COVID-19 Response Update

Hello True North-
 I am writing to share some information about our COVID-19 mitigation plan for us all to consider. As a reminder, the full plan is published on our website at https://www.truenorthcf.org/covid-19-mitigation-plan/

The biblical basis for our response to the pandemic is Philippians 2:3-4 : “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
We want to be a people who recognize that even if we are not personally at risk for serious illness, there are people we interact with who are. Our willingness to notice them and adjust our actions on their behalf affects our fellowship with one another and our ability to be effective witnesses for Christ in our community.  

We are committed to being a church that goes out to build relationships with people and show them how faith in Jesus can change a person’s life.  One of the biggest questions on my mind these days is how we continue to interact with new people during this pandemic in a way that does not feel threatening to them.

I am confident that the people of True North are compassionate toward others, and I want to let you know of some specific considerations during our worship gatherings that will help us all to live out that calling to value others above ourselves.

There are members of our church family who either work with people who are at a high risk of severe complications from COVID-19 or have family members who are at high risk.  Because of this, they need to be very careful about not becoming infected and potentially exposing those people.  It is possible that some work places could be shut down entirely if one of our church members becomes infected.

I know that there are a many questions being raised about the true severity of COVID-19, but because there is still so much unknown and our culture is proceeding to re-open public gatherings with caution, these consequences will take place regardless of how any of us feels about the pandemic.

It is important, therefore, that we all take seriously the guidelines for hand-washing, physical distancing between family groups, use of face masks, and other steps for minimizing the spreading of diseases. When it comes to gathering together for worship, we have increased the spacing between chairs and are asking family groups to sit in separate areas as much as possible. We are also asking everyone to keep a 6ft distance between one another and have a face mask available to wear if you can’t keep that distance and those near you are concerned about possible infection.  One of the easiest things you can do is simply ask the person near you if they would prefer you to wear a mask while you talk to them.

There is one specific part of our worship gathering that we need to draw attention to in following these guidelines.  At the end of worship, we often have groups of people who stay to talk and pray with one another.  This is a valuable part of building our fellowship with one another.  We do also need to be aware, however, that there are other people near us who are leaving the building and may need to walk through areas where groups of people typically congregate. This can cause some difficulties for maintaining a comfortable level of distancing from others.

With that in mind, I want to ask us all to consider those people around us and make some changes to the ways we take that time for fellowship after Sunday worship.  Here are some options to consider:

  1. One easy option is to simply move your conversation outside and away from the doorway.  The weather is wonderful lately, and there is plenty of space outdoors
  2. Move away from high-traffic areas of the church and take notice of how close you are to others.  There is plenty of room for us to spread out throughout the church building and allow room for others to move past us more easily
  3. Wear a face mask if you will be engaging with others after church; especially if you are going to be standing close to one another. Remember to ask the people your are talking to if they would prefer you to have a face covering for their protection.

This is not intended to be a complete list of choices you have. There may be other ways I have not considered that you can still enjoy a time of connecting with others in the church as well as take notice of those around you so that we can all have a better comfort level with the efforts we make to prevent unintentionally infecting others around us.

COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

We have developed the following mitigation plan in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that health risks related to this disease call for us to have an elevated level of awareness about disease transmission in public gatherings. We are also committed to honoring God’s command to be subject to governing authorities who have been instituted by Him (Romans 13:1-4). Those authorities are setting standards for us to follow in response to the pandemic. We will continue to monitor those guidelines and make adjustments as necessary.

While we cannot prevent all spread of infection, we want to take reasonable steps to help minimize it for the safety of our church family members and people they come in contact with. We want to do what we can to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak that could hospitalize multiple people and put vulnerable people in our community at risk. To accomplish these goals we will make the following modifications for our church gatherings.

CLEANING

Prior to group gatherings, we will thoroughly clean & disinfect high-touch surfaces according to CDC guidelines as outlined in our “True North Church COVID-19 Cleaning Checklist”.

PROMOTING HEALTHY HYGIENE PRACTICES

  • We will ensure there is an adequate supply of soap and paper towels for church members and visitors to use for handwashing. 
  • We will provide hand sanitizer throughout the church for church members to use.
  • We will place and disinfectant wipes outside bathrooms for cleaning door handles, bathroom fixtures, etc before use.
  • As always, we encourage people to stay home if they are not feeling well.  If you do test positive for COVID-19, please inform us as soon as possible so that we can encourage others to be tested while still respecting your privacy.

MODIFICATIONS TO LIMIT COMMUNITY SHARING

  • We will no longer pass offering baskets for giving of tithes and offerings to the Lord.  Instead we encourage church members to mail checks to the church, use online giving options, or leave gifts in the collection box at the back of the sanctuary.
  • We will not print a paper bulletin to hand out. Church announcements will be posted on our website (www.truenorthcf.org) and in the “Events” section of the Church Center app.
  • We will suspend offering coffee/treats during worship and shared monthly meals.
  • We will modify communion to prevent sharing of communion elements between families.

ONLINE WORSHIP GATHERING OPTION

We will continue to provide an opportunity for people to join us remotely for worship through Zoom. We also encourage small group gatherings to consider offering an online connection option for any group members who choose to remain at home.

For Sunday worship, we invite church members in attendance to also join the Zoom meeting in order to maintain a personal connection with those joining us remotely.

FACEMASKS

As of July 25, 2020 all people in MN are required to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and businesses, unless alone. Types of face coverings can include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering. These face coverings must cover the nose and mouth completely.

In compliance with this order, face coverings are required for everyone age 5 and older attending church gatherings.

SUNDAY WORSHIP GATHERINGS

When we gather together as a church family, we will need to place a priority on “social distancing.” We ask that everyone in attendance be mindful about minimizing physical interactions and maintaining the recommended 6ft distance between yourself and people who are not in your family. 

We ask that everyone in attendance find seating that leaves a 6ft space between family groups.  Also be mindful of spacing when entering and leaving the building, walking through narrow areas, or stopping to talk to others.

Deepening relationships with one another is an integral part of our time together as a church.  During this time, we encourage everyone to move conversations with one another after our worship time outdoors to allow for better distancing.

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY

We are unable to provide nursery and separate children’s ministry activities at this time, but children are loved and welcome to join us for regular Sunday family worship activities.  We will continue to hold True North Teen meetings for kids in grade 6-12.

True North Worship Re-Gathering

This Sunday, June 7th, 2020 we will hold our worship gathering outdoors at the church building. This will be our first time for in-person worship since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are making some changes to help limit the possibility of a disease outbreak within our church.

Whenever possible, we will meet outdoors throughout the Summer. We ask that families bring chairs to sit on and arrange seating with a minimum of 6-ft spacing between family groups. If you do not have chairs to bring, let us know and we will provide some. Park vehicles on the west side of the parking lot (away from the church building) or along Dakota St.

We will also broadcast the worship service through our regular Zoom meeting for those who cannot meet at the church. We encourage those who are with us to consider joining the Zoom meeting as well to maintain personal connections with those connected online. You can connect through Zoom at https://bit.ly/TNWorship or with meeting ID: 157 725 927 and password: Tru3N0cf

We are not able to provide nursery or children’s ministry activities at this time, but kids are always welcome and loved as part of the True North family!

The CDC recommends cloth face masks be worn over your face and nose when it is hard to stay 6 ft away from others. Please bring a face mask with you and be willing to wear it if you cannot maintain that spacing or you find it would be beneficial for the peace of mind for those near you. Let’s be mindful about valuing others above ourselves and looking to their interests as well as our own (Philippians 2:3-4)

We look forward to seeing many of you in-person as we continue to praise God each week for His goodness and His plans for us!

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