Coronavirus Update

July 5

Good morning Skillman Church family, 

It is hard to believe that it has been 17 weeks since we met in person at the Skillman Church of Christ. I mean, 17 weeks is longer than most Dallas Cowboys seasons! In another 17 weeks, we will almost be to Thanksgiving! 17 weeks can be a long time. And during these past weeks, I know that there have been difficult days, but I hope too that there have been things along the way that have been a blessing to you. I know in conversations I have had with so many at this church that your prayer life has been given space and time to grow and flourish, and I am so grateful for that. For others, having a few extra minutes to be on the phone or on a Zoom call with family or friends has been a blessing and has allowed for us to continue to have relationships as best as we are able to right now in light of everything that is going on with the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Speaking on behalf of our church staff and elders, I want you to know that through all of these ups and downs, it has been our commitment to be in prayer for this flock. We want you to know that even though we haven’t seen many of you face-to-face, you have been in our prayers and consistently on our minds.  

Not only that, but we are also committed to the spiritual and physical health of this church body. As the past month has shown, the Coronavirus continues to be a daily reality in our community, city, and across the world. In the coming weeks, it continues to be our commitment to try to make the best choice we can to keep our congregation healthy while also not giving into a spirit of fear. As time continues to pass during this pandemic and as we will continue to face this reality in the coming weeks and months, it is important to us that we also seek to address the spiritual and relational needs in our churchWe know that the spiritual life of this community is just as important as our connection to God. When asked about the greatest command, Jesus could not separate the command to love God and to love our neighbors—he kept them together. These were both critically important to Jesus and from which, all other commands and the very basis of the way of living as Jesus is bound up in these statements.  

In the coming weeks, we feel that it is important that we find new ways to connect with one another as a spiritual family in order to accomplish our goals of being followers of Jesus who Live by Faith, Advocate Hope, and are Known by our Love.  

We are excited to announce that starting on July 19 and during that following week, we are going to be making additions to this online service that we hope will help us to continue to grow in our relationships and connections within this church family; that will help us tfollow Jesus’ lead in loving our neighbors just as we seek to love God.  

The first of these efforts will be a Prayer Service that will be held outdoors on our Skillman Campus from 8:00-8:30am on Sunday mornings. This will be a time for fellowship, prayer, devotion, and sharing in the Lord’s Supper with one another. This service will be held weekly, but we will ask that all who would like to participate RSVP in advance, wear a facemask or covering, bring a chair, blanket, or cushion to sit on, and maintain social distancing from one another so that we can keep one another healthy. I know that there are many of us who will be excited to be able to see other believers and to share some very important moments of worship together as well as just to be able to say hello in person to one another. However, we also want you to know that these prayer gatherings are, of course, voluntary. We encourage each person and family to decide whether this is something that you are comfortable in participating in or not and then RSVP to let us know if you will be there every week.  

Additionally, we will be adding 2 more virtual efforts to allow for us to spend time connecting with one another as a body. On the first and third Sundays of each month, we will be hosting a “Fellowship Hour” on Zoom where John Mark and other members of our staff will lead us through guided conversations so that we can interact with each other and be encouraged in the faith by other members at this church family. These meetings will be held from 10:00-10:45am on the first and third Sunday of every month starting on July 19. We will include a Zoom link and dial-in phone numbers to the Zoom call in the Sunday morning email on these Sundays so that anyone and everyone can join in the call, if they would like.  

And the final effort that we are excited to announce this morning is additional Bible class experienceStarting on July 21, John Mark will be hosting a Documentary Club in which members of the class will watch a documentary and then gather on Zoom to discuss the spiritual implications of the content that you just watched in that documentary. On Thursday, July 23, I will be hosting a class on Zoom discussing the Prophets as we continue to work through our sermon series on Hope and Justice in the Book of Isaiah.  

We are so excited for all three of these opporunities: the prayer meeting at church at 8am on Sundays, the fellowship hour on the first and third Sundays of every month, as well as these additional Bible class experiences that will be held on Zoom.  

There will be more information for each of these efforts in our Skillman Messenger email on Wednesday. We want each and every one of you to know that we are excited for these next weeks and months at Skillman and while this is a situation that none of us could have dreamed would have happened, we know that God is in control and that our faith in God will not be shaken. We are excited to be with you this morning and to be able to worship all over the city of Dallas. We hope that as we prepare for that important day, July 19, that you will join us in praying for these efforts as well as deciding whether you and your family would like to participate with us.  

May 8

Hello, Skillman Family. I know I can speak for everyone out there when I say that I deeply miss you all, I am praying for you, I sincerely hope that you are all doing well, and I look forward to the day when we can gather together in person again.

This past week, church leadership here at Skillman met on a Zoom call to discuss plans and a possible timeline for meeting back together here at the building for Sunday services. During these past several weeks we have been in a season of observation, prayer, and discernment as we strive to determine what would be best for the spiritual and physical health of our church family. 

There are a coule of decisions that have been made…

First, in an effort to stay informed about the situation here in Dallas, we have sought out local guidance based upon the local data. A helpful tool that has emerged is this color-coded chart recently released by Dallas County (https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/). There are four categories, each with a designated color: Red, Orange, Yellow, and Green. This chart represents our risk level here in Dallas County in regards to the Coronavirus. Red stands for Stay Home, Stay Safe; Orange represents Extreme Caution; Yellow means Proceed Carefully; and Green says New Normal Until Vaccine. Today, Dallas County is still in the Red Zone, which means we are recommended by local authorities to stay home and stay safe.

It was discussed at the elders meeting that in light of the high percentage of people within our church family who fall into the At Risk category, we have decided to wait until Dallas County reaches and stays consistently in the Yellow Zone (Proceed Carefully) before offering in-person Sunday services at the Skillman church building. 

This, of course, doesn’t give us an exact date of when we would return, and while we are seeing some encouraging trends in the local data, there is no way of knowing how long it will be before we enter into the yellow zone. We will do our best to keep a close eye on this chart, and will make adjustments if necessary, but for now, based upon the fact that we are still in the red zone here in Dallas County, it is safe to assume that we will continue with online Sunday services for the month of June.

In the coming week, we are going to take this color chart and define what our church family will be doing as we move through each stage in preparation for meeting face-to-face again. We will use it as a tool to determine what it may look like to ease back into meeting in person. For example, when we reach orange, is there anything we can start implementing as a community, like meeting in connection groups, or gatherings outside? Once we lay this out, we will, of course, communicate it to you. We will try to always communicate any major plans two weeks ahead of when it is to be implemented in order to give you time to plan and prepare. 

We want to reiterate again that as church leadership, we will are relentlessly avoiding the feeling of rush and hurry. We hope to be deliberate with decisions that are made keeping in mind the physical and spiritual health of this church family.

Skillman, as always…thank you for your prayers, thank you for your encouraging messages online, thank you for your support. Have a great day. Peace and love my sisters and brothers. 

Saturday, May 2

“Skillman Family, I hope you are doing well amidst these crazy times. Thank you clicking on this quick video announcement. As many of you know this past Monday, Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state mandated “stay-at-home” order across Texas would expire Thursday of this past week, and Phase 1 of reopening would begin on Friday. What this means is that, as of yesterday, owners of restaurants, malls, movie theaters and all other retail stores will be cleared to begin opening their businesses to the public. 

 

In Monday’s address, Governor Abbot also said that churches are included in the list of essential services that can reopen, and meet in person if they choose, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. 

This of course prompts a whole set of questions regarding Skillman: 

  • Even though we can meet, should we start meeting? 
  • If we don’t meet this Sunday, then when?
  • What would be an appropriate timeline to ease in to meeting in person?
  • When we do begin to meet, what will it look like? 
  • What precautions will we take to ensure the safety of our church family?

Thankfully, the elders and ministers of this congregation have been keeping a close eye on all of this, and on Monday night met to discuss and determine an appropriate game plan for the following weeks and months. A few things that were decided…

 

#1 – It was decided that for at least the next three weeks the Skillman church will not meet in person but will continue our online services. This means that for sure May 3rd (tomorrow), May 10th, and May 17th, we will continue to meet virtually and will not meet in person. During these next three weeks we will be closely watching the numbers to see if there is a spike in COVID cases in Dallas. Based on the data and where we are as a city and state, we will meet as leadership to discuss and make a decision on what the following weeks and months will look like. 

#2 – It was discussed at Monday’s meeting that church leadership is in no hurry and will not rush into meeting corporately if it can potentially put the people of Skillman at risk. As the theologian and USC professor of philosophy Dallas Willard has famously encouraged all to do, we will “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” We have all enjoyed the online services, our church has a high percentage of people who are at risk. I think it is wise for these next three weeks to sit back and observe the implications and effects of this new phase and not rush into meeting before we know all the information. 

There will be other churches in our area that begin to meet, there will be lots of opinions and ideas swirling around. Other groups may make different decisions than us. During these times, we encourage you to be gracious and understanding. Be Kind, loving, and compassionate trusting that these leaders are making the best decisions they can for their organizations with the information they have. 

#3 – Finally, decisions here will be made not because of directives from the government or based upon other people are doing. The driving question guiding church leadership in future decisions is…

What is best for the spiritual and physical health of our congregation… the Skillman church family?

How is our spiritual health? Are we growing in intimacy with God? How are we coping with feelings of loss, disappointment, and anxiety? Are we fixing our eyes on Jesus during this time?

How do we best serve one another and our community?

We are striving as a church to create more content that we can put online that will contribute to your spiritual growth. We have asked a group of some of our talented teachers to think about ways make their content easily accessible online. 

We encourage you to use this time to rest

Take walks outside in your neighborhood

Read a book you have always wanted to read

Call your friends who live out of state to connect

Check on each other here at the church.

 

All of you are in connection groups and our hope is that everyone in our congregation is contacted once every few weeks.

Also, please pray for this city, pray for our local leaders, and pray for the leadership here at the Skillman church of Christ as we strive to discern what is best for the physical and spiritual health of this incredible congregation. Peace, love, and see you all online tomorrow at 11am. “

Friday, March 13

Skillman Family:

Out of an abundance of caution and care for our congregation and community, we will be moving our services online for the next two Sundays (March 15 & 22). All public meetings at our church facility have been postponed until further notice. You may or may not be aware that Dallas has been declared in a state of emergency due to the spread of the Coronavirus locally. Since there are so many unknowns at this point, we desire to take all reasonable precautions to help slow the spread of the virus.

Our online services will take place on Sundays at 11am (CST). At that time, get on your computer or phone and join us virtually as we sing songs, listen to the Word of God, and take communion together. 

Keep checking your email because links to our online service will be sent out to you by Sunday morning.

During this time of social distancing, here are some ways to stay connected with your church family:
  • Sermons and Podcasts from the Skillman Church of Christ (Click HERE)
  • To access our blog please click HERE
  • Like our Page on Facebook to receive up to date information and additional spiritual content (Click HERE)

All events and gatherings at our church facility have been suspended during the week. At this time, the church office will continue to stay open and will be available to receive phone calls. 

As a faith community, we first and foremost want to affirm our belief that God is at work through this situation. We choose not to panic. This decision is not motivated by fear, but we are proactively taking steps as a church community to care for those most vulnerable and to help be a part of the solution.

We are pleased to inform you that the entire church facility, including all classrooms and the auditorium, are being professionally deep cleaned and disinfected yesterday and today through the services of a local business with expertise in this area.

If you are sick or begin feeling sick, please communicate with the church office and let us know how to best serve you and take care of your needs. We have people ready to serve! We are your church family and we are in this together. If you would like communion brought to your home, simply notify the church office at (214) 823-2179.

May we continue to pray for all who are infected with this virus throughout the world; for the families that have lost loved ones; for those that are caring for those in need; and for the scientists and health authorities working to manage the spread of this virus. God bless and keep washing those hands.

Thursday, March 12

As fear continues to surround the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, it is important to ask how followers of Jesus should respond to this. So, how should a follower of Jesus respond to the ongoing crisis surrounding this virus? I’m glad I asked. I think there are two essential ways that Christians can respond right now (and likely many more that can and should be commented on, but for now, these two will suffice). 

The first is to bring peace in the midst of all that is going on. As people are concerned for themselves and their loved ones, as reports continue to spread and news breaks in new places, I believe that Christians have a unique ability to bring peace to those who are concerned, to those who are afraid, and to those who don’t know what to do. Our faith in Jesus gives us the confidence to face struggle, adversity, and outright opposition with assurance that God is still good, and that God still loves–even when we ourselves are in the throes of evil times. I encourage each of us to find ways to bring peace to every situation and to every person that you encounter. Your quiet, but strong, faith in Christ during this time can sustain you and others rather than giving in to the fear and the panic that can so easily come at this time. 

Second, it continues to be important to take reasonable precautions. Here at the church, we are continuing to do everything that we can to make sure that this is a clean and safe facility for all who visit our campus. We continue to have our worship spaces, classrooms, gathering places, offices cleaned weekly (if not daily). Our facilities crew does a fantastic job of taking care of our buildings and keeping everything clean for us. In addition to these regular cleanings, we are also having special cleanings take place periodically for both the school and the church spaces so that we can keep everything as sanitary as possible. The second of these cleanings in the past month will take place on Thursday, March 12.

Another area of concern is in the process of taking communion. Once again, we have already had procedures in place that we will continue to utilize. As the communion is prepared weekly, our volunteers wash their hands and wear gloves to prepare the trays while they are handling the elements. At the conclusion of the services every week, the trays are washed and then returned for use again the next week. Starting this week, we will be using individual pieces of communion bread so that we can minimize the contact that each of us has with the bread. In the coming weeks, we will also have individual communion sets available for anyone who would prefer to take communion that way. 

The beauty of the communion moment will continue to be the focal point of our service every week. This moment where we share in the sacrifice of Jesus is, in fact, exactly what is needed in our world today. In the midst of the fear, panic, and legitimate concerns, communion reminds us that Jesus has given his life for ours so that we can have life in this world and in the world to come with our God. 

As a church, we are committed to the way of Jesus and to bringing peace in these times as well as in doing all that we can to create a safe worship environment for our church family, CDC students and families, and all visitors to our campus. If there are any additional concerns or ideas about how to address these issues, please don’t hesitate to contact our church office (214-823-2179).