We have sought and been granted permission from the Town of Winchester and Winchester Police Department to host a Resurrection morning worship service outside in the parking lot of Hope Church.
Why would we seek to do such a thing given the current COVID-19 moment in which we live?
First, because Resurrection Sunday is the holiest and happiest day on the Christian calendar. It is right to worship together every Lord’s Day, however, Resurrection Sunday is the highest Sunday of the year. There is no more glorious a day to worship our Lord than on the anniversary of the day on which he conquered death and rose victoriously from the grave! It is always right to worship the Lord together, but this day, Sunday, April 12, represents the very real accomplishment of victory by our Lord Jesus over Satan, sin, and death. On this day, so long ago, on the third day after his crucifixion and death, Jesus “destroyed the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). It is fitting that we together—at least in the same parking lot—celebrate the victory of Christ over the works of the devil.
Second, Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Order No. 13, which closed non-essential businesses and limited gatherings of more than 10 people, provided allowance for outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people so long as appropriate distance is maintained. The Order states, “This Order does not prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people in an unenclosed, outdoor space such as a park, athletic field, or parking lot.” Thus we are in compliance with the law of the land provided we maintain the appropriate distance.
Third, because we have permission from the local authorities to do so. As we considered hosting an outdoor service, we considered it highly unlikely that we would be granted permission by local authorities to do so. We laid out a “fleece” (Jud. 6:36-40) before the Lord. We agreed we would meet should our plan be granted permission by all appropriate parties.
First, we elders ran our plan by our families, a few close friends, a lawyer within our congregation, and some members of the medical community among us. All gave us the thumbs up. Next we ran it by the Winchester Police Department. They gave us thumbs up. Finally, we proposed the plan to the Winchester Town Manager and the Winchester Department of Health. Again, we received thumbs up. We see this as God’s favor upon us gathering on Resurrection Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
How will we gather on Resurrection Sunday Morning?
Here’s the plan. This plan must be adhered to strictly, since this is the plan that was given to local authorities and this is the plan that was approved.
- The service will be held in the parking lot beside Hope and will begin tomorrow, April 12, at 10:30 a.m. The service will conclude by 11:30 a.m.
- A sound system will be set up near the parking lot entrance to the building and the service broadcast over loud speakers.
- Only those feeling well are invited to drive up. If you are not feeling well, then please stay at home. Attendance is completely voluntary. Do not feel obligated to attend.
- Only attend if you are completely at peace about participating. If the thought of attending makes you uncomfortable or ill at ease, then please feel the freedom to remain at home and watch the livestream (see details below).
- Upon arrival, congregants are invited to remain inside their vehicle. No one should exit their vehicle. Parents will need to keep children inside the car.
- Vehicles will maintain one empty parking space between them. No cars will be parked side by side.
- Windows will be rolled down to hear the service via outdoor sound system.
- No physical material will be handed out, such as bulletins. Song lyrics will be emailed prior to the service.
- No physical contact of any kind will be allowed.
- The building will not be open. No one will go inside the building for any reason. Restrooms will not be available. We invite all participants to plan your morning to avoid the need of restrooms. Don’t drink too much coffee and be sure all children are adequately relieved prior to attending the service. To ease the burden of these inconveniences, the service will be limited to one hour.
- If, at any time or for any reason you, or anyone in your car, should need to leave before the service has concluded, then please feel free to do so.
- At the conclusion of the service, you are invited to wave goodbye to each other.
Resurrection Morning Livestream
For those of you who are not able or do not wish to attend in person, we will be livestreaming the service. At 10:25 a.m. Sunday morning, you may watch the livestream here. Feel free to share the link with friends or family. If you do attend in person and your car ends up being in a place were you are unable to hear well, then you are invited to tune into the livestream.