COVID-19 STATUS UPDATE
We wanted to check-in, after some pretty big movement, with “soft opens” happening here in Rapid City, and basically, in the state as well.
– Monday night’s City Council vote to update the city’s COVID-19 ordinance response.
– Governor Noem’s press conference and her plan to “return to normal”.
Our staff talked at length about this yesterday. And we all came to the same prayerful conclusion. Before we share that, we wanted to share the guidelines released by the White House, a little more than a week ago, which presents a three-phase approach to “Opening Up America Again”, and includes specific instructions for houses of worship.
In order to operate under PHASE 1 guidelines, states must reach certain criteria, such as being able to prove a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period. [Many of you know that South Dakota’s cases are still in a steady incline, and that isn’t expected to peak until mid-June.] If states meet this, and other threshold requirements, they can observe the guidelines in PHASE 1 of the President’s plan. In PHASE 1, churches and other houses of worship may meet as long as they practice “strict physical distancing protocols”, such as maintaining 6-feet of distance between individuals or parties from another household.
The guidelines also stipulate that during PHASE 1, “social settings of more than 10 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.”
Those are steps that we can take WHEN our state gets to the point where we meet the conditions set for PHASE 1. We’re not there yet.
All that to say that, as your pastors, the responsibility that we have to care for our flock during this pandemic is very real. And we’re going to repeat what we’ve been saying from the start: we are going to continue to do our best to walk in both FAITH and in WISDOM.
Our decision — which was unanimous, in agreement, amongst our staff — is that the best thing for our community, right now, is to keep our sanctuary doors closed and continue doing everything we can to keep people connected online, digitally, and virtually. We anticipate that not to change for the month of May. And will update you again, as we go into the month of June.
Now, please do not misinterpret that decision as fear in any shape or form. From our perspective, gathering all the data that we have, not from news agencies, but from the leading officials of our nation’s health experts, we see that decision as a way of walking in wisdom. We seek the counsel of many, we pray, asking for Holy Spirit’s leading, and we move forward, with faith and wisdom working hand-in-hand as we go forward.
It is important for us to not put anyone in unnecessary danger because of our longing for things to go back to “normal” again. We know that what we are doing is hard. And we know that so many of us long for the day when these doors can open again, and we can gather on-site. But let’s not miss the very move of God that’s happening, right now! Let’s not forget that God is ALWAYS near us! And that He is ALWAYS working!
We know that this may not be what you wanted to hear. But we want to communicate that we — our church leaders — are asking, seeking, and knocking… and we will keep on doing that, with Jesus as the plum-line, at the center of all that we do. And we want to make the promise that we will continue to work hard to keep us connected, as best as we can, until we meet on-site again. And we’re going to ask that you would do that, too. Pray for our leadership. Pray for our church family. We are the body of Christ, and we need your partnership in prayer for Destiny.
Furthermore, we know that the ones this is affecting, maybe the most, are those that aren’t connected online. Can you imagine not being able to hear updates, enjoy worship times, or hear sermons and teaching from your church family during this season — because email, social media, and TXTing is just not something that you do — or that you know HOW to do? We need your help to be able to connect with those individuals in our family. If you know someone who is struggling or feels disconnected, please let us know, and our team will reach out.
All that to say, we want you to know that our team is already planning and preparing for the day that we can open up our sanctuary again. We’re praying and asking God for a swift end to this pandemic! And when that day comes, our gathering may have to look a bit different for a while, but we absolutely cannot wait for the day!
In the meanwhile, we are going to continue to be innovative and creative to connect however we can. In fact, you’ll be hearing about it more soon, but our team is planning a drive-thru experience for Mother’s Day, coming up just over a week away. Pastor Deanna is working on it now!
Thanks for listening. We hope you know that we love our Destiny family dearly. And we thank you for trusting us as we step forward. The future may be unknown to us, but we follow in the footsteps of the One who holds the future in His hands.