Prom may have been canceled – but church is having a homecoming!
The transition to meeting normally starts with a guarded “Pre-Opening” of our in-person gatherings. New Chapel has the green light to gather. Recently clarified Executive Orders, and the updated CDC guidelines have helped to inform the wise precautions to help keep us all safe and healthy.
Self-Check Health Assessment
To keep you and all our staff, GoTeam Leaders, and attendees safe, we are following local guidelines and asking everyone to self-check for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors before entering our locations.
Self-Check Health Assessment Questions:
- Have you or any member of your household had any COVID-19 symptoms (cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, sore throat, new loss of taste of smell) in the past 24 hours or had a temperature that is elevated for you, 100.4 F or greater?
- Have you or any member of your household had any close contact in the last 14 days with someone with a diagnosis of COVID-19?
- Have you or any member of your household traveled internationally or outside of the state in the last 14 days?
- Have you or anyone in your household visited or received treatment in a hospital, nursing home, long-term care, or other health care facility in the past 30 days?
- Are you or anyone in your household a health care provider or emergency responder that may potentially have a high level of exposure to COVID-19?
- If you answer yes to #1 or #2, we are unable to have you on campus at this time. Please monitor your health and we hope to see you back on campus soon.
- If you answer yes to #3, #4 or #5 please evaluate the environments you’ve been exposed to – maybe you should remain a part of our online services.
- If all is well – you’re more than welcome at church!
From Pastor Joe - July 11th, 2020
“State government has ordered those entering public buildings to wear masks. It is not the law - laws are passed by a legislature.
If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from this order. Also, if you are protesting anything (including masks), it (apparently) exempts you from listening to anyone.
Due to HIPPA, and the Fourth Amendment, we cannot legally ask you about your medical conditions. ...not that we would any other time. Further, the church cannot (and should not) violate your First Amendment right to freely exercise your faith.
If we see you without a mask, we are not going to make any assumptions about your health nor your political protest. We’re not here to judge you. If you are wearing a mask, you should be confident to come to church this Sunday - if indeed masks work.
We will not be forceful. There’s “no stones” waiting for you at New Chapel - never has and never will - whether or not you wear a mask.
Because I’ve been asked: I encourage you to follow your convictions. My family will not be wearing masks at church this Sunday.”
We're back to two service times: 9&11a
Three Opportunities to Worship on the Weekend:
> 8:30a Church Service
“In-Person Live” Service; also streamed online.
> 10a Church Service
“In-Person Live” Service; also streamed online.
> 11:30a "Drive-In Church" Service
This is a, “Drive-In Church” Service; a fun option for everyone, including those age 65+, and in the CDC “vulnerable” category.
What Precautions has New Chapel made in order to re-engage our church gatherings?
We are taking every step of precaution to ensure that our New Chapel worship services are safe, secure, and spacious for your family to attend.
1. We have prepped the church.
- Our entire facility has been deep-cleaned and sterilized by a company with a hospital grade industrial electrostatic fogger – which we can guarantee exceeds the standard of, “Walmart” type stores. In addition to being sterilized, our floors have been diamond-grade cleaned, and our carpets and upholstered furniture have been deep-cleaned and shampooed.
- We removed peripheral items in our lobby/commons area, auditorium, as well as in NewKidz classrooms to have less items for opportunity for the transfer of germs.
- NewKidz GoTeam leaders will have aprons on.
- NewKidz programming will encourage no contact; we’re temporarily withdrawing snack time, and only giving bottles when asked by parents.
If you’d rather have kids sit with you – great! There’s an article all about kids being with their parents in church here. If you’d like to have them next to you, yet feel they might be a little antsy, consider bringing a tablet or mobile device and a pair of headphones. During the experience, your child can visit newchapel.com/kids and watch this weekend’s Bible lesson. Don’t worry – Pastor Joe won’t take it personally!
- We’ve removed, “convenience paper consumables” like our “weeklies,” information cards, connection cards, and the like from public consumption in lieu of utilizing digital platforms and forms through newchapel.com.
- We’ve placed laminated, “FYI” signs, and vinyl floor decals all about our church to inform both social distancing, and best practices for safely having church.
- We’ve arranged “family pod” seating (clusters of chairs, and groups of tables and chairs) to indicate and ensure social distancing while seated in the auditorium.
- We’ve installed hardware on the feet of doors to the auditorium, public washrooms, and the like to create a “hands-free” passage throughout church.
- Toilets in the washrooms now feature flushable tissue in dispensers mounted on the wall.
- We’re temporarily suspending our “greeting” time for this season.
- When we offer communion, it will be in pre-packaged containers from the manufacturer that we’ll sterilize with the electrostatic fogger, and place individually at seats with gloves.
- In lieu of passing offering buckets, we’ve created “offering podiums” to give with check or cash (all the while, we’re encouraging giving online).
- We’ve also placed, “Clean Convenience Stations” all about the church, which offer Wet Wipes, Alcohol Pads, Hand Sanitizer, and Tissues.
- In lieu of serving fresh-brewed coffee, we’re offering a chilled Frappuccino for those who make a non-perishable food donation to Hand2Hand.
2. We clean the church between services.
- The ministry has purchased, at great expense, an electrostatic fogger.
- Every chair, door handle, and public washroom will be sanitized prior to and between each worship service.
- In kind, our NewKidz rooms will be sanitized prior to and between each worship service.
3. We’re asking those serving or attending in-person to participate in making church safe.
- All GoTeam leaders are temperature checked and asked about their health before entering the building to serve; attenders will know they’re approved for service by their presence and the sticker on their shirt.
- We’re sending home any employee or GoTeam volunteer who has any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19:
- Although we’re not requiring our GoTeam to wear masks, many will.
- Many specific leaders will have both medical gloves, and white cotton gloves on.
- We’re asking that everyone use (provided) hand sanitizer on their way in and out of church.
- We’ve trained our GoTeam Greeters to greet with a wave in order to be “hands free.” We encourage all attendees over the age of 65 or those who have a compromised immune system to worship online with us online.
4. We’re asking those with any of the following symptoms in the last 10 days to engage with church online:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
New Chapel - You are a generous church.
Because of that we have been able to help people with tangible needs, and serve you and your family throughout this season. Your faithfulness with your tithes and offerings has enabled us to continue to reach people – Thank you! We’re truly better together.
You can give online at newchapel.com/give
Here’s how you text to give:
Text the word, “Give” + “(the amount you’re giving)” to 616-965-7801
>Example: Give 100
…sent to to 616-965-7801
You can mail in your giving to:
P.O. Box 141411
Grand Rapids, MI 49514
>>Is this a safe thing to do?
Certainly! Our in-person and “Drive-In Church” services exceed Michigan, and CDC recommendations and orders. We’re far safer than going grocery shopping, making a SHIPT order, or using the fast-food drive-thru window.
Worldwide deaths: Jan. 1, 2020 to April 10, 2020 (circ. 12:40p)
100,260 deaths from coronavirus (1,076 in Michigan, of that: 10 in Kent County)
133,866 deaths from seasonal flu
270,003 deaths by malaria
295,181 deaths by suicide
371,583 deaths by traffic fatalities
462,745 deaths by HIV/AIDS
688,475 deaths by alcohol
1,376,087 deaths by smoking
2,260,785 deaths by cancer
3,078,687 deaths by hunger (16,00 deaths by noon alone)
11,701,301 deaths by abortion
Kent County Statistics May 14, 2020 (circ.1:00p)
2446 Infections; Sadly, 47 have died.
Consider: It's 3 times more likely to die in a traffic fatality than COVID-19; by the end of the year, it will be many (many!) and multiple times more likely to die in a traffic accident than by COVID-19: YET, there's no call for roads to be shut down in Michigan.
Consider: There were 11,701,301 abortions in the world (from January 1-April 10). Nearly 1 in 5 pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, in Michigan end in abortion according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (chasing New York). There are an average of 27,000 abortions in Michigan annually. Gov. Whitmer has designated abortions as an "essential service" to be offered.
Consider: Spiritual and Mental health are a "necessity to sustain life."
To make an ascertainment that spiritual and mental health are not necessary while abortions are an "essential service" in Michigan would be savage.
For those reasons:
We’re encouraging CDC guidelines (6 feet distance; contact guidelines).
We’re acknowledging "executive order" requests and celebrating 1st amendment liberties.
We’re discouraging physical contact.
We hosting both in-person and "Drive-In Church" services to accommodate everyone.
We’re doing our part in the community to ensure spiritual and mental health needs are attended to (in a safer method than using a drive-thru/delivery-service for take-out food).
We’re encouraging attenders to bring non-perishable goods for the “Hand2Hand” food bank which designate them as volunteers under Executive Orders.
And, we’re insisting that those exhibiting any sickness/respiratory symptoms, have had exposure to COVID-19, or are at a high health risk themselves, join us for an online video of our church service.
While we maintain that you are responsible for your own health, we've exceeded standards from our counterparts, and are certainly safer than shopping or getting gas.
>> "Is it legally okay to meet? Churches weren’t specifically mentioned as “essential” in the Governor’s executive orders…"
Yes! Very much so.
It's safe, legal, and important for the church to gather for seven key reasons:
1. Governor Whitmer has clarified intent in previous executive orders in Executive Order 2020-70:
- "Consistent with prior guidance, neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under section 20 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place," the executive order said. "No individual is subject to penalty under section 20 of this order for engaging in or traveling to engage in religious worship at a place of religious worship, or for violating section 15(a) of this order."
Churches are, and have been throughout the, "Stay Home, Stay Safe" season, able to meet under Michigan, and Federal Law. Because of the healthy separation of church and state, one wouldn’t expect churches to be deemed as “essential” – or not – by government. The healthy part of “separation of church and state” prevent politicians from making such ascertainments. To say whether we’re essential or not would – in itself – be a theological statement (which we don’t want the government making). That's why we're not in the "essential" list, yet specifically listed as immune to penalty. It's an "off-handed nod" to our First Amendment rights.
2. It’s a legal standard (see RLUIPA) that any limitations put on churches have to mirror similar limitations placed on our secular counterparts. Our spiritual condition – not to mention our mental health – is of paramount importance to “sustain life.” Consider also that, our secular counterparts (like Meijer, Target, Walmart, and the like) have hundreds of people gathered in the store, and lines of people outside. In many instances, we exceed their cleanliness standards. It would be an illegal law (of which mere Executive Orders are not), to put restrictions on churches that are not on our secular counterparts.
3. The Federal Government has affirmed that clergy (like our pastoral team) ARE essential workers, which, according to the Tenth Amendment, supersedes local designations. Read the Department of Homeland Security CISA.gov site detailing the designation here.
4. We're gathering together to gather food supplies for "Hand2Hand" which make those attending in-person or coming to "Drive-In Church" designated as a volunteer under #7A11 of Executive order No. 2020-21 (and it's descendant orders).
5. The legal right to gather for free religious exercise - whether by "Drive-In Church" or in person - cannot be suspended by any governor nor judges order.
The First Amendment to the Constitution, which articulates one of our key unalienable rights, says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
First Amendment rights are affirmed in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Any Executive Order, or even state legislated "law" that would attempt to inhibit the "free exercise" of religion, or our "right" to "assemble" would be an illegal order, or an illegal law. Though our gathering is not a "protest;" protests, and/ or civil disobedience are protected by the First Amendment in the same way Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr. used it with his "non-violent resistance." If gatherings were indeed deemed by a governmental official as, "illegal" in Michigan, one who would gather would not - indeed - be in protest, nor civil disobedience by merit that such a designation of "illegal gatherings" would be an illegal law. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people..." ("respectively" - i.e. with respect to federal law and those federally designated rights to the people that usurp state authority).
In our Republic (means "law rules"), our Federal Rights, as clearly articulated in the Bill of Rights supersede state laws, and executive orders that might attempt to defy them. The Bill of Rights clearly assigns these rights directly to citizens of the country (stepping over states, and local municipalities and governments) which, indeed, prohibits intervention. Any portion of an Executive Order that defies these civil rights would render such order as a non-enforceable, "advised encouragement" from the governor. If indeed the 1945 Emergency Powers Act in Michigan delegates these supreme authorities to the governor, the law is indeed illegal as it violates Federal law in the Separation of Powers Clause. The Governors recent orders made under the 1945 Emergency Powers Act defy modern and applicable law and claim absolute, unchecked power to govern by executive edict (the 1945 Emergency Powers Act only applies to “safety” emergencies, not “health” related, or epidemic emergencies. The 1976 Emergency Management Act does pertain to “health” issues and epidemics [by name]).
Rights come from God. The U.S. Constitution limits the power of government, not people. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizes a state governor to suspend constitutional representative governance by declaring new emergencies every 28 days into perpetuity (rendering a governors authority absolute from election, until leave). Any enforcement of such Executive Order against our rights would provoke a prompt Federal complaint from the ministry. Any such EO's violate the Guarantee Clause of Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution because they deprive all Michigan citizens of our balanced form of government. The current EO's violate MCL 10.31 et. seq. and MCL 30.401 et. seq. and deprive Christians of their rights under Michigan’s Constitution of 1963 under Article I, § 4, Freedom of Worship and Religious Belief; and, Article I, §§ 3 and 5, Freedom of Speech and Assembly.
New Chapel maintains that, while we endeavor to adhere to CDC guidelines, these guidelines are not law - nor can they be treated as law (thus be enforced) without an amendment to the constitution abolishing the First Amendment - which this church, and her pastor, would actively oppose. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that no State can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. Am. XIV. The Michigan Due Process Clause also protects Plaintiffs’ rights (Michigan Const. 1963, Art I, § 17).
We're thankful that the governor clarified her orders. On the State of Michigan website (michigan.gov), the governors office clarified the conjecture in the executive orders.
Specifically, the state website says:
- Q: Does Executive Order 2020-42 prohibit persons from engaging in ... activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?
- A: No. Persons may engage in expressive activities protected by the First Amendment within the State of Michigan...
6. The Federal Government has recently stepped in and protected churches. The Attorney General has affirmed churches rights. Read about that here.
7. The (now national) phenomena of "drive-in church" is all over Michigan. Read all about it on MLIVE & The New York Times.
> THERE'S SPIRITUAL CONSIDERATIONS:
1. Our Christian faith shows regular gatherings are essential.
God says in the book of Hebrews that Christians should not be, “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together… but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching…” (Hebrews 10:25). Jesus died to build something – His church! The church isn’t people; "church" happens when God’s people gather.
2. Jesus makes it clear: Spiritual needs are essential needs.
Jesus said that, “It stands written, man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God…” (Matthew 4:4). Government doesn't have to acknowledge church gatherings as essential to make them so: our laws supersede theirs. If McDonalds can serve food, we can serve Jesus' "spiritual bread."