May 29, 2020
Starting June 1st, Governor Reynolds has announced that most gathering-related activities can resume normal operations at a 50% capacity rate. In addition, 14-day trends for Black Hawk County have shown a steady decline. As a result of this information, the Regathering Task Force has opted to move Trinity's COVID-19 response from Phase 1 to Phase 2.
In Phase 2, we will continue to offer Sunday services in an online format only. However, for those who feel comfortable, we encourage you to consider hosting or participating in a Sunday Watch Party with a group of friends, neighbors, or even your small group. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "watch party", it is simply a time where a group of people gather together in-person to experience an online service on either your TV, computer, or any type of media device. For example, if you have been gathering with your family these past several weeks to watch online services, technically you have already been engaging in a Sunday Watch Party! The next step is to simply start inviting others to join you in-person.
In addition to hosting or participating in a Sunday Watch Party, all of the following areas can continue to meet in an online format, or begin to gather again in-person:
- Student Ministry (6th grade - 12th grade)
- Small Groups
- 1 on 1 Discipleship
- Ministry Teams
When gathering in-person, social distancing is encouraged when possible, as is wearing a face mask. During this time, the church building will remain closed as a way to reduce custodian and utility costs. For further details on our decision-making guidelines and Trinity's 4 Phase Regathering Plan please view previous communications below on this webpage.
Individuals who feel uncomfortable with in-person gatherings at this time, we love you and respect your decision to remain cautious. For those that identify as a part of the vulnerable population, (over the age of 60, have underlying medical conditions or immune-system compromised), we strongly encourage you to continue to gather virtually. We understand that while social isolation can protect you physically, it can also create an emotional and spiritual strain. If you are feeling the burden of this, please don't go through it alone. Let us know how we can help you by going to bit.ly/TBCsupport.
Our Regathering Task Force is continuously monitoring data provided by local and state officials and we will re-evaluate mid-June to assess the next appropriate measures to take. We hope to regather corporately in our building soon, but regardless of where we worship, let us remember that we are still the Church. In the meantime, we ask you to pray and consider hosting a Sunday Watch Party and thinking of those you could invite. God's grace still allows us to be the Church, even while we can't meet in our building.
Please continue to pray for wisdom for our church leaders, healthcare providers, and government officials as we work through this pandemic together.
May 15, 2020
This week, Gov.
Reynolds eased some of the shutdown restrictions in Black Hawk County,
allowing certain businesses to reopen, but Iowans are still asked to limit
gatherings to 10 people, social distance when in public and wear a mask when
not able to social distance. Additionally, their recommendation is that any
Iowan over 65 or those with underlying health conditions should still continue
to stay home as much as possible.
Meanwhile, some churches in our area and around the state are beginning to resume in-person gatherings, which is our constitutional right. I (Pastor Peter) am grateful that the Governor has recognized this right and has given churches the freedom to decide when to regather for public worship, but this decision has to be very carefully evaluated.
To do this, our Shepherding Board has appointed a Regathering Task Force to decide how and when to transition into the next phase of Trinity’s 4 phase re-entry plan, as well as establish guidelines for what procedures we need to follow once we regather as a church. This task force consists of Trina Landmesser, myself, and some of the doctors in our church: Dr. Mike Berstler, Dr. Gary Moyer, Dr. Steve Riggs, Dr. Jeff Sutton. We have decided that at this time, our building will remain closed for in-person gatherings, and our worship services and small groups will continue to meet online until social gathering limits have increased.
There are 4 major factors we’re considering as we continue to evaluate how and when to regather as a church.
1. Respect for governing authorities. 1 Peter 2:16-17 says: Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Even though we are free to gather, we don’t want to abuse this freedom. We want to honor and respect the social gathering guidelines put in place by our governing authorities, and right now those guidelines limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people. Our worship services and most of our small groups are over 10 people.
2. The Great Commandment: Love God. Matthew 22:37-40 sums up the Christian life by first saying: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. We believe that it is possible for us to grow in love for Jesus even during these extraordinary circumstances where we aren’t gathering for public worship. Regular public worship is clearly modeled in the New Testament Church, but there are also examples in the New Testament where believers were able to thrive in their relationship with Jesus while unable to gather, such as the Apostle Paul while he was in prison.
3. The Great Commandment: Love your neighbor. Along with the command to Love God, Jesus also taught us to Love your neighbor as yourself. For Trinity, this means:
- Caring about the public health of our community. We care deeply about human life because we believe that every person is created in God’s image. Our Regathering Task Force believes that gathering isn’t safe for our staff, volunteers, attendees, or for the broader community at this time.
- Giving grace to one another. There are a wide range of opinions about COVID-19, the government’s response, and how churches should respond. We need to extend grace to each other during this stressful time. I ask you to extend grace to our leadership as we are all trying to do what’s best for our personal health, our church, and our community.
- Unity as a body. Various churches in our community will phase in regathering at different speeds, and we aren’t going to try to compete with other churches. We ask you to stay committed to each other and to our local church during this time, as there is nothing the enemy would want more than to see this crisis result in a division in our church. We need to be unified and committed to one another now more than ever. As we begin regathering in the future, there are many who won’t be able to join us because they are especially vulnerable. We need to be considerate, gracious and bend over backwards to ensure that everyone feels included.
4. The Great Commission. Our
mission is to make disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We envision
a movement of spiritual generations that transforms the very fabric of our
community. The last thing we need is to damage our reputation in the community.
We want to be known as a blessing to our community, not as ground zero for a
new outbreak. Additionally, when we come back together for Sunday morning
worship, we want worship to be a joyful and welcoming environment for you and
for your “ones”.
In the last 8 weeks, we have seen that Trinity is much more than a building. We are gathering together weekly to participate in online worship on Sunday mornings, and we have had newcomers join as well! We also have started a YouTube Channel and we are doing daily Facebook Live videos to encourage spiritual growth and community. Our small groups are meeting on Zoom to study the Bible and to support each other. We have been calling each other and praying for each other. We are finding creative ways to serve each other and to serve our community. We are sharing Jesus with friends and neighbors. Our church staff and lay leaders are learning and growing and are utilizing new strategies that will allow us to better serve our congregation and community through this season and beyond. This disciplemaking movement continues to grow even during this season! So be encouraged that we aren’t taking a step backwards, we are continuing to press on in faith (Phil. 3:14).
May 1, 2020
This week Governor Reynolds issued an advisory for Black Hawk County to continue to shelter in place until May 15th. This extension does not apply to religious gatherings. However, under the advisement of several doctors in our congregation, we feel that returning to our normal Sunday services would be an unnecessary risk to our community.
In order to better prepare you for what to expect in Trinity's response against the COVID-19 outbreak, we have created a 4-Phase Re-entry Plan. We will continue to utilize the guidance of state officials, as well as doctors in our Trinity community, to determine when we will transition from one phase to the next. When a decision has been made, we will communicate more specific details on what the next phase may look like. Based on our re-entry plan, we are currently operating in Phase 1 (Strict Operations). While our hope is that we continue to progress towards Phase 4 (Normal Operations), we want to prepare you that reverting back to a previous phase may occur.
These phases are to serve as a guideline for how we will operate, but we want to keep your safety in mind. For individuals who are considered vulnerable populations; such as those are over the age of 60, have underlying medical conditions, or immune-system compromised, we would advise you to stay home until no evidence of a rebound in the outbreak is present in Black Hawk County. For when we do return to public gatherings at Trinity, our staff has been working together to discuss what elements we need to consider to reduce communal spread.
In the meantime, we will continue to meet for our Sunday Services through Facebook, YouTube, and on our Website. We also encourage you to continue to engage with each other through phone calls, text messages, and online call-in Zoom meetings. If you aren't currently plugged into a Small Group, we would love for this to be an opportunity for you to consider a no-commitment trial run of attending one of our Zoom Small Groups. If this is something you'd be interested in, please contact Pastor Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank you for your prayers for our leadership team and your patience as we work through this crisis together. We ask that you continue to pray for our governing officials, healthcare providers, and those directly affected by the virus. Let us continue to put our hope and strength in the One who continues to be with us through these troubling times (Psalm 46).
April 16, 2020
Recently, an Outreach Team was formed at Trinity, and we want to provide you with some ways you can be helping others here in the Cedar Valley during this time, as well as offer some tools for you to engage with those around you. CLICK HERE to find out some ways you be involved!