Send July 23, 2020

Hello, friend. Below, I ask and answer the TOP 5 QUESTIONS that I would have right now, if I were you. Following the Q&A, I’ll provide details about an August 2 worship schedule change. Please read the entire email.

How is the return to on-campus worship going?

About 600 people have joined us on West Side’s campus on each of the last 4 Sundays. Perspective: while that’s roughly 20% of our usual on-campus attendance, it is more folks than 95% of the churches in the USA welcome under normal circumstances.

Regarding COVID precautions, masks and sanitizer are readily available and our surface cleaning team swarms the building between services. Nearly every attendee has worn a mask and we’ve had more than enough room to distance in every environment. Our staff and volunteers have done an outstanding job of making our environment as safe and welcoming as possible.

While we miss the energy of having everyone in the house, worshipping with a portion of our community again has been meaningful. Knowing thousands more are with us virtually is encouraging, also.

Our family worship venue has surprised many parents and kids in all the right ways! The activities and amenities provided by our team have been a big hit.

Since it’s impossible for us to guarantee that everyone who attends is virus-free, we fully support all who are opting to play it safe, especially those in high-risk categories.

With the number of COVID cases rising, could West Side return to online-only worship?

It’s possible. However, as of today, we intend to worship both online and on-campus until vaccines and therapeutic drugs reduce the threat. As the trends move one way or the other, we realize that on-campus numbers will fluctuate. If the current surge becomes a significant spike, we will likely return to online-only worship.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to ask attendees to make transmission of the virus unlikely by using masks, distancing and practicing hand-hygiene. Those with COVID-like symptoms should worship online from home, along with those who learn they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive. To all who are voluntarily following these precautions, thank you for helping everyone else remain safer and more at-ease.

How will church leaders respond if a recent attendee tests positive for COVID?

If an attendee at a smaller West Side event (students, kids, groups) tests positive and we learn of it, we will notify all participants (whom we can identify and contact) as soon as possible.

If a Sunday worship, wedding or funeral attendee tests positive and we learn of it, we will contact those known to have been in close proximity with the person. However, if masks, distancing and hygiene are maintained, the number of people who require such a contact will be minimal.

Is construction currently underway?

Yes. When you have an opportunity, ride through our west parking lot (near the new main entrance) and get a look at “the connector” (additional concourse space), which is currently being framed. The connector is the final portion of the new square footage to be added to our facility. Once this section is dried-in, the remainder of the construction project will be comprised of interior work.

How has West Side’s generosity been impacted by COVID and the shutdown?

Our collective giving to West Side has remained strong over the last number of months. As you would expect, some Westsiders have seen their incomes significantly reduced by the economic shutdown (and the disruption has necessarily altered their giving in some cases).

However, other Westsiders have actually begun giving regularly during the last few months, while yet another group of Westsiders have increased or accelerated their giving. Even when not on campus, Westsiders remain on mission!

As inspiring as our collective generosity has been, our ability to forecast future giving is diminished by an increased number of economic unknowns. Therefore, West Side’s leaders will likely pause construction again later this year, until we know we can afford to proceed to completion on our project. This means it’s important for us to be as generous as possible, as soon as possible.

We also know that, aside from our Fearless initiatives at West Side, there are many who are struggling with job and income losses. So, let’s be generous, not only with our church’s mission, but with those in need. Look for ongoing opportunities to #ServeSpringfield individually and through West Side.

When we selected Fearless as our battle cry for this season, we didn’t know how much we would need to grow our fearlessness. But our hope is in God, who knew what was coming and knows what is to come. We trust in the Name of the Lord our God.

So, friend, hear this: wonderful things are ahead. They will be mixed with ongoing challenges because we live in a broken world – but good things are ahead because we have a Good, Good Father.

Want to join with us in practicing fearless generosity? Here’s a LINK to register for e-giving.

IMPORTANT: SUNDAY WORSHIP SCHEDULE CHANGE (starts Aug 2)

After seeing how many Westsiders are currently ready to worship on campus, we are reducing the number of Sunday worship gatherings by one to a total of three gatherings each Sunday. Don’t worry, we will still have plenty of room to distance properly.

The adjusted worship schedule below will serve us well over the coming months (which is as far into the future as we’ll attempt to see at the moment). Our NEW WORSHIP SCHEDULE beginning Sunday, August 2 is immediately below:

8:00 traditional worship (in the Multi-Purpose Room just off the newest concourse)

I am grateful to our traditional worship attendees for being so flexible during 2020. To ensure we had enough parking for guests during At the Movies, these folks gathered at 1:00pm for 6 weeks during February and March. Then, since we returned to on-campus worship a month ago, they have continued to worship at 1:00pm to allow for better distancing practices.

Since we are temporarily pausing one of our contemporary services, we are able to return our traditional worship folks to the familiar 8:00am time slot.

9:30 and 11:00 contemporary worship (in the Main Worship Center)

Read those times carefully! Notice that both are different from our previous worship schedule. Instead of three contemporary services at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30, we are consolidating to two contemporary services and shifting the start times to 9:30 and 11:00.

This step will enhance our worship environment, will allow traditional worshippers to return to a familiar start time, and will make for better use of the time/effort contributed by our diminished corps of volunteers (fewer folks coming to our campus results in fewer volunteers).

That’s all, friend – you’ve been updated! Thank you for remaining flexible as we discern what is needed and adjust to it. There is much to celebrate – and much for which to pray. Let’s do both!

With love and hope,

Eddie Lowen
West Side’s lead guy

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