Important Information Regarding Coronavirus

July 14, 2020

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CONGREGANTS AT ELSINORE FIRST ASSEMBLY:

Hi everybody, I wanted to give you a quick update as it relates to Governor Newsome’s latest announcement regarding places of worship. Governor Newsome has enacted a closure on all “in-house” places of worship… and Elsinore First Assembly will comply with this order.

The bottom line is that based on the uptick in COVID-19 cases, the experiences of churches that have already reopened, along with the results of our attendee surveys we have conducted via telephone interviews, we’ve decided to suspend in-person worship services through the end of August, or until we are able to design an acceptable and safe alternative that is within the guidelines set forth by our governor. As you can well imagine this has not been an easy decision for me to make. Unfortunately, because the COVID -19 numbers are moving in the wrong direction, and my great love for you and wanting to keep you and your family safe, I feel I must make this difficult decision and have the full support of our EFA Board of Deacons in doing so.

Now, one of the things I love about our church is that we attract all kinds of people with all types of opinions and persuasions. So, for some of you, this makes perfect sense, and you may even be relieved. For others, this will seem like an unnecessary precaution and perhaps a lack of faith on my part. You might even interpret this decision through a political filter, and honestly, I understand all of that. So, here’s a bit more information that might help you understand our decision:

Obviously, we have done everything possible to guarantee a safe “physical service” for those who have been attending our worship services over the past several weeks.  However, considering the new guidelines, we cannot continue to guarantee everyone’s safety, and that’s a big part of this decision. And we certainly are not able to create a quality adult or children’s worship experience with social distancing protocols in place, especially with the “no singing” restriction that went into place before the current shutdown.

In addition, if we open, and a volunteer, a child, a student, or an adult who attends any of our physical gatherings tests positive after the fact, we are responsible for doing all the contact tracing, which would be the right thing to do, however, you can imagine how difficult that task would be to fulfill.

Add to this, some Church Insurance Carriers have stated that if a person contracts the virus and is able to prove they contracted it at their place of worship, and if a lawsuit ensues, the insurance companies will decline coverage as they feel the place of worship was negligent and, according to the governors’ order, should not have been open for “in-person” services.

Candidly, what I have stated above are just some of the unforeseen challenges churches are running into throughout our state and nation.

Now friends, I actually have a great amount of faith. In fact, I have so much faith that I’m absolutely confident that the Church (the body of Christ), Elsinore First Assembly, and all of the local churches in our area, will not only survive this, but I believe that we are going to thrive as a result… the church is going to be fine. Besides, as you’ve heard me say on many occasions, “we are the Church”.

Whether we gather in “Connect Groups” on driveways, the church parking lot, or online, or in our homes, the church is going to stay alive. Elsinore First Assembly is going to continue to meet people’s needs, we’re going to continue to serve the community and we’re going to continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus in each other’s lives, as well as the lives of people who are not part of our church.

When we reopen, I’m absolutely confident we’re going to open strong, and I’m confident of that because I’m confident in you. Plus, 2000 years of church history attest to the fact that Jesus is actually building His church and we are simply invited to participate in the process.

In the meantime, we’re not going to sit around on our hands waiting for a vaccine, we are going to update all of our digital and online experiences for you, your children and your students.  Therefore, I need you to stay “plugged-in” and “tuned-in” to our website for updates and to read these types of informational emails from me and our church leadership team, and one last thing:

Make sure you tune in Sunday mornings at 9:00 & 10:45 and on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. to our broadcast on Youtube.com @ Elsinore First Assembly Church for our messages and teachings.

In addition, do not neglect the opportunities we have for your children on our Kids Ministry at Instagram and Facebook @elsinorefirstkids on both sites, as well as for your Youth on Instagram @avenueyth opportunities, plus for Men’s and Women’s on Zoom on Tuesdays (you can get the links to these ministries from the office).

That’s it for now, thank you for your patience. We will keep you updated and please sign up for our emails (on our church website) and check our website regularly at www.elsinorefirst.com. In the meantime, stay healthy and stay safe.

With much love and respect,

Pastor Fred

COVID-19 Update Week of June 22nd:

Dear Elsinore First Family,

We are very happy with how things are going with our reopening procedures! We have had great feedback from our volunteers and those who have attended the in-person services. The restrictions for churches in California have not changed, therefore we will keep the procedures we have in place until they do.

Here is a brief list of our current in-person service procedures:

  • RSVP System
    • Two English services 9:00 am & 10:45 am with a 100-person capacity
    • All persons in household must RSVP, including infants and children
  • Temperature Checks and Masks Required
  • Social Distancing Throughout Facility
  • No Classes for Nursery, Elementary, Middle or High School Students
  • At-Risk Persons Encouraged to Watch Online Services (65+ or pre-existing condition)
  • Mid-Week Service Online Only (for now)

A full description of each can be found at the bottom of this letter. We hope that you and your family will be able to join us for our future services. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will keep you informed with any and all updates via our website and social media.

Know that Kathy and I are praying with you and for you!

“See” you on Sunday!

Pastor Fred

COVID-19 Service Procedures:

  • RSVP System:
    • Online:
      • Go to our website, elsinorefirst.com, click on the “EVENTS” tab and follow the link. Fill in the information requested in each box and be sure to add the name for each person in your party, including infants and children.
    • Church App:
      • In the app (you can get it for your mobile device here: MinistryOne Church App) click on the “Events” button. Just like for online, fill in the information requested in each box and be sure to add the name for each person in your party, including infants and children.
    • Please arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow time for processing through the check in system and to be assigned a seat in the sanctuary. Scheduled volunteers do not have to RSVP for themselves, however, each family member who will be attending must RSVP for the service.
    • Remember that RSVP’ing is important in order for us to remain within the guidelines so we can stay open, and we do not want to have to turn anyone away because a service is “full”, so please make sure you RSVP to one of the Sunday services.
    • We also ask that, out of courtesy to those who are guests and unaware of our RSVP policy, we will allow these guests to take the position of persons who RSVP’d but did not arrive by the service start time (9:00 or 10:45). Because of this, please be sure to arrive no later than the service start time so your RSVP is not forfeited. Our heart is to allow everyone who arrives to be part of the church service; however, we are bound by the guidelines given to us.
    • If we reach our 100-person capacity we will not be able to accommodate any additional persons into the building, so please be on time and make sure to RSVP (we thank you for understanding).

 

  • Temperature Checks and Masks Required.
    • Everyone’s temperature will be taken before being allowed to come into the facility. This is a safe, no-touch process using digital infrared “touch-free” thermometers that will help us keep you and everyone else in our congregation safe.
    • Until the guidelines change, everyone over 2 years old must wear a mask at all times, inside and outside the building, and during the entirety of the service. We would appreciate it if you could bring your own, however, we will have disposable masks available as needed. Please remember that regardless of how you feel about this restriction, it is the right thing to do by wearing a mask, and it is an easy way to love our neighbors, especially those who are “at risk”.
  • Kids and Youth:
    • Until the guidelines change, we are still not able to offer any childcare, children’s programs, or youth services. For now, we will be doing family-friendly services that will last about 45-50 minutes, and all children and youth will need to remain with their families.
  • Seating:
    • There will be a designated entrance and exit, please make sure to follow the arrows and instructions given by ushers etc. The ushers will seat families with small children on the balcony area, all others will be seated on the main floor. You will not be able to sit in your “normal’ seat, as things have been arranged for your safety. Please do not change seats or argue with the ushers, this can create a disruption in the service. The ushers are volunteers and we ask that you respect them and trust they are following policy.
    • The service will be dismissed row by row from the pulpit to maintain CDC compliance.
    • The restrooms will be available, but we ask that you do your best to limit movement during the service. Additionally, we will no longer have our café, bookstore, or other common areas open, and gathering in the parking lot is also not allowed.

COVID-19 Update Week of June 16th:

Dear Elsinore First Family,

Elsinore First re-opening went smoothly!

For those of you who were able to make it this past Sunday for our first in-person services since our COVID-19 closure in March, thank you for your excitement and willingness to “go with the flow” of our new procedures! Our hearts are full with the compliments that have come in from those who attended and those who volunteered!

For those who attended online, thank you for your continued support of Elsinore First by watching our livestream, even amongst technical difficulties! We are still here for each of you as a church body, so please reach out to us for prayer or other needs. We look forward to seeing you again this Sunday, any way you choose to join us!

How to RSVP for June 21:

We are still limited by the governing authorities to just 100 persons in the building each service, so we will be utilizing our MinistryOne Church App “Events” button and our website, www.elsinorefirst.com, in the “EVENTS” tab to process reservations for a 9:00 am and 10:45 am service (you can only attend one service each week). You will need to RSVP yourself and your family, including infants and children.

We ask that you do your best to arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow time for processing through the check in system and to be assigned a seat in the sanctuary. Scheduled volunteers do not have to RSVP for themselves, however, each family member who will be attending must RSVP for the service.

Remember that RSVP’ing is important in order for us to remain within the guidelines so we can stay open, and we do not want to have to turn anyone away because a service is “full”, so please make sure you RSVP to one of the Sunday services. We also ask that, out of courtesy to those who are guests and unaware of our RSVP policy, we will allow these guests to take the position of persons who RSVP’d but did not arrive by the service start time (9:00 or 10:45). Because of this, please be sure to arrive no later than the service start time so your RSVP is not forfeited. Our heart is to allow everyone who arrives to be part of the church service, however we are bound by the guidelines given to us. If we reach our 100 person capacity we will not be able to accommodate any additional persons into the building, so please be on time and make sure to RSVP (we thank you for understanding).

 

 

 

Temperature Checks and Masks are still required.

Everyone’s temperature will be taken before being allowed to come into the facility. This is a safe, no-touch process using digital infrared “touch-free” thermometers that will help us keep you and everyone else in our congregation safe.

Until the guidelines change, everyone over 2 years old must wear a mask at all times, inside and outside the building, and during the entirety of the service. We would appreciate it if you could bring your own, however, we will have disposable masks available as needed. Please remember that regardless of how you feel about this restriction, it is the right thing to do by wearing a mask, and it is an easy way to love our neighbors, especially those who are “at risk”.

Kids and Youth:

Until the guidelines change, we are still not able to offer any childcare, children’s programs, or youth services. For now, we will be doing family-friendly services that will last about 45-50 minutes, and all children and youth will need to remain with their families.

COVID-19 Service Procedures:

There will be a check-in procedure on your way into the building. We ask that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the service start time to allow us to check you in and take your temperature before the service begins. There will be a designated entrance and exit, please make sure to follow the arrows and instructions given by ushers etc. The ushers will seat families with small children on the balcony area, all others will be seated on the main floor. You will not be able to sit in your “normal’ seat, as things have been arranged for your safety. Please do not change seats, this can create a disruption in the service. The ushers are volunteers and we ask that you respect them and trust they are following policy.

The service will be dismissed row by row from the pulpit to maintain CDC compliance. The restrooms will be available, but we ask that you do your best to limit movement during the service. Additionally, we will no longer have our café, bookstore, or other common areas open, and gathering in the parking lot is also not allowed.

What about June 28?

We still expect things to change so it is hard to plan too far in advance. The State of California’s guidelines that were released are only valid for 21 days, which has just passed, however no new guidelines have been released. We want to be able to pivot as needed and can hopefully have less restrictions moving forward. As we have throughout this pandemic, we will keep you informed with any and all updates via our website and social media. If guidelines and restrictions remain the same, we will move forward with the same process on June 28 as we have outlined for this Sunday.

Know that Kathy and I are praying with you and for you!

“See” you on Sunday!

Pastor Fred

—–

COVID-19 Update Week of June 8th:

Dear Elsinore First Family,

We are excited to update you on reopening Elsinore First!

As we mentioned in our E1 Live service this past Sunday (June 7), our Elsinore First team has been prayerfully strategizing and preparing for many weeks on when and how to resume in person physical gatherings at our facility. In order to move forward with ever-changing-information, we have worked diligently to structure a plan for Elsinore First that remains within the guidelines put forth by the California Governor, Riverside County officials, and the CDC on how to proceed in the best possible manner.

WHAT’S THE PLAN? Reopening will come in progression. Here’s what we have done and what we are planning so far:

STEP ONE — June 3 (Wednesday)
Have a volunteer training on location at the church so we can effectively train our volunteers on the proper procedures outlined by the CDC, Cal/OSHA and the Riverside County Health Department (no guests).

STEP TWO — June 8 (Monday)
Update congregation with the guidelines and process for attending services during “Accelerated Phase 2”.

STEP THREE — June 10 (Wednesday)
Launch reservation (RSVP) system for attendance. RSVP’s for attendance can be made through our MinistryOne Church App or online through our website, elsinorefirst.com/event-registration/. (This is so we can be safely prepared, as we are only able to accommodate 100 persons per service including staff and volunteers.)

STEP FOUR — June 14 (Sunday)
Our first in-person services – two small, reservation only services at 9:00 am and 10:45 am; based on current guidelines there will be no childcare or children’s programs.

Alternatives: church online at home or have a “viewing party” with your friends or family using safe social distancing. The CDC encourages those who are “at risk” (65 or older or pre-existing condition) to remain home.

Why can’t we just go back to normal? In addition to pouring over scripture and praying, we have sought professional outside counsel. In this day and age, we must include all perspectives in this unprecedented time. We have talked to our Assemblies of God leadership, and their advice, mixed with our desire to meet, has helped us formulate our phased plan. We certainly don’t want to “give up meeting together” as Hebrews 10:25 instructs, but we also don’t want to forsake the wisdom of those at our disposal (as King Rehoboam did in 1 Kings 12).

Part of the wisdom for this timing allows our team to clean, plan and practice. We have been saying for a few weeks now that doing church online through live stream services has presented an opportunity that we don’t want to stop. The “front doors” of Elsinore First just got wider, and we want to maintain an online presence to proclaim the message of Jesus. We also expect the guidelines for churches in Riverside County to loosen up in the next few weeks, which will hopefully allow us to move forward with less restrictions.

Will the building be cleaned? Yes. We have scheduled a professional cleaning service (similar to what has been done in retail stores, hotels, and hospitals) to clean in between each service and after Spanish services.

Do I have to wear a mask at church? Yes – everyone over 2 years old. Until the guidelines change, we would appreciate it if you could bring your own, however, we will have some disposable ones available as needed. Regardless of how you feel about this restriction, it is the right thing to do by wearing a mask, and it is an easy way to love our neighbors, especially those who are “at risk”. Masks must be worn while on campus, inside and out, at all times.

Will my temperature be taken? Yes – we have purchased digital infrared “touch-free” thermometers. Everyone’s temperature will be taken before being allowed to come into the facility. This is a safe, no-touch process that will help us keep you and everyone else in our congregation safe.

 

What about kids and youth? Until the guidelines change, we will not be offering any childcare, children’s programs, or youth services. For now, we will be doing family-friendly services that will last about 45-50 minutes, and all children and youth will need to remain with their families.

What else can I expect to be different? There will be a check-in procedure on your way into the building. We ask that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the service start time to allow us to check you in and take your temperature before the service begins. There will be a designated entrance and exit, please make sure to follow the arrows and instructions given by ushers etc. The ushers will seat families with small children on the balcony area, all others will be seated on the main floor. You will not be able to sit in your “normal’ seat, as things have been arranged for your safety. The service will be dismissed row by row from the pulpit to maintain CDC compliance. The restrooms will be available, but we ask that you do your best to limit movement during the service. Additionally, we will no longer have our café, bookstore, or other common areas open, and gathering in the parking lot is also not allowed.

How do I reserve (RSVP) my attendance for June 14? We will have limited space available on that day, and will be utilizing our MinistryOne Church App “Events” button and our website, www.elsinorefirst.com, in the “EVENTS” tab to process reservations for a 9:00 am and 10:45 am service (you can only attend one service each week). Look for the link to come out Wednesday. You will need to RSVP yourself and your family, including infants and children. This is important in order for us to remain within the guidelines so we can stay open, and we do not want to have to turn anyone away because a service is “full”, so please make sure you RSVP to one of the Sunday services. The RSVP for the upcoming Sunday will be made available on the Wednesday right before the Sunday. Again, we ask that you do your best to arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow time for processing through the check in system and to be assigned a seat in the sanctuary. Scheduled volunteers do not have to RSVP for themselves, however, each family member who will be attending must RSVP for the service.

We also ask that you only RSVP for one service each week to allow everyone a chance to attend church services. Additionally, out of courtesy to those who are guests and unaware of our RSVP policy, we will allow these guests to take the position of persons who RSVP’d but did not arrive by the service start time (9:00 or 10:45). Because of this, please be sure to arrive no later than the service start time so your RSVP is not forfeited. Our heart is to allow everyone who arrives to be part of the church service, however we are bound by the guidelines given to us and if we reach our 100 person capacity we will not be able to accommodate any additional persons into the building, so please be on time and make sure to RSVP (we thank you for understanding).

Why have you not mentioned June 21 or any Sundays beyond? Because, in all honesty, we expect things to change (as will some restrictions) so it is hard to plan too far in advance. The State of California’s guidelines that were released are only valid for 21 days. We want to be able to pivot as needed as we remain committed in our mission to serve Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee and beyond. As we have throughout this pandemic, we will keep you informed with any and all updates via our website and social media. If guidelines and restrictions remain the same, we will move forward with the same process on June 21 as we have outlined for June 14.

I love being your pastor. Know that Kathy and I are praying with you and for you!

“See” you on Sunday!

Pastor Fred

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2020-07-22T08:26:18+00:00