and so measures taken by one organization can’t necessarily be copied because contexts differ widely. We can assume large events and gatherings will continue to be canceled all across the city, state, and country in the days to come in an effort to minimize the spread of the virus. With those announcements, we assume panic will continue to escalate.
We will continue to monitor the situation and adapt our plan accordingly. However, below is the plan that was developed with our Board of Trustees, Pastoral Board and Ministry Leaders and is effective beginning tomorrow, March 13th, 2020, through the end of March 2020. We will make decisions about April in the near future as we see how things develop. Should we need to make a change to our March plan, we will communicate with you immediately.
We are going to follow the Newton Public School’s model that was just released yesterday by scaling back what events happen in our building in order to preserve our most important business, which are our Sunday services. Hosting Sunday services will be decided upon on a week-by-week basis on Thursdays so we can adjust based on what’s happening in our local communities.
From now through the end of the March, we are canceling all additional ministry in that occurs in our building, including:
- Brotherhood – 3/13
- Sisterhood – 3/20
- Community Sunday – 3/29
- Baptisms – 3/29
- Growth Track – 3/20, 3/27
The only thing that will NOT be canceled are worship and service production rehearsals.
Small Groups & Meetings
In addition, effective tomorrow we would like all small groups, staff and team meetings to move over to Zoom Calls. Your small group leader and ministry leader will communicate information to you for your group’s meeting.
In order to remain open as a source of hope and light to those in our community who may be looking for it, as of this weekend, we will host our Sunday Services with some modifications, which will allow us to operate with commonsense and wisdom.
- Service times will be modified to 9am and 11amin order to allow 15 more minutes between services to clean and sanitize bathrooms, door handles, children’s toys, chairs, service production and worship equipment.
- No communion will be served.
- Coffee and water will not be served. We encourage you to bring your own bottle of water or coffee.
- Children and youth with runny noses and/or coughs will not be permitted into children’s or youth ministry. This is in addition to our normal preventative measures. The children’s and youth ministers will communicate with parents more specific information.
- We will not pass offering buckets.
- We will eliminate our three-minute “meet and greet” break during service.
- Our sermon series will stay the same, but the service will include extra elements of hope and encouragement.
We want everyone to know there is absolutely no pressure to attend this Sunday if you do not feel comfortable gathering. If you are currently scheduled to serve and do not feel comfortable attending, please alert your team leader immediately so we can make plans around your absence. We’ll do the best with what we do have. There is no guilt or condemnation, and we want you to use your discernment for what’s best for your body and your family and act accordingly.
Services will be Live Streamed this weekend if you wish to stay home. We’re also exploring as a staff how we can upgrade our online service model with community chat features and accessibility to the pastors should we be forced to cancel in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
In order to do our part in society by reducing the spread of the virus, we will be following the model of public schools, stores, shopping malls, restaurants and movie theaters in the area by reiterating prevention practices. These are the measures we will communicate and implement before Sunday services:
- Greeters who choose to come to serve will be trained to refrain from any contract such as handshakes or fist bumps or hugs, but instead will only smile and wave.
- As mentioned before, we are upping our security measure by allowing only 100% healthy children into children’s services.
- Everyone will be asked to refrain from attending if they (1) think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, (2) have been quarantined, (3) have traveled to any of the Level 3 or Level 2 countries in the last 21 days, (4) have run a fever in the last 7 days.
- A sanitization plan is being implemented by our staff and each ministry leader will take proper steps to clean and sanitize their areas.
- Staff will clean the building on Saturday afternoons instead of Thursdays.
- Hand Sanitizer will be available at all entrances and good handwashing practices will be posted in the bathrooms.
- Children and youth in service will be taken to wash hands before and after services and any time in between when necessary.
As stated previously, during dark times is when the church has the opportunity to shine the brightest. These simply aren’t the times to cave, run to the hills and hide. One of the advantages Pastor Crystal and I have is hindsight. While pastoring in Louisiana, during Hurricane Katrina, we went through very similar times, as we watched the largest storm in the southeast’s history approach land for two weeks prior. Stores were depleted. People got into fist-fights at gas stations. Water was gone. Stress and panic were at all-time highs. When the storm hit and power and water did go out across all of Louisiana, desperation increased, but out of it came the church’s greatest awakening in decades and so much good came out of it. Our preparedness to respond to people’s real-time needs should remain on high alert.
At the moment, we have identified the following ideas to meet real need:
(1) This weekend (and how great the timing – not coincidence) we’re unveiling the food pantry that everyone gave towards with V26 offerings at the end of 2019. We’ve named it “SHOP” – StoryHeights Outreach Pantry. It will be stocked with supplies that are hard to get at local food banks. Our Outreach Director, Jocelyn Santos, is currently communicating with larger food banks, hospitals, rehab homes, etc. about how we are ready to meet real need in a unique ways as a smaller operation.
Our first response, however, is to our church family members who are in need. If you are in need of food, supplies, or medical attention during this time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will handle your need with discretion and by appointment only.
(2) We will prepare digital gifts and send them to local hospitals, doctors’ offices, and local government offices with cards to share how we’re praying for them during this very stressful time.
(3) We will purchase grocery store gift cards to bless local commercial cleaning company employees as this is a very busy time for their workers.
(4) We have some college students who have been evicted from their college campus due to their school’s preventative measures (they’re evicting all but student-athletes at this time). If you have a spare bedroom you’d be willing to offer for any of our college students in need, please email email@example.com
If you have any other creative outreach ideas at this moment of how we can respond to this need, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Communication Plan
Our website will stay current with our current updates.
If you have any questions you feel this statement did not address, please email email@example.com. Our team will get back with you ASAP. We may not all agree about this plan, and that’s okay. This is why we reiterate there is no obligation to participate Sunday. Please use your own discernment and judgment for what’s best for your family.
We look forward to worship with you all whether in person or online this Sunday.
Peace to you in Jesus Name,
Pastor Tyler & Crystal
PS: Here’s some ways you can fight the fear/worry/panic you may be feeling:
- Limit your time on social media and TV news channels. What you look at is what you’ll think about. Remember, fear sells.
- Go on a walk around your neighborhood and pray for local officials as they lead in these days.
- This song and this Scripture continues to be our source of strength. Read/sing it over yourself and your family every night.
- Sing this song by yourself or with your family before bed every night and receive the blessing of Heaven from God himself over you!
Stay tuned for more updates, and in the meantime if we can do ANYTHING for you please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here for you, and we love you!
-StorHeights Church Staff