Coronavirus Update

Until we are free to gather again, join us as we gather online (Facebook live) every Sunday from 10-11 am. First, find and like The STORY Church on Facebook then tune in. See other updatesd (INCLUDING OUR PLAN TO START GATHERING AGAIN) below along with things we are doing to serve the community.

OUR PLAN TO GATHER AGAIN IN PERSON

June 7th - Founders “Be Rich” collection.

June 14th - July 5th: Still stream online.

July 12th - Leaders become part of Sunday gathering (no kids yet) - still stream.

                 Tailgate of some kind in parking lot after church gathering.

July 19th - Leaders (no kids yet).

July 26th - Leaders and Team Members (no youn children yet).

  Food Drive for Wylie Christian Care Center - drop off 11:30 after gathering for those not already there. 

Aug 2nd - Family Gathering  PLUS Kids Graduation from Waumba To Upstreet.

Aug 9th - Family Gathering

Aug 16th - Full open including children's ministry.

BE RICH (In good deeds, that is) Founders Nursing and Rehab staff - Even though it’ll likely be July before we start gathering again in person (on Sundays), our church is not closed, we are up and moving and here is an opportunity show it. In the past, each time we have taken advantage of a way to serve the people at Founders Nursing and Rehab, it felt...just right. At the outset of COVID-19, it wasn’t long before they went on lockdown. As this was happening, the people of our church purchased fun items (kites, bubbles...etc), recommended by their staff, which they would be able to use on the outside of their building while in isolation from others. We don’t want to stop there. While our last opportunity was for the residents, we want to provide just a little bit of encouragement for the staff. As you well know, they are on the front lines with a group that is considered in the higher risk categories. 

The plan is to write each staff member an encouraging note and to give each one a $5 gift card from a place like sonic or Chick-fil-A. There are 127 staff members so this would be a total of $635. So, we are asking for people to give Above and Beyond their normal giving to help raise the money. For clarity, this would not replace what we normally give toward the church, rather, this would be added to what we already give. Additionally, we are looking for people/families who are willing to purchase note cards and to write notes to the staff (examples below). So, to give you an idea, a family of 4 can commit to writing 5 cards each and this would add up to 20 of the 127 cards. We will collect these cards on Sunday, June 7th after our church gathering (11:30 in the front parking lot). Those who are writing notes will show up with the cards in an UNSEALED envelope with the words - “A Gift For You” on the front. We will add the gift cards to these open envelopes and they will be delivered to Founders a few days later. 

WHAT WE NEED:
-We need to know right away who is willing to participate by emailing ray@thestorychurch.org (details below).
-For those willing to give above and beyond their normal giving, we’ll need to know how you are giving (online, drop off donation...etc) and how much. To do so, please contact our Finance Director Kerry Brinkley ASAP at kerry.brinkley12@gmail.com.
-If you’ll commit to write these cards, let us know how many. Ten or more would be very helpful and if we get people to commit to more than we need, we’ll simply ask some to do a few less. Remember we need to do 127 so it’s important for people to step up! This is a great for opportunity for parents and their children.
This is just one way for us to Be The Church during COVID-19. Our hope that for you and for all of us, this is another step that helps us learn that, no matter the situation - we can always find ways to Be the Church. 

SAMPLES

Sample 1: Thank you for serving the residents of Founders. I hope you always remember how valuable you are and that what you do matters. I just wanted to say Thank You! Ray - part of The STORY Church family. 

Sample 2: On behalf of The STORY Church family, I want to say thank you for serving the people of our community in the way that you do. I hope this note and this small gift brings a smile to your face in the way, I’m sure, you’ve brought smiles to the people of Founders. - Ray - part of The STORY Church Family.

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May 1, 2020 Update

Hello everyone,

With government officials starting Phase 1 (Executive Order GA-18) to open up Texas, I realize we all want to know when we will be able to gather in person again. I’m glad to report that we are starting to take our first steps. Our Directors and Point People have been talking, I’ve been in conversation with other local pastors and we have looked at The Minimum Standard Health Protocols that were given by state officials (attached in the email). Because of the guidelines given by state officials (beyond just Phase 1) and, really just where we are with all of this in our culture, it is clear that we will not be able to gather again through the month of May even though it is legally possible. We have wrestled with this and continue to do so in light of what seems like daily updates in our communities. 

In watching a zoom meeting with church leaders from around the country, most are looking toward the end of June and into July before being able to really gather again. You see, none of us want to limp into gathering again, we want to start strong. What we fully understand is that people view all that is going on in different ways. Some feel we are far from ready and others want to jump right in and get everything going again. I’m glad to tell you that our team clearly understands, respects and has considered each view point. 

What you can know is that we want to come back together and so we are preparing for when the time is right. To do this will require a plan, prayer, preparation and even new ways to do a number of things. We are looking at what we would need do to update our ministry spaces, how we will handle the children’s ministry, assimilate new health protocols, how we can be effective in new ministry ways in light of C-19 and more. Part of what is exciting is that during this unprecedented time, we’ve utilized new tools like streaming our Sunday gathering, doing a church online devotional and groups having zoom meetings. We’ve seen people step up to “Be The Church”, an increased perceived value to truly important things, a growing thirst to gather again and, for some, a new closeness with the Lord. What we want is to come back stronger than we entered C-19 and see no reason why this is not possible. 

Meanwhile, our leaders are moving forward in conversation and planning. We ask that our Team Members start preparing their hearts and minds for ministry. As we do this, let’s continue to gather online and invite others to participate as well. Additionally, let’s look for ways we continue to Be The Church and to connect in unique ways with our friends, with our family and with our church family. Lastly, please pray for our church and pray for our leadership. We have a number of families who have had a difficult 2020 and our leadership is being called to help navigate our church through this historical time. 

Pray. Pray. Pray. 

All that being said, new challenges bring new opportunities and we want the Lord to use our church in mighty ways through where we are as a culture. Thank you all for your grace and your patience as we all learn to walk through this together. 

 

Alongside you. 

Ray Miranda

 

Our First Opportunity To Serve Others During This Coronavirus Outbreak

Our neighbors, who are literally just a stones throw away from our building, are on quarantine. Their staff is looking for creative ways to entertain the residents when weather permits. We are going to help by providing:
Kites, seeds, butterfly nets, bubbles, bubble machines, butterfly gardens and rocks to a paint. 
Drop off will be at the front parking lot of our building this Sunday at Noon. This is just one small way we can be the church. Please email ray@thestorychurch.org to let us know if you will be participating. If you are not part of our church but would like to participate, we’d love to partner with you in this.

UPDATE, THURSDAY MARCH 19TH, 3PM

UPDATE ON WHAT WE ARE DOING

Hello everyone, 

In a recent series, we spent our time learning how the Lord works so we can better trust Him when we don’t see Him working. Well, right now I ask - how is your faith? How is your trust? What is your perspective on all this?  And I’m asking the same of myself. Now is a time (as it is always) to press in to Him, to seek Him and love, serve and encourage others. My hope is that you know full well He is working and have confidence in Him in a growing way. If you are struggling, we have people that would love to speak to you to encourage you or, at the very least, be a listening ear. It is important to know, the greater the struggle for us, the greater the opportunities that show themselves.

--No physical gathering for a while but we will continue to provide a way to “gather” on Sundays online. And as we saw last Sunday, these ways are easily shared with others. In fact, last Sunday, there were quite a few people who caught the music and sermon online who have not ever joined us on a Sunday. There are opportunities everywhere, especially in times of crisis. If you are not on facebook, now would be a good time to sign on (ask if you are not sure how to) because we will utilize this tool in a lot of good and helpful ways. Be sure to like our church page. If you do not have a RightNow Media account, please let me know because this is a wonderful and amazing tool we’ll be using as well.

--Leaders are working on ways we can provide resources (for all ages) to help you grow during this time along with resources to help us navigate this place we find ourselves in.  

-We will be reaching out to the families of our church for ways we can specifically pray for you. 

-Also, let’s be a people of prayer. We ask you to pray for each other, for our church leadership, our communities, state and country. 

-The Women’s Event is postponed.

We will be in touch but don’t hesitate to reach out to others who are part of our church (and beyond, of course). This is an opportunity to grow into is something we discuss all the time - being the church beyond the building. And, as you might have heard, we already have an opportunity to serve others (below). This is a wonderful opportunity so let’s take hold of it. 

OUR OPPORTUNITY

Our neighbors, who are literally just a stones throw away from our building, are on quarantine. Their staff is looking for creative ways to entertain the residents when weather permits. We are going to help by providing:

Kites, seeds, butterfly nets, bubbles, bubble machines, butterfly gardens and rocks to a paint. 

Drop off will be at the front parking lot of our building this Sunday at Noon (though there is a possibility we will all drive from the parking lot together and just drop off at the front door of Founders since it is literally just steps away. This is just one small way we can be the church. Please email ray@thestorychurch.org to let us know if you will be participating. There will be final details sent to those who sign up. #fortheirSTORY #foryourSTORY

Alongside you, 

Ray

214-934-3894

UPDATE, SATURDAY MARCH 14TH, 6:00PM

Hello everyone, 
This has been a pretty unique week. We started the week knowing we had to address the Coronavirus situation but it has steamrolled into so many different things and with so many moving parts. 
I’ve been in touch with other local pastors, with other leaders from our church and people within our church and we have made a change for this Sunday (tomorrow). 
We will still have music and a sermon live and we even have a group that will definitely still be coming up. But, we want to provide another option. We will be streaming the music and sermon on Facebook live starting at 10:00 am for those who can’t be here (out of town or sick) or because of all that is happening with the Coronavirus. This will be our first time doing this so it is a bit of a test run as well. So, you now have these two options and we will be in touch in the days to come concerning what is coming up as more and more information becomes available. 
By the way, don’t miss tomorrow - however you take part. It’s going to be something special. 
If you want to see the letter I put out earlier in the week, you can click here.
While this change is not reflected, there is still important information in there. 
Thank you!
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THIS LETTER WAS SENT OUT THROUGH EMAIL on March 13, 2020

The STORY,

You can’t go very long without hearing or seeing something about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In my family it has been no different. There has been everything from “Is this being blown way out of proportion?” to my kids gleefully chanting “Corona! Corona!” when they found out they had another week off of school (sure this lacks perspective but it was funny). Because I know there are some questions and even some concerns surrounding this, I’m sending this out to address some of these. The other Directors (Vince, Kerry and Jazen) helped initiate a needed response as well. At this point, we do not see a great impact in our communities but it is good to get ahead of this now. One thing I’d like to say in advance, for those who believe, our response should be loving, wise and not driven by fear or by giving out information that is untrue, biased or slanted.

THE BOTTOM LINEWe will be gathering this Sunday and I’m thrilled about what we have planned. As you’ve seen with our current “Great STORIES” series, the Lord has uniquely worked in the lives of people who are part of our church. This Sunday, it will be no different. We will take extra precautions and ask you to do the same (covered below). Included below is information (with some edits) I gained through local pastor and friend, Jeff Denton, who has met with Collin County officials. You’ll see where this applies by looking for - *****. This being said, we are considering those circumstances that would cause us to not meet and steps we’d take if that were to happen. 

THE REACTION - Much of this feels unprecedented in recent memory with the shutting down of sports, schools and other large events. Of course, social media has not been silent. With this, we’ve not been able to escape political posts concerning this virus. As is common, stuff is put out that agrees with the side they agree with and disagrees with the side they disagree with (the comments follow suit). The Media has been all over this and it has raised the question whether the response has been appropriate, overblown or even agenda-driven. What we can know is that we want to have an appropriate response for our families and our church. 

THE REALITY AND THE INFORMATION - Before giving some information from County Officials, I’d like to say that there might very well be some level of overblowing of this situation (though many would disagree on who is responsible for this). This being said, you’ll notice that a lot of solutions are things we should apply every day. The washing of hands and staying away from others when we or our children have been sick should be no-brainers. This is also true about thinking about the impact beyond ourselves toward others. 

 *****As this virus spreads through communities, it is likely our church will be impacted by it. Based on data from the spread in other countries, it’s expected that approximately 80% of our population may become infected with this Coronavirus. Of those who get this virus, approximately 50% may not even notice symptoms. 85% of those infected will heal with no medical intervention. In other words, for the vast majority of those infected with COVID-19 most will heal from it with minimal impact. However, persons with underlying health issues, compromised immune systems or over 60 years old are more at risk from this virus. This is the population we must protect during this pandemic. For this reason, in accordance with CDC suggestions we recommend individuals who fall within these “at-risk” designations or families with members within those designations avoid large group activities where exposure to infected persons could occur. This may even include church activities. 

THE COMMON SENSE STEPS -This first step is in place at all times, it is “others-centered” and common courtesy. A child should be fever-free for more than 24 hours (without any med assistance) to participate in children’s activities. 

-If you have fever, stay home and get better.

-I will be going through extra cleaning measures in advance of our Sunday Gathering. 

-Just to be on the safe side, let’s not shake hands or hug. While most of us might not worry about this, we don’t want to put another person in an uncomfortable situation by initiating something they might not want but would feel awkward turning down. As someone known as a “non-hugger” I suppose I’ve been preparing for this for years - ha!

-Our building has restrooms with sinks and soap, please feel free to wash your hands as much as you’d like. It would also be wise to wash (for at least 20 seconds) upon arrival and when leaving. 

-We will have hand-sanitizer readily available. If you have any extra at your house that you’d like to donate, please let me know and I’ll let you know if we are still in need of them.

-Where possible, doors will be propped open at all times so people don’t have to open and close them. 

If you have traveled to areas of concern (high and growing Coronavirus) please self-quarantine for two weeks. 

*****ARE WE MAKING TOO BIG A DEAL OUT OF THIS VIRUS? - Note: Some of this is mentioned above but it is worth repeating. I’ve seen plenty of bad information as this crisis has developed. Christians can often be the worst culprits of spreading inaccurate details, even if it comes from a place of genuine concern. At the health briefing today, I listened to epidemiologists explain the details that make this such a public health concern. It has spread more rapidly than flu during a typical season. This virus wasn’t around until 90 days ago and is already a worldwide pandemic. It is statistically safe for 85% of the population. Most will survive infection with minimal or no medical intervention. But, for the vulnerable population, there is reason to be concerned and the impact there can be high. The recommendation of the CDC for people in the high-risk category is to “avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.” They define high risk persons as:

-Older adults (60+) - Please note that it wasn’t me (Ray) who said that someone over 60 is “older.”

-People who have serious chronic medical conditions like: Heart disease. Diabetes. Lung disease

The rapid spread has been overwhelming medical personnel and facilities in many countries. Medical professionals cannot stop treating cancer patients, heart attack victims, injuries from car accidents, and so on. The purpose is not to pretend to contain the infection, but to control the community spread. Slowing the number of patients to a manageable number helps increase survival rate among vulnerable populations.

The call of the Christian is to always be concerned about the lives of those who are vulnerable. Whether an unborn child, a mom undergoing chemo, or a senior adult with limited lung capacity, every life is valuable. Please don’t argue against protecting comparable “percentages” of the population. COVID-19 appears to be transferred by droplet, not dry airborne. It doesn’t absorb through your skin, but enters through the mouth, nose and eyes. This is why there are pleas from the medical community to refrain from touching your face.

Researchers tell us there is much unknown about COVID-19. They have yet to definitively answer whether it will fade out at the end of the typical flu season. Most viruses do begin to diminish as warm weather emerges. However, this virus has been expanding rapidly in some warm weather climates.

There isn’t a cure. Scientists are working furiously around the world to develop a treatment or vaccine. Tests for COVID-19 have been slow to arrive because there’s typically a long development process for such tests.

These unknowns and quick changes aren’t conspiracies. There are epidemiologists in local, federal and global health departments who spend every day working on answers to these kinds of problems. They are working, including in Collin County, to get these answers as quickly as they can.

GIVING - Let’s be ready to continue to give. As a smaller church, let us remember we are continuing to walk in faith as we continue to meet in the space the Lord blessed us with in wonderful ways. As a church, if those entrusted to give do not do so, we’ll not have enough to cover our expenses, let alone be willing to help people where needed. We are called to tithe and give offerings above and beyond. Let’s be consistent and faithful as it helps us grow in faith and we are also being counted on as a member of the Body of Christ. 

FOR THE CHRIST-FOLLOWER - This virus is a good time to evaluate ourselves. For those who believe, our response should be driven by faith, love, grace and as mentioned above without fear. Hundreds of times, the scriptures tell us we have nothing to fear because, among other reasons, we have a God who is far bigger than anything we can face. This is a reality we can grow more and more into over time. It is this lack of fear that causes people to risk their lives for their faith, to reach out to the unreachable, to give beyond measure and to serve others at their own personal risk. At this time, regardless of the causes, there are some who will likely get sick and when this happens, the Christ-follower steps in to serve and help. Where stoppages of work happen, there could be difficulty making ends meet. Again, it is where we are to step in and help one another. If either of these things happen, please contact me and we will see if there are ways to help meet these needs as a church. That is just what we are supposed to do. 

So, in  some ways this situation is like all others so let’s do as the scriptures tell us in Ephesians 5 - let’s make the best use of the time. God desires to use all things for our growth, so let’s continue to seek and follow Him. If you have extra time with your families, use it well and cherish it. If you have more personal time on your hands, perhaps you can dive into the scriptures.  To close, let’s be wise, let’s be faithful, let’s be the church!

 

Alongside you, 

Ray Miranda

Pastor Serving The STORY Church

214-934-3894

Psalm 116:1-2