Wednesday August 11, 2021
Dear HCC Family,
Whatever else we’ve learned over the last year and a half through this ongoing global pandemic, we’ve all had to become more flexible in our daily rhythms and expectations. And we’ve learned that the spread/control of COVID-19 can change quickly. I long for the day when life can predictably return to “normal,” and we no longer hear of friends and acquaintances who are newly sick or have loved ones suffering in the hospital because of this virus. But sadly, it seems that we have entered another season where things are going backward, not forward, that the advance of the virus has strengthened, not weakened. It has pushed me to pray anew – as I know it has for many of you – “come Lord Jesus.”
As I mentioned this past Sunday, our newly elected officers have been discussing how these recent public health developments should affect our HCC rhythms and whether we should re-institute some of our “pandemic protocols” for a time. The officers met Monday night to discuss the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, especially with the Delta variant becoming more prevalent and contagious in our community. In light of many factors and after much deliberation and input, the officers have decided to, for a time, once again require masks indoors at The Dance Foundation for our Sunday worship services and Sunday Night Kids, starting this Sunday, August 15th.
I realize there are different perspectives and opinions on pandemic protocols, and wearing masks in particular, but want you to know why we made this difficult decision. Among many factors, a few that strongly influenced our decision were:
- The limitations of our worship space.
- The advice, guidance, and recommendations of health professionals in our church and community.
- Current CDC recommendations that masks be worn in public indoor spaces in areas of substantial or high transmission, whether vaccinated or not.
- The significant increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in our state and local community in the last few weeks.
- The vulnerable folks in/around our church.
- The decision of local schools to act in a similar manner.
However, the most compelling factor that resonated among all the officers was finding a way to preserve “in-person worship” for the most people in the most healthy way – we want to keep worshipping in person together as long as we can, and none of us want to be forced to “forsake the gathering of ourselves together…” Hebrews 10:25. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer has said, “the physical presence of other Christians is a source of incompatible joy and strength to the believer.”
Personally, I don’t like wearing a mask at church. I enjoy seeing faces as I preach and talk to you, and our singing sounds much better without masks! But as I consider our calling as Christ-followers, he leads us to “always put the needs of others before ourselves.” We are called to love and to serve, especially the vulnerable among us, and this is one tangible way that we can do that for now.
Please know that the officers sought to make this decision in humility and gentleness, and I was proud of those who explored every option with the “needs of others” in mind.
We will continue to monitor state and local guidance and make modifications in our procedures as necessary. For now, we will not require reservations for attendance at services, and nursery will be available at both services. If you have questions about this or want to talk about it, please reach out to me or any of the church officers, listed below.
We are a church family, and there is room for differences of opinions. It’s not “that” we differ but “how” we differ that reflects what we think about Jesus and other people. May our unity be a shining example of just such a love.
Pressing in with you to learn how to “bear with one another in love, humility, gentleness and respect.”
Jason Avery, Lindsey Boney, Duncan Chancellor, Lant Cotten, John Driskill, Jonathan Fleisher, Tom Franklin, Jace Gordon, Ben May, Cody Merrill, Hank Powers, Jonathan Robinson
Every organization starts with a dream and Homewood Community Church is no exception. Our vision was birthed from ongoing conversations between a few who shared the desire to love God and bless others in a place they had come to love — Homewood.
With prayer and fervor, we asked one another if church planting, in a landscape so rich with vibrant churches, could possibly be the realization of our desire?
In an article called “Why Plant Churches,” Tim Keller states that, “Churched societies have to maintain vigorous, extensive church planting just to stay Christian. One church, no matter how big, will never be able to serve the needs of such a diverse city. Only a movement of hundreds of churches, small and large, can penetrate literally every neighborhood and people group in the city. A vigorous and continuous approach to church planting is the only way to guarantee an increase in the number of believers, and is one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ.”
Over time, conversations about planting led to gatherings…and gatherings led to parties for inviting friends…and friends and neighbors locked arms to form a core group who share the expectation that God’s mission for the world is to renew all things. We believe God’s main strategy for accomplishing such transformation is through the local church.
“It is not the church of God that has a mission, it is the God of mission who has a church,” famously stated Rowan Williams.
Our invitation is to “come and see” what such a mission might look like in Homewood. Our central message and heartbeat centers around the gospel of Jesus Christ — simply the good news that God has done something for us that we could not do for ourselves.
In worship, we will celebrate all that is good and beautiful around us; and in ministry, we will work for the benefit of our neighbors and community. As Eugene Peterson said, “In the Christian imagination, where you live gets equal billing with what you believe.”
Tom Franklin, Pastor
Homewood Community Church