Things are changing at a breakneck pace these days! When we regathered in the beginning of June this year, we did so with a set of guidelines to help us safely worship in-person in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to create as safe of an environment as possible and reasonable. As case numbers dropped and guidelines were loosened on a national and state level, we began loosening up on following our guidelines, especially during greeting times. We just love warm, welcoming fellowship, but we didn’t narrate what we were doing, and didn’t update our guidelines in a timely manner, which created confusion for some; and for that we are very sorry.

As we’ve seen numbers begin to go up again and even recently had a few people in the congregation contract Covid-19 (from an outside source, not at church), we have decided to keep our (slightly modified) current guidelines in place and to do our best to adhere to them. Please keep in mind that there is still a pandemic going on, so things will continue to look different for a while. Below are the guidelines that the Regathering Team has prayerfully and carefully discerned.  We respectfully ask for much grace and ask that we all make every effort to follow the guidelines set forth by Paul in Ephesians 4:2-3   “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” 

Below is a short infographic that summarizes our guidelines, and after that is the full document which explains each point in more detail. 

 

Read our full guidelines ahead of the gathering here: Covid-19 Regathering Guidelines

Please send questions to the regathering team at gold.regathering@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

Read our full guidelines here: Covid-19 Regathering Guidelines We’ll keep this document updated to reflect the latest guidance.

We are excited to see you at our Family Gathering THIS Sunday, May 16, 2021, from 3-5PM, at Gold Avenue Church. We anticipate that it will be a joyful time of reconnecting and hearing more about what to expect when we regather for Sunday morning worship on June 6, 2021. Here is what we will do when we meet on Sunday: 

We will meet outside at 3:00pm on what looks to be a beautiful spring day, to enjoy fellowship and reconnecting. The south-east parking lot will be roped off to create a space for this, other areas that can be used are the patio on the east side of the building or the park across the street. Red lanyards will be available for people who would like to fellowship outside, but are very cautious. They are a visual reminder that the person wearing one would like to have people around them wear a mask and keep 6 feet of distance.

We will then move inside through the main doors on California St. We will be checked in before finding seats as a way to test our check-in system. Every other row of seating will have been removed in order to help with physical distancing. The floor space in the alcove on the south side of the sanctuary will be reserved for families with small children. Families may bring a picnic blanket and/or beach chairs so they can sit with their children.

Throughout our time inside we will hear from the Regathering Team about what our guidelines for regathering will be, and what we can expect when we regather for Sunday Worship. We will hear about the new interim positions that have been created to aid in our regathering, for which we are all very excited about. We’ll share more about what our testimony time will look like as we regather, and we’ll end with joyful worship. We are very excited to meet to talk about these things and that our regathering will begin in just a few short weeks on June 6!

Lastly, please keep in mind that there is still a pandemic going on, so things will continue to look different for a while. Below are the guidelines that the Regathering Team has prayerfully and carefully discerned regarding how our Gold Ave Church family can safely resume in-person services in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to create as safe of an environment as possible and reasonable. We respectfully ask for much grace and ask that we all make every effort to follow the guidelines set forth by Paul in Ephesians 4:2-3   “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” First is a short infographic that summarizes our guidelines, and after that is the full document which explains each point in more detail. You are invited to view this ahead of the family gathering if you desire to.

 

Read our full guidelines ahead of the gathering here: Covid-19 Regathering Guidelines – Please note that since publishing these guidelines on Wednesday, there has been new guidance from the CDC and the State of Michigan, lifting mask wearing requirements for those who have been fully vaccinated in most circumstances (still subject to local guidance). As the Regathering Team is constantly monitoring these and prayerfully discerning how to apply them to our situation, this has led to a change in our guidelines. Since we will not be monitoring who has been vaccinated or not; our mask wearing requirement has changed to a recommendation to wear masks for all those who have not been vaccinated. We realize that some who have been vaccinated may choose to continue to wear a mask, while others may have health or other legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask, or not being vaccinated. In an effort to maintain unity and avoid any needless division, we ask to please not make assumptions about whether someone is or is not vaccinated by whether or not they are wearing a mask or not. Another addition is that there will be a limited number of N95 or KN95 masks available for those desiring a higher degree of personal protection.

Note that there will not be an open discussion time during the gathering. Please send questions to the regathering team at gold.regathering@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

Please join us for our Family Gathering NEXT Sunday, May 16, 2021, from 3-5PM. We anticipate that it will be a joyful time of reconnecting and hearing more about what to expect when we regather for Sunday morning worship on June 6, 2021. We’ll share more details in next week’s update so be sure to check it out!

Dear Gold Avenue Church Family,

 

The Regathering Team, along with the staff, have continued to seek the Lord’s leading as we work towards regathering for Sunday morning worship. Today we are pleased to share that we have set a target date of June 6 for our launch. This means that our plan, the Lord willing, is to resume our in person Sunday morning worship at church on a weekly basis, beginning June 6.

 

The Admin Elders have approved the creation of two new, part-time, interim staff positions to aid with the transition of resuming Sunday worship gatherings, while supporting our other ongoing ministries. We praise God that from within our congregation, the Lord has raised up two people who are willing and eager to use their gifts in this way. Kayleen Jasperse will be our Worship Coordinator, and Katie Harrison will be our Communication and Technology Assistant. We are excited to welcome them into these roles and are grateful for the Lord’s leading them.

Ahead of our launch, we’ll have a family gathering at church on May 16 where we hope to enjoy sweet fellowship together, share what to expect on Sunday mornings, and have time for Q&A. More information will be forthcoming about this family gathering; we hope that as many people as possible will be able to participate.

 

As we continue to work on planning the details and pulling all of the teams together for Sunday mornings, please pray for wisdom and guidance. There will be several precautions for Covid safety, which will be shared ahead of the May 16 family gathering for you to review. We are working to minimize their impact on the service. Covid numbers and guidance from government and health officials may continue to change, so we will need continued wisdom as we adapt. Please continue to be in prayer for the Regathering Team and staff as they seek the Lord and plan. We are committed to following the Lord’s leading, keeping safety as a priority.

 

Peace,

The Regathering Team

A Year in Review – How God Has Led in a Difficult Time

 

It was February 2020, and the Lord had given some very interesting direction for preaching a short sermon series. He directed us to the book of Haggai, which isn’t your run of the mill book for a sermon series. The sense was that there was a shaking coming and we needed to be prepared. Another theme that came through these sermons was that we needed to be carefully considering what and how we build. 

 

Immediately on the heels of that short sermon series our whole world was turned upside down as Covid-19 swept across the globe! There were many unknowns and few answers. As people around us began to contract the disease, get sick, and in some unfortunate cases, die from its effects, we faced a very difficult decision of what to do as everything around us closed down. Through much prayer and careful thought, we decided that the Lord was calling us to choose to protect life and to honor the government’s request to slow the spread by not meeting in large groups. The decision to shut down our Sunday morning worship services for a time was not an easy one nor was it taken lightly. The driving force behind the decision was love, not fear, as we know that God does not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)

 

At the time no one knew how long it would take for us to be able to return to corporate worship, and most of us thought that it would be a short time. As time went by, we began to realize that there would be no quick fix and that we might be in this season longer than we’d originally thought. The distancing and disrupted rhythms quickly led to grief over what we’d lost, and for many, feelings of loneliness and isolation. We all missed gathering together on Sunday mornings and longed for when we would be able to resume meeting and worshiping the Lord together again.

 

During this time, however, even though we weren’t able to meet in person, our church remained alive and well, and busier than ever. The staff remained busy serving the church in a variety of old and new ways by: starting a new blog for communication, creating the At Home Worship Liturgies each Sunday, working on updating the church website, sending weekly church emails, facilitating prayer appointments via Zoom, continuing to lead our weekly Wednesday noon prayer meetings via Zoom, and much more. The Care Elder team, Deacons, and Admin Elder teams stayed busy serving the congregation, even as the congregation continued to love, care for, and serve each other.

 

Through the difficult shutdown we continued to ask the Lord for direction and felt that he was calling us to a more intentional focus on disciple making, in accordance with Matthew 28. He helped us to see, even more clearly, that our Sunday morning worship services couldn’t bear the full weight of making disciples who themselves go and make disciples?” While we love gathering and worshiping together, disciple making requires more intentional focus and relationship. So we asked what the Lord would call us to do about this. We sensed that the Lord’s response was to teach gospel fluency in a small group setting which would allow for deeper growth even in a time when large group meetings were still prohibited due to being top contributors to the spread of Covid.

 

So, even as we continued to ask the Lord when it was the right time to begin regathering for Sunday morning worship, we sensed that He was calling us to focus on launching Discipleship groups and creating a curriculum called the Gospel tool which we would study in the groups. It was all hands on deck for the staff to launch groups in the fall; the effort required to do this well was tremendous, and more than expected. They had to find hosts and facilitators, discern, write, and train about group culture, how groups would be run, communicate, plan who would be in which groups, and more, while at the same time planning and writing the Gospel Tool curriculum that all the groups would use (we’ve also had a number of other churches and individuals request to use The Gospel Tool, which is very encouraging). We praise the Lord that the majority of our church family has been able to participate in the groups, and we’ve even seen some growth with some new people joining GAC for the groups. 

 

As we now consider regathering for worship on Sunday mornings, we’re asking for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance, and discerning steps of faith to take. We will be working with ministry team leaders to coordinate the many details needed to regather safely. We anticipate this process taking many weeks and will communicate frequently with you as details become firm (i.e. timelines, expectations for safety guidelines, etc.). We do not have a target date yet, but you can expect to hear a joyful announcement from us when we do. Whatever happens, we are excited to worship together as the loving, caring, spirit-filled body that is Gold Avenue Church.

 

As we continue to plan, you can stay up to date by continuing to read weekly emails, checking out GAC’s website www.goldavenuechurch.org (recently refreshed!), or our blog about regathering: http://goldavenuechurch.org/category/regathering-updates/. If you have any questions you can email gold.regathering@gmail.com and we’ll try to answer as best as we can. Thank you for your patience and prayers as we’ve never been on this journey together. Please pray for special wisdom, discernment, and strength for us as we lead this regathering effort. Please pray also for the staff, who have labored so hard on our behalf over this past year. 

 

The Regathering Team

(Annah Blake, Tim Mulder, Nancy VanNoord, Mark Essenburg)

 

We have some great news to share with you today!

The Admin Elders have effected the regathering process and have begun planning steps to move us toward regathering for corporate worship. We will be working with ministry team leaders to coordinate the many details needed to do so safely. We anticipate this process taking many weeks and will communicate frequently with you as details become firm (i.e. timelines, expectations for safety guidelines, etc.). We do not have a target date yet, but you can expect to hear a joyful announcement from us when we do.

Please pray for the Lord to lead this planning and for the team (which includes the Admin Elders and Mark Essenburg)

Be blessed, and we look forward to sharing more with you as details come together.

The Regathering Team