COVID-19 Updates

March 23rd, 2020

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks due to the COVID-19 emergency. I want to share:

  • How we have prayerfully responded to our new reality.
  • Some decisions we’ve made in order to enable us to continue to connect with and serve our community during this time.
  • Our plans for the foreseeable future.

Our primary focus at this time is to create new systems for our community to stay connected during this crisis. Connection is critical, particularly as we really need to stay home. We are quickly learning more and more about ways to connect online.

All meetings have moved to online meetings.

We are providing weekly online worship, daily videos and our Wednesday night class via Facebook and YouTube. We are also moving the Daily Study Guide to a daily video on the same platforms. So far, the daily videos have come from staff but we plan on incorporating more people from our community. Our content will evolve to meet the needs of our community as we learn more about those needs.

We are also focused on developing systems to mobilize us to be a church who seeks to serve our neighbors. It is my prayer that as we look back on this experience we realize this was a time we grew in our capacity and calling to care for our community.

The duration of the ban on gatherings will directly affect our long-term path for the church. The longer the length of the ban, the greater the need for restructuring to reengage our community.  We are brainstorming and dreaming what this might mean and are excited to pursue new areas of ministry. I firmly believe this will reiterate the missional direction we have been pursuing modeled after the New Testament Church. We’ll have much more on this to come.

We have no way to project our income, but we are anticipating a significant drop in giving, most likely the drop will increase as the ban lengthens. We have taken quite a few steps to lower our costs and have dropped our operating budget by over half. Unfortunately one of our largest costs is labor and we need to ensure our staff have an income during this season.

The following staff are being placed on temporary furlough status so they can be eligible for unemployment benefits:

Tami White, Debbie Toner, Grimelda Sanchez, Jean Blok, Janelle Mercado, Lindsey Shelton, Annette Warga and our entire preschool staff.

The remaining staff have taken a 25% reduction in pay:

Bryan White, Peggy Zumhofe, Trevor Owen, April Bergez, Trevor Hollenbeck, Justin Porter, and Jeremy Johnson.

The staff knows this might not be the extent of the decisions depending on what happens.

We love and value all of our staff. The difficult decision of who to put on furlough was made based on several criteria.
1) Do we have work for them?
2) Who is absolutely necessary for operations?
3) Can they help our community connect in new ways online during the ban?
4) Can they help us create new areas of ministry that we can pursue after the pandemic is over?

Please pray for all of our staff and their families. We highly value them and these were very difficult decisions that we had to make. They were not anticipated just as this pandemic was not anticipated by anyone. Our world is in a state of shock and grief. Every member of our team is deeply grieved by these actions.

During the stand-by furlough we have reassigned several staff positions so all areas of ministry are covered. I have asked them to contact our ministry leaders and in turn those leaders to contact everyone in their areas of ministry. Very soon we will have another communication blitz discussing ways we can be the church for our community but right now we just want to check in on everyone, keeping the lines of communication open. It is my hope and desire that this becomes a habit for all of us.

Please pray for our church family, our community, our state, our nation and our world. It is my prayer that God will redeem this situation in many ways, one of which is to halt the division that has become so prevalent in the last years and reinstate basic care and decency for our fellow human beings and for creation as a whole. I also hope this is an opportunity for the world to experience the hope of Christ felt through the actions of our church and others.

 

I am praying for you all,
Much love,
Bryan White

March 13th, 2020

Dear Hillspring family and friends,

Grace and peace to you through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I have been praying for our community and world as we come together in the face of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. There are many uncertainties, but one thing that is not uncertain is that Jesus conquered death as He rose from the grave and reigns as Lord forever and ever!

As resurrection people, we are called to bring hope in the midst of the darkest tombs our world can face. We do this because we know that our ultimate hope is not in the things of this world; rather, our hope is in the God that made this world. His son, our redeemer, is our source of salvation. His Holy Spirit is our continuing source of comfort and presence in the midst of any and all fears.

While others might give way to panic and anxiety, we stand firm knowing that God is in control.

Our Leadership Team has been prayerfully considering our best responses to this epidemic. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency. In response to these and other recent events, as well as conversation with health professionals, we have decided to limit our worship gatherings to online and home church gatherings at this time.

We have learned a great deal about how COVID-19 spreads and who is at highest risk for infection. Experts tell us that one of the most important ways we can prevent its spread is to limit large gatherings. That clearly means one of the ways we can expedite the spread of COVID-19 is to bring large groups together. We do not feel that is a way Christians honor and glorify God at this time.

We have no other choice. We want to keep our community safe and healthy and do the right thing for our multi-generational community.

The Early Church gathered in small house groups; they sought to be viral agents for the Kingdom. We are going to be focused on ways we can do the same throughout this season as we seek to be the church. We at Hillspring believe church is not a building; it’s a people on a movement. We are praying that God will use us in new ways to bring light in the midst of darkness as we seek to be the church in the world.

We will gather online this Sunday morning. We encourage small groups to come together and worship. We pray that this will be an opportunity for us to grow in new ways as a church family. Our ministries will continue and grow through this time. We are so grateful that many of you already give online. Thank you for that blessing. If you would like to start and need assistance, please contact us via email at peggy@hillspringtc.org or through the church office.

God will get us through this time. Please join me in praying for our church, our community, and our world.

In Christ, your pastor,
Bryan White

  • Worship will be online only at 10:00 A.M. on Sundays (no gathering will take place at the Hillspring Campus).
  • Watch the Sunday messages on Facebook, YouTube, or the Hillspring App after they go live. If you don’t catch it at 10:00 A.M. you can watch it after, anytime!
  • Church is verb. How can we “be the church” during this season?
  • We’re available to help our at risk Hillspring family members get groceries and other supplies when it is not safe for them to be out in public.
  • Stay connected via the the Hillspring App (Android, Apple) & digital communications for ways we can “be the church”.