Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

UPDATE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17

This next Sunday (June 21) we will meet once again at 10:00 AM for a Family—friendly worship service. If the weather is rainy or threatening, an email will be sent by 8 a.m. to let everyone know if we need to cancel the service. Please pray for good weather conditions so we can meet in this manner.

Future plans and preparations will be explained in more detail later in the days ahead. We’ve prayed for wisdom and discussed many aspects of how we should proceed throughout the summer months, leading into the Fall. Thank you for your prayers, patience, and understanding as we develop our strategies and attempt to explain our plans.

UPDATE SATURDAY, JUNE 6

We are excited to announce that next Sunday, June 14, we’re planning to have an outdoor worship service. This will be a wonderful opportunity to gather once again and this will help us determine how we will proceed in the weeks ahead. Please read the following information and be in prayer as we continue to plan and prepare for when we’ll begin meeting indoors. Please be watching your email for updates.

About the Service

The outdoor service on Sunday, June 14 will begin at 10 a.m. on the southside lawn (near the driveway entrance on Capitol Drive). The security team will be directing traffic, as well as helping those who need assistance getting settled in before the service begins.

There will be no children’s services and we’re excited for the joyful noise they will add to our service. The worship service will be approximately one hour in length and include worship music and a family-friendly message.

What should I bring?

Your Bible, paper and a pen (we will not be providing sermon notes or handouts), a lawn chair (or a blanket and possibly sunscreen/bug spray), drinking water and a mask if you need to expect to use the restrooms.

How do you plan to keep us safe?

Hosting an outdoor service allows us plenty of fresh air, adequate physical distancing and the ability to see each other in person again (Praise the Lord!). While we’re outdoors, masks are not required, but you are welcome to wear one if you desire. For everyone’s health, we request that you use the hand sanitation station and wear a mask if you need to use the restrooms. Church access will only be available for restroom use—there will be no access to the water fountain, tea, coffee, etc. Additionally, we ask that you please stay home if you do not feel well.

What if it rains?

In the event we need to cancel due to the weather, we will notify you by email. We will make our decision by 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 14.

UPDATE FRIDAY, MAY 22

Thank you for your prayers and also for your patience as we seek to determine the best way to resume our person—to—person ministries. Our Elder Board met on Tuesday evening to discuss the questions regarding “what/how/when” that are involved in this process. We praise God that we had a genuine sense of unity and like—mindedness throughout our discussion. Naturally there were some different perspectives about various aspects of what we should do—but that’s a good thing because that allowed us to broaden our understanding of what’s involved. I’m saying this to assure you that we all take this decision very seriously and we want to:

1)             honor God in everything we do;

2)             seek His wisdom for the things we need to decide; and

3)             do everything within our control to provide a safe and healthy environment whenever we meet together as a church ministry.

Our biblical theme for this process is spelled out clearly in Philippians 2:2—5

… make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

Simply stated, there’s a genuine need for patience, understanding, and concern for one another as we work through the steps/phases of how to gather as a church body once again.

Finally, what did we decide?

  1. We are encouraged and hopeful about the days ahead for our church. We enthusiastically believe that God is in control and He is at work in our midst. The survey results help to indicate that as well!
  2. For the time being, we will continue our online worship opportunities and they will also remain in place after we begin to resume our Sunday morning services. We are aware that some people will not be attending immediately.
  3. We were unanimous in wanting to carefully monitor what happens over the next 3—4 weeks while the various areas of our community begin to reopen. We especially want to see if there are any spikes in the number of cases locally. We are aware that there are a couple area churches that are starting to allow limited numbers of people come together for worship services. We would rather see how that goes than become the test case for churches in our area.
  4. We are contacting some of our ministry team leaders to see if they would like to begin gathering in smaller groups to gauge the desire for more “community.” You might be contacted about this within a week or two.
  5. We’re looking at having an outdoor family—friendly worship service in mid—June. That will be a “bring your own lawn chair” event with appropriate spacing for safety. We haven’t set a specific time or day for that yet. We won’t spring that on you without appropriate notice. That will be also help us determine further plans. Some people love the idea of meeting outdoors and that does greatly reduce the risk of infection.
  6. There are several factors that will impact our indoor worship services once we resume. For the first several weeks there will not be any children’s ministries. The worship service will be family—friendly, including a children’s sermon, and a devotional style sermon for everyone. There is concern about congregational singing as a source of spreading infection, so we want to include worship music, but we haven’t determined how this will be done.
  7. We expect that we will have a limited number of people in attendance using a system for RSVP. The details of that will be worked out as we monitor what happens throughout our community.
  8. These decisions are difficult and we appreciate your prayers as we accept our role and responsibility to choose what is best for everyone.  
  9. At this point, we think early July would be the earliest we could comfortably have an indoor worship service at ACEFC. If anything changes, we will inform you.

Again, we are grateful for your faithful support and participation as a part of our church family. May God bless each of you richly.

With love and concern for you and trust in God for what’s best,

Pastor Greg (speaking from the perspective of all our Elders who approved this letter)

UPDATE THURSDAY, MAY 14

Our church leaders want to clarify that the recent decisions by the State, and our local government leaders will not affect our timing for trying to reopen. Our Elders are meeting Tuesday, May 19 to prayerfully discuss and determine our approach toward when and how we will resume “in—person” church activities. We currently plan to follow the guidelines given by our local officials. The survey we’ve asked you to complete will help us understand your desires and concerns. Thank you for your patience and especially for your prayers. We know beyond any shadow of doubt that God is at work and we want to honor Him in all that we do. We also desire to provide a safe and healthy environment.

UPDATE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25

Dear ACEFC family,

Psalm 25:1—5

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

2 O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.

3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.

5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.

These words written years ago by David remain true and trustworthy! Our trust is in the Lord and in times like we’re experiencing currently, we realize the absolute value of our faith and fellowship with one another. We’ve received several notes from people saying how much they miss the opportunity to gather and enjoy each other. This letter today is intended to provide some information about our plans and procedures during this time when some additional safety measures have been put in place by the State of Wisconsin.

Our church staff and elder leadership wants to do whatever we can to help everyone maintain some true sense of closeness, even though we can’t meet face—to—face in groups. Please feel free to contact us through email, phone calls, texts, or social media online. (At the end of this letter is an explanation from the Elders about becoming involved in a Facebook group developed specifically for our church.)

We plan to continue providing a Sunday sermon video presentation along with some YouTube songs on video to supplement your worship experience. Pastor Blake and Lisa are working on some special video presentations for young people as well. These will all be posted week—by—week on our website.

**There are some frequent devotionals (some longer & some more brief) that are being emailed to the Church mailing list.

**Mary Noggle has been maintaining a discussion with the ladies from the Monday night/Tuesday morning Bible study.

**Pastor Greg is working to send out discipleship notes to the Tuesday morning Men’s Discipleship group.

**Pastor Blake and the Youth Group leaders are using Webex (an online video meeting platform) to meet together each week.

**The Elders are continuing to meet on their normal schedule thru online/phone apps.

**The Elders have offered to provide help to anyone needing assistance. Note the listing for Elder contacts below:

Last name beginning with A – C: Justin Zaruba

Last name beginning with D – H: Tim Diestler

Last name beginning with I – M: Desmond Van Houten

Last name beginning with N – R: Rob Fox

Last name beginning with S: Marshall Legg

Last name beginning with T – Z: Ted Parish

**A note about Facebook groups for ACEFC

Over the past 2—3 weeks there’s been some discussion about a Facebook group for our church.  Some of our church family have used Facebook as a platform to share encouragement, struggles, and friendships among our community of believers for several years.  

As another means to share together when we can’t physically meet, Kayde Kempen has set up three private Facebook groups: (1) for the entire church, (2) Women’s Ministry, and (3) Men’s Ministry.  Please don’t feel obligated if you’re not comfortable with this, but if you’re looking for an additional means of connecting and sharing encouragement about how God is working in and through us in this season of uncertainty, consider the opportunity to become involved.  The group is private to invited church members and attenders only, so no one outside our community will see our shared thoughts and feelings.  We hope God might use this as a means to strengthen our bond as a church family.  

To participate in these groups, establish a Facebook account and follow these links to join the groups Kayde has started.  

Here is a link to the all-church group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/appletoncommunityefc/.

Here is a link to the women’s group: www.facebook.com/groups/acefcwomensministry/ 

Here is a link to the men’s group: www.facebook.com/groups/acefcmensministry/

If you have questions and need help establishing the account, you may contact Kayde Kempen.

Please continue praying for one another and remain in touch through the ways we have available.

Be encouraged, God is at work in the midst of this challenge!

With prayer for our Church family,

Our church staff and Elders

SATURDAY, MARCH 14 UPDATE

Dear beloved ACEFC Family,

As was explained yesterday in our email message, we’ve decided as a leadership team to suspend all church related activities (except for the wedding that’s scheduled to take place on March 21) until Friday, March 27.  This decision was made based on the guidance being provided by health authorities recommending minimizing large gatherings of people.  As we approach the end of March, we’ll be consistently monitoring the situation to help us determine the most appropriate time to begin our regular schedule once again.  We want to assure everyone that our church leadership and staff are working to provide any necessary assistance and encouragement to you during this time.  We would like to also offer this additional information to help with questions that you may have.

What activities are cancelled?

As of this time, all Church related activities are cancelled.  This includes Sunday service, AWANA, and Bible studies.  We are leaving it up to the small group leaders and attendees to determine their level of comfort for continuing on.  The Youth group leaders have discussed their desire to continue to meet at this time being.  Pastor Blake will be communicating out the details of youth group gatherings.  For both small group and Youth group if you don’t feel healthy or comfortable, please stay home.

Will there be a sermon to listen to?

Pastor Greg will continue to record sermons in accordance with the topics that he had originally planned.  You can access the messages by going to: https://youtu.be/VFuvq9GuGws

Will the office be open?

We currently plan to maintain our regular office hours Tuesday through Friday.

What should I do if I have a need?

Please contact our Church staff or one of the Elders

How will additional communications be made?

We will continue to utilize email, the church website (www.applefreechurch.org), and our church Facebook page to communicate additional information.  If you know of someone who does not have access to any of these means of communication, please relay the necessary information to them.

How will my kids complete their AWANA lessons?

At this time, the AWANA leadership has decided that we will treat the next few weeks as a snow day.  That means that kids should continue to work on memorizing their verses according to the plan.  There will be email communication from the AWANA email regarding ways that kids can recite their verses and the future plan for when we can resume AWANA.

How can we stay connected to our church family?

We would encourage you to reach out and call members of our ACEFC church family.  The up-to-date church directory was sent out in January.  If you need that information, please contact office@applefreechurch.org.  You can also post on the church’s Facebook page to continue to feel connected. The prayer chain will also still be active.

We would encourage families to view and use this time as a blessing. It is very rare in today’s society that we have the opportunity to really slow down and spend time as a family. It is unprecedented that we don’t have the typical programs of sports and activities to pull us in all directions.  We would encourage families to listen to the Pastor’s messages, worship God through airing Christian music over the radio or streaming, take time for a family devotional, and eat together as a family.

Praying for the health of our church family.

Pastor Greg, Pastor Blake, Lisa Schodorf, and ACEFC Elders

FRIDAY, MARCH 13

Dear ACEFC family,

After evaluating the current circumstances surrounding the ongoing spread of the corona virus and with respect to the recommendations by the State of Wisconsin, the elder board has decided to cancel all church related activities (except for the wedding that’s scheduled to take place on March 21) until Friday, March 27.  We’ll be consistently monitoring the situation to help us determine the most appropriate time to begin our regular schedule once again.  We want to assure everyone that our church leadership and staff are working to provide any necessary assistance and encouragement to you during this time. We’ll be sending out additional information to explain our plans for maintaining a sense of personal contact with one another within the next day.

With prayerful consideration and concern,

Pastor Greg, Ted Parish, Justin Zaruba, Desmond Van Houten, Marshall Legg, Tim Diestler, Rob Fox, Pastor Blake and Lisa Schodorf