Reopening of Onsite Worship Date Set
For the past two weeks we have surveyed and reported on the results of the survey pertaining to reopening our physical campuses for onsite worship gatherings. Please note the careful wording of that statement. It would be a mistake to say that we are reopening the church. The church never closed. The buildings weren’t used for several weeks, but the Body never stopped meeting, ministering, giving, worshipping, witnessing or winning people to Jesus. Our mission of making disciples of Jesus who love God, love people and serve the world was never sheltered, shuttered, quarantined, or quieted. I just want us to be clear about that before we resume onsite worship gatherings.
That being said, meeting together to worship in a physical location has been greatly missed by many, including and especially me. So, after surveying, praying, consulting, discussing and debating, I am excited to announce that we will reopen both the Apopka and Lake County campuses for onsite worship on May 30-31. We will offer worship gatherings at our previously scheduled onsite worship times of 5PM on Saturday at Apopka only; 9:30 and 11:15AM on Sunday at Apopka and Lake County.
May 31 of 2020 also just happens to be the date when Pentecost Sunday is celebrated among Christians. Pentecost Sunday is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the New Testament book of Acts chapter 2. Pentecost is commonly viewed as the birth of the church, when the gospel was first preached in many tongues resulting in 3,000 people repenting and being baptized. There’s something about reopening our onsite gatherings on that date that seems very fitting and affirming to me.
On a practical note, that timing also allows us several more days of watching and learning the best practices of reopening from the various local businesses and government agencies. Some segments of society have reopened in the past week and I fully expect more restrictions will be lifted as we move through the month of May, providing us the latest information and most helpful insights before our own reopening.
We want to proceed with great expectation and abundant consideration of what it means to wisely bring a crowd of people together in this current climate of a pandemic presence. There are several safeguards we will implement as we reopen and I promise you they will be clearly communicated in the coming days in this column, on our Journey website and through our social media platforms. My goal today was not to outline our new onsite protocol as much as to give you the date when we will add onsite gatherings to our online ministry.
But please hear this: whether we’re online or onsite, we’re always on mission.
National Day of Prayer
The first Thursday of May has been designated as the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer tradition actually predates the founding of the United States of America, evidenced by the Continental Congress’ proclamation in 1775 setting aside a day of prayer. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and, in 1988, that law was amended, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.
Typically, people gather at prayer breakfasts and lunches to celebrate this annual call to prayer. However, just like everything else, the format for participating in this year’s NDP has moved to be a virtual event because of COVID-19. The National Day of Prayer National Observance Broadcast will take place this evening, May 7th from 8:00 -10:00 ET. It will be broadcast, streamed and posted on the NDP website (you may click here) and seen LIVE on the NDP Facebook page.
We have been focusing on prayer every weekend in our Up Side Down series about the Lord’s Prayer. What a great way to practice what we’ve been learning by participating in what has the potential to be the largest prayer event in U.S. history.
Loving the praying Journey,