New Life Plans In This Time of Caution
This information will change as we learn more: please check regularly - last updated March 16, 2020
3-31-20 Texas Governor Greg Abbott's Executive Order Relating to statewide continuity of essential services and activities during the COVID-19 disaster states that churches are "essential services," however, that in providing essential services: "In particular, all services should be provided through remote telework from home unless they are essential services that cannot be provided through remote telework." The order states that schools remain closed through May 3.
3-29-20 White House extends social distancing guidelines to April 30. These guidelines urge people to stay at home except in cases of extreme need and not gather in groups of more than 10. New Life congregation will not gather on the land at least until May 1.
3-25-20 Hays County Issues "Stay at Home, Work Safe" order - Effective as of 11 p.m. on March 26, 2020, and continuing until 4 a.m. on April 10, 2020, all individuals currently living within Hays County are ordered to stay at home at their place of residence. Obviously, New Life congregation will not gather in person on the land until at least April 10 - please stay tuned here for updates. Worship-from-home resources will continue to be posted here at our regular worship times, and Bible study for all ages is happening Sunday mornings - see "worship from home link, above. Please join us in prayer and worship in this new way. Please use the "Donate Now" button above for your offerings so that we can continue to operate and serve our community.
3-20-20 New Life will have worship components available online at our regular service times (9 AM Sundays, and 7 PM Wednesdays in Lent). We will also be trying Bible study times live via Zoom. Watch this site for links and updates. New Life Leadership is working to be in touch with all of our members and regular visitors, to make sure we can help anyone who is in need, and also to help our larger community as effectively as possible. Please click the "donate now" button above to give to the church so that we can continue to operate.
3-17-20 In compliance with recommendations nationally, New Life will not hold worship or other gatherings through the end of March, and will reassess at that point. New Life leadership team is in communication about ways to be church together in this time - to worship in new ways, to continue to serve our neighbors, and to stay in contact and support each other. This order does not include outdoor gatherings in places that are not fanced. In effect through May 14, unless superseded.
3-17-20 Hays County order to prohibit public gatherings of 10 or more in indoor spaces or enclosed outdoor spaces.
3-16-20 White House issues new recommendations to eliminate gatherings of 10 or more (as New Life leaders were considering plans for getheirngs of under 50).
3-15-20 CDC issues new recommendations to eliminate gatherings of 50 or more. Please stay tuned for New Life decisions and adjustments.
3-15-20 New Life leadership team met and had consensus on (1) continuing to offer outdoor worship at this time, (2) offering alternative options for those who choose not to gather - we will post sermon texts, and hopefully sermon videos soon, we are looking into other things, including music from New Life, (3) we will put into place systems for checking in on one another, to make sure people have basic needs covered and are not socially isolated.
3-14-20 Bishop Susan Briner of the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA has put out a letter to congregations recommending suspension of all indoor worship gatherings after 3-15 through the end of March, with reassessment after that. As an outdoor worshiping community, these recommendations do not yet include New Life. We will continue to worship as of this posting.
3-13-20 Tent sides taken down, so in case of rain (or drizzle), we will still be in maximum open-air conditions.
3-13-20 Newsletter message:
We are so fortunate to meet outside in nature, always. And unexpectedly, this may be a gift to all of us at this time of being careful to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Being outdoors, we have fewer concerns than gatherings in enclosed spaces. And in a time of social isolation, it may be that outdoor gatherings can provide needed social contact, especially if this is prolonged.
We will have worship, both on Sunday morning and on Wednesday evenings in Lent, and special services for Holy Week. Please feel free to practice the right amount of social distancing for you and your family based on your health needs and anxiety levels. We are a community of grace. Song, prayer, story and routine will be helpful to all during this time, children and adults. We will do our best to provide both normalcy and the GOOD NEWS of hope in Jesus and in the sharing of God’s love in community during this time.
AND we are taking more precautions and scaling back at New Life as appropriate:
- Our Lenten practice of a fast on the “peace” will continue. Please greet each other as you want before and after service, respecting the fact that many will not want to shake hands or hug.
- We will continue with individual disposable paper cups at communion. The pastor and assisting minister will wash hands directly before communion with soap and water at our handwashing station near the bathroom. They will be the only ones touching the cups or bread (beside prep team, who are also practicing safety). If you feel like not taking communion at this time, that is always OK at New Life.
- We will not pass around signup sheets. Please sign up to help online at https://www.signupgenius.com/findasignup - signups for
- We will not have hymnals or Bibles. We will have a disposable (recyclable) song sheet for worship, and this is a great time to get into the practice of bringing your own Bible!
- We will have Bible study, but children will only hear the Godly Play story, with only the storyteller touching the materials. We will not have work time, but will go outside for supervised time as adults finish studying. We will provide individually packaged snacks for children for feast.
- We will not have soup and bread meal before Wednesday worship. (This is not a food-borne virus, this move is just in light of smaller anticipated numbers.)
- We will change our Maundy Thursday format to Holden Evening Prayer (no agape meal or foot washing).
- No midweek Bible study or prayer circle for now: we will reassess as needed.
We encourage everyone to wash hands often (there is a handwashing station at the bathroom), to sneeze and cough into a tissue and (please) throw it away, and to stay home if you are sick. We have several people with immune concerns at New Life, and we are practicing care for each other.