Formerly Florida Hospital Church
Updated June 27, 2020
Dear Church Family,
You are missed. I hope you are missed by each other, but I can clearly tell you that those of us employed at WLC miss the personal face to face contact with our church family.
The number one question I get these days is, “When are we reopening?” What is really meant is, “When will we reassemble in our facility for worship services,” because we’ve never closed! We have counseled and prayed and announced and led and met and connected and trained and had board meetings and staff meetings and the list goes on and on. What we did do was to stop assembling, and we are anxious to get together again, to reassemble for corporate worship.
We have had lots of discussion and a wide variance of thinking about what is appropriate and “best practice” for us as a church. Regardless of whether you are one who wonders why we ever stopped meeting or one who is sure we should not resume until there is a vaccine, we want to practice Christlike generosity and honor each other even when we see things differently.
In order to assist our staff and church board in making this call, I put together a “WLC Reopening Advisory” with seven smart people who have expertise in relevant fields or actual experience in dealing with the reopening of other places. There is no true unity on the subject but we have endeavored to get informed input from our staff, our church membership via our survey, the advisory, and our church board.
After reviewing: CDC Guidelines for Communities of Faith, State of Florida Phased Reopening, Orange County Phased Guidelines, Advice of our Reopening Advisory we announced that we would be returning on July 4, but since those discussions the situation has worsened.
Currently, in central Florida we are at the highest rates of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, both in new community cases and in AH hospitalizations. While from a government perspective churches maintain liberties to meet, we are committed to full cooperation with governmental guidance regarding group size. On June 20, Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued a public health advisory to wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible, for those over age 65 or with high-risk conditions to limit personal interactions, and for all individuals to refrain from social gatherings of more than 50 people.
As a result of these factors we are back in a holding pattern and will postpone our plans to return until further notice. The advisory and staff have discussed some markers we will use to guide us in our desire to reassemble. These markers include:
These factors will not automatically demand we return to assembling for corporate worship, but are markers to signal to us that there is a low enough risk factor for those comfortable with returning to do so.
We had strategized seating arrangements reducing our seating capacity to 138, and a registration system to help us maintain that capacity. We had planned for our first returning weeks to not be a live service but that those assemblies would simply be us gathered in the worship center to watch together exactly the same service we stream on the internet.
Now that we are back in a holding pattern, we have the chance to rethink everything and welcome your input.
In the meantime we are working to provide opportunities for smaller groups who would like to make use of the facility. Groups wishing to do so will need to schedule usage with the church office by calling 407-898-0451 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For smaller groups who use the church the protocol will be face coverings, 6-ft of physical distance, and reservation of space so proper cleaning can be done following use.
I encourage you to look for creative ways to build new and strengthen old relationship as a church family.
Many have asked how we are doing economically as a church. Truth is we have, in May, seen a downturn in giving, but even prior to COVID-19 our year over year giving has declined. Please be aware that many of our costs at the church are fixed continuing even though we aren’t assembling.
In addition, to produce a quality prerecorded service is more work, more time consuming at an increased cost. At the same time COVID-19 has affected our rental income and continues to do so until some future date. Children’s Academy experienced a decline in enrollment, and we don’t know how that will affect their generous donation to the church.
The WLC Finance Committee presented a deficit budget to the church board for our new 2020-2021 church fiscal year that will begin July 1. We believe in moving forward in faith and tapping the reserves we have faithfully built up for times like this, but that strategy cannot be an ongoing solution. I recognize some of you are facing your own personal economic difficulties as a result of the pandemic, and we want to be of help. Many of you are not personally affected economically and the church family needs you to be faithful in your generosity to the local church budget to push us forward.
God was not caught off guard by COVID-19. He is the God who is an alchemist who can turn bad into good. I believe there have been and are great opportunities for God’s kingdom to advance from going through this crisis. I’m excited to see how we will look back at this season and, if we are faithful, see the good that rises from this tragedy.
Remember Jesus promised, “I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Be of good courage, God is with us.
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