COVID-19 Information

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

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 or click HERE. 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.
NOTE: When you click on the survey link, you will be redirected to our church account at Survey Monkey where you will take the survey.

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


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.



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 

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

·       Online Bible Study (Monday and Wednesday):  Facebook Live and 

·       Wednesday Worship on Facebook Live. 

·       Sunday School Videos: Facebook and 

·       Words of Life: Daily meditations with ministry staff Monday through Saturday:  Facebook and 

·       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 
      ·         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. 


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.