May 22: THE CHURCH IS NEVER CLOSED
We’re all facing unprecedented challenges and decisions in this hard season. As a church, our leadership is trusting the Lord to guide our steps as we prayerfully consider how best to walk out our calling as God’s people and our vision to love well and change lives through Christ.
Like so many of you, we’re eager to return to gathering face-to-face for weekend worship services, and at the same time we’re concerned for the health of our community, so we want to update you on where we’re at, as of today, regarding re-opening our campuses for weekend worship gatherings.
For the time being, we will not be gathering corporately at Woodmen campuses for weekend worship, but our church is still very much “open”—more on that in a moment. Our leadership approaches these decisions not out of fear, but rather, through much prayer and thorough consideration, out of a deep-rooted desire to love our neighbors and to be obedient to the Lord. Here are a few of our guiding principles as we continue to evaluate how and when to begin meeting in-person again in the months ahead:
1. We cherish life. We care deeply about human life because we agree with God’s Word that every person has infinite worth and is created in the image of God. Because life is sacred, we want to avoid opening our campuses in ways that will compromise the life and health of those in our congregation and community. We’re in regular conversations with our state and local officials, including the governor of Colorado and the mayor of Colorado Springs, working to determine best practices for gatherings at each stage of the pandemic.
2. We respect those in authority. The State of Colorado continues to order the closure of large-group gatherings at schools, churches, theaters, sports venues, etc. Scripture calls us to submit to our governing authorities unless they order us to act in ways that are contrary to our faith. At this time, churches are not being singled out for closure and we have not been asked to violate our convictions, so we continue to work in concert with our local representatives to serve our community and search for the best strategies to re-open for gatherings in the future.
3. We love those who don’t know Jesus. For 40 years now, the heartbeat of Woodmen has been to help others enter into relationship with Christ. People who have often wanted nothing to do with church are looking to us now. They’re watching the ways we handle tough times and the ways we live out our faith through serving others. They’re watching our decision-making process on opening campuses, too. We want to lead in ways that exemplify the humble, sacrificial love of Christ; ways that place the interests of others above ourselves and show value and care for the weak and vulnerable in our society.
4. We value worship. We miss gathering in-person to worship! We long for the celebration of singing out loud in an auditorium full of people proclaiming God’s glory. We miss our kids learning about Jesus together. We miss the conversations, hugs and handshakes! Unfortunately, with current restrictions, we’re unable to offer an experience anything like these fond memories at our campuses. We wouldn’t be able to offer Woodmen Kids, since children aren’t awesome at social distancing. It might not be prudent to sing together because hundreds of us projecting our voices in a confined room with circulated air isn’t helpful right now. We can’t get within six feet of one another or take off our masks. The weekend experience we could offer today would be missing many of the elements we miss the most.
As more information becomes available, we continue to explore all avenues to gather corporately at the earliest opportunity to do so in ways that align with the principles above. We’re also looking at the possibility of gathering in smaller groups to do “church” together in homes with Community Group friends and neighbors. We’ll keep you posted here as soon as plans are finalized.
Even while our facilities are closed for large gatherings, the church remains open and active, because Woodmen is so much more than a building! We remain open to serve our congregation and to meet needs across the Pikes Peak region. Thousands are participating in our online worship services weekly. Community Groups and Woodmen U classes are meeting on Zoom to study God’s Word, pray and grow together. Woodmen Students are rocking their interactive Sunday Night Live online event each week. Our Kids team is hard at work creating a Virtual Summer Camp. Every one of our ministry teams is learning, growing and serving through this time and eagerly planning new strategies that to best serve our congregation and community through this season and beyond.
Together we’re blessing thousands of families and local businesses facing financial hardships. We’re delivering food to school kids, healthcare workers and other first responders. We’re coming smaller churches, long-term care facilities and prisons. We’re partnering with organizations and ministries providing crisis relief every day in neighborhoods all around our city.
Now, maybe more than ever, we see opportunities to demonstrate the love of Jesus in serving and caring for those with great physical and spiritual needs. In these uncharted days, we trust in our good God to see us through as we walk in faith and obedience. Together, our hope is steadfast in Him! We believe that there are brighter days ahead and we look forward to giving Him the glory for all that He has done.