May 29, 2020
Posted by: Becky Merkel
Our doors have been open for three months now, and while we are thrilled to have returned to community worship, we look forward to the day when everyone feels safe to gather together. Until then we will continue to meet in person and on live-stream! Here are a few updates since re-opening:
- Per Governor Holcomb’s directive, we ask that you please wear a mask during all MAC gatherings.
- The coffee bar is serving again!
- Youth are meeting again on Sunday evenings from 7-8:30pm!
- The following MAC Kids classes are open: birth-2 years, 3- 5 years & kindergarten – third grade. We will open more classes as we have the volunteers to fully staff those classes.
We are looking forward to a June 14 date to reopen MAC and begin offering public worship services in our building! As we consider ways that we may do that as safely as possible, we have consulted with district and national officials, spoken with local medical personnel and heard from other area churches (some that have already opened and others that are also in the midst of planning their openings). We are planning to adhere to Governor Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan as it was laid out in a 5 stage process. June 14 marks Stage 4 of that plan allowing for gatherings of up to 250 people.
In discussions with our church leadership over the last several weeks, we have tried to discern between the FACTS of the pandemic and the PERCEPTIONS of the pandemic and its impact. Even among experts, we are short of facts upon which everyone can agree. There are far more perceptions out there! We want to be responsible and understanding of our whole church body in opening our building and moving forward cautiously with public services and reopening of various ministries.
While a lot is unknown and may not be discovered with certainty for a long time, what we do know is in Delaware County we have experienced a ‘flattening of the curve’ with new cases decreasing. We know that social distancing, while the actual distance is uncertain, seems to have been effective in minimizing risks. We have learned that the use of masks has shown some benefit in decreasing the transmission of the virus. Evidence exists to point to the fact that older people (65+) and those with a weakened immune system are at greater risk of developing more problems and can increase difficulties resulting in prolonged hospital stays and can even be fatal. Current data shows that 25% of people infected have no symptoms.
The facts seem elusive to us and the feelings reflect a broad spectrum of positions as well. Everything from “this is all an overreaction” to a fear that has paralyzed some. The issue we face with reopening is that there does not exist a guaranteed “safe date” to reopen, no matter what date we may choose. There is no way to give a 100% assurance that everyone will be “safe” and remain safe. We cannot mitigate every risk for every person. That is why the leadership has determined to move slowly, remain flexible and open ministry in stages. We want to offer the safest environment we can, knowing that each family must decide for themselves when will be the right time for them to return to public services here in the building. Everyone should feel freedom to make the best decision for themselves and their families given the information available to them and their own particular needs. No one should feel pressure or shame in the decisions they make on returning.
Out of a desire to mitigate those risks within our ability to do so, plans are in place to follow these “best practices” upon reopening the MAC building for public services.
- Public Services will resume on June 14, 10:00 am
- There will be no nursery, children’s ministry, or youth ministry at this initial stage. This has been common practice among churches as children don’t always understand social distancing. We will be continually evaluating when we feel it is best to provide these ministries in a public environment.
- We have also made the hard decision to cancel Vacation Bible School for this summer.
- The lobby, restrooms, sanctuary, and nursing mother’s room will be the only areas open to the public in the building. This means the Fireside Room, children’s classrooms, kitchen, office building, warehouse, and playground will remain closed during this initial stage.
- Social distancing will be encouraged upon entering, exiting, and while in the building.
- The Coffee Bar will not be serving coffee at this initial stage. As with MAC Kids and Youth we will be evaluating when to reopen this ministry.
- Sanctuary seating will be arranged so that family units can sit together and maintain the recommended six-foot distancing.
- We ask parents to closely monitor your children, keeping them within reach of you at all times.
- Hand sanitizer will be available upon entering the building.
- Masks will be worn by our door greeters and are encouraged but not mandatory for all others while in the building.
- All surfaces will be clean and sanitized during the week.
- We ask anyone experiencing symptoms to remain at home for the safety of others.
- Coughing, sneezing, runny nose and/or eyes
- Fever of 100 degrees or above
- Vomiting, Diarrhea
- Inflamed throat or mouth
As throughout this pandemic, information and best practices have changed as new information, data and statistics are made available. We expect, after every phase of the state’s reopening the community, there will be new data and statistics pertaining to new cases and possible changes. Our desire to reopen slowly and in stages will allow us to monitor what is happening as the community continues to reopen and will also allow us to remain flexible in our own plans so that we can respond with wisdom.
As we have done in the past, we will continue to livestream the service on Facebook and YouTube. We encourage everyone to join us each week whether in the building or from their living rooms.
We love our MAC Family! And desire God’s best for each of you.
Be Safe. Be Smart. Stay in Touch.
May 26, 2020
Posted by: Becky Merkel
Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
This is the first line of a psalm of the Sons of Korah. They were of the tribe of Levi and had the responsibility of priests serving in the temple. But they served on a rotating basis and only made the journey to Jerusalem when it was their turn to carry out the duties of the priests. And this was their shout to the Lord.
For as long as I can remember, going “to church”, that weekly pilgrimage to a place of worship, was always an option. An option my family didn’t take too serious until I was in 5th grade. From that point on we would wake on a Sunday morning, get all cleaned up, dressed in our Sunday best and make the journey across town to our choice of churches. For the last two months our choice has been whether to log in to Facebook or Youtube. For two months you have lived without the corporate worship experience. You have lived without the handshakes, hugs, and high fives. You have lived without the gentle hand on the shoulder as someone prayed over you. Our children have gone without the smile from their Sunday School teacher. They have missed their friends. Our youth have missed silly games, snacks and conversations that deepen their faith.
What have you missed most about not being able to gather together?
What have you learned during these last two months?
What do you value?
My prayer all along has been that God would use this time to change us. That he would do a new thing in each life as followers of God. That he would begin a new thing in the life of MAC as a part of his body the church. That we would find new ways to serving him and carrying out his plans. That we would each be able to take inventory of the things in our own lives that matter most and chase after them. That we, his church, would discover, or rediscover, or confirm those things that matter most to God and how best to chase after them.
Last week we talked about the need to convert, to become little children (Matthew 18:3). The enemy would love for these last two months to be days of fear and panic, that turns a deaf ear to the faithfulness of God and what he is doing. It would be easy for us to start new habits that hinder our faith, become obstacles to our relationship with God. It would be easy for those Sons of Korah during those long days between journeys to Jerusalem to forget. To lose sight of God. To lose passion for his people.
Well! Operation: Welcome Back MAC!
Four more Sundays! If all goes as planned, we have four more Sundays that we will gather via livestream and then on June 14 we will be able to gather for worship at 5601 West Jackson. What a day of celebration and worship. I know many are joining in the chorus of the Sons of Korah as the day approaches. We know too that these next 2-3 weeks could change those plans but we are praying, remaining flexible and trusting God that we will join together. We know too that there is no magical ‘safe’ date for people to come together and not everyone will, for any number of reasons, feel ready to gather on June 14. That is OK. We will continue to livestream on Facebook and YouTube moving forward as things begin to resemble normalcy.
As your Pastor, I want to encourage you to become very intentional in these next four weeks. What is God saying to you? How is he directing your heart to childlikeness? What values do you need to hold on to? What worldly values is he asking you to give up?
As your fellow Jesus-Chaser, I am asking myself these questions personally and for the church?
What a time we live in! What an opportunity we have!
Be Safe. Be Smart. Stay in Touch. And I hope to SEE YOU on June 14!
These days we are living in are filled with change. In the past two weeks, news about the Coronavirus has greatly impacted everyday life. Schools closing, events cancelled, toilet paper flying off the shelves and the call for ‘social distancing’ has, at best, disrupted our normal. Changes seem to be happening by the hour as more and better information is discovered on what we can all do to help each other overcome this virus. The Elders and Staff met last night to discuss best practices moving forward. Let me outline them for you.
- We are suspending all activities at the church for at least the next two weeks, starting immediately. With the official call for the cancelling of all gatherings over 50 people (some have suggested 10), we feel it is in the best interest of everyone to suspend ALL activities that regularly meet at the church.
- Worship Services will be provided via live stream on the Muncie Alliance Church YouTube channel. A link will appear on the Muncie Alliance channel page when we go live. Worship will start at 10 am as always and will have live worship music and Pastor Ted will be bringing the message.
- Youth Group will not meet until further notice. Lucas will be in contact with parents as to plans he is making for he, Natalie, students, and volunteers to stay connected.
- Prayer meetings, discipleship groups, etc. will also no longer meet at the church.
- Church Office Hours will not be regular as staff will have a choice of being in the office or working from home.
- We are asking that tithes and offerings be done online or sent in the mail. While normal functions are suspended, we still have ongoing expenses. We don’t know how long these changes will have to take place so we are asking everyone to continue to give as they normally would.
We are also anticipating a greater need for assistance and are encouraging those who can to give to the benevolent fund. This will enable the church to come alongside those that need help as we anticipate some will be affected economically.
Checks can be mailed to: Muncie Alliance Church /5601 West Jackson Street /Muncie, IN 47304.
- Helping in all areas. If you find yourself needing assistance or know of someone needing assistance, please contact the church office or one of the elders (contact information is listed below). These days will call for more than financial assistance and we want to be able to help in any practical way possible. If you are in the category of over 60 or have a compromised immune system, we want to help you get the things you need without having to compromise your own safety. Providing grocery delivery, getting prescriptions from the pharmacy, etc are all things we can easily provide. Please ask if you are in need!
- Office – Becky Merkel – 765-282-6119; firstname.lastname@example.org
- elders@Munciealliance.org – will send an email to all elders
- Matt Godfrey – email@example.com
- Dave Brand – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bill Wright – email@example.com
- Daryl Winger – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joe Trotti – email@example.com
- Maintain Community. This may be the most important part of this whole announcement. While we can provide worship and teaching online, we cannot duplicate the community aspect of being together. Those conversations over coffee in the lobby or after a church service we will now have to be more intentional and creative than ever before. The Elders will be making contacts weekly with those in the congregation but that will not be enough. We are asking each person reading this to make an effort to reach out, not only to those you would normally talk to, but those in the body that may benefit from such contact; the shut ins, the single parent, the widow or widower, the vulnerable. We can’t take for granted that everyone is being looked in on regularly. This will force each of us, every one of us, you and me together, to ‘do’ and ‘be’ the church in new ways for many of us. The church is not “closing” but having to alter how we do community. Who knows this may be a blessing in the long term!
As a part of Christ’s Body the Church, we all have a responsibility to serve those within our MAC family. We have an equal responsibility to serve those that are a part of our greater community of Delaware County and beyond. Let’s step out in bold faith, and trust the sovereign God we serve, while at the same time honoring the medical and government officials that are bringing the latest information and advice.
I am certain that grace will be needed as we all step into uncharted waters in the days ahead. Some will say that this all an overreaction, maybe. But if we are going to error let’s on the side of caution and grace as we walk through this together.
May God be glorified as his body seeks to represent him well and bring him glory!
Pastor Ted Harris