During this past year of changes due to the pandemic, we have held firm to the truth that the church of Jesus is still alive and active. We miss being able to meet in person, yet believe that we continue to be God’s people, worshipping, connecting and serving in unique ways. We are planning ahead for when we will be together in person.
GATHERING AGAIN PLANS
With the January 11 launch of the state’s updated approach, “Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery,” and with our Gathering Again survey results in hand, the staff and leadership team recognize that our plans needed to be updated and clarified.
What biblical principles have guided our discernment and decision-making process?
1. We seek to love God and our neighbor in all we do
An expert in the law, tested Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
As we make decisions about gathering in person, both commandments guide us. Does a particular decision help us to better love and honor God? And does it also allow us to better love, serve and care for our neighbors? Answers to both questions guide our discernment.
2. We consider our mission and witness to our community
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6) Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)
Our witness is to be an expression and reflection of the love of God for the most vulnerable, which guides us in our decision to refrain from meeting in groups indoors. Our witness is also a statement to a watching world. Can we surrender our own needs to express love and stand in solidarity with the wider community? Are there ways we can bless the community even within these pandemic restrictions? We believe God’s church has always found new ways to be on mission, even in difficult circumstances.
3. We are committed to not giving up on meeting together, seeking creative alternatives
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
While we are grateful for the technology that allows us to connect virtually, we also recognize that this isn’t the same as being physically together. We feel the urgency of many to truly be together and will prioritize creative ways to do that safely. Mental health and the care for the most vulnerable in our congregation are also vital to our call as a church. We will continue to exercise creativity through the ways in which we care well and create space for connection.
4. We express concern and support for our ministry volunteers
In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:3b-5)
It takes many volunteers to support in-person ministry. We care about their health and will listen to their interests and needs.
5. We prioritize the health guidelines for the general population from our governing authorities
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Romans 13:1-2, 5)
We will respect and follow government and health department guidelines regarding this pandemic. We will not intentionally disregard or disobey those guidelines.
In light of these principles and based on our collective discernment, we will adhere to the guidelines—as outlined on page 5 of the Healthy Washington plan—for “Indoor Entertainment Establishments” rather than those for religious organizations. We recognize a separate set of guidelines, specific to places of worship, could be used. Yet our witness to the community leads us to choose a path that does not elevate ourselves above others.
As we move toward live 10 AM worship services, our volunteer team will need flexibility to work out technical details of a live-streamed service. The chart below shows the progression through these stages. Each stage will last at least 2 weeks as we perfect the process. Congregation participation, following all mask and physical distancing guidelines, will begin in stage 3. We look forward to moving into live worship services again, with the continued option to participate online.
Life GroupsPine Lake YouthKairos KidsDaily Reflection VideosWednesday Live-Stream Prayer Gathering
PLCC Life Groups are a place to come together as friends, to care, support and encourage each other, and to experience what it means to follow Jesus alongside others. Many of our Life Groups are meeting online until it’s safe to once again meet in person.
The transition to online connection has presented a great opportunity in the form of Daily Reflection videos! They are posted each weekday morning* to our Facebook page, and our hope is that they offer insight and encouragement for your day. *(On Wednesdays, our 12@12live-stream prayer gathering will serve as our daily reflection)
Join us for 12@12 as we gather live on Facebook every Wednesday for 12 minutes of prayer at 12pm. Prayer is a value we deeply treasure at PLCC and encourage you to come each week as we bring our prayers to God together!
Care FundStephen MinistryDivorceCareGriefShareYoungLife CapernaumEcho Glen Children's Center
Pine Lake Covenant Church collects Care Fund offerings to provide confidential support to those in our community that have a temporary financial need. Funds are disbursed through the Congregational Care Team who determines eligibility after meeting with the person(s) requesting assistance. During COVID, face-to-face meetings have not always been appropriate and therefore have sometimes been replaced by phone or online connection to determine the need and pray with the potential recipient.
Stephen Ministry is a lay person ministry that provides one-on-one confidential support to people who are going through life’s challenges to a point of being overwhelmed—challenges such as isolation and loneliness; anxiety over health; grief; juggling work, childcare, and schooling responsibilities; financial strain or job loss; uncertainty about the future.
Our Stephen Ministers offer one-on-one support with weekly discussions or meetings. In the current environment, we are utilizing Zoom and also safely connecting through socially distanced meetings.
This has been a hard season of life for everyone, and may be particularly hard on marriages. If you’re contemplating separation or divorce, or you’re struggling after divorce, we have a team to help walk alongside you. DivorceCare is a 13-week program with video lessons and workbooks, plus online conversations with trained leaders.
This group meets online on Thursdays from 7:00-8:00 pm. Join at any time throughout the session.
YoungLife Capernaum provides community, friendship, and care centered around Jesus for friends with special needs in the Sammamish/Issaquah area. For the past several years we have hosted ‘Capernaum’s Got Talent‘ on our campus, a talent show for students with special needs and their families. It is a powerful one-night experience where our community comes together to celebrate the talents and gifts of each student. Last year we had to cancel this event last-minute, and this year it will be virtual! We invite you to join this virtual event taking place Monday, May 17, and Monday, May 24, @ 4pm to celebrate and support our YoungLife Capernaum friends. In addition, if you or anyone in your family is looking to further connect with YoungLife Capernaum reach out to Pastor Mark Neely
Echo Glen is a juvenile facility in our area that provides treatment services for male and female residents, and has been a longtime partner of PLCC. Currently, we are forming a team to lead ‘Alpha Youth’ at Echo Glen beginning this spring and are in need of volunteers to help lead! Contact Pastor Mark Neely for more information.