June 3, 2020

Dear CrossWay Family,

We watch the news, in some cases we look out our windows, and it can seem like the world is falling apart. My original intention for this letter was to give more detailed information regarding our reopening as a church and I will still do that, but to speak only of that when our nation is occupied as it is would be myopic at best, and more likely, a sign of a kind of blindness.

We are all deeply grieved by what happened in Minneapolis last week—the life of a man ended by the deliberate and wrongful action of another man whose job it was to protect against the very kind of thing he did. And we are also all deeply grieved by the subsequent senseless destruction and stealing. For me, some of the saddest parts of all of this are the effect on the vast majority of African-Americans in our country who are faithful citizens who will have to live with the constant shadow of this incident, and what it represents, over their lives for the foreseeable future, and the effect on the vast majority of police officers who do their work faithfully, and carefully, and well, day after day—we owe them our gratitude—and who are now faced with the task of rebuilding trust once again. And overshadowing both of these sad effects is the ongoing racial tension that exists in our country. It can feel like this issue will never go away. And yet we know that is not true. And so we pray, “Lord, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” And we pray, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

There are families that are grieving both loss and a sense of injustice today. We should pray for them, that they might turn to Christ and find the comfort only he can give. And we should pray that justice is carried out. There are business and property owners who are devastated today.  We should pray for them, that they might turn to Christ and find real peace in the midst of their loss. And again, that justice is carried out. There are those who are hired to protect the peace of our communities, several of them in our own church family, who are dealing with situations of unusual tension. We should pray for them, that they would faithfully do their work without inordinate fear. There are leaders—community, state, national—who are in very difficult places of decision and communication. We should pray for them, that they would stand unswervingly for truth and that they would act based on truth. There is a nation, a world for that matter, in ongoing unrest and alienation from God. We should pray for it, that those, of any race, who hate and are bitter would turn from hostility and embrace Christ who alone can bring any real healing.

And while this is all happening around us, our little church family continues to look forward to being together again. And the world as it is makes us want that all the more. So we need to speak about plans and practical matters if we are going to move wisely and rightly toward regathering.

As I mentioned in this past Sunday’s video message, we are currently aiming to begin regathering as a church family on June 21. That is our target. It is not a stake in the ground. It’s a target, but it’s a real target. The reason why we’re aiming out a few weeks is that we want enough time to do this well, putting in place all the procedures for this adjusted reality and making sure we can communicate effectively. We want to continue to watch a few key health metrics to ensure that trends continue to indicate that we can responsibly resume gathering. Specifically, we want to make sure that the percentage of positive tests in Kenosha County continues its downward trend. If we begin to see indicators that it is unwise to resume gathering we are willing to push back our first gathering.

Some may wonder why we’re gathering while the county health department is still recommending smaller gatherings. We value the work the health department is doing and we have benefitted from the guidelines they have put together. We do not intend our decision to communicate that we are not taking seriously the present risk to public health. At the same time, it is important to remember that the health department has one main responsibility—to guard public health. We feel a responsibility for that as well, which is why we are seeking to minimize risk as best we can (more on that in a moment), but we also have a responsibility to cultivate the spiritual well-being of the people of CrossWay, and Sunday gatherings are an important part of that. We plan to honor the county guidelines but not let them be the sole determiner of our way forward. After praying, discussing, consulting with health guidelines and medical professionals, we believe we can responsibly move forward with certain key precautions.

So, what will our regathering look like? We haven’t decided yet whether we’ll have two or three services but we’ll decide that based on the need to accommodate six-foot spacing between households. Clearly our gatherings will be somewhat smaller. The services will likely be a little shorter. There will need to be some sort of RSVP system to make sure the services are balanced well. There will not be children’s ministry. We recognize this will create some challenge for families but we will do everything we can to ease that. At this point our best sense is that we will ask that everyone wear a mask, though there may be times when we’re all seated that they can be removed. As the situation improves, and these precautions are no longer necessary, we will gladly set them aside. Our desire is to gather on Sundays as normally as possible as soon as it is wise to do so.

We will be sending more concrete guidelines as our regathering gets closer but we want to give you a realistic sense of what it will be like so you can plan. We know that some will feel these precautions are inconvenient and unnecessary, but this is a concrete way we can communicate to one another that the good and unity of the whole body is more important that any one person’s sense of what is reasonable. It might be helpful to know, there were differences on some of these matters among the elders but we are unified in our moving forward.

If you are unable or unready to physically join together on June 21, please do not feel any undue pressure.  We will continue to provide a way for you to engage via video with the Sunday morning service and we will continue to work hard to stay connected and to communicate in every way that we can that you are a highly valued part of our church family.

Please keep in mind that, even though we are excited to be making plans and moving forward, we need to be ready for the possibility that things could change. There is new information every week and we will continue to pay attention as we look forward to June 21.

You have been patient. We have tried to be faithful. We know God has been absolutely faithful. Let’s move forward, as we always should, entrusting ourselves to his sovereign and tender care.

With deep gratitude and joy in the privilege of being your pastors,

Pastor Mike (for all the pastors and elders)

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