Regathering Plans: Church Letter June 25, 2000

June 25, 2020

Dear Vineyard Family and Friends,

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV)
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

This Psalm is considered one of the 15 Psalms of Ascent.  These particular Psalms were sung as the Israelites embarked on their pilgrimage from different places to worship God together in Jerusalem during their three yearly festivals.  As they ascended on their holy journey to the temple on the hill, they prepared their hearts in anticipation of their time together with God.  

We are currently living in uncertain and divisive times.  There is so much disunity when it comes to the implications of the Coronavirus, to the focus and role of politics, and the reasons why racial tensions have resurfaced in our nation.  I wish I could just say these divisions are only found in culture, but the truth is that they have infiltrated the Church as well.

I want to encourage us to seek unity within the Church.  We have been called to be reconcilers, but we can only live out our calling when we humble ourselves before God and we live humbly among each other.  Psalm 133 shows us that unity is something that is good and pleasant.  It also describes unity as a liquid that keeps influencing and blessing everything in its path.  First it is described as a generous and precious oil that anoints and keeps flowing.  Then it is described as dew on a mountain that blesses and brings life all the way down the mountain to the valleys and rivers below.  

Our unity, the unity of the Church has the potential to bless not only those who are part of our spiritual family but all aspects of culture.  In unity, we are called to be that beautiful fragrance in anointing oil and also reflect the refreshing nature of dew.

May we have unity in mind as we seek to regather together as family before our Father in worship.  We are getting ready to regather on Sunday, July 12, at 11 AM.

I want to note a few things before listing some of the guidelines we need to adhere to.  First, we have never done this before.  Please be patient and gracious as we prepare to regather as family.  This will be a work in progress, balancing our safety and our focus of worshipping the Lord together.  Second, we are not going back to normal.  There are clear guidelines that will make our time together different than usual.  I think it is good to point this out so that we all have the appropriate expectations.  Third, if you consider yourself to be vulnerable to the virus or are sick please know that we will continue our digital presence on Facebook and YouTube on Sundays (at 11 AM instead of 10:45 AM).  I want to say that coming to the gathering or staying home is not a sign of our faith level or level of spiritual maturity.  We can continue to be united in spirit as some choose to gather at our facilities on Sunday and others choose to worship from home.

Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before service to allow sufficient time to get everyone seated.  The current situation requires extra attention to detail as we enter the building:  checking for masks, social distancing and seating, observance of the guidelines, etc.  If you are on the volunteer team, please plan to arrive one hour before service.

Here are the guidelines we will have in place (please read all of them carefully):
•Use of face coverings will be required while it continues to be a requirement in California and/or Los Angeles County.
•Physical distancing of 6 feet with no handshaking or hugging others.  For seating, we will take out every other row in the sanctuary and we will ask people to sit three empty chairs away from the next person (or family).
•We will have touchless hand sanitizer dispensers at entrances and other contact areas.
•We will have two tithe/offering boxes in the sanctuary to deposit your contribution before or after the service.
•We will have our main entrance by the parking lot available for entry only and then have an exit only area on the south side of the building (at the end of the hallways that run north and south).
•We will not have coffee or baked goods available.
•We will not have Sunday children’s or youth programs for the foreseeable future.  All family members will be asked to sit together in the service.
•We ask that everyone who is sick and/or vulnerable stay home.
•We will be thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting our meeting areas before and after every service.  We will ask people not to linger in the building so that we can get that done.
•We encourage people to check their temperature, wash their hands, and use the restroom at home before attending the service.
•Our service is limited to 100 people.  Only people who have registered will be able to join our time of worship to make sure we are compliant with our maximum occupation limit.  To register for the service, visit: vvinfo.org/register or click on the button below (If we hit the limit of 100 quickly, we will look into adding another service at 9 AM).  Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future we have to register every week.

It’s also important to be aware that because this is a fluid situation, we may be required to make last minute changes or even cancel in the event that someone in our community is infected with the virus or if the state or Los Angeles county determines that places of faith cannot gather. We will make every effort to inform you of any changes as soon as possible.

I know that looking at this long list of guidelines can be overwhelming and frustrating.  I am sure that even in this time the Lord can use all of this for our own good.  Through this we can learn to grow in discernment as we discern whether to regather or stay home.  We can learn to practice humility and grow in compassion for the lives of those around us.  We can continue to recognize that church is not only about gathering in a building but also outside the building as we continue to impact the lives of our neighbors and coworkers.

If you feel led to help serve us in this time of preparation and as we regather, please let us know by emailing: [email protected].

Join me in preparing our hearts as we long to regather in a couple of weeks. I invite you to start singing within your souls… “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”    

United in Him and for His glory,

Jimmy Reyes
Lead Pastor

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