COVID-19 Information

You can return to this page for updates or schedule changes for our church as they become available.

September 3, 2020

Pastor Ralph shares results from the recent COVID-19 survey, some important takeaways from the survey, and plans to reopen the church campus for in-person ministry. Please click Ralph’s photo below to view the video message. 

After watching the video, please take time to read through the results of the survey, takeaways from the survey, and reopening the church campus (below the video). Or click HERE for a pdf of the document.

Thanks 

Dear West Side,

     Thank you so much for all who were able to provide feedback. We had 246 responses to our online survey, with 88% of people finishing the survey. Survey Monkey says that our participation was excellent. 

     Just so you know, not everyone had the same experience filling out the survey. Depending on how you answered, the survey took you to the next logical question. For example, if you haven’t been able to join with online worship then you were not asked to rate your experience and were instead taken to the next section of questions. The average time spent completing the survey was about 7½ minutes, which was on target to what we had promised. This means we had a large percentage of the church providing us with helpful information.  

    In this article, I will provide summaries of what we discovered as we well as some of the big takeaways from the survey. We also asked a number of open-ended questions. The information gathered from these questions will be given to appropriate ministry teams. Finally, I will provide how this survey is informing some of our next steps in response to COVID-19 shutdown. 

 

The Online Worship experience 

While it is difficult not to see each other in person for worship, overall we are surviving as a church body. The vast majority of respondents (85%) are participating with our worship services online, with most (87%) choosing to join while live at 9:45 am.  

For those who are not worshipping online, the main reasons are split between those who have poor internet service and those who choose to not worship online and are just waiting for in-person worship to begin. 

We have made a number of quick adjustments to our online experience, and these have been well received with options for streaming on Facebook, YouTube, or www.westsidechurchrichland.org. Overall, most (83%) think we are providing a high quality to very high quality online worship experience. 

Communication and Connecting through COVID-19  

Over the last number of years, the office staff and ministry staff, with your help, have worked hard at improving our methods of communication in this pandemic. This work looks to have really helped us be prepared for communicating and trying to stay connected as we practice social-distancing. 83% of respondents affirmed they understand our reopening plan. [If you don’t, go to www.westsidechurchrichland. org and click on COVID-19 updates at the top of the homepage.] It is also reassuring that 95% of respondents rate our communication as good to excellent.

What we are going through is difficult and exhausting. While written and video communication help, we are leaning into to doing more, this is a choice we all have to make. Deacons are working hard at calling. We were able to see that about 33% of respondents had not received a care call, so we are redoubling our efforts. We have expanded the ministry to include people who have passion and interest in this area to call and form friendships with people who have asked for more regular calls as well as connect with the whole church family.

Life Groups are also going to be something we will encourage people to try out this Fall. 51% of respondents are in a Life Group. While not all Life Groups have been meeting, for those whose groups are meeting either via Zoom or outside and socially distanced, participants have expressed deep appreciation for the impact and encouragement that their Life Group has had in dealing with this shutdown. We had about 19 respondents express interest in joining with a group and we are in the process of reaching out and forming groups to begin towards the end of this month or beginning of next month. If you are interested or your group would like help with Zoom, please contact Miranda Smith at msmith@westide1.org

Reopening the campus

The Session (elected leadership) formed a task force of 3 medical professionals, 5 elders, and 2 staff to oversee our shutdown and reopening process. This enables the church to be both informed and responsive to the ever-changing governmental directives and evolving understanding of how to appropriately guard against COVID infection. 

 

At the time of this survey, 78% of respondents agreed with our phased approach of reopening. Where things stand today, COVID is not threatening the long-term viability of our church family. Most people are able to join in weekly worship. The quality of what we are doing means that we have actually had new people become attenders and givers to the ministry of West Side.  

It is also clear that most people (75%) are looking forward to returning to in-person worship when we move forward in our phased reopening. While we want to encourage people to take appropriate safety measures as we grow in our understanding of COVID, it seems clear that depending on age and preexisting condition the risk is significantly different.

While we originally planned on waiting until Phase 4 to do in-person worship, as Washington State guidelines have changed, the lockdown has stretched into months, and we all learn how to practice social-distancing, the task force is presently working on reopening Sunday worship in our present phase. Now putting together all of our safety measures, training, and organization structures to provide people the opportunity to worship on campus has a lot of logistical issues. We are looking to do this as soon as possible, but there is a lot of work to do we made this decision on Sept. 2, and so are not ready to set a date. We are excited about this opportunity and will be providing more information as soon as we finalize our strategy.

Takeaways

      ·      Thanks for your feedback.
·      We are surviving.
·      What we are doing through online worship (as well as a number of different opportunities for growing — Life Groups,
     Bible Study, Youth and Children videos/meetings, Lectures, daily meditations) are helping us glorify God and grow up in
     Christ.
·      Staying Connected is important.
·      We have expanded the care-call ministry with people from our church who have passion and interest in helping us stay 
     connected.
·      Life Groups are a great source of support during this time and we are forming new groups this Fall. 
     [Contact Miranda Smith at msmith@westside1.org.]
·      Most people know and agree with our approach towards reopening.
·      We have learned that there are a group of West Siders who don’t do digital/online communication or material. We have 
     set up a weekly update as well as an audio CD of the Sunday message. If you are not receiving this and would like
     to, 
please call the office at 509.946.4656, leave a message, and will include you in this means of communication.
·     As guidelines and information change, the task force is adjusting our plan.
·     SINCE WE ARE NOW ABLE, PER WASHINGTON STATE GUIDELINES, TO HAVE LIMITED NUMBERS OF PEOPLE ATTEND 
     IN-PERSON WORSHIP GATHERINGS, WE ARE WORKING TOWARDS REOPENING SUNDAY WORSHIP IN FULL COMPLIANCE
     WITH THIS GUIDANCE.  MORE INFORMATION WILL BE COMING SOON!
·     Please continue to pray for our church, our community, our country, and our world.

Again, thank you and blessings in Christ,
Pastor Ralph

July 23, 2020

As we continue to move forward through this COVID-19 shutdown and look to navigate a safe and responsible reopening plan, we would love to get some feedback from you. We are inviting each West Sider to fill our a survey that will give us feedback on how we are doing as well as ideas for moving forward. Just click on the “Take the Survey” image above to be directed to the survey. The survey should only take about 5-7 minutes – depending on how you respond to the survey (no more than 30 questions). Thank you for your help in giving feedback. I pray that God will bless our efforts to face these challenging times in His love and power. Blessings in Christ, Pastor Ralph.
UPDATE August 5, 2020 – Survey is now closed. Thank you for your participation.

June 13, 2020

As we prepare to regather in person as a church family, Pastor Ralph would like to share what is guiding our leadership’s decision-making in reopening – click Ralph’s photo below to view the video message. 

After watching the video, please take time to read through West Side’s plans (below the video) regarding face-to-face ministry and gathering. 

Play Video

MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO DO WHAT LEADS TO PEACE AND MUTUAL EDIFICATION

To our West Side Family,

I want to begin with a call for the church that comes to us in Romans 14.  It captures a way of being the church that I believe is essential for this time of global crisis.  Paul was giving advice on the issue of food, but it was really about the issue of exercising freedom.  He framed it as the difference between those whose faith were strong as opposed to those who were weak.  It was a call for the strong, not to use their strength selfishly but in service to those who were weaker.  Paul did not want a minor issue like satisfying the stomach to tear apart the unity of the church.  Paul called members to make personal sacrifice for others, limiting our freedom in order to help others not stumble. 

For us, the issue is not food but the risk of contracting COVID-19.  For some of us, we are ready to take the risk and are tired of the imposition of this lock down.  For others, we are concerned because we are in a high risk category or because we side on caution or because we are willing to make personal sacrifices of social connection so that our state government will allow people to go back to work.  This pandemic has unfortunately become a polarizing event in our nation.  We recognize there are people on all sides of the issue of how to respond to this pandemic, from those unwilling to meet until a vaccine is found to those who want a complete reopening now.  For us, this not a political issue, it is how we are seeking to follow Jesus Christ.

Whatever we are personally ready to do, in this we are not to think just of ourselves but of the whole church.   We are also to think of our witness to the world.  I believe God is calling His Church to demonstrate sacrificial love, putting the welfare of the community above our desires for more social connection.   This is not an issue of the government inhibiting our ability to worship.  Sunday worship is happening, literally across the Tri-cities, because of the Spirit of God and technology.  The call to worship is not just for Sunday; daily, we are called to offer our bodies as living-sacrifices, this is our true and proper worship (Romans 12). Into this tension Paul encourages us “to make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification” (Romans 14:19)!   

While all the leadership of West Side longs for the gift of being able to gather together face-to-face, knowing that the best way of expressing the true of gift of the church is in our shared life together, we are calling West Side to demonstrate sacrificial love, not looking to our needs but the needs of others.  People need to go back to work.  Schools need to reopen.  People need to get basic health care screenings so cancers and other health issues can be identified and treated.  The way forward is to both practice social distancing as well as provide feedback to our public officials.  As our state and country walk through this reopening, the church—every Christian—should help lead the way of promoting the common good, respecting the laws of the land, and speaking truth in love.   

Some of this feedback has led to new guidance for people of faith in our state’s four-fold reopening plan.  While we expect that the response to this pandemic will continue to evolve, instead of making predictions we have been focused on developing a West Side phased plan of reopening the church’s ministry and buildings.

As we prepare to regather in person as a church family, we want to highlight a few values that are guiding our decision making in reopening. 

1.      Living faithfully to Jesus Christ—His mission, His way—which means demonstrating sacrificial love, wanting the best for people even if it comes at costly sacrifice.
2.      The health and safety of our congregation, staff, and community.
3.      Respect for governmental powers demonstrated by adhering to the federal, state, and county guidelines for reopening.
4.      Informed decision making, tasking a small group made up of ministry leaders and health care professionals that will stay informed on current COVID-19 trends and updated guidance and requirements. 

So, based upon what we know at this point, here is how we are preparing to reopen face-to-face ministry and gather in shared life together.

 

HOW WE ARE PREPARING TO REOPEN FACE-TO-FACE MINISTRY AND GATHER TOGETHER IN COMMUNITY

We are adopting a four-phased approach that follows Washington State guidelines as well as the updated guidelines for religious organizations.  While the state guidelines indicate when we can move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, any transition into the next phase of our reopening will be determined by our ability to implement our West Side plan with the authorization of the Session and the guidance of the Task Force.  We look forward to celebrating with the congregation as we progress through our 4-phased reopening.

Phase 1:

·       Sunday Worship Online:  Facebook, YouTube, and www.westsidechurchrichland.org. 

·       Life Groups meet via Zoom or other online meeting tools. 

·       Online Bible Study (Monday and Wednesday):  Facebook Live and www.westsidechurchrichland.org. 

·       Wednesday Worship on Facebook Live. 

·       Sunday School Videos: Facebook and www.westsidechurchrichland.org. 

·       Words of Life: Daily meditations with ministry staff Monday through Saturday:  Facebook and www.westsidechurchrichland.org. 

·       Special online gatherings of Youth Ministry. 

·       Bite2Go outreach providing food to families in the local community:  Fridays on Campus. 

·      The building is only open to staff and leadership doing essential work that maintains operations and provides for the essential  needs of the congregation.

 

Updated Response: The update guidance allows for outside services on the church property of up to 100 people.

 

·      We are going to continue with our present online services in place of holding worship services outside.    

·       Youth Ministry is authorized to conduct special youth services that fit the new guidance and follows our mitigation practices, which includes social distancing with facemasks as prescribed by the state.

·     Employees, leaders, and Bite2Go participants will be required to go through COVID-19 training and implement mitigation practices including symptom screening, hand washing, wearing facemasks, and social distancing when in the facility.

Phase 2:

·       All online services continue as in Phase 1. 

·       Life Groups continue to meet via zoom or other online meeting tools. [We encourage everyone to join a Life Group.]

·       Youth Ministry and Children’s Ministry (4th-5th Grade) are authorized to conduct special services outside on the church property up to 100 people, inside the building up to 50 people or 25% capacity of the gathering space, or at a park or a home with up to 6 people excluding ministry staff.  All these special services must follow the appropriate mitigations practices approved by Session.

·       Deacon’s Benevolence Ministry is authorized to reopen its ministry outreach to the community following the appropriate mitigation practices approved by Session.

·       In-home gatherings of up to 6 people can meet for counseling, discipleship, and care.

·       Employees can work from the Church office or home, as needed, but must continue all mitigation practices approved by Session.

 

Phase 3
The state has not provided updated guidance for Phase 3 or 4 regarding religious organizations.  While we are hoping for more guidance that may mean modification of this plan, we will continue to be guided by our foundational principles for reopening.

      ·         All online services continue as in Phase 1. 
       ·         Life Groups continue to meet via zoom. [We encourage everyone to join a Life Group.]
       ·         Fellowship and Worship will be authorized to consider special fellowship services of up to 50 or 25% capacity to help minister                 to the basic need of gathering in community.  These services will follow all the guidelines of social distancing required by the
             state and our own mitigation practices.

 

Phase 4

      ·         All online services continue as in Phase 1. 
      ·         Sunday morning worship services will be held on campus
       ·         Large Group Gatherings (Wednesdays@West Side, Alpha, Wedding, and Memorial Services) will begin to reopen, following 
             updated guidelines required by the state and our own mitigation practices.
      ·          Life Groups are allowed under state guidelines to meet in people’s homes. 
      ·          Children’s Ministry and Childcare will be authorized to serve as permitted by state guidelines and our own mitigation 
             
practices.
      ·         Preschool will be authorized to reopen as permitted by state guidelines and our own mitigation practices
      ·         Tutoring and ESL will be authorized to begin serving as permitted by state guidelines and our own mitigations practices
       ·         Adult Groups:  Choir, FOF, Sarah Circle, Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Morning Glory, Pure Desire, Saturday Morning Men’s
             Bible Study and other approved adult ministries of West Side will be allowed to reopen as permitted by state guidelines and
             our own mitigation practices
.
      ·         The building will be opened to the Boy Scouts as permitted by state guidelines and our own mitigation practices. 
      ·         We will begin working with outside groups who want to reserve our building as permitted by state guidelines and our own
             mitigation practices.

 

Online Worship

We realize that people in our church family will have varying levels of comfort in returning to gatherings, so online worship services will continue through all four phases and beyond. 

WE'LL SEE YOU SOON

It is amazing how quickly time goes.  We know that this time of isolation has been difficult for most everyone and incredibly onerous and even devastating for some of our own.  I want you to know that we love you, and we hope to encourage one another in every way we can.  If you need help, please reach out to your church family so we can love and help you through this difficult time.

We hope that this information helps to paint a picture of hope for how we are preparing to gather face-to-face in the future.  The Task Force is committed to staying on top of all the updates and shifts, so that we can safely move through these phases as quickly as possible.   Session and Deacons are committed to leading and caring for the church through these difficult times.  The Ministry Staff is praying and working hard to help nurture and build-up our fellowship.  I am also hearing many amazing stories of the way the whole body is stepping up in this time. 

Let me end with the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Christians in Rome.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Looking forward when we can gather and praise God with one voice together in person,
Pastor Ralph Kieneker 

Do you have questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

May 30, 2020

Please click the play button below to begin the video message from Pastor Ralph with a COVID-19 update. Also, click HERE for a letter with all the update details. 

May 1, 2020 - 12:00 PM

Please click the play button below to begin the video message from Pastor Ralph with an update from our Session. 
Also, click HERE for a letter with all the update details.

Update: ALL ESL and Citizenship classes are now cancelled for Spring.
Please join us September 15, 2020 when classes resume.

April 4, 2020 - 8:30 PM

Please click the play button below to begin the video message from Pastor Ralph with an invitation to Holy Week – April 5 – 12. You can also click HERE for a written copy of the Holy Week schedule.

March 31, 2020 - 4:00 PM

Please click the play button below to begin the video message from Pastor Ralph regarding More than Conquerors – an update on worship service for Communion Sunday. You can also click HERE for a written copy of the information that was presented in the video.

March 27, 2020 – 4:00 PM

Please click the play button below to begin the video message from Pastor Ralph regarding Partnering in Mission and Ministry. You can also click HERE for a written copy of the information that was presented in the video.

March 18, 2020 - 3:45 PM

Please click the play button below to begin the video message from Pastor Ralph regarding the COVID-19 update. You can also click HERE for a written copy of the information that was presented in the video.

March 13, 2020 - 7:40 PM

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, our services have been shifted to online only. Please join our livestream at 9:45 am either on Facebook (West Side Church, Richland WA) or on the LIVESTREAM tab on our webpage. Please see the video below for a special message from Pastor Ralph regarding the coronavirus and how we as a church will continue to worship and work together to be salt and light to our community.

Update: ESL Classes are suspended until April 28, 2020.  Las classes de ingles en la igleisa esten suspendidas hasta el martes, 28 de abril.