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Covid, Communion, Masks and More… (7/21/2020)

Dear Church Family,

I wanted to give you a heads up on upcoming changes (and what is staying the same) as Cornerstone Church continues to seek the LORD in the days of Covid-19.


 – This Sunday (7/26) we’re going to take the Lord’s Supper differently (again). 

1. Those of you who are wanting a “gluten free” option will continue to collect your bread and cup in the rear of the sanctuary. A table will be along the back wall with your supplies.     

2. Everyone else will not collect the prepackaged “two-in-one” bread/cup as we’ve done the past 6 weeks. (These prepackaged items are expensive and hard to come by.) Instead, when we come to the Lord’s Supper in the service, the ushers will pass out the elements seat by seat. The elements will be prepared for you in advance in a sanitized way. The elements will come to you in 2 stacked communion cups; the bread will be in the bottom cup and the juice cup will be stacked on top. The ushers will wear masks and gloves.

3. If you feel strongly about continuing with a pre-packaged bread/cup combo, there will still be a few of these available at the same table as the gluten-free option along the back wall.  

– Service Order, Sanctuary Set-Up, and Masks

1. We will continue the same service order for the foreseeable future. That means all congregational singing will be at the end of the service. The room will be spread out for social distancing. I’d hoped to see fewer positive cases in Linn County and Iowa, but alas, so far, concerns remain.     

2. Masks are still not required, and those up front have chosen to not wear masks in order to lead more effectively. But just in case you are unaware, current county and state agencies do encourage wearing face masks at public gatherings as a means of not passing on the coronavirus. I personally chose to wear a mask this past Sunday since I was not preaching, and I plan to wear a mask during congregational singing moving forward. For certain individuals a mask is not a good option; for others they are the only option. We’re going to give grace to different viewpoints and seek the LORD together.

3. If you are choosing to not participate in our worship services, would you kindly email me or theelders@cornerstone-marion.org to let us know? Please share how you’re doing spiritually, how we can serve you, and how we can pray for you. 

– Fall Ministries Launching

1. We are hoping to launch our fall ministries in late August and early September. Our official launch day will be August 23. Sunday School classes will briefly meet after the service, and then, the hospitality team is planning an off-site outdoor picnic. More details to come. 

2. Various small groups, classes, and microgroups will get underway in September. Most likely, there will be risks in these gatherings so it will take discernment as a church and as individuals to know when and how these gatherings can occur. Please pray for our body!

God is good; He shepherds His Church!

I took a different approach for this week’s video encouragement: https://youtu.be/OFN4pXvar54

Sincerely yours,

-Pastor Matt


Pastoral Reflections… (7/15/2020)

Church family,

Whether it’s love or foolishness, I try to stay abreast of  Covid-19 numbers. I try to listen to our denomination, civic leaders, and the people in our church family. Certainly what we’re facing is unprecedented, confusing, and often, sadly, polarizing. So how can we as Christ-followers at Cornerstone respond?

First, let’s be “slow to speak and quick to listen” and “rare to post and ready to learn.” If you take this stance, you’ll find differing scientific perspectives, political attitudes, and health situations. Just yesterday a friend of mine (who leans libertarian politically) had to cancel a planned visit with my family because his kids’ baseball seasons have been affected by Covid-19, and he didn’t want to ruin his kids’ seasons or their teams’ seasons by taking an unnecessary risk. I grieved the loss of seeing my friend, but I too didn’t want to be the accidental culprit that brought down baseball. :/

Second, let’s consider others’ needs greater than our own (Philippians 2:3-4). You may have few concerns or reasons to socially distance or wear a mask, but what if your neighbor (knowingly or not) has a health need or is caring for an ill or aging family member? What can you do to serve them, their needs, their concerns? And even if you aren’t convinced by some of the medical professionals weighing in on containment measures, how do you show concern for the mental and emotional concerns of those who think social distancing and masks are not optional? Likewise, if you know of a brother or sister who has grave concerns about government overreach or public panic, how can you show care and concern?

I’m struck by the Apostle Paul’s repeated admonitions to not let the church get pulled into arguments, to avoid provoking one another, but instead to serve one another in love (speaking of which, check out this week’s video encouragement: https://youtu.be/ABnmc1P2PW8). Christians unite around the good news of Jesus Christ. Christians engage in service to the poor and marginalized. Christians lay down their lives and livelihoods in service to King and Kingdom. To God be the glory, to God be the glory alone.

I love you friends; let’s serve one another in love, together.

In Christ,

Pastor Matt


Pastor Matt’s Encouragement – 7/15/2020

Reflections on Serving One Another

Childcare for 0-3 year olds available starting this Sunday (7/5/20)

Hi Cornerstone family!
This Sunday, July 5th, the Nursery for our main service will be open for the first time.
Nursery is offering childcare for children ages 0-3. We encourage parents with children capable of sitting still through the service to keep their child with them in the service to limit the amount of children in nursery if possible.
As far as our Nursery protocols are concerned, there are a number of things we have decided to do differently and a number of things that will remain the same. We want to let you know that the decisions made about how to re-open the Nursery were thought about with great care and much discussion among childrens ministry leaders, and parents of children that have attended nursery consistently within the body, all the while considering CDC’s recommendations for childcare facilities.

Here are the things that will remain much the same but we want to remind you of:
– If your child has had a fever within the last 24 hours we ask that you not bring them in. If you are uncertain of this, we will have a thermometer at the nursery door available for parents to check their child’s temperature.
– If a child is exhibiting cold or flu symptoms or develops a fever during the service, we will kindly ask they return to their parents to protect the child’s health and the health of others in Nursery.
– Please, no outside food or drinks for children in the nursery.
– If possible, please no outside comfort items (blankets, pacifiers, stuff toys, etc.)

– We will NOT require children to wear masks.

– We do not see it possible to social distance toddlers and will not be isolating them one from another. However, we will remain vigilant, as always, to have children keep their saliva to themselves and practice good hygiene. 
– Much like our policy in the main service, Nursery workers are encouraged to wear masks if they are concerned about risk of exposure or exposing others. They will not, however, be required to wear masks. 

Here is what is NEW:
– Please make sure your child has been free of respiratory symptoms for 3 days before coming to Nursery. 

– Please do not bring your child to nursery if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 2 weeks.
– If Nursery attendance exceeds 5 children we will make use of the Children’s Church room to limit exposure.
– In order to help with social distancing, we ask that children are brought to the door one at a time. So if someone else is dropping their child off, please linger for a moment and then bring your sweet baby to us 🙂
– We will only have adult Volunteers with the exception of mature Juniors and Seniors in High School.
– There will be no snacks served in Nursery for the time being.
– We have removed all kitchen and cloth/soft toys to discourage pretend eating and help with easy cleaning.
– Toys will be cleaned promptly after the service each week.

We know this has been a trying time for parents in all situations. Thank you to parents who have been so forbearing. We are eager for those of you that have been in and out of the service with your children to be able to engage fully in the service and to finally see those of you that have had to stay home with your children. 
We are praying that wherever you are, you are protected from discouragement and upheld by the Father’s grace. Looking forward to seeing you 

On behalf of our children’s ministry team,
Kayla Biegler


TWO BIGGIES FOR CORNERSTONE

Dear Church Family,
1. Here is the link to Pastor Matt’s encouragement for this week. It’s a conversation with Todd Brooks. We all remember him from his visit with us in early February. Take a look and listen:
https://youtu.be/GaUffS-GpXs

2. We are excited to be sharing a new resource with you this Fall. You’ll be hearing a lot about it in the coming months inviting you to be a part of influencing others for Christ. It’s called Alpha.

What is Alpha?
Alpha is a place to explore the Christian faith with others. It is a low-pressure environment to discuss the big questions of life. Every Alpha session will have three key ingredients: Food, nothing builds relationships like sharing food together; Talk, every week there is a talk delivered usually by video exploring the basics of the Christian faith; Discussion, small groups where guests can share their thoughts and questions. 

When is Alpha Happening?
Alpha will be meeting on Sunday evenings 5:30 – 7:30 starting September 13 and ending November 29. 

How can I help with Alpha?
You can begin by praying for our volunteers, guests and conversations. You can let me know if you want to join our Leadership Team, Promo Team, be a Food Helper and/or a Prayer Warrior.

Who is Alpha for?
Alpha is for unchurched, de-churched, spiritually seeking, and spiritually lost people. Take a moment right now to think of three people in your sphere (relative, friend, coworker, neighbor, etc.). Be praying for them and ask God to give you an opportunity to ask them to come with you to Alpha. 

Why Alpha?
Something as simple as sharing your faith with someone, and inviting them to come along to Alpha, can have a huge impact on their eternity. We are looking for God to do amazing things for His glory in this next season of ministry together.

Pursuing Christ,
Gary