Let's Stay Connected
As the economy begins to open back up the question about opening up churches for gatherings has been front and center for church leaders and government officials alike.
We’ve been tracking closely with this dialogue both within Ohio as well as across the United States. Some churches are making plans to open quickly. In fact, we’ve heard that some churches in Ohio are considering public gatherings as soon as next week. Meanwhile, other churches are taking a much more cautious approach and have already determined that they will postpone public gatherings until September.
Where is Vista in this?
We’ve already communicated that we will not be open for gatherings of any size any sooner than June 1st. That still holds true. The reason behind that was to give us time to see how the initial phases of opening up the economy might impact our city.
We are making “open plans” to reopen Vista that follow CDC Interim Guidance as well as Responsible RestartOhio guidelines. Additionally, we are in close communication with other churches, organizations, and friends in the city such as The Joseph Council.
In partnership with Catalyst for Columbus, we’ve had the opportunity to participate in the PPE Church Initiative which provided Vista with direct access to a healthcare PPE supplier. Through this initiative we were able to place a low-cost bulk order for goods that we’ll need to stay aligned with current safety protocols. We also leveraged a portion of our Crisis Support fund towards helping under-resourced churches in our city.
Your safety continues to be our greatest concern!
We’re going to do everything we can to prepare for an eventual church gathering. We don’t yet know when we’re going to open our doors and we don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like just yet. And even after we make all the necessary preparations, we still may keep the doors closed for a little while longer.
As the ODH has warned, the COVID-19 virus is still as prevalent as when the first Stay At Home order was issued. We’re treating that reality with the utmost sensitivity especially keeping in mind those among us that are at higher risk if exposed.
While we continue to prepare I encourage you to keep on being the awesome church that you are! Keep connecting and reaching out to people! Keep sharing the gospel message of God’s mercy and grace. For many people out there these are times of fear and hopelessness – God has appointed you to be a voice of hope and confidence!
Thanks church – keep going!
~ Pastor Chris
There’s been a lot of talk on the news about the 3-phase federal Opening Up America Again plan. Here in Ohio, Governor DeWine has stated that Friday May 1st is the target date to start “reopening the economy.”
Naturally, this has prompted many questions and concerns about what this means for public health in relation to places of “social gathering.”
This statement from Gov. DeWine is helpful:
“…the big gatherings, coming together for sporting events, coming together for concerts, those are not going to be the first things that open up. Those present the most challenges for social distancing. We’re going to do things where we can get the most number of employees back and people working back with the least risk. That’s where we’re going to start.”
That being said, these types of venues along with places of worship are included in the permissible venues for phase 1 reopenings. However, under the guidelines for individual safety, people are encouraged to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people where “strict physical distancing protocols” are difficult to follow.
This is a little confusing. It’s hard to decipher how these protocols are best applied in a church setting.
So you know, we are actively discussing and planning for what an eventual “reopening of Vista” will look like. We’re making sure we’re fully up to speed on the latest guidelines for the health and welfare of our communities.
Your safety is our greatest concern!
Many of us are eager to gather again but in light of the current state of things we are holding to a policy of no “in-person gatherings” sooner than June 1st.
I know that is frustrating news but again, the safety of our community is our greatest concern – especially for those among us that are at higher risk.
In the meantime…
You will begin to see more people in our online service offering. Rest assured, all the proper safety and distancing protocols are being observed!
If you’re not in a small group that’s meeting online, we encourage you to get plugged in! It’s as easy as filling out one of our online Connect Cards and checking “learn more about small groups.” Many of our groups have increased their meeting frequency and are enjoying the benefits of deeper engagement!
If you’re already in a group that’s great. Stay connected!
If you know someone who needs community, reach out and invite them! In times like this, having a sense of connectedness makes a big difference. Being the Body of Christ is all about bearing each other’s burdens and loving one another well.
We recognize the difficulties people within and around our community are experiencing. With the recent development of our COVID-19 Crisis Care Fund and Crisis Care Team, we’d like to provide assistance however we can. To receive support or for more information, please visit our COVID-19 Crisis Support page.
Ok, that’s it for now. As plans get clearer and decisions are made we’ll be sure to update you asap!
Thanks church – keep going!
~ Pastor Chris
Wow. These are some crazy times. Hard in many ways. Terribly difficult for some of you. But I must admit, while feeling the burden for you, I’m energized by how we see God moving in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to imagine. In ways that are unlikely except in these unusual times. Did you see this spontaneous request for prayer during primetime television on MSNBC?!?
As an introvert, the stay-at-home order has actually been an advantage to me in some ways. Particularly, it has created the space and means to be more connected to so many of you! It’s truly been a pleasure and a privilege. I’m sorry for my extroverted friends…I know it’s all very hard on you. I get it, I do.
I hope you can find a way to keep leaning into the special connections this week…Holy Week…and it’s not too late to start now!
- Good Friday – a 6PM online reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice for the world.
- Easter – a 9:30AM online Sunday celebration.
- I’m going to intentionally tailor the Easter message this Sunday morning to those far from God, non-believers, the unchurched…whatever word you choose…those without eternal security and hope. Tune in with that mindset, pray and be excited for who God might reach. Pray, pray, pray. Invite, invite, invite! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
- Break for Devotional – online every Monday at noon with Adam Heath.
- Break for Prayer – every Wednesday at noon on Facebook Live with Pastor Brian.
- Break for Worship – every Thursday at noon on Facebook Live with Pastor Tammy.
A schedule of upcoming events and other points of connection is available on the website.
Additionally, our recently redesigned Vista website provides a number of other ways to connect:
- Prayer Wall – submit prayers and pray for others
- Care Needs – submit a need or let us know you can help
- Life Support – resources and links from the church and community
- Sunday Worship Playlist – song sets from Sunday service (scroll to the bottom of the homepage).
It’s wonderful how you’ve found ways to continue to care for one another and for your neighbors. This week, maybe more so than any other week in our recent history, people are looking for something; people are looking for hope. Thankfully, we have a message of hope from a God of hope! Check our Facebook page and our website for ways to invite your neighbors, friends, classmates and family to our online services!
P.S. If you‘d like to find your way into a regular connection space…a small group of friends…to process life, please try. Whether extroverted or introverted, the human soul needs interaction…it’s healthy for the mind, body and spirit.
Here are some relational contact points, but if it’s more helpful to you, just reach out:
What a week. And I couldn’t be more proud of how everyone has adapted to all the changes and upheavals. Do your best to stay connected through the various technologies at your fingertips…who knew how vital the various communication platforms would become?
Lifegroup leaders in particular, I’d like to encourage (even challenge) you to get ahead of things. Invite a few friends to try the Zoom platform – have a random meeting to interact and try things. Make sure it works and that you understand how to use it. Maybe even consider a paid license for the next few months. Although it’s all pretty intuitive, there are always issues…with audio or video or feedback, etc. A few practice runs and you’ll have it. And if you’ve already decided not to gather in person for LG, get your Zoom invites out for your next meeting!
Consider virtually gathering your LifeGroup on Sunday morning during the time you would normally see each for church! Personally, I think this would be a good habit to form. Our first online service will be available this Sunday morning and based on what I’ve seen, it’s gonna be excellent!
Visit the front page of our website Sunday morning at 9:30am. You can access the entire service online!
And finally, allow me a moment to encourage you in your giving.
- It may not be possible, but if we can continue to employ all of our staff through these tough times, we’d sure like to.
- If we can continue to support our young Sunday Kids Community Staff, we’d sure like to (at least to some degree) even though we won’t be using them for a little while.
- If we can continue to support our partners overseas, their families and ministries, we sure would like to.
- We have just finished the search for a Student Engagement Pastor, and we’d like to follow through and hire him.
All that and more can and will keep happening, if we all continue to faithfully give, start to give, or initiate an automated gift. Your generosity will continue to be leveraged to reach more and further, just like always, but in some new ways also.
As always, I am humbled and grateful for your support!
For the time being, all in-person gatherings, of any size, are suspended.
We’re paying very close attention to, and respecting, the social distancing guidelines expressed by the Governor’s office and local health authorities. Though it’s always our desire to get together and worship God (what a privilege right!?), it’s the better part of wisdom that we pump the brakes while we travel through this season together.
But, what about Lifegroups and other small groups?
We encourage you to be in good communication with your people and carefully consider where you’ve been, who you’ve recently been in contact with, etc. We advise that you make good use of social distancing guidelines out of consideration for one another and our surrounding communities.
So, are we just going to go radio dark?
No! Not at all!
We’re rapidly putting together a virtual platform on which we can stay connected. It’s amazing that we live in an age where technology offers us the option to see and hear one another while being in separate places. Oftentimes technology gets a bad wrap (and rightly so) but this time, we’re so thankful!
In fact, for your small group, you can easily make use of several free or low-cost video meeting applications such as Google Duo, Skype and Zoom. We will be sending group leaders info they can make use of right away.
So, stay tuned and stay connected! We will be regularly communicating through our various communication channels.
Please share with your family, neighbors, friends and coworkers!
~ Your Vista Team