(1) Plans are in the works for churches to meet in person again statewide, including Cornerstone, & (2) Cornerstone’s online ministry will continue when in-person gatherings resume.

Dear church,

Resuming in-person gatherings

As certain businesses and activities have begun to restart and reopen in New Hampshire, I want you to know that churches throughout the state, including Cornerstone, have been responsibly thinking through how and when they will resume in-person meetings.

I am part of a group of local pastors who, with an even larger coalition of clergy in the state, have been collaborating to liaison with the Governor’s office to make sure our concerns about religious liberty, taking into account our shared concern for public safety are heard, as well as fostering a positive working relationship with our state and local officials.

Within the state’s reopening task force, there is a working group focused on houses of worship. In concert with this group of clergy, this working group will develop the document that will guide the resumption of in-person gatherings. Yesterday I, with dozens of other clergy from around the state, received the first official draft of that document for our review and input. I expect that in the next couple of weeks that guidance will be finalized and released.

The timeline and process for what we at Cornerstone will do will be based on a variety of factors including public safety, availability of venues, and what we determine will be the best way to accomplish our mission of leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ so that more and more people are saying YES! to Jesus more and more often!

That mission has been and will continue to be the driving force in our approach and decision making.

Continuing online options

Notice that I don’t talk about churches closing or reopening, because our church, like many others, has not closed; it simply shifted some of its operations online! So at the same time as we anticipate some resumption of in-person activities, we plan to continue online options like those that have been put in place over the last few weeks.

We have seen our reach expand and our ministry continue during the lockdown; we have no desire to cut off or close down these conduits of ministry. Additionally, for many in our congregation and communities, it will not be wise or comfortable to return to in-person gatherings right away. To continue to serve our entire congregation and reach as many people as possible, I am committed to continuing our online ministry options.

A personal note

Lastly, I want to express my appreciation for your patience, participation, and generosity over these last few months. I have been astounded at what I’ve seen: our reach has expanded, our giving has increased, and every week we’re seeing people say YES! to Jesus, many for the very first time.

As your pastor, here are the kind of things I would like to see happening.
  • Be a good ambassador of Jesus in the way you navigate this crisis. There should be a grace and winsomeness to the way we respond to life because we have Jesus.
  • Look for ways to love and serve others. The options may have changed but the opportunities abound. Why not pray right now, asking the Lord to show you how you can love your neighbor as yourself? Then do what comes to mind.
  • As you do those first two things, keep inviting people to church, online and otherwise. There is now an opportunity and receptivity that may not last forever.

The limitations of the last eight weeks have been undesirable to say the least; but God has been faithful beyond belief. Thankfully he is not limited in what he can do; and I don’t think he’s done yet. Your prayers, patience, and support for me personally have been greatly appreciated. I’ve never pastored through a pandemic before, so I’m sure to make some rookie mistakes. But I’m encouraged by the promise that when we are weak, he is strong. And we have been praying as a church, "Lead me," so that’s exactly what I expect will be our experience.

Co-laboring with you,