Updates from Pastor Eric Hernando

Dear Hope Family,
Know that both your spiritual and physical health are constantly in my prayers! 
As we navigate the rough terrain that is life with the Covid-19 virus, we as a church have sought to strike a balance between ministering to people’s spiritual health while minimizing risk to their physical health. Up to this point that has meant both enhanced safety protocols in multiple sanctuary services and offering online services.
However, after much prayer and deliberation we have decided that starting this coming Sunday we need to switch back to online only services for at least the next couple of weeks. The reason for this is that over the last few days several members of our ministry teams have been in contact with people who have since tested positive for Covid-19. To be clear, no one on any of our ministry teams has received a positive test for Covid-19 and to our knowledge no one has attended a Sunday morning service at Hope Chapel that was Covid-19 positive. But as ministry team members now wait for Covid-19 test results or are waiting for others with whom they have been in close contact to receive their test results, we felt it would be imprudent to hold services until we had a greater degree of confidence that no one on our ministry teams was possibly contagious with Covid-19.
We will continue our start time of 9:00 am for services streamed online on Facebook, YouTube, and FreeChurchOnline.com. We will be online only for at least two weeks and will try and announce when we return to both sanctuary and online services at least a week prior to it happening. We deeply appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we seek to follow God’s will together. Let us love God, love people, and spread hope during this difficult time!
With the love and affection of Christ,
Pastor Eric Hernando
P.S. Youth and their parents should know that our youth services will also move to online only Zoom services during this period. Other ministries meeting in small groups of less than 10 will meet in the format determined by the ministry leader. Please contact your small group if you have questions about whether your group will continue meeting in person or online.
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Dear Hope Family,
A few weeks back we released Hope Chapel’s new hybrid ministry approach for on campus and online ministry. Due to unforeseen circumstances we needed to postpone the re-opening of our on-campus ministries by a couple of weeks and make some adjustments to our plan. This email will outline these adjustments and then include the unchanged elements of our plans for future ministry.
 
New Developments to Our Ministry Plan
On Campus Service Changes:
Due to the need for social distancing within the sanctuary we are going to start having two services, the first at 9am and the second at 11am. Doors will open at 8:45am and 10:45am respectively. We ask those who have underlying health conditions or are otherwise at a higher risk if they contract the virus to attend the first service. We ask parents with children to attend the second service during which time we will have family tables available with snacks and quiet activities so younger children can stay engaged while their parents engage with the service. Adults without children are welcome to attend either service. We ask all attendees to RSVP to help us ensure we have enough seating and in the right formats. Guests will not be turned away for not RSVPing, but it is incredibly helpful if you can RSVP each week. The link to RSVP is at the end of this email. Please see the unchanged elements of our new worship ministry plans for more details on what on campus ministry will look like going forwards.
Worship from Home (online streaming) changes:
Due to our new service times our online services will start live streaming at 9:00 am rather than 10:00am. If you miss the live stream of the service you can still watch the service afterwards as it will continue to be available on both YouTube and Facebook.
Communion From Home: Starting this coming Sunday (6/14) we will resume partaking of communion on the second Sunday of each month. Those worshiping from home are invited to join us in one of two ways. Hope Chapel observes communion as a memorial meal and so no special blessing is required on the communion elements. If you would like to make or obtain the communion elements for the unleavened bread (crackers) and the cup (grape juice) you are welcome to do so. We also have pre-packaged communion elements that we will be using in the Worship Center to prevent virus spread. Those worshiping from home are welcome to pick up these communion elements from the church office anytime Monday-Friday by appointment (email eric@hopechapelglendale.com or call 602-843-0990 and leave a message 24 hours prior to picking up the elements). If you are unable to pick up elements from the office and would like them delivered to you please contact the office and make arrangements. To this end we plan on starting to offer in June a monthly worship from home kit which will include Communion elements for your family, curriculum for kids in Royal Rangers and/or Girls’ Ministries, and other engagement materials. Sign up to receive a Worship From Home kit here.
 
Online through our the week:
We will continue to stream our Sunday morning worship services for adults at 9 am as well as multiple midweek prayer, worship, and Bible engagement opportunities online. On Tuesdays we have a time of prayer with the Pastors Eric and Aimee Hernando at 6:30 pm on Facebook. On Thursdays we have Worship Jam session with Pastor Japheth Trigo at 6:50 pm on Facebook. Our goal is to continue with online streaming and digital engagement not only for the remainder of this COVID19 season, but also into the future as part of our new normal for church ministry. In addition, during this COVID19 season we want to make sure those worshiping from home feel as connected as possible.
 
Unchanged Elements of Hope Chapel’s New Hybrid Ministry Plan
Kids Ministry
We love kids here at Hope Chapel and we understand that in our current high risk environment we would be unable to provide a kids ministry structure that was both effective from a ministry perspective (i.e. where the kids learn and have fun) and safe from a physical perspective (i.e. where kids social distance and are not putting each other or their teachers at risk for virus spread). For this reason we will continue to conduct our kids ministry online. Our kids will come together for a Zoom get together at 5:00 pm every Sunday evening followed by age specific worship services and Bible lessons that are delivered online. We also have multiple kids videos that are posted each week on our HopeKids Facebook page. Kids are also able to attend the 11:00 am service and sit with their parents at one of our family tables where we will have snacks and quiet activities for them to be able stay engaged while their parents worship.
On Campus
Doors open 15 minutes prior to service. When you arrive you will be assisted by our hospitality team who will walk you through a first class contact-free entrance into the Sanctuary. Our team will open and hold the door for you and also provide hand sanitizer as you enter. Complimentary face masks will be offered. These are encouraged and will be worn by our team, but not required for attendees who have trouble breathing with a face mask or otherwise choose not to wear one. You will also be given a temperature check with a contact-free thermometer. Anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be asked to wait in our cool-down room before being reevaluated 5 minutes later. If your temperature does not come down, we ask that you worship from home via our online worship stream and contact a medical professional.
 
When you enter the Sanctuary, you will notice we have a new seating arrangement. You will be seated in first-class seating with ample leg room and spacious aisles–6 feet to be exact! To help maintain social distancing we ask that you remain seated during the service except to use the restroom.
 
Unfortunately, our Common Grounds will not be open at this time. Please bring your own coffee from home or from one of the quality local coffee shops nearby (if you want a suggestion, just ask Pastor Aimee!).
 
At the end of service, you will be dismissed by sections and we ask you to leave the building prior to fellowshiping with others. Open air fellowship spots are available on the grassy area and under the ramadas.
 
In order to make sure the service is safe for everyone, here are some things we ask you to consider prior to arriving at the sanctuary:
·         Am I showing any flu-like symptoms?
·         Have I had a fever of 100.4 or higher in the past 14 days?
·         Have I had exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
·         Is there any medical reason why I believe I shouldn’t be around others?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we ask that you worship from home by tuning into our online service stream and seek medical advice.
 
We believe God can do incredible things in our lives whether we are worshiping in our homes or in a sanctuary. Would you believe with us for God to work both in our lives and through our lives as we Love God, Love People, and Spread Hope!
God Bless
Pastors Eric and Aimee Hernando
 
5/30/2020 IMPORTANT UPDATE ABOUT REOPENING
Hope Family,
If there is one thing I have learned from this season of COVID19 craziness, it is how to be flexible and roll with the constantly changing environment we are living in. I need to let you know that this weekend has brought with it a couple of significant changes that have required us to adapt our approach to ministry on Sunday. The first is a spike in the rate of spread of COVID19 within our community. Over the last few days we have seen the number of new cases in Arizona in general and Maricopa county in particular spike. Whereas last week the number of new cases was on the decline, this week saw the number of new daily cases almost triple, setting new highs in both Arizona (790 today) and Maricopa County (410 today). The second is the exposure of a member of our team to someone who is COVID19 positive. This member was incredibly responsible in letting us know right away as they just found out this weekend and have entered into self-quarantine. However, this individual will not receive COVID19 test results for some time, likely next week, and members of our team have spent a significant amount of time together in close contact training on new computer software and streaming equipment. This combination of factors has led us to decide that it would be imprudent and an unnecessary risk to hold in person services in our Sanctuary on Sunday. Instead we will continue streaming our worship and sermon via Facebook, YouTube, and FreeChurchOnline.com.  While we are truly disappointed to not be able to gather physically, we also firmly believe that God is just as capable of powerfully moving in our homes as He is in our church building. So we invite you to tune in online to worship with us on Sunday, praying and expecting for God to do great things!  
With much love,
Pastor Eric
P.S. We hope and pray this is a temporary setback, that any test(s) on congregation or leadership team members will come back negative and the case rate in our area will go back on the decline. However, even a quick turnaround and the accompanying logistical challenges of relaunching would likely mean at least two more Sundays (tomorrow and the next) of online streaming and possibly more depending upon disease spread and if any members of our team end up catching this virus. We will try and communicate with you as quickly as possible when we have a new timetable for relaunch. We deeply appreciate your patience and understanding as we seek to best adapt to these challenging circumstances.
5/23/2020 Hope Chapel’s New Hybrid Ministry Focus
Dear Hope Family,
       We want to start by thanking all of you for your love for God and People as evidenced by your continued support for the people and ministry of Hope Chapel during this challenging season caused by the COVID 19 Virus. Going forwards we are going to undertake the delicate balancing act of both ministering to people’s spiritual needs while also doing our best to keep people physically safe. In this email we want to try and both explain our plan for future ministry in a hybrid context (i.e. both in sanctuary and online) and address some of the most common concerns we have heard from our church family.
       Over the last several weeks we have talked with many of you about your concerns for the church’s need for both physical safety and community. Some have expressed to us a concern about meeting together in any capacity while the spread of the COVID19 virus is still at a high rate, with hundreds of new cases a day here in Maricopa County. To those who feel this way let me say your concerns are justified. As a church we are not going to pressure anyone, whether leader, volunteer, or attendee to do anything that they do not feel physically safe doing. We will continue to stream our Sunday morning worship services as well as our midweek devotionals, prayer meetings, and worship jam sessions. We want you to feel engaged, included, and affirmed in your decision to worship remotely. Indeed, if I (this is Pastor Eric speaking alone) were transparent, I would say that if it were only about me, I would likely choose to continue to keep services digital only to ensure people’s physical safety.
However, others have expressed to us a deep need for physical community and fellowship, especially during this trying time. A common theme we have heard expressed from several has been how this virus season has caused stress, anxiety, and in some cases even depression. These ailments are then made worse (or even caused in the first place) by the social isolation we are experiencing. People have shared that while they care deeply about their physical health, their mental, emotional, and even spiritual health are suffering so greatly that they would rather take on some risk to their physical health and meet together than continue under the certainty of the effects of continued isolation. To those who feel this way let me say your needs are seen and going forwards we are going to do our best to both minister to those who need a physical presence and keep the risk to your physical health as low as we can while still ministering effectively in a sanctuary setting.
The following plan has been deeply prayed over, discussed, debated, and analyzed by Hope Chapel’s Pastoral Staff, Elder Board, and a hand selected task force of church members with special experience in the fields of medicine, business, and ministry. The following is what we believe is God’s will for Hope Chapel’s hybrid ministry future:
Worshiping from Home:
As mentioned previously, we will continue to stream our Sunday morning worship services for adults as well as multiple midweek prayer, worship, and Bible engagement opportunities online. Our goal is to continue with online streaming and digital engagement not only for the remainder of this COVID19 season, but also into the future as part of our new normal for church ministry. In addition, during this COVID19 season we want to make sure those worshiping from home feel as connected as possible. To this end we plan on starting to offer in June a monthly worship from home kit which will include Communion elements for your family, curriculum for kids in Royal Rangers and/or Girls’ Ministries, and other engagement materials. More details will be forthcoming on these kits.
Timeline for on Campus Worship:
Provided there is not a significant spike in cases or reports of outbreaks at other churches holding services on campus, our plan is to start Phase 1a of campus worship on May 31st.
Phase 1a is currently scheduled to last for two weeks and will include:
·      Worship in the sanctuary at 10:00 am for teenagers-adults (same as prior to COVID19) with modified seating and safety protocols (more on this later).
·     The Church House will host “Family Rooms” where families with children can attend and each have their own family table with activity kits for the children so parents can focus on a stream of the worship service. Parents will be asked to keep their children in their physical presence at all times during Phase 1. A family host will be present to give instructions and make sure the service streams smoothly.
·  We ask that those who plan on attending during Phase 1 RSVP so that we can ensure enough seating in both the sanctuary and church house. An email with an RSVP link will be sent out on Mondays. The link will also available on our Facebook page and church website. Here is the link.
·        We will continue at home/online streaming for all kid’s ministry classes at 5:00 pm and throughout the week (more on this later).
Phase 1b will be shaped by feedback we receive from Phase 1a with potential changes including:
·        Families will be asked if they like the family seating arrangement in the church house or if they would like to have family seating in the sanctuary. In either case, parents will continue to be asked to keep their kids with them throughout all of Phase 1.
·        Depending on the number of people who choose to attend on campus vs. remotely and whether families with children join us in the sanctuary, we will determine if we need to move to two services. If sufficient social distancing requires a second service we will host an early service reserved for those who are at higher risk and without kids and a more kid friendly later service reserved for families with kids. Non-high risk adults without kids would be free to choose from either service. More details on the two-service format will be given prior to our move to two services if we determine to go that route.
·        We will continue at home/online streaming for all kid’s ministry classes at 5:00 pm and throughout the week (more on this later).
Phase 1 Kid’s Ministry Rationale: We love kids here at Hope Chapel and we determined that in our current high risk environment we would be unable to provide a kids ministry structure that was both effective from a ministry perspective (i.e. where the kids learn and have fun) and safe from a physical perspective (i.e. where kids social distance and are not putting each other or their teachers at risk for virus spread). We hope to be able to minister to families with children in the most effective and comfortable way possible, hence our two-week experiment with family rooms in the church house.
Phase 1 Campus Safety Protocols: Our goal is to make worshiping on campus safer than going to the grocery store! To that end we will institute the following safety protocols:
·  Seating arrangements: Our sanctuary will be converted to “First Class Legroom and Space” seating with multiple columns of 2-3 chairs with 6 foot aisles in between them. Members of our hospitality and safety team will also be there to assist families who may need to combine groups of chairs to form a family pod while maintaining proper social distancing.
·   Entrance Expectations: As you enter the sanctuary members of our hospitality and safety team will be there to hold the door for you and provide you with hand sanitizer. If you have ever been on a cruise you know the joy of hearing the words “washy washy” as you enter the buffet area! A member of our team will also have a touchless infrared thermometer so that you can rest easy knowing you and everyone around you is fever free.
·     Face masks: Members of the Pastoral Staff and the Hospitality and Safety Team will wear face masks except when needing to speak into a microphone from the stage. Face masks will also be provided and encouraged as a means of making sure we do not accidentally spread any germs or viruses while possibly being asymptomatic.
·     Greeting and Fellowship Time: We will not have a formal meet and greet time during the service but will pause during announcements for a giant “air hug”. We will also ask that those who wish to spend time talking and fellowshipping with others prior to or after the service do so under the ramada, in the grassy area, or in the parking lot and to leave the sidewalks and lobby clear so that those who wish to maintain more strict social distancing can do so without having the sidewalks blocked. The Common Grounds will be closed during Phase 1 so be sure to bring your own coffee!
·     Disinfectant Practices: Prior to every service our team will disinfect all door handles, bathrooms, light switches, flat services, and chairs. We will also disinfect bathrooms after the service begins. Protective seat covers will be provided by all toilets. Tissue boxes will also be supplied to eliminate the need for touching shared surfaces (ex. Toilet handles and doorknobs).
Phase 1 Small Group, Bible Study, and Prayer Ministries
·     During Phase 1 Hope Chapel’s Adult Small Group, Bible Study, and Prayer Group ministries will take a case by case approach on how to best conduct ministry. We will be in contact with the leaders of these ministries and will announce in the coming weeks which ministries will return to campus meetings abiding by the new safety protocols and which ministries will continue ministry online.
·     Royal Rangers, Girls’ Ministries and Youth: The younger classes for these ministries (i.e. Elementary school aged kids) will wait to hold classes on campus until Phase 2 along with the rest of our children’s ministries. Dave Blount and Janet Abello will be talking with their ministry leaders to determine whether or not the older students (i.e. High School and Jr. High) will conduct any on campus classes or activities during Phase 1. What they determine will be announced in the coming weeks.
Our hope and prayer is that you receive all of this news in the spirit in which it was intended, one of deep love. Because we love you deeply, we are doing our best to minister effectively to people’s minds, hearts, and souls while also keeping their physical bodies as safe as possible.
May God bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may He lift up his face upon you and give you peace!
Pastors Eric and Aimee Hernando