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Five Stones Church COVID-19 Response Plan

Dear Church,

We've had another eventful COVID-19 week. Social distancing habits are becoming natural, many people are working from home, businesses are temporarily closed, traffic on the highways seem to be at an all-time low, kids and students are all hunkered down at home, and more.

 

As a staff, we are praying for every one of you. In the midst of this massive disruption, we are praying God's comfort, presence, and strength upon all our families. It's not easy. We all have specific logistics we have to handle, but God's grace is upon us.

There are a few important things with which I want to update you:

CELL GROUPS - Pastor Jon is working on setting up a Zoom account for the church which will allow our mid-week meetings to use this video-conferencing tool to stay in touch, have bible studies, pray, and stay connected. Please contact Jon at jon.wongs@gmail.com if you want instructions on how to set up your Zoom group. I know some of you have used Facebook Live, FaceTime or WhatsApp. These are good tools as well. Please avail yourself of what works best for your setting, but know the church has purchased an overall Zoom subscription to support our gatherings.

Along these lines, I'm looking at setting up a virtual "Pastor's Hour" in which you'll see me at my desk or office, and you can "pop-in" to say hi, and we can chat by Zoom. The nice thing about Zoom is hundreds (not an exaggeration) of people can be video-connecting at the same time. When our Zoom account is officially activated, I will get more details out about this Pastor's Hour. We can pray, connect, or just catch up.

HELPING OUR MEMBERS IN NEED - We have some members in our church that are struggling and anxious about meeting their monthly needs. As a church, the CRA regulates how we can dispense funds, and the best way we can do this is through gift cards. If you would like to help the church by purchasing grocery gift cards, or e-cards that we can give to families or individuals in need, please contact gillian@fivestoneschurch.org and we will match your gift cards to the right people. We are recommending these cards be in amounts of $50 or $100, but really any amount will be a blessing. If you'd like to get more directly involved with a member (with their permission), we can put you in touch with them, and you need not go through the church. This also gives us more opportunities to help our members in other practical ways (shopping, deliveries, meds pick-up, errands, etc) besides just assisting financially. Let's rally around each other, especially our seniors and those families or individuals that are shut-in due to isolation protocols.

GIVING TREND - As you can imagine, since we're not meeting on Sundays our tithes and offerings are way down. Until we are back together, please use the online giving link at our website (https://www.fivestoneschurch.org/giving) or send in cheques to our offices at: 612 Columbia St, New Westminster, BC, V3M 1A5. We certainly understand these are difficult economic times. Please navigate this with prayer and wisdom and faith.  

IMPORTANT SERMON THIS SUNDAY - I have a message to share this Sunday entitled "What is the Prophetic Significance of the Coronavirus Outbreak?" I have never shared a message like this before. It's a huge and unique message, and I have been praying intensely all week to get my thoughts right. I'm encouraging everyone to make it a priority to view our online service at 10am. The link for the live service is on our website (scroll to the top of this page). You can also click on the "bell" icon on our YouTube channel to receive a reminder on Sunday morning when we go live, and you can subscribe to our channel to be notified of our future broadcasts.

ONLINE SERVICES - Speaking of our live stream, the team did a great job launching our first ever video Sunday service. We will be tweaking a few things to make your viewing as good as possible, but we really appreciate the many positive comments we received. Please email us about any improvements we can make as well. And pray for us as a team on Sunday; the logistics can get hairy - having the band lead worship with no audience, and preaching with no audience takes a big adjustment (see Pastor Jon's live mic comment at 59:57 for a "blooper moment").  Pray for grace that God's presence and anointing flow through the streaming every week so we can stay built up. God is good!   

Blessings and all grace to each of you.

Love, 
Pastor Rich

March 27, 2020

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In light of the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we want to share our plans as a church to minimize the risks when we gather together. We want to assure you that we’re monitoring the situation closely, and following the guidelines provided by our own provincial government and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

PHAC currently assesses the public health risk associated with COVID-19 (“the coronavirus”) as “low for the general population in Canada”—but even so, responding responsibly will help set us and our community up for success through this time. A thorough response won’t guarantee that we completely stop the illness from spreading, but as the graphic above shows, slowing down the rate of infection can ensure that those who do need hospital care can receive the help they need.

 

Before we get to the details we want to remind you that in Jesus, we don’t have anything to fear—not even death! As followers of Jesus we see this season as an opportunity to put our faith in Jesus on display for the watching world. Here’s a link to a great article from Christianity Today entitled, ‘What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus.’ While we’re not afraid, we also realize the necessity of taking this seriously as we care for one another and for our neighbours. So here’s how we’re preparing:

 

Stage 1: Confirmed cases in the Metro Vancouver area

  • Reduce personal contact (no welcome handshakes, etc.)

  • All volunteers and staff must sanitize/wash hands routinely

  • All kids must sanitize/wash hands before going to their classes

  • Children (and adults) showing any signs of illness must be kept home

  • If you are elderly or immunocompromised, please consider staying home for now

  • Communion and refreshment service will be modified to reduce personal contact

  • Regular sanitization patrols will wipe down door handles, handrails, faucets, etc. during gatherings and throughout the week

  • Doors will be held open by Ushers/Welcome Team to reduce contact with door handles

Stage 2: Increasing transmission in Metro Vancouver area, health authorities advise stricter containment measures

  • Cancel coffee & refreshment service

  • Individually sealed cups of communion juice + sealed wafer

  • Begin live-streaming Sunday services to serve those who need to self-isolate

  • Temporarily suspend Sunday Kids' Church and encourage parents with young children to stay home* (*in the event all public schools are closed) 

CURRENT STAGE - Stage 3: Civil authorities shut down larger gatherings

  • Temporarily suspend Sunday morning gatherings

  • We will continue online streaming of gatherings at set times so everyone can be engaging with the stream at the same time starting Sunday, March 22nd

  • Encourage social connection with members via social media, phone, etc.

Though things are moving quickly, we’re staying up-to-date on the situation and will modify our response plan as needed. If you’re feeling anxious, please reach out for prayer and if you have any questions or concerns, please let us know at info@fivestoneschurch.org. And as always, stay in touch with your Cell Groups and church family for support throughout this season.

For more information, you can visit HealthLink BC or the BC Center for Disease Control.

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How you can help

 

  1. Stay informed! Review HealthLink BC’s info page, especially the section on Prevention.
     

  2. Wash your hands with soap and water more often than you think you need to. Did you just touch a doorknob or handrail? Wash those hands. 

    1. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or longer. As Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Public Health) said last week, “Wash your hands like you just chopped jalapeños and you need to change your contacts”.

    2. Songs that last about 20 seconds:

      1.     Happy Birthday, twice

      2.     One heartfelt chorus of “Heart of Worship”

    3. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
       

  3. Avoid usual contact greetings like handshakes, high-fives, hugs, etc. Try footshake or elbow bump instead.
     

  4. When coughing or sneezing, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand.
     

  5. Avoid touching your face. The virus spreads through contact with mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth).
     

  6. Keep physical distance from others to reduce transmission risk from sneezes and coughs.
     

  7. If you are sick with any illness or vulnerable to infection (elderly, immunocompromised), please do not attend the Sunday gathering or any other public event. 
     

  8. Please call 8-1-1 for information and instructions:

    1. if you’ve traveled to an at-risk area.

    2. if you show any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing)
       

  9. If you become ill and test positive for COVID-19, let us know right away at info@fivestoneschurch.org.
     

  10. If you need to stay home because of any illness, please let your cell group leaders and the church staff know. We want to pray with and for you and support one another well.

Last updated: March 27, 2020 10:30am  |  Adapted from Westside Church. Used with Permission. (https://www.wchurch.ca/COVID19)

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