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Brother M.R.'s letter to the Church 9-2-20

Dear Lakewood Church Family and Friends!

                I can hardly believe nearly six months have passed and we are still striving to find a way to stay connected and effectively reach people during this crisis. September 13th is quickly approaching as we scramble to complete the final details of the many construction projects in preparation for the start of small group meetings again here at Lakewood. Nursery and Bible Fellowship classes are scheduled to start again on the 13th with Wednesday Night Bible Study and Prayer Meetings beginning on the 16th. AWANA is also set to kick off on the 16th as well but with fewer numbers as we are still unable to run the buses from the school. Children's Church will not start until October 4.

                Over these past few months we have learned a great deal about what we can do and still assure the safety of those who do wish to attend our services in person. Doors are all kept open so you can enter and leave without everyone touching the same surfaces. We are not having a greeting time nor are we passing an offering plate. The numbers have been such that we are able to maintain safe distancing and all facilities are being cleaned between meetings. We know these practices are working as we have had two instances where people were in our services not knowing they had the virus and in both cases it was contained without spreading to others.

                We will continue to move forward and find ways to remain effective in spite of this crisis. Please realize that there is a very real difference between being afraid and being cautious. Our decisions to be cautious are based on the reality that this virus is indeed very real and for some very dangerous. When we strive to live fearlessly because we know God is with us we are not embracing reckless behavior and a denial of the real and present danger. We continue to encourage our high risk members to employ safe lifestyle practices as this is only a sign of wisdom. To those who do wish to attend services and small group meetings you may do so knowing we are doing everything possible to limit your exposure as much as possible. Living with this virus around us all has become our new normal. It has in deed limited some of the things we might wish to do. However, it has given us the opportunity to accomplish a number of things we have needed to see done for many years now. We had dreamed of a great celebration of our dramatic re-opening where everything went back to normal all at once but that will not be the case. We plan to start all of our programs with very different guidelines and much smaller numbers at first. Then slowly we look forward to more and more members returning as we work our way through this crisis. If you have concerns about gathering in small groups by all means continue to follow us through social media and television. God has given us a great gift in the gift of wisdom and He wants you to use it to find a way to stay in contact with your church family and remain as safe as possible.

                Our procedures and policy are simple to understand and follow. All doors will be kept open if at all possible and we will be doing everything we can to maintain distancing. The order on mask wearing in public gatherings remains in effect and we encourage our visitors to wear one for the confidence it gives to others. Should any person in any small group test positive that small group will be in quarantined for two weeks and not meeting just as we have done this week with our Praise band. Those speaking and singing and teaching will not be in mask so they will be practicing safe distancing. As with every plan this year this plan is also subject to change at any moment if we discover it to not be effective at controlling the spread of the virus among our members.

                I was asked recently how in the world were we going to get through this and I really didn’t have a definitive answer but I do know this. It is going to require us to try harder to be kinder and more patient than ever before. We can make the best of this situation if only we strive to be a light in this darkness. Just get up in the morning knowing everyone you meet is hurting and filled with uncertainty. So be a little gentler and a lot slower to speak in your anger and just see if your world around you doesn’t became a much better place to live.