Important items covered in this statement
- Why we’re prioritizing health and safety
- Our plan for ministries and weekend services
- How to receive future coronavirus-related communications
Walnut Creek Family,
We’ve been closely tracking the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) both locally and globally. As you are likely aware, there are numerous confirmed cases in neighboring states and in Iowa. While we know this virus is primarily spread through close contact, we want to take precautionary measures to create a safe and healthy environment for us all to gather and worship.
The situation with coronavirus is one that is constantly changing. Below, we have laid out plans for our weekend services, ministries, events, and community groups, based on the latest information and recommendations from healthcare professionals. As that information changes, please understand that plans may change; perhaps, even rapidly.
Due to the potential for rapid change, excellent communication is a major priority. As such, we have set up a webpage where you can receive all the latest updates on our gatherings, and any changes to events or policies: https://walnutcreekchurch.org/coronavirus. We will also be communicating through email and the Walnut Creek Church app.
Before we get into the details of the plans, I want to speak first to our posture as Christ followers.
For many, the spread of this virus has caused fear and anxiety. Scripture is clear that God has given us a spirit of love, not fear; and that He, ultimately, is in control, trustworthy and good. My prayer is that we would sense peace in the midst of these circumstances, as we dwell on the truth of God. This does not mean we should be careless or reactionary; rather, may we work together to serve our church and community, and do so in a spirit that demonstrates trust in our God who is in control, and points people to the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Our Walnut Creek team is monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Health, as well as local officials and medical professionals to formulate a preparedness plan. As of today, the CDC has released the following statement regarding coronavirus prevention:
“No additional or special precautions are recommended for Iowans beyond the simple daily precautions to combat the flu including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and IDPH recommends getting the flu vaccine. Influenza activity is widespread in Iowa and as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to receive the vaccine.”
Also, there are currently 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state of Iowa, including 13 in Johnson county, and 1 case in Pottawattamie county. Though these are the latest numbers and recommendations according to the Iowa CDC, the situation is rapidly evolving, and we will continue to diligently monitor the situation. We understand the great potential for a rapidly escalating situation, and want to be out ahead of safety and precaution.
This plan will change and adjust based on the updates we receive, but as of this today, here are the precautions we are taking to increase health measures and mitigate the spread of germs:
Weekend Services, Events, Ministries and Community Groups
As of today, we plan to continue holding weekend services, events, ministries and community groups at each our locations as scheduled. However, this is subject to change, so please continue to stay up-to-date on the latest communication. Also, although weekend services, events, ministries, and community groups are currently anticipated to be held as scheduled, no one should feel obligated to attend (or serve, or lead) within these gatherings if they do not feel comfortable doing so. We want everyone to take the precautions they feel are necessary.
Regarding all weekend services, events, ministries and community groups that gather at the church, please adhere to the following policies:
- Avoid close contact with anyone who may be sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are feeling sick; exercise discernment when assessing whether to come or not.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, before entering a gathering, after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Washing your hands with soap and water is superior to utilizing hand sanitizer when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious disease
- However, hand sanitizer should also be utilized as available
- Follow policies communicated on signage in the church building; be aware that signage will be updated to reflect the latest policies.
Those with compromised immune systems or underlying health issues should exercise additional caution. Also, be aware that each location will have a plan in place to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
We also ask that all gatherings (such as community groups) that take place in people’s homes would follow similar protocol to help ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
Additional Precautions for Weekend Services
We recommend that you give your tithe and offering online. We will not pass offering baskets during the service, but will have an offering basket clearly marked on the way out of the auditorium.
This weekend, we will not hold communion as a step of extra precaution. However, we are currently working on a plan for pre-packaged, individually wrapped communion elements, or other similar measures, if the threat for the spread of infectious disease remains high.
As much as possible, our hospitality team will hold doors open to greet you, and will not engage in handshakes or other forms of unnecessary, close contact.
Kids’ Classes and Nursery
Volunteers will be wiping down check-in surfaces, toys, classroom surfaces, and door handles between all services with disinfectant wipes. We also ask that parents help children wash their hands thoroughly before dropping them off at kids’ classes and/or the nursery. Hand sanitizer will also be more readily available throughout our buildings. It is imperative that parents, volunteers, and children are following all sickness policies, and additional policies stated above.
Again, we will keep everyone connected with the latest information through our website (https://walnutcreekchurch.org/coronavirus/), through email, and through the Walnut Creek Church app. We ask for your prayers for our world and community, specifically for those who are directly impacted by this virus; and for us as pastors, as we seek to lead the church in wisdom.
We are very thankful for our great source of peace and hope, Jesus Christ.
Pastor Luke Hukee