COMMUNICATION REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS



 

10/15/20

Dear Bethel Family,

 

As you are all aware, there are a significant number of positive COVID cases, as well as a number of people with COVID-like symptoms in the Newell community and our Bethel family. 

 

We covet your prayers for wisdom and discernment as we strive to be obedient to the biblical mandate to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together . . . and so much more as you see the Day approaching”, with the mandate to love one another and “let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others”. 


After much discussion with the Elder team, considering biblical principles, and in consultation with medical professionals, we have decided to go with on-line only services again this Sunday (October 18th).   CP groups are free to make their own decisions about meeting based on dynamics in your group. Please know we are making this decision on a week-to-week basis and do not intend this to be a long-term solution. 


Thanks for your support, understanding, prayers and patience.


Your Elder Team



10/7/20

Bethel family, 

We wanted to let you know that we are cancelling live worship this Sunday October 11th due to a number of people within our church family over the past week experiencing Covid-like symptoms. Due to this we believe it is wisest to cancel our in person service this Sunday. We will still have a worship service with teaching from the last section of James 5.13-20 you can access via our Facebook page. Thank you for being flexible. Please let the office or your pastors know if there is any specific way we can minister to you or serve you this week. 


On behalf of the Elders, 


Pastor Ryan and Pastor Tim




8/28/20

Bethel Church Body, 

 

In an effort to make sure that our worship service is inviting to all guests, we are making the far righthand section of seating that is to the right of the sound booth (as you face the stage), reserved for those who prefer to, or need to social distance for work related or health reasons. We are asking those of you who regularly sit in this section to find a new place to sit unless you fit this criteria. There will be signs up reminding you who this section is for and an usher present to help facilitate social distancing of 6'. All rows in this section will be available but we ask you to practice social distancing of 6’. This section does not require the use of masks though you certainly are free to use them and we have them available in the foyer at the welcome table each week. At the back of this section (closest to the flags) is an exit door that can be used after the service if you desire. I want to remind all of us to be cognizant that those you are speaking and visiting with prior to and after the service may prefer or need to social distance. An easy question to ask as you begin to visit is are you social distancing or just assume they are and remain 6' from them. I am thankful for the unity this body has and will continue to have as we make sure we continue to love others and put them first. 

On behalf of the elders,  

Pastor Ryan



7/29/20

Dear Bethel Family,

 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey we sent out July 1st.  It was very helpful. The majority of the responses were positive and appreciative of the steps that have been taken to provide the services at Bethel.  There were a few who felt more caution should be taken and a few that felt we over reacted in our caution. Based on the responses from the church family and after a time of prayer, seeking advice from others, considering the Governor’s latest proclamation, and considering the best for the spiritual health and unity of the body as a whole, your elders have decided upon a plan to return to a ‘form of normalcy’. In an effort to be considerate of all congregants we want to continue to exercise caution yet move forward in faith.  Assuming that the trend in our county continues to be favorable, we want to begin the process of opening up our ministries.

 

Starting August 23rd, our plan is to return to one service at the previous normal time of 10:20 am.  Sunday School classes for all ages will resume at 9:00am.  Nursery and Children’s Church will also resume on that day.

 

We propose that Connecting Points (CP) groups will begin on schedule on September 20th.  You will see more information on those groups and the different studies being offered in a few weeks.

 

Since the schools are opening we feel comfortable with 105 and BSM beginning September 2ndwith a registration evening in the park, and weekly meetings at church on September 9th.

 

According to the governor’s latest proclamation, we are still required to “. . . implement reasonable measures . . .  consistent with guidance issued by Iowa Department of Public Health.”  In light of that, we will continue to:

We request immediate families separate by 6’ from other family units

We will continue to provide an abundance of hand sanitizer 

We will provide and encourage the use of masks

We will not pass the offering plates or communion plates until a later date 

We will have ushers man the doors (or they will be propped open)  

We will not provide Wed evening meals for now and re-evaluate before Jan 2021

We will provide only coffee during the fellowship time between Sunday School and Worship Service 

 

We thank God that the number of active cases is now under 100 in Buena Vista County (from a high of 1776).  Nationwide, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future of this virus, but there is no uncertainty about the sovereignty of our God, Jesus’ love for His church, and our future hope, and in that we “rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice”

 

We greatly appreciate your understanding during this time, and we covet your prayers for wisdom. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  

Philippians 4:6  

 

We ask you to remain flexible as things continue to change quickly in and around us. We are continually evaluating what the best practices for our church body are. If you have any questions or concerns we ask you to come directly to your pastors and elders to address them. 

 

 

Your Elders and fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Pastor Ryan Helmkamp, Pastor Tim Ried, Garry Friesen, Geoff Smith, Hal Tucker, Tom Olsen


6/23/20

Dear Bethel Family,

Lord willing, the plan at this point is to resume meeting in person this Sunday (June 28th) for worship for those who feel comfortable and are able. Worshipping from home via Facebook live is still a viable option for those who are not ready yet for in-person meetings. As much as we want everyone here, we still have a very high positive case count in BV County, so if you have any reason to believe you are at a higher risk, or have loved ones that may be, please consider the live broadcast option.


We will resume our two-service schedule this week with services at 9 am and 10:30 am. The 9 am service is broadcast live but the entire service can be viewed anytime shortly after that service is complete. 

For those who are coming, or maybe considering when to resume coming in person, we want to remind you of a few requests and steps we are taking to make it safe. Attending gatherings in person is never 100% risk-free. We respect your decision either way and look forward with great anticipation to the day when this virus is no longer an issue.

1. We are asking you to please be intentional about social distancing as a way to love, honor, protect others.

2. Masks are provided on the welcome desk for those who want one.

3. The ushers will open outside doors or prop them open so no one has to handle them.

4. After service, please exit sanctuary and fellowship outside (or in Gym if weather requires) so that the sanctuary can be sanitized between services.


5. Of course, if you have any symptoms of COVID 19, please stay home and worship via on-line.


6/15/20

Bethel Activities Update 

 

Dear Bethel Family:                                                                                                                                                June 15th, 2020

 

Things can change so quickly in the times we are collectively facing. As you are aware, the Elders made a last minute decision to cancel the in-person Sunday morning service yesterday. We were notified late Saturday night of a positive COVID test of an individual that the Elder team was exposed to on June 11th.  This does not mean we are ‘infected’, but it does mean we must watch for symptoms for the next 14 days. It also means our ministry will be restricted during that time and we are to avoid immediate contact with you, the congregation. Pastor Ryan, Pastor Tim, and Ginnie will be in the office but will close off the office to visitors.  However, they are always available by phone, by video, and e-mail. You are welcome to use the rest of the building but we are asking you not to enter the office area. 

 

Now, to be clear we are not discouraged. In God’s providence, each day is ordained by God and nothing is an accident in His overall purposes. So we must look for God’s working in new ways during this time and we encourage you to continue to find ways to serve one another creatively. 

 

We want to remind you to be wise with the COVID situation. We are faced with unprecedented cases in BV County. We are approaching 1600 cases and, at the rate it is going, 2,000 is within reach. It is statistically possible more of you will encounter this virus and we ask that you be wise … but not fearful. We want to encourage you to continue to practice social distancing while at church and practice good hygiene. These are sensible ways of reducing infection, fear and are evidence of your love for others. As you enter the sanctuary starting June 28th, we will have masks available for those who desire to use them. 

 

We believe the summer and fall seasons will require continued vigilance and flexibility. As we have said before, things are changing rapidly. We must continue to practice patience with one another and yield our own preferences and convictions for the sake of the body as a whole. We ask that you respect others’ differing views and thoughts on the crisis as equally as valid as yours. 

 

How will we move forward in the next two weeks? This past Sunday the service was handled safely. The worship team came in and worshiped live. As they left the building Pastor Ryan came in and only he and two others (at the controls and distanced) made it all happen. Aren’t we thankful for Facebook Live! For this next Sunday June 21st, we will not be meeting in person. We will again livestream it on Facebook only. However, we do plan to resume public services starting June 28th, while remaining flexible and mindful of any changing circumstances. 

 

Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to worshipping together these next Sundays! Please let us know if there is any way we can serve you or pray for you. 

 

In Christ;

Pastor Ryan Helmkamp (For the elders)

Pastor Tim Ried

Garry Friesen 

Hal Tucker

Tom Olsen

Geoff Smith



5/29/20

As Elders, we have really appreciated the blessing of meeting together as the body of Christ in these past weeks! Thank you for your patience and understanding during this COVID -19 crisis. Our ministry has certainly taken on a new approach and in spite of that we sense God’s presence as we meet, interact and even ZOOM together when necessary!

 

As you may be aware of, the COVID-19 cases have dramatically spiked in BV County. As of May 28, we have over 700 cases in the area, which means the chance of exposure has greatly increased.

 

Thus, we have made the decision to cancel VBS for 2020. Now more than ever we need to use wisdom on how we worship together safely. The Elders feel rather than implementing new guidelines, we want to take a moment to remind all of us about what the expectations are for the privilege of being allowed to worship. We will continue to have 2 services as we have since we began the new format throughout the month of June with no Sunday School, Nursery or Children Church.

 

Precautions and Guidelines:

  • Please avoid all ‘hugs’ or ‘handshakes’ so that we can honor the guidelines and keep to a social distance of 6 feet, unless you are part of a family unit.  (We have had feedback that we have relaxed these close interactions too much.)
  • If you, or any of your family members have colds, fevers, unconfirmed symptoms or may have been exposed to Covid-19 please refrain from attending. If you have serious health conditions please watch the services online!
  • We will do everything possible to sanitize between services to protect your health, so please exit the sanctuary immediately after the service to give the cleaners access.
  • Please feel comfortable using masks to protect others or yourself.
  • We do not want to put any pressure on attendance, if you don’t feel comfortable attending, please enjoy the service live on Facebook at 10:30 am!
  • Please remember to give financially as God puts on your hearts. The offering boxes are at the back of the sanctuary.


We also ask that we respect one another’s differing views and thoughts on the crisis. One thing we can do is to pray for each other! Thank you for your cooperation and we look forward to worshipping together these next Sundays! Thank you for your understanding in honoring the restrictions to make worship time possible.

In Christ;

Garry Friesen (For the Elders)

Pastor Tim Reid

Hal Tucker

Tom Olsen

Geoff Smith


5/1/20

We are looking forward to celebrating together in worship May 3rd & tentatively May 10th!

We will be having two- one hour services – 9 am & 10:30 am (Leaving 30 minutes to sanitize between services.)

To help even out the attendance at each service, if you normally attend Sunday School, consider attending the

9 am service.


There will be no Sunday School, Children’s Church, or Nursery. We have chosen NOT to have communion until the guidelines are further relaxed.

 Precautions and Guidelines:     

  • Based on Governor Reynolds recommendation as of Wednesday, April 29th, if you are considered “vulnerable” or have “underlying health conditions” you are advised to watch church services from home and not attend public gatherings. (We will let you use your discretion).
  • As much as we would like to endorse ‘hugs’ or ‘handshakes’ we ask that you refrain from doing so that we can honor the Governors requests.     
  • If you have any colds, unconfirmed symptoms or may have been exposed to Covid-19 please refrain from attending.     
  • Every other row in the sanctuary will be roped off to maintain social distancing (recommended distance is 6 feet) Family units are welcome to sit together as you would at home. Social distancing will also be expected for any fellowship time in the gym or outside. (There will be no coffee or doughnuts served)      
  • We will use offering boxes at the back of the sanctuary.     
  • We will do everything possible to sanitize between services to protect your health.      
  • Please feel comfortable using masks to protect others or yourself. (We will also have masks available).       
  • We do not want to put any pressure on attendance, if you don’t feel comfortable attending, please enjoy the service live on Facebook at 10:30 am!


Thank you for your cooperation and we look forward to wisely beginning our journey back to meeting together as a church. Thank you for your understanding in honoring the restrictions to make this worship time possible.



4/2/20

The governor of Iowa has extended the limiting of groups to 10 through April 30th.  Thus the church will follow that recommendation and all our meetings will be 10 or under and we will utilize our Facebook live for our services.


3/27/20

The Senior Pastor candidate weekend has been postponed from April 5th to April 19th.


3/17/20
Updated plans concerning how to function as a church in light of the new directives:

This morning, Governor Reynolds and the state of Iowa issued new directives.


https://www.desmoinesregister.com/…/latest-iowa…/5064551002/

https://governor.iowa.gov/…/gov-reynolds-issues-a-state-of-…

Your elders are committed to complying with all CDC and the State of Iowa Public Health, recommendations.

The restrictions of limiting groups to 10 is until March 31st at this point, but even after that the restriction limiting group size to 50 is still in effect until around May 10th.

In light of these new recommendations and directives:
• Sunday AM service for at least March 22 and 29 will take place at the normal time of 10:20 and will be broadcast via Facebook live. Do not come to church.
• The Elders are working on a model for Sunday morning small groups in April.
• BSM will be cancelled at least until March 31st. We will evaluate the situation before then and make plans on if or how to proceed after that.
• 105 is cancelled for the remainder of the season. 
• All CP groups are encouraged to still meet if under 10 people.  
• The Pilgrim’s Progress movie will not be shown on the 29th. If we are allowed to go back to groups of 50 after the 31st, we will plan to host a couple of matinée showings and a couple of evening showings to small groups in April.
• All other activities have been cancelled – i.e. The ladies painting class on Sunday, Senior lunch, etc…


A verse to memorize and meditate in these days
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear...” Psalm 46:1-2a



3/12/20There are two extremes that we can fall into when responding to something like this.  Paranoia, fear and anxiety; or ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.  It’s unwise to do either one.  

 

The elders at Bethel would like to communicate to you for a couple of reasons:  First, to let you know that we are aware and are taking some common sense precautions to minimize the risk of meeting together.  

Second, to help bring a biblical world-view perspective.

 


COMMON SENSE PRECAUTIONS BETHEL IS IMPLEMENTING:


  • We are sanitizing every doorknob, handle, light switches and button that we possibly can that would be common points of contact.
  • We will have someone serve donuts and coffee between SS and church instead of self-serve.
  • The greeters will greet you, but not shake your hand. (However, for those who need a hug or a handshake, please see Pastor Tim.  I would love to shake your hand.)
  • We have numerous bottles of hand sanitizer placed around the church.
  • Instead of passing an offering plate, we will place offering plates by the exit doors of the sanctuary.
  •  Also, feel free to use the electronic method of giving if you prefer.
  • We have no plans to stop meeting together, nor do we think it’s best for all to stay home.  However, if you’re not feeling well, or if your health condition is such that you feel you may be more vulnerable, please stay home and watch via FaceBook live.


A BIBLICAL WORLD-VIEW PERSPECTIVE:

1.     “See that you are not troubled.” (Matthew 24:6)  

It’s been said that the single most repeated command in all of scripture is “Do not be afraid” or variations of that statement.


2.  PRAY:  Philippians 4:6-7  “Be anxious for nothing, [Don’t worry about anything] but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”


3.    Times of crisis like this always give us the very best opportunity to shine our light. “. . . always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15).  

    

4.  This virus is one more sign, of the many signs, that the day of the Lord’s return is approaching.   Hebrews 10:25 says: “ not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”


5.    God is sovereign and in complete control. 

Psalm 29:10-11  "The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. 11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace."


See also Psalm 46


6.    He is our good shepherd.  Psalm 23 “The LORD is my Shepherd I shall not lack . . .” 


HOW TO REACT


1.  Pray.  Pray for those affected and for those with undue fear and for opportunities to share the reason for our hope.


2.Reflect on Truth and not hysteria.  Scripture is our only totally reliable, totally objective source of truth.  Immerse yourself in God’s Word, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. 

 


From last week’s message in 2 Timothy 1:13-14 “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and lovewhich are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”



 3.   Use this as an opportunity to reach out. More people will be looking for answers than ever before and you have access to the answers.  Be ready to give an answer of the hope that you have and minister to peoples needs.  Let them see a peace in you that they don’t see in the world.


4.    Use good health and hygiene practices:

       

  • Avoid touching your face
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Carry tissue with you to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and throw in trash


5.  Matthew 5:16  “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”


6.    Above all, look for the ways that God is at work in the midst of this crisis and be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that will come as a result.  Let the world around you see the peace of God that is evident in you because of your faith in Him.