Cornerstone Conference IPHC: COVID-19 Response and Action Plan

Updated Wednesday, April 1, 2020
March 18, 2020 Original Post


Urgent Message From Bishop Ainsworth:

To our Cornerstone Conference IPHC Family and Friends,

Let me take a moment and tell you that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Also, I would like to thank you for your courage and faith during these unprecedented times. I am hearing powerful stories of salvation, healing and deliverance as many of our pastors and congregations have moved outside the walls and beyond their usual means of ministry to find new ways of exalting Jesus and bringing hope to a world griped by fear. These are not days to be fearful, but to be fearless!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I want to ask you to continue to pray for the men and women who are the first responders, heroes on the front lines of this pandemic. Their selflessness and sacrifice does not go unnoticed. We honor and uphold each of these brave men and women in our prayers.

Coronavirus Guidelines & Executive Orders

As you know by now, the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America (15 Days to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus) has been extended to April 30, 2020. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (Executive Order No. 121) and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (Executive Order No. 53) have banned all gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered residents to stay home. This is in effect for residents of NC until April 30, 2020 and for residents of VA until June 10, 2020 unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order. The Orders have the force of law.

What this means for Cornerstone Conference IPHC

Due to the present circumstances of COVID-19, our Cornerstone Conference Office will remain closed through April 30th. Our staff will continue to work from home. We are available to assist you during this time. Please visit our website for resources, sign up to receive our regular emails to stay informed, participate in our hosted webinars and Zoom Calls.

What this means for IPHC Pastors and Congregations

Ministers must observe all the requirements of the State Executive Orders. When traveling to your place of worship (for limited ministerial duties as described below), ministers should carry their Cornerstone Conference IPHC ID Card.

Churches should not meet for in-person gatherings onsite or offsite (in a building or a parking lot) due to the public health ban on gatherings. Our members are also citizens and they have been ordered by authorities to stay at home.

Although the “drive up church” option has been previously used by many innovative churches to accommodate the requirements for social distancing – this is no longer an option with the current ban on gatherings and stay at home orders in place. Cornerstone Conference strongly advises against continuing this practice.

Churches can (and should) continue to provide online services, online small group meetings, digital congregational care and creative community outreach opportunities as long as they maintain the guidelines of social distancing. According to health experts, this means limiting contact with individuals that are not in your family.

The current Executive Orders permit 10 people or less to gather on a limited basis as long as they maintain the strict guidelines of social distancing. There is also a travel provision to and from places of worship. These allowances would permit a limited number of ministry personnel to prepare and provide the ministry services as described above. Weddings and Funerals can be conducted with ten or less people. Church Food Pantry’s can continue to serve the public with ten or less people serving.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of our Executive Council, a Regional Pastor or a Cornerstone Conference Ministry Center Staff member. We are here to assist you.

A Final Thought To Consider

I probably don’t need to say this, but I will anyhow (unapologetically): As much as we ought to value our religious freedom and uphold our first amendment rights, let us not forget that there is a much greater law that exists. It is the law of perfect love.

Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

The restrictions placed on us by our government are not to deny us of our first amendment rights or to protest a biblical truth. The restrictions are in the consideration of public health. Our observance of the law doesn’t dishonor God but rather it honors Him since He is the one who established all authority (Romans 13:1). As for our sacrifice in staying at home on days when we are compelled to be in church – we are actually preferring one another above ourselves. By socially distancing ourselves during this time, we are demonstrating love by showing concern for the (sometimes unseen) needs of others. (Romans 12:10).

We may be required to give up several weeks of gathering in our places of worship. No doubt this will be difficult. But let’s not miss out on this incredible opportunity to be the church outside the walls. As believers, let’s take this opportunity to love like Jesus, care like Jesus and serve like Jesus – selflessly and fearlessly. Let’s let the world see Christ in us!

During the war a church in Strasburg, Germany, was totally destroyed; but a statue of Christ which stood by the altar was almost unharmed. Only the hands of the statue were missing. When the church was rebuilt, a famous sculptor offered to make new hands; but, after considering the matter, the members decided to let it stand as it was—without hands. “For,” they said, “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work on earth. If we don’t feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, entertain the stranger, visit the imprisoned, and clothe the naked, who will?” Christ is depending on us to do the very things which He did while upon earth.

Mike

P.S. Please take a few minutes to review the Updated COVID-19 Response and Action Plan below. The Executive Orders have affected our Conference Ministry Center Offices and Ministry Event Schedule. Please review the list of resources and training opportunities that will assist you during this time. Please don’t hesitate to call on me. We are here for you!


Our Cornerstone Conference IPHC Offices will be closed through April 30, 2020. Our Conference Ministry Center Staff will be working from home.   Please call us at (336) 656-7936.  When calling, dial (336) 656-7936 and wait for the prompt, then dial the desired extension below.  Calls will be routed by extension number to each staff cell phone.  You can contact us through email as well.


Current Conference Ministry Onsite and Offsite Events and Meetings Have Been Cancelled, Postponed or Moved (if possible) to a Video Session Format. In a special called Administrative Staff meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020, our entire team addressed the rapidly changing situation with the COVID-19 Pandemic and the impact it could potentially have on our Conference Ministry and congregations. We discussed measures to protect our members, guests and employees at the Conference Ministry Center. We reviewed our current Conference ministry (event, meeting and rental) schedules to determine a workable plan amid Executive Order 117 and the latest CDC recommendations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At present, all in-person meetings and events of the Conference have been cancelled, postponed or moved (if possible) to a video session format. This will apply to all Conference Council and Committee meetings as well.

Click here to view the Updated Cornerstone Schedule Post for the most current event and meeting information.


Requests For All Cornerstone Conference IPHC Local Church Ministries

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Bishop Ainsworth communicated the following announcement to our ministers: 

Good morning!  As you know, we’re in a situation none of us have been in before and things are changing day by day.  We have been monitoring the situation with COVID-19, sought wise counsel and devoted time for prayer.  Each of you are in our prayers, especially our Pastors as you shepherd your congregations through this crisis.  

For the safety and wellbeing of all our ministers, members, staff and employees, I am asking every Pastor to take the following steps:  I urge all Cornerstone Conference IPHC congregations of any size to immediately postpone all in-person public services and events through April 30, 2020.

This does not mean that we stop ministry.  Just the opposite!  We are encouraging you to pursue other avenues of ministry including online services, congregational care opportunities and need-related community outreach.  This request is in step with the announced plan of our President to Slow The Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) over the next 15 days.  

We believe this crisis is an unprecedented opportunity for each of us to Be The Church!  Remember, when it is darkest, Christ’s light (through His church) shines the brightest!  Let’s continue to be salt and light bringing hope through the gospel to our communities and the world! (Matthew 15:4)


RESOURCES

IPHC COVID-19 Response & Resources website

Legal Guidelines for Churches

CARES Act:


Websites/Articles:

Books:

How To’s:

Webinars:

Podcasts:
  • Christian Podcasting Options: Podpoint
  • Christian Podcasting App: AnchorFM

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