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August 11, 2020

Worship Service Changes


Dear Church Family,

 

I am grateful for your patience, generosity, and faithfulness over the past several months.  Because we continue to respond as best we can to the conditions around us, it probably seems like we are constantly changing – and, in fact, we are.  These are difficult and challenging times for the church.  We are all at different places when it comes to health concerns, comfort levels, and anxiety.  We struggle to do our best to minister to people where they are.  As such we have increased our capacity for on-line worship, installed new air filters in the sanctuary that ionize and scrub the air of viruses, bacteria, and mold.  We have adjusted services, limited seating, recommended and then required face masks.

 

We have received much feedback concerning masks.  Before we required them at all services, we received emails and comments from people who said they were not coming unless everyone was wearing a mask.  After we required them – you guessed it – we received emails and comments from people saying they were not coming unless they didn’t have to wear a mask. 

 

I fear something is being lost, and it is not just church attendance figures. My concern is that we are in danger of losing why we are the church in the first place.  Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with personal preferences, comfort levels, or even safety.  We gather together to worship the One True Living God.  That has never been safe or comfortable when done properly.  Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength requires sacrifice, risk, and obedience.  Those things have not been required of the church in America for a long time.  But go anywhere else in the world and these things are expected when worshiping God and following Jesus. 

 

Let’s face it; there is risk coming to worship the Lord.  We do what we can to minimize that risk, but it is still there. When this virus started we stopped gathering because we were told it was to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed.  Now we are told not to gather because someone might get sick.  If that is the standard, then we will never return to church.  Getting sick (for that matter even dying) is impossible to prevent.  The only thing that standard prevents is people coming to worship the Lord.  And I submit that is the greater risk.

 

Worshiping God is central to being a disciple of Christ.  Joining with others to praise, pray, give, hear the Word, receive the sacraments, and respond is critical to growing in our faith.  Being connected in a group of other believers, small or large, is necessary for mutual encouragement, accountability, and ministry.  The longer a Christian goes without practicing these essential disciplines, the easier it is to lose the connection with the Body of Christ and with God, Himself. 

 

I don’t say any of this because we need you to come so there is money in the offering plate.  Actually, our giving is up compared to last year.  And personally, doing less services is easier than doing more.  I say this because there is great danger to your soul if this trend continues.  What is happening is deformative. 

 

I am grateful for our online services and the ability to participate that way.  For some, including my mom and dad, it is the only way for them to participate in a worshiping community.  We are currently designing ways to worship online that are more intentional and participatory.  But online worship is there as a stop-gap measure for when a person is sick or out of town.  It was never intended to be “the new way to do church.”

 

It is time for the church to embrace the hard truth that being a disciple of Jesus requires us to be uncomfortable, to take risks, to trust the Lord with our lives, to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and to follow Him.  We are to be a light to the rest of the world that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – not disease, trouble, hardship, danger, life nor death, nor anything else in all creation!

 

With all this in mind, I need to inform you that—

 

Beginning this Sunday, August 16th we will resume our 7:30 service.  I hope those who have regularly attended that service will do so again.  Masks will be required during the service.  We have the seats taped off to help with staying six feet apart and expect everyone to use hand sanitizer as they enter the sanctuary. 

 

At the 9:00 and 11:00 services we recommend you wear a mask but will not require one.  We will have the section of pews by the organ and the chairs in front of the piano reserved for masks only.  This will ensure a place for those who wish to sit near other people who wear masks.  Each service has had plenty of room for people to remain six feet apart.  The sanctuary is 90 feet across providing ample space to safely social distance from those who don’t wear a mask.

 

If you feel sick, we ask that you stay home and join us online at either 9:00 or 11:00.  

 

I understand we are all at different places concerning our health and anxiety.  We are making these changes to provide a place for everyone to be in worship with others.  Let us remember to love one another so when this pandemic is over, we will be a church that is stronger in the faith and more devoted to God and one another.

 

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we worship the Lord together.

In Christ,

Pastor Mike


June 30, 2020

Worship Service Changes

Dear Christ Venice and Christ Laurel,

 

As the health concerns continue to change from week to week, we have had to make several adjustments along the way.  We need to make another now.  Please note the following:

 

Beginning this Sunday, July 5th, Christ Venice worship will be at 9:00 and 11:00 only.  We will continue to distance ourselves in the sanctuary, use hand-sanitizer upon entry, and require masks at both services.  Masks will be available in the narthex for those who do not have their own.

 

Christ Laurel will continue to worship at the Elks Lodge at 10:39am.  They will follow the same procedures as Christ Venice.

 

Both the 9:00 and the 11:00 services are live-streamed on our website, YouTube, and Facebook.

If you do not feel well, please stay home and worship with us online.

 

The Leadership Board will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate these procedures in a few weeks.  Let us continue to pray for the healing of our country. 

 

If you have any questions, please contact the church office.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Mike


May 23, 2020

Is the Church Open?

Dear Church,

As you know, the president is encouraging churches to open, and our governor views worship services as an essential activity. But our Methodist bishop has requested that churches not hold in-person services before June 15th.  

Your leadership board and pastoral staff appreciate that it is hard to have a "one-size fits all" policy when so many of us are at a different place on the safety concerns spectrum. Some have legitimate health concerns for themselves and loved ones, while others do not face those risks.  Some are more comfortable being around others, while some are not.  We are called to minister to everyone no matter where they are on the spectrum. 

Currently (and this could very well change before next Sunday) ChristVenice/Laurel is not officially open. But the church doors will not be locked on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Should you feel comfortable attending a Sunday service or a Wednesday night Bible study, we ask that you do the following:

 

- Use hand sanitizer as you enter through the automatic doors under the breezeway.

 

- Spread out throughout the sanctuary.  We have placed blue tape on the pews to let you know safe distances. The current capacity for restaurants is 50%.  That would mean our sanctuary, at 50%, could seat 325 people.  Families should sit close together.

 

- We recommend a mask, but they are not required.  Do not shake hands and respect other people's personal space.

If you do not feel well, please stay home and enjoy the service online. For now, we will continue to offer one Sunday service online at 10:00am.  

 
This approach allows each person to decide whether they would like to attend in person or online.  Everyone is at a different place with different circumstances during this time, and we think this approach honors those differences.
 
As things continue to progress we will let you know about our official reopening, small groups, and other activities.  Should you have any questions, please call the church office at 941-493-7504.  Thank you for your patience as we navigate this unprecedented time.  Let us continue to pray that the Lord delivers us from this virus.


In Christ,
Pastor Mike and the Leadership Board


March 27, 2020

eGiving is a Safe and Secure Way to Give

Dear Church Family,

 

We're getting in touch today as our habits change amid the COVID-19 spread.  We fully understand that we are not allowed to have large gatherings, including church services.  We also know that supporting the church is important to you. Our work of 'Saying Yes to Jesus' will not stop because of this public health challenge.
 
Christ Venice is a strong community. We will weather this together, even if we’re not all in worship services in our Sanctuary. We appreciate your giving, and we do important work with your generosity. As we alter the way we operate, please consider making your offering via eGiving.  

There is an opportunity to eGive via our Website to complete your pledges and special offerings as well.  Over a hundred of our members give electronically and often comment on the peace of mind it gives them.  Also, a new way to give to the general fund is through Text Giving.

Our weekly offerings are as much a part of worship as are the songs of praise and the sermon.  Why not take care of your offering today and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your offering has been laid on the altar. 

 

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." (1Peter 4:10)

 

Serving Christ by serving you,
Pastor Bob Haley

 

Click here to watch a video introduction to the new secured Text Giving service.

 


March 25, 2020

Care Continues...

Greetings Christ Venice and Christ Laurel family!

As you know, we are facing unprecedented times with COVID-19. As a community of faith, one of the biggest ways we have been impacted is no longer being able to gather physically for worship, discipleship, and fellowship.

As a result, we are exploring creative ways for us to continue our care and connection with one another, while we follow national health guidelines. 

One way we are doing this is by launching a Care Caller Team. We are looking for friendly, warm, good-listeners willing to call 5 people in our church family once a week. We will have online training on Friday and scripts for your use as well.

Remember that social distancing is not relational distancing. The work of the church is never "on-hold".  The methods may change due to circumstances but the mission remains the same:  "The message you heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another. (1 John 3:11)."

Pastor Matt McNutt
Associate Pastor / Christ Venice

Pastor Missy Carfield
Campus Pastor / Christ Laurel


If you would like to sign up to be on our Care Caller Team, please click here.


March 21, 2020

Quick Reminder About Sunday's Worship Service

Dear Christ Venice Church,

 

Just a quick reminder about Sunday’s worship service.  We are holding one service online at 10am.  You can view it here, www.christvenice.com and click on watch live as early as 9:50am.

 

Several people have asked if they could “sneak in” during the service.  While I wish everyone could sneak in, we cannot allow it.  It is for your safety and the safety of others that the church remains closed until we get word from the authorities that we can reassemble.

 

Earlier we encouraged people to have watch parties but now we encourage you not to do that.

 

While we may not be in church together, we remain in Christ together.  He is where our bond, our identity, our fellowship, and our hope have always been.  These times will do nothing but strengthen all of those.

 

Let us continue to pray for one another, our country, and the world that the Lord would stop this virus, heal the sick, and be glorified throughout the earth.  Out trust is in Him.  He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble.

 

See you online Sunday!

 

In Christ,

Mike


March 16, 2020

Important Notice Regarding Church Activities and Services

Dear Christ Church,
 
As events continue to unfold the Leadership Board and the staff are doing their best to make decisions that honor the Lord and you.  With this in mind, we are having to cancel events and activities at the church for the near future.  This includes Wednesday night activities and Sunday morning worship.
 
However, we are planning to live-stream what we can.  We will have Bible study on-line at 5pm Wednesday and are planning to have a 10:00AM worship service on-line this Sunday.  We will be sending more information about this later in the week.
 
You can find these services on Facebook or at our website, www.christvenice.com and click watch live.
 
The CDC has recommended groups of more than 50 people not gather.  This makes it difficult for us to worship as a large church.  But we are looking at ways to worship with others in a safe environment.  If you would be interested in worshipping with a small group in homes on Sundays, please email michele@christvenice.com. 

 

Please continue to pray for our country.  We put our trust in the Lord to deliver us from the virus and the panic.  May you be carriers of the peace of Christ to everyone around you.

In Christ,
Pastor Mike