South Fellowship Family!
Many of you know by now that last week, President Trump officially deemed Houses of Worship (Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques) as essential organizations and pushed for them to open right away, challenging governors of each state to comply.
Some in our community might be thinking, “It’s about time! Can we meet this Sunday?” Others might be wondering, “Isn’t it too early for us to be getting back together?” Some are optimistic, some are cautious, and some may feel a mixture of emotions. All of these emotions are normal.
To be clear – the Church (the body of Christ) has always been essential. Followers of Jesus have been ministering to people throughout the centuries during some of the worst seasons humanity has experienced. The Church has often been on the frontlines; offering care when others abandoned the sick and the poor. The Church has continued to be a voice for justice and a sanctuary for the hurting. God’s people have been faithfully on their knees, asking God to heal people and meet them through every trial and tribulation. I’m so grateful.
One thing I’m especially grateful for is that South Fellowship has not stopped being the church in this season. This church has continued meeting in a variety of ways, from worshipping together online to participating in ministry gatherings via Zoom. South has also continued to significantly impact our local community through our amazing Food Bank team and our South Cares team. It’s been quite the sight to behold, seeing God’s church be the church. The Church has always been at her best during difficult seasons – and your generosity and commitment have proven that to be true at South Fellowship during this strange time. Thank you.
We are grateful for such a wonderful, loving, tight-knit church family. We miss gathering together weekly, seeing everyone’s smiling faces, sharing coffee and donuts, and worshiping our great King under the same roof. There’s nothing we’d love more than seeing all of you sooner rather than later.
At the same time, we are committed to doing our part to care for the vulnerable among us; not just at South, but in our neighborhoods and in our city. We don’t want to do anything that would cause harm to anyone, no matter how well-intentioned we might be. We are also committed to operating with wisdom and discernment, waiting on the Lord when needed, and making decisions in careful, prayerful, and thoughtful ways.
We don’t take the idea of reopening the church building lightly. We take it very seriously and with a great deal of intentionality. As you know, there are a number of recommendations and requirements for houses of worship once they reconvene. We are doing our best to parse through these and ensure we are able to comply in full. This presents some challenges, as you might imagine. We are proceeding carefully.
For these reasons, we will not have worship gatherings at our campus this Sunday. We don’t want to open up onsite gatherings until we are prepared to do what it takes to maintain a safe, sanitized space for our community. Being prepared for that will take time. We will continue doing our best to provide meaningful online worship gatherings, and will keep doing so after our facility is open as well.
Rest assured, our Elders and our staff are seeking wisdom from Jesus and trusted officials on the best way to do this. We want our return to meeting corporately to be a joyous and safe time, and we’ll do everything possible to do this in a wise, healthy way. We’ve assembled a Reentry Planning Team that is working diligently to take government guidelines, our community’s well-being, logistics, and a number of other factors into account to develop a reentry plan our leadership team feels very good about, and one that will honor all people God has placed under our care. Reentry will most likely be in stages, and we will share these stages with you in the next handful of weeks so we all know what to expect.
South, please pray for our Elders, our staff, and for each other during these unprecedented times. We live in the tension of our desire to gather and our desire to be wise. We are trusting God’s Spirit to guide us as we partner with our local, state, and national entities to be good citizens, and to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus. We will discern when the best time to reopen might be – no sooner, and no later.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or our elders. You can reach them at [email protected].
South Fellowship, you are loved!
Larry Boatright & the Elders of South Fellowship Church