WHYGatheringGuidelines.Indoors.COVID


January 27, 2021

Dear WHY Church brothers and sisters,

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 1:7)

 As a new month is about to begin, we look forward to once again gathering for worship! Starting February 14, which happens to be our 11th birthday to the day, the WHY Church will resume weekly Sunday worship at 9:30 AM at the Elk River YMCA.

We have been working closely with our friends and mission partners at the Y to safely provide this opportunity. In fact, the Y will not otherwise be open on Sundays for the foreseeable future. Just for worship!

As in the past, we will follow MDH and CDC guidelines, which includes social distancing and facemasks. Childcare will be available, though Kids’ Ministry will continue in its online format for now. Our breakfast tradition will also have to wait awhile longer. We recognize that not everyone is able or comfortable to return to worship right away. Our online service will continue to be offered at 9:30 on Facebook and YouTube with plans to eventually livestream our service from the Y!

In summary, whenever the time is right for you, we look forward to welcoming you back to our in person worship service at the Y. We hope to see many of you on February 14!

That same week, Student Ministry will also resume in person youth group. Both high school and middle school (Wyldlife) will be back at the Y starting Wednesday night, February 17. For more information, contact Josh Vance, our Director of Student and Family Ministry, at josh@thewhychurch.org.

Lastly, we have a special marriage event for all those who are married, engaged, or seriously dating. Together with our friends at the Center for Marriage and Relationships, we are offering a 55-minute introductory video on the purpose of marriage by Dr. Jon Lunde. Couples will enjoy the video on their own during Valentine’s weekend and then join us for a 45-minute Zoom conversation on Monday, February 15 at 7:00 PM, hosted by Pastor Bjorn and Esther Dixon. Taking time to invest in our marriages is always important, but especially with the strains and stresses of this past year! RSVP to michele@thewhychurch.org.

While still in a challenging season, there is much to celebrate and much to anticipate in our life together! The Lord is good and his love endures forever!

Blessings in Christ,

The WHY Church Leadership Team

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November 19, 2020

Dear WHY Church family,

Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ! This New Testament greeting has always been significant for the Church, but it seems especially pertinent as we navigate the ups and downs of 2020. We are praying for you to know the surpassing grace and peace of God.

We write to you today with an important new update: Effective this weekend, we are shifting our worship services and ministry to an online-only format through the end of the year.

Our Leadership Team unanimously came to this conclusion together on Tuesday evening, finding it wise, responsible, and prudent to do so. Then yesterday evening (Wednesday), Governor Walz announced new measures that will take effect in Minnesota for the next four weeks. While churches are not prohibited from meeting for worship, we believe it is in the best interest of the WHY Church, our community, and public health to not gather for in person worship services for the remainder of 2020. 

Affected by the new measures, however, is the YMCA itself. Gyms and fitness centers will be closed until December 18th. Please pray for our beloved home and ministry partner, the Elk River YMCA, as the financial implications are substantial.

In addition to worship, Student Ministry is shifting to an online-only format. One of the things we will miss is the chance to say a proper goodbye to our outgoing Pastoral Associate for Student Ministry, Megan Pedersen. We will still do that in our online worship service on November 29th(On that note, be in prayer for us as we are now receiving applications to fill Megan’s role and continue our investment in young people!)

Again, the above changes will be in place through the end of 2020, meaning we will see you for worship on Sunday mornings on YouTube or Facebook Live at 9:30. Christmas Eve worship will also be online-only. As we approach January, we will reassess the situation and communicate our plans for early 2021.

Finally, if you are facing reduced income, job loss, or financial hardship due to the pandemic, we would love to come alongside you with a gift from our COVID-Financial Assistance Fund. Please go to thewhychurch.org/covidform to submit your confidential request.

With so much division and animosity around us, what a joy it is to stand together in unity under the name of Jesus. Thank you for being on mission with us through it all!

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving 2020,

The WHY Church Leadership Team

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September 8, 2020

Dear WHY Church family,

The fall season is here! We have treasured the opportunities we have had this summer to stay connected, worship outside and online, and serve others in Jesus’ name. The pandemic has changed many things, but it hasn’t changed the mission of the Church!

As we head into this new school year, we will regularly communicate our plans for worship and spiritual growth opportunities at the WHY Church.

Worship services in September will continue to happen outdoors and online. Online worship will remain at 9:30 a.m., but our outdoor service is shifting to 10:30 a.m. starting this Sunday. Once we get closer to October, we will once again let you know our plans for worship. At such an uncertain time, it seems best to make these decisions about a month at a time.

Faith milestones that would usually be later in the fall have been shifted to September so that we can be sure to celebrate in person. Note the following outdoor worship events:

September 13 – Third Grade Bibles

September 20 – Membership Info Class after worship

As we announced this summer, our Pastoral Associate Megan Pedersen and her husband, Jeff, are expecting their first baby in December! This coming Sunday, September 13 we would like to celebrate with Megan and Jeff by having an informal baby shower after worship. Please feel free to bring a card or practical gift of diapers, wipes, or other supplies as we celebrate outdoors together.

Also this Sunday, we begin our fall message series called “The Doctor Is In: Discipleship in Luke.” This is a great time to invite friends, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates to join us in worship and learn about Jesus!

Finally, you will find enclosed with this letter our Kids’ and Student Ministry calendar for the fall season. We have adapted and innovated to meet the challenges of this time and keep kids growing in their faith!

We leave you with this final word of encouragement from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, be immoveable, and give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)

Blessings in Christ,

The WHY Church Leadership Team


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May 26, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Memorial Day weekend in Minnesota often feels like the unofficial start to summer. We welcome the warm weather and enjoy being outside more! This year it comes as an especially needed respite from one of the most unusual times in history that many of us have ever experienced. As the Leadership Team of the WHY Church, we are committed to pray for the body, discern with wisdom, and communicate regularly with you about our direction as a church family. Here are several important updates as we approach June 1:

One of the most complex and changing discussions in the past couple weeks has been about large group worship gatherings. When the new Stay Safe MN Order was first released, group sizes were limited to 10 people. A subsequent update now allows for worship gatherings of 250 or less, beginning May 27, with detailed social distancing guidelines. So where does this leave the WHY Church? In both principle and practice, here is what we have determined together:

·      We will walk together in unity, as Jesus taught and the Holy Spirit enables. Present debates and differences of opinion should not cause division in the church. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

·      We will speak respectfully of our governing authorities – whether individuals or offices – even if we disagree on various matters. We will honor and pray for them. (Romans 13:1)

·      We will give special attention to those who are sick, vulnerable to illness, or facing financial hardship. (Philippians 2:3-4 and Romans 12:13)

·      We will work together with the YMCA to determine when we will meet again for worship at the Y. To date, the YMCA (and every Minnesota gym) remains closed to the general public. Our church staff are in regular contact with our Y leaders and friends. Hopefully a clearer timeline will come into view as we approach June 1. Please remember to pray for the Y as they face a significant loss in revenue and many team members are on furlough.

·      Because the overall situation continues to change so frequently, we will monitor and adjust our plans for large group worship every 2 weeks. As previously announced, May 31 is already scheduled for online-only worship. For June 7 and 14, worship will continue as online-only. Even as we wait a little longer for our first in person worship service: 

(1) we are working with WHY Group leaders to create safe, opt-in get-togethers, 

(2) we encourage you to meet together at your comfort level in smaller groups for our Sunday morning online service or for fellowship, and 

(3) we are looking forward to outdoor worship sometime in the near future!

·      Throughout the transition back to the Y and beyond, we plan on continuing to livestream our Sunday morning worship service. This will allow people to come back to large group worship when they are comfortable doing so. Our online presence has also boosted our ability to reach more people with the hope of the gospel and stay connected as a church family!

·      When we do gather again – whether in small groups or at the Y for worship – it will be important for us to follow public health guidelines. Our staff and volunteer teams are actively developing our plans and procedures to ensure for smooth, safe, and meaningful times together.

A couple final notes before we sign off. Many of you have been wondering about our 2020 Vision project to plant a church and build a YMCA in India. We have been in regular communication with Rev. Sam Stephens and the India Gospel League throughout this global crisis. Construction had begun in March on our project before being halted by a nation-wide lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. We received a couple photo updates and the basic physical structure now stands! Some of the restrictions in India have been lifted and they hope to resume construction soon.

Unfortunately, the visit of our delegation to dedicate the building and provide regional ministry training must be postponed. Travel into India will not be possible again until the fall of 2020. The exact timing of our trip is yet to be determined, but we remain confident in the Lord’s plans to one day bring us to India to encourage and equip our brothers and sisters!

Finally, some of you have been asking about the financial health of the WHY Church in this tumultuous season. Without staples like our Sunday morning Giving Box or the bulletin with its snapshot of our monthly finances, how have we been doing? To that we can only say, “Praise God!” He has provided for us through the generosity of His people. Here are the YTD numbers:

Our Tithes & Offerings            Actual              Budget

Year to Date                            106,306           101,340

Our Expenses

Year to Date                             94,202             101,340

Blessings in Christ,

The WHY Church Leadership Team

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April 23, 2020

Elk River YMCA
We love our Elk River YMCA! We want to encourage them and let them know that we are FOR them. Here are 3 ways we can support them during this time:

  • Blessing Box Blast – On the North side of the Y parking lot there is a Blessing Box that provides a drive-up option for people in need. Suggested items to drop off: non-perishable prepared food (think mac n’ cheese, soup, canned chicken or tuna, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, jelly), juice boxes, and toiletries. Items can be dropped off from 9-4PM in front of the Y or any time directly in the Blessing Box.
  • Kids Stuff Snack Attack – The Y is open for childcare for parents who are a part of essential services. Drop snacks off at the Y front door for the kids to have during the afternoons. Ideas include: individual bags of popcorn, goldfish crackers, applesauce, and go-gurts. (No nuts please)
  • Mask-querade – Do you like to sew? The Y is working to collect masks. Drop off masks at the Y front door and label the bag “Y Team Members”. They have also requested you include your contact information so that the Y can send a thank-you. Click here for instructions from the CDC.

We would love to see the WHY Church in action! If you participate in any of these ways, use the hashtag #FortheYMCA and share your pictures on Facebook  and Instagram .

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March 17, 2020

Dear WHY Church family,

If there is one word that we have been hearing to describe
this time, it is unprecedented. As individuals, families, and as a
church community, we are navigating uncharted waters in these days. Yet we
take great hope in the Lord!
He has promised to never leave us nor forsake
us. We know that He rules and reigns over all the earth, even in this
situation. And His care and love for us is deep and vast beyond all measure.

We are sending this letter to share the following important
updates:

Sunday Morning Worship

The Twin Cities YMCA has been required to close its physical
buildings, including our beloved Elk River Y, until at least March 30th.
Even if the YMCA were open, group gatherings are not possible at this time.
While it weighs heavily on our hearts to not see each other in-person and be
together, we have always known that the church is not defined by a building or
a service.

In the coming days, we will get to experience what it means to
seek Jesus, connect together, and share His love
in new and innovative
ways!

Sunday morning worship will still happen every Sunday at
9:30AM via Facebook Livestream (and posted afterward on our new YouTube
Channel). While it will certainly look a little different, we will continue to sing,
share time with the kids, hear Scripture and a message,    and pray. Please join us at:
facebook.com/WHYChurch.

Staying Connected

We will be leaning even more on online tools to help us stay
connected and growing in Christ. Watch our website, Facebook and Instagram, and
our eBulletin for opportunities throughout the week. We’ll be sharing videos
for all ages, gathering together on platforms like Zoom, praying for one
another on the phone, and meeting virtually as WHY Groups.

Not tech-savvy? No problem! We will also have low-tech ways
of staying connected, including devotionals, phone calls, and pastoral visits
as desired. If you would like to learn how to use any of the online resources,
we are happy to help. Just contact us at info@thewhychurch.org or our off-site
phone number: 763-250-9504.

Now is an important time to make sure that your contact info
is up to date. Use the above ways to get in touch, or you can do this directly
on WHY Connect.

Leadership

The Staff and Leadership Team of the WHY Church are fully
engaged in leading us through this time spiritually and organizationally. Our
number one priority is making sure that you are deeply connected to Jesus and
cared for by our church family. If there is anything we can do to support you
and your family, please let us know. Above all, we want to encourage you to
keep your eyes fixed on Christ and to live out the mission that He has called
us to.

Giving

Our ministry together has not been put on pause! This is
such a critical time to share the good news of the gospel and to grow deep
roots of trust and faith in the Lord. We encourage you to continue giving your
tithes and offerings as you are able, recognizing the financial uncertainty for
all of us during this time. We are holding onto the promise: the Lord will
provide!

You can set up, schedule, or give one-time financial gifts
at: thewhychurch.org/egiving.

You can use our mobile giving option by texting “whygive” to
77977.

Or you can mail your offering to:

The WHY Church, 13337 Business Center
Dr NW, Elk River, MN 55330

The Apostle Paul captured it well when he said, “I have
not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…”
(Ephesians
1:16)

My heart is with you. The Lord will see us through this. And
we will praise His name together in the waiting!

As always,

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Bjorn Dixon

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Updated: 3/14
Dear WHY Church family,

As we prepare for worship this weekend, here are some updates for Sunday morning, March 15th:

Our normal worship gathering will still take place at 9:30AM at the Y. If you prefer to stay home or do not feel well, you can follow a Livestream of the service at: facebook.com/WHYChurch/

Greeting, breakfast, and Communion serving have all been modified. It’ll be a “hi!” instead of a handshake. Our breakfast will be prepackaged and lighter than usual. Coffee will be poured for you. And Communion will be provided at your table in a prefilled cup. Additionally, our Serving Teams are making sure that our surfaces are cleaned and sanitized during set-up.

Kids’ Ministry will happen as planned this weekend. Parents may have their kids engage in activities as they feel comfortable. Student Ministry updates will be made early next week. WHY Groups are meeting at their own discretion.

We continue to follow developments and will make adjustments as needed. The message this Sunday will be: “Jesus Is Peace.” May you find rest, hope, and peace in knowing Him!

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” –Psalm 46:1

Grace and peace in Christ,
The Leadership Team of the WHY Church