Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Jul 1
2021

We’re “reopening” this Sunday!

Covid-19, News

Downtown Cornerstone,

By God’s grace, the governor announced this week that we are now able to return to 100% capacity for our Sunday gatherings and all other church-related functions. Further, masks are no longer required for those who are fully vaccinated.

Therefore, beginning this Sunday, July 4th, we will gather for (mostly) unhindered worship for the first time in 483 days! Let's take a moment to thank our Lord for carrying us through this season.

What this means for us

In light of the state’s reopening, we are making the following changes beginning this Sunday, July 4th:

  • No pre-registration will be required going forward. (This is already in place.)
  • No social distancing will be required, therefore all seating will be open.
  • Masks will no longer be required for those who are fully vaccinated.
  • State law continues to require those who are unvaccinated to wear masks. However, this is an individual mandate so compliance will be left to the individual, not the church. 
  • We will continue to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together with individual communion cups, as we have through the majority of the pandemic, at least, through the summer.
  • We are prioritizing the rebuilding of Cornerstone Kids in order to remove as many potential barriers as possible. Please let us know if you are able to serve. The rebuilding of other ministries will follow. More below. 
  • All smaller gatherings, whether inside or outside, are now permitted without restrictions (communities, discipleship groups, classes, Connects, informal meet-ups).
  • Our last day of public livestream will be on Sunday, July 25th. More below.

“What if I don’t feel comfortable returning yet?”

This is understandable. It has been an incredibly difficult season and, to an extent, we’ve all become habituated toward isolation, caution, and the ease of at-home live-streaming. Yet, this is our state’s re-opening. There will not be another re-opening, even if some of the remaining restrictions are eased. Vaccines are readily available. Seattle was the first major US city to fully vaccinate 70% of its residents. Based on an April survey, our church is nearly 90% vaccinated, giving us our own ‘flock immunity’. Risks are involved anywhere in the public (whether grocery stores, restaurants, airports, etc). We have not had a single outbreak. In other words, this is probably about as safe as it is ever going to be. Therefore, we lovingly encourage you to return.

“Will we be enforcing a mask policy for those who are unvaccinated?”

Per the reopening guidance, our state no longer requires vaccinated individuals to wear masks. However, state law continues to require those who are unvaccinated, over five years old, to wear a mask in indoor public settings, which includes church gatherings. This is an individual, not an institutional, mandate. Therefore, while we encourage compliance, we will not be “enforcing” compliance any more than we “enforce” you driving the speed limit or paying your taxes. In other words, compliance will be left to the individual and his/her conscience before the Lord (cf. Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17).

“Can I still wear a mask, even if I’m vaccinated?”

Yes, of course. In fact, we imagine quite a few people who are vaccinated will continue to wear masks, including families with young children who are unable to be vaccinated at this time, those with compromised immune systems, and/or those simply erring on the side of caution. Wearing a mask is not a sin nor evidence of a lack of faith. In fact, not wearing a mask will be an adjustment for us all after sixteen months of doing so.

“Won’t following these guidelines create division and partiality?”

As elders, we have been “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” throughout this tumultuous season (Eph. 4:3). We must keep in mind there are many factors that facilitate our unity and the primary one, apart from the Spirit, is our ability to physically gather for worship.

Therefore, from the beginning, we have sought to gather as Jesus’ people to the greatest extent possible given the government’s guidelines at the time. Amidst these ever-changing guidelines, we made it our aim to not be more restrictive than the government. For example, when we could gather at 25% with pre-registration, we did. When we could gather at 50%, we did. When we couldn’t sing at full volume, we lowered our volume to speaking levels. When we could only have two band members, we did. When we could sit in groups of 15, we did.

So, now that the vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks, we do not wish to be more restrictive than the government is calling us to be (e.g. if we were to continue to mandate masks for everyone for the sake of unity). While we understand there are a variety of perspectives on masks and vaccines within our church, we don’t see this greater freedom for corporate worship as facilitating division or partiality, but a matter in which we must bear with one another in love (Eph. 4:2; Rom. 14:22-23).

For those who are unvaccinated, please keep in mind, as noted above, that there will continue to be people who are vaccinated that will wear masks across our church life. It is simply not true that mask wearing will become a ‘scarlet letter’ identifying the ‘unvaccinated outcasts’. Let’s remember that our righteousness isn’t found in our mask or vaccination status, but in Jesus.

Additionally, masks will continue to be required for everyone regardless of vaccination status in hospitals, schools, child care centers, long term care facilities, and public transit (buses, light rail and planes). Masks are not going away anytime soon for anyone. Let’s pray for unity, love, and lots of grace.

“Why is the livestream ending in four weeks?”

From the beginning of the pandemic our livestream has been a concession “in light of the present distress” (1 Cor. 7:26) and was never meant to be a long-term replacement for physically gathering; an IV drip, not a permanent crutch. The church is not a commodity to be consumed, it is a people to whom we belong. The church is not a flat one-dimensional pixelated reality, but a multi-dimensional spiritual reality experienced as individuals knit together by the Spirit of God in a local place.

The regular gathering of Jesus’ people to sing, pray, and preeminently sit under God’s Word is the most important means of grace in a Christian’s life (Heb. 10:24-25). The word for church in Greek literally means “assembly” or “congregation.” In Christ, we now belong to Jesus’ people, universal and local. That means Sunday is the one time during the week where we get to physically live out this shared identity. Therefore, gathering on the Lord’s Day, Sunday, has been integral to Jesus’ people from the very beginning.

However, we recognize that it may take some time for everyone to reboot their Sunday rhythms. Therefore, we are allowing four weeks to begin making those adjustments.

Additionally, we know there are a few among us who cannot participate in our gatherings due to ongoing chronic health issues. In these cases, the pastor overseeing their care will be able to provide a link to a non-public livestream or recording (TBD).

“What do I do with my children?”

We understand that it can be difficult for young children to sit through an entire gathering with their parents. Therefore, Cornerstone Kids is currently offered at the 9am gathering for 1-3 year olds. We’re aiming to expand this to both gatherings starting Sunday, August 1st, and then grow the ministry, and ages served, from there. Our goal is that by October, we'd be able to resume CKids for all ages (6mo to 8yrs). However, this entirely depends on volunteer recruitment. If you’ve served in this capacity previously, or are willing to serve now, please sign up today.

In the meantime, pre-registration for CKids will continue to be required as space is limited.

Another option is the MPR (multi-purpose room) downstairs that will continue to have a live feed of the gathering and more space for families with young children.

Additionally, ‘Parenting in the Pew’ is a great resource for ideas on how you can disciple your children into the joy of worshipping with Jesus’ people, from the youngest of ages.

“When will all of our ministries get back to normal?”

Due to the pandemic, many of our ministries have ceased to exist for over a year. During that time many previous volunteers have moved, transitioned, and/or experienced life-stage changes. This means that we’re currently in the process of rebuilding almost everything from the ground up. As you’d suspect, this doesn't happen overnight. We need all hands on deck. Therefore, if you call DCC your church, but have yet to sign up to serve, we invite you to do that in some capacity today.

Our most immediate needs are in Cornerstone Kids and Operations (see below). However, there are needs across the board. Below is a list of our current minimum volunteer needs in order to ensure our Sunday gatherings run smoothly:

  • Operations: Greeting, Support & Security, Connect (23)
  • Cornerstone Kids – 9:00am (19)
  • Cornerstone Kids – 11:00am (27)
  • Operations: Post-Gathering, Cleanup (11)

To learn more and sign up, visit downtowncornerstone.org/serve.

Let’s keep Jesus at the forefront

This has been long, and difficult, 16 months. As we lament the challenges of this past year, let’s also celebrate God’s grace, kindness, and mercy to us. Let’s remember his faithfulness to us as a church. Let’s continue to pursue unity. Let’s keep looking for ways to love one another. Let’s ask the Lord to grow our hearts for the lost all around us. And most importantly, let’s remember, that amidst our diversity, we are unified around Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is an incomparable city awaiting us, just around the bend. Until we arrive, let’s continue to make him known, for the glory of God and the joy of all people. We hope to see you on Sunday!

Warmly, in hope.
The DCC Elders

Update: Starting August 23rd, the governor has moved back to requiring facemasks to be worn in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. In light of this, we are temporarily requiring facemasks to be worn during our Sunday gatherings.

Jun 21
2021

Rebooting Our Shared Life Together

Community, Covid-19 | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Summer Reboot

Downtown Cornerstone,

As members of the body of Christ, we need each other to help us flourish and fulfill God’s call in our lives, individually and corporately (Rom. 12:3-8, Eph. 4:1-32, Jn. 13:34-35). As we enter the glorious Seattle summer and take steps to come out of this long and challenging Covid season, we are inviting everyone to consider using this time to help reboot our shared life together.

Consider taking some or all of these opportunities to meet and grow with others this summer—for the sake of your spiritual life as well as the health of the church:

Sundays

Our weekly corporate worship gatherings are an essential means of grace for us, individually and collectively. Consider making a goal to meet 1–2 new people every Sunday, or connect with others in the lobby / parking lot after the gathering, or invite someone to join you for a walk, coffee, or brunch.

If you have any questions about anything DCC related, stop by the Connect desk near the entrance and one of our members will be happy to help!

Serve

Serving together is also a great way to meet others while tangibly blessing the church. Most teams are serving between 1–2 times a month. Our most immediate needs are in CKids and Sunday Ops (cleanup team, greeting, hospitality), but there are needs across the board. Check out our Serving page and fill out our simple form to indicate where you're interested in serving!

Cornerstone Connects

Cornerstone Connects exist to help connect people with others who share similar life stages and/or interests and connect further to discipleship opportunities within DCC. We currently have four Connects: Young Professionals, College, Seasoned Saints, and Mom’s Connect. You can find out more about each here.

Pray

Join our staff and leadership to pray for one another, our church, and the spread of the gospel in our city. You can join on Tuesday mornings at 8 AM (via Zoom), and you don’t have to commit to attending every week.

Summer Events

We have three church-wide events planned this summer; save the dates and plan to join us for as many as you’re able, as these are great opportunities to meet others and grow together:

  • June 27th: In-Person Prayer Night @ DCC
  • July 25th: In-Person Prayer Night @ DCC
  • August 28th: Picnic at the Park (@ Myrtle Edwards Park)

The church is primarily a people, not a place—so let’s use this summer to help each other get back into the relational rhythms of our shared life together, for our good and God’s glory!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via connect@downtowncornerstone.org

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

May 19
2021

Our Next Step Forward: Vaccines, Masks, and Sundays

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

As I mentioned on Sunday, we are once again in new territory as we navigate our way out of this once-a-century pandemic. Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey over the weekend. We heard back from ~475 people, which was very helpful. 

News from the CDC and Governor Insleee

The survey was prompted by news from the CDC and Washington's Governor late last week that those who are fully vaccinated (defined as two weeks after your final shot) no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance, whether inside or outside, with few exceptions (public transit, schools, hospitals, shelters, etc). Additionally, the Governor announced that the goal for “fully reopening” the state is set for June 30th.

We must continue to wear masks when we gather

In light of these significant changes, we expected adjustments to be made to the state-mandated Covid-19 requirements for churches. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Therefore, unless we were to meet very stringent requirements (e.g. maintain a vaccinated seating section, create a vaccine verifier role, require weekly proof of vaccination status and/or negative Covid tests for kids, etc), for the time being, despite the news last week, we must continue to wear masks when we gather on Sundays.

This is a complex situation

When it comes to making decisions about our next steps as a church, amidst continually changing circumstances, the elders are navigating a number of multi-layered factors:

  1. We desire to obey the governing authorities, as an act of worship to God, provided they do not compel us to sin (Rom. 13:1-7). At the same time, we do not want to be more strict than the government. 
  2. We want to maximize the number of people who can join us on Sundays. At the same time, due to social distancing, we have real space limitations. 
  3. We desire for everyone to feel safe. At the same time, we recognizing there is a wide spectrum of opinions on what it means to be safe. 
  4. We desire for everyone to be able to gather every week. At the same time, the restrictions make this a challenge in our current building.

So, the question we are asking is, “Is there a solution that allows us to do all of these at the same time?”

Some Good News: We have flock immunity

Importantly, 87% of those surveyed indicated they are already, or are in the process of becoming, vaccinated. That means, generally speaking, nine out of ten people who gather on Sunday are vaccinated or in the process of becoming so. In other words, you could say we have our own ‘herd immunity’—or, more fitting, ‘flock immunity.’ This means the chance of Covid spread when we gather, particularly when coupled with other safeguards (masks, hand sanitizer, etc), is very low.

Our gathering plan until June 30th

All that being the case, here is our gathering plan until June 30th, at which point we will reevaluate. All of this will begin this Sunday, May 23rd: 

1) Masks: Masks will continue to be required during our gatherings, as they have been, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated, per state law and request of King County

2) Seating: We will begin seating people in groups of 15—the largest group size permitted. The more people who sit in these groups, the more people who will be able to gather. 

3) Distancing: For those uncomfortable sitting with others, we will have some socially distanced seating available. If you find yourself in this category, keep in mind that in addition to everyone wearing masks, 87% of people who gather on Sunday have been, or are in the process of becoming, vaccinated. We are happy to oblige, while also encouraging you to consider if there is anyone you are comfortable sitting with in order to maximize the use of our space.

4) Overflow: In order to increase our seating capacity, we are going to continue to leverage overflow seating in the Commons while adding seating in the Multi-Purpose Room downstairs (four groups of 15, who will participate via a live feed). Seating will be on a first-come-first-served basis. 

5) Every week! Given the number of people who desire to gather, coupled with overflow seating, we believe we can accommodate everyone, every week, between our 9am and 11am services. 

6) Pre-registration: We will continue to ask for everyone to pre-register, but only to ensure we have enough seats for everyone, every week. Again, you can now attend every week, but pre-registration will enable us to ensure each gathering is evenly distributed. 

7) What's next? As we approach June 30th, and learn more about what our state’s reopening plan looks like, we will reassess.

So, that’s our plan: masks + groups of 15 + some social distancing + overflow + weekly participation (!)

Again, this begins this Sunday, May 23rd. You can register here.

While this isn’t the end of the pandemic, it is an important step in that direction. We’re almost there, so don’t lose heart (2 Cor. 4:16). Let’s continue to pray (Eph. 6:18). Let’s pursue unity (1 Pet. 3:8). Let’s love one another well (Rom. 12:10). Let’s ask Jesus to protect us (1 John 5:18). His story continues to unfold and we’re a part of it (Rev. 22:20-21). His mission continues (Mt. 28:18-20). There are still many in our city who have yet to gladly surrender their lives to him (Acts 18:20). We will reap, if we do not give up (Gal. 6:9).

See you Sunday, Lord willing!

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

P.S. Don’t miss that we’re now permitting everyone to gather every week for worship. 

Mar 4
2021

Our Next Steps Towards Regathering (Beginning This Sunday)

Covid-19

Covid-19 Update

Downtown Cornerstone,

By now you may have heard that beginning this Sunday, March 7th, we are moving back to two gatherings, at 9AM and 11AM. This month marks one year since we first transitioned to livestreaming our Sunday gatherings in response to Covid-19, and we're excited to take this important next step towards regathering as Jesus' people. We look forward to, Lord willing, being able to gather unhindered soon!

To learn more about our rationale behind moving back to two gatherings, watch Pastor Adam's note from past Sunday below.

In addition, below is some important information in order to help you better prepare for Sundays going into this next season and answer commonly asked questions.

Are we still requiring pre-registration?

Yes, we are still requiring that you pre-register in order to attend a Sunday gathering. Pre-registration links can be found in our weekly DCC News email and on our website here.

How often can I attend a gathering going forward?

By moving to two gatherings, our hope is for everyone in our body to be able to attend at least one gathering in a two-week rotation. We also encourage you to pre-register yourself to the waitlist for the other Sunday in the rotation and we’ll let you know if there are any remaining spots closer to that Sunday.

Are we still following Covid-19 health guidelines?

Yes, we are continuing to follow CDC and Washington State health guidelines—including 6-feet social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitation protocols, and temporarily lowering our singing volume. In addition, we have incorporated measures to ensure that we are able to support both gatherings while abiding by these health guidelines. For more information, please refer to our Covid-19 gathering instructions.

Will these gatherings be livestreamed?

Yes, both 9AM and 11AM service will be livestreamed for those who are uncomfortable gathering and for those with underlying health issues.

What about Cornerstone Kids?

We are also restarting Cornerstone Kids and will be offering it for 1-3 year olds during the 9AM service to begin with. We hope to add other grades over time, depending on health guidelines and the number of available volunteers. Parents, please read our CKids Covid-19 policies and pre-register your children under the "CKids" attendee type.

Do we have enough volunteers?

We're currently looking for a few more volunteers to better support our Sunday service operations. Click here for more information about how you can be serving in this season.

Are we still holding pre-gathering prayer zoom call?

Yes, we will continue to hold our Pre-Gathering Connect & Prayer as a way to prepare our hearts prior to the gathering. Please note the change in time to 8:15-8:45AM. Our Midweek Connect & Prayer will also continue on Wednesdays at 8-8:30AM. Meeting links can be found in our weekly DCC News email.

We’re continuing to assess and think through other creative options that would allow us to gather more people, more often. Let’s be praying that God would be glorified during this unusual season and that he would give us wisdom each step of the way.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at info@downtowncornerstone.org.

Feb 25
2021

Restarting Cornerstone Kids (Beginning March 7th)

Covid-19, Kids

Downtown Cornerstone,

By now you may have heard that beginning March, we will be moving back to two Sunday gatherings. As part of this important next step towards regathering as a church, we will also be restarting our Cornerstone Kids gatherings. Beginning March 7th, we will be offering Cornerstone Kids for 1-3 year olds during the 9AM service. We hope to add other grades over time—depending on Covid-19 health guidelines and the number of available teachers and volunteers.

Below is some important information as you consider ways your child can be participating on Sundays in this next season.

Pre-registration

To help facilitate a fast, convenient, and safe environment for all, we require that parents read our CKids Covid-19 policies and pre-register their children in order for them to attend a Cornerstone Kids gathering. You can sign up your child when you register your family for a gathering via our usual Sunday pre-registration links. Please select the "CKids" attendee type for any children that you plan on checking in to Cornerstone Kids. 

Note that we are limiting class size to 15 children, to begin with. Spots are available on a first-requested/first-registered basis. If there are no more spots available when you register, you are welcome to add your child to the CKids waitlist and we'll let you know if a spot opens up.

Sunday Morning Check-in

Upon arrival at the building on Sunday morning, please enter through the front main entrance and check in your household/group. After checking in at the front main entrance, please make your way downstairs to the Cornerstone Kids area. We recommend you check-in your children 15 minutes before start of the gathering (i.e. 8:45AM).

Covid-19 Guidelines

Our goal is to keep you, your children, and others safe as we begin to resume our Cornerstone Kids gatherings amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. To learn more about policies and procedures that we've put in place to this end, please read our CKids Covid-19 document which contains important information about classroom setup, hygiene practices, and frequently asked questions.

Volunteer Policy

Our volunteers are carefully and prayerfully chosen. They are committed to faithful, accountable gospel living and can serve as role models for the children. Every volunteer submits an application, completes a background check, is trained in child safety protocols and interviewed by CKids leads.

Serving With Us

We are currently in need of 4 volunteers to help support our CKids ministry. Do you love helping kids and desire to use your gifting to proclaim the good news of Jesus and make disciples? Please visit this page to learn more about serving in Cornerstone Kids, and to apply.

Questions?

If you have any questions or would like to be added to our Parent Newsletter and mailing list, please don’t hesitate to contact us at families@downtowncornerstone.org.

We are committed to partnering with you to joyfully teach, show, and model who God is and what He has done for us through the person and work of Christ.

Feb 22
2021

Essential Serving Needs as We Move to Two Gatherings

Covid-19, Service

620x130_serve

Downtown Cornerstone,

Scripture uses a number of words to describe God's people, not the least of which is servants. We are called to serve, as heirs (Col. 3:24), in freedom, through love (Gal. 5:13), in humility (Mk. 10:43; Mt. 23:11), according to our gifting (1 Pet. 4:10), as trustworthy stewards (1 Cor. 4:1-2), being dutiful, faithful and wise (Lk. 17:10, 12:43), with dependent hearts (Ps. 119:125), fully devoted (Mt. 6:24), to please God (Gal. 1:10), to do His will (Eph. 6:6), and enter into His joy (Mt. 25:23)—looking to Jesus as the ultimate example (Mt. 20:28; Jn. 13:5; Phil. 2:7).

A significant part of this calling to be servants is lived out practically and tangibly, in the body of the church, through serving one another.

As we take the next step towards regathering as a church and move back to two gatherings beginning Sunday, March 7th (that's less than two weeks from now!), we are looking for a number of volunteers to help with our Sunday service teams. Whether you're helping greet visitors, readying our gathering space, cleaning up after service, running song slides, operating the livestream, caring for and teaching young children, helping visitors get connected, or ensuring a safe environment to gather, all of that helps remove barriers to hearing the gospel, worshiping God, and receiving the Word—in ways both seen and unseen.

Below is our current list of serving needs. Each of these is essential to the smooth operation of our Sunday gatherings as we enter into this next season. In addition, roles marked with an asterisk (*) require membership and/or may have additional serving requirements (Learn more on our Serving page).

9AM Gathering:

  • Cornerstone Kids* (6)
  • Support & Security* (3)
  • Connect Desk* (1)

11AM Gathering:

  • Greeting Team* (8)
  • Support & Security* (3)
  • Connect Desk* (2)
  • Sunday Cleanup (6)

Both Gatherings (Productions):

  • Slides (3)
  • Video (2)
  • Sound Engineer (2)

If you have taken (or are currently taking) the Foundations Class or are a member, but have yet to begin (or resume) serving with us, we encourage you to consider jumping into one of the above teams.

To learn more about our serving roles, visit downtowncornerstone.org/serve. To sign up to serve, click the link below and fill out our simple form. If you have any serving-related questions, please email us at info@downtowncornerstone.org.

Sign up to Serve

Nov 24
2020

What Does Singing During a Once-a-Century Pandemic Sound Like?

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

Jesus is providentially ruling over all things (Eph. 1:20-21). Yes, even in 2020. His rule is not bland, indifferent, or ineffective; it is purposeful. He is purposefully weaving this year together for our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28) so that we would be further fashioned into His image, individually and corporately, and left longing for the incomparable glory to come. We can’t see it yet, but it is coming. So, I hope this finds you resting deeply in his purposeful providence.

On Sunday, November 15th, the Governor rolled-out a new round of four-week restrictions in order to reduce the spike in Covid cases across our state. These restrictions were modifications to existing prohibitions to social gatherings, restaurants, bars, weddings, funerals, fitness facilities, theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, long-term care facilities, travel, sports, and churches. Everyone is impacted in one way or another. The adjusted modification for churches is as follows: 

Religious Services: are limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits, or no more than 200 people, whichever is fewer. Congregation members/attendees must wear facial coverings at all times and congregation singing is prohibited. No choir, band, or ensemble shall perform during the service. Vocal or instrumental soloists are permitted to perform, and vocal soloists may have a single accompanist.

We are already in alignment with the majority of health restrictions for churches, including gathering size, face masks, and distancing. Plus, we are meeting all CDC guidelines in terms of signage, no food or beverages, hand sanitizing stations, and temperature/wellness-checks for staff and volunteers. Further, if anyone has traveled who will be leading from the front, they must get a negative Covid test prior to Sunday. 


We are grateful to be gathering because churches are able to meet at greater numbers indoors than anyone else, from sports teams to theaters, concerts to conferences. So, we are doing everything we can to keep everyone as safe as possible. To my knowledge no one with Covid has attended on a Sunday, nor have we had a breakout of any kind.

But, that said, our city is seeing a rise of Covid, higher than we’ve seen yet. Washington is now in the most dangerous Covid red zone. We broke records for new daily cases for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, the primary spreaders are indoor activities because (1) Covid is airborne, (2) risks are higher inside, (3) with people outside your household, (4) over longer stretches of time. In a word, in gatherings precisely like ours.

This is why churches are now being asked to not sing for four weeks. Last Sunday was the first. 

However, we believe the spirit of the law is to lower the volume of our singing. After all, singing is basically loud talking. But, talking, laughing, or yelling are not outlawed. It’s the volume they are after. The more people you have belting it out, even with masks and distance, the greater the potential for spread. By God’s grace, we haven’t seen that as a church. The chances of spread in this way are small, but they are not non-existent, especially as cases climb. So, given the increase of Covid in our city, coupled with the privilege we have to gather, temporarily lowering the volume of singing doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Undesirable? Yes. Inconvenient? Yes. Against our preferences? Yes. A hindrance to full-bellied praise? Yes. But, think about it this way. Our city and state are asking, “Will you help us mitigate the spread of Covid in your city, and keep our hospitals from being over-run, by turning the volume down during the portion of your gathering that has the most risk of spread?” Given that it’s a once-a-century pandemic, with numbers going up, and the temporary nature of this restriction, this seems like a fair ask. 

To be clear, while the government does have jurisdiction in matters of public safety and health, it doesn’t have jurisdiction over how we use our voices in praising Jesus. There's no question there. However, this is not merely a matter of jurisdiction, but loving our neighbor and being good witnesses of the immeasurable worth of Jesus. Therefore, we are inclined to love our city in this way, without completely forsaking singing, and to re-evaluate at the end of this time. While the elders have personal doubts about whether these restrictions will be limited to four weeks, we will see. But, in the scope of our lives, let alone eternity, it is a very minuscule amount of time.

So, rather than full-throttled singing, we encourage you to significantly lower your volume over the next few weeks. (Unless, of course, you’re at home. In that case, belt it out!) We will still have music and songs, but if you join us live — which we highly encourage — please engage the song lyrics with your normal speaking volume (or quieter). Or, use the songs to pray or reflect. The main issue is volume, so please participate at a much lower volume out of love for those around you. In a sense, very little changes. We’re bringing our singing down twenty decibels for four weeks out of love for our city.

As you have likely discerned, this is not a black and white issue but falls in the realm of prudence. We understand that not everyone will agree, but these are challenging times calling for challenging decisions. Godly Christians may come to different conclusions about whether singing is a risk or whether the government can even ask us to “not sing.” Shepherding a church with such vastly different opinions, and consciences, on these matters is not easy.

But, in the end, we all want the same thing, don’t we? We want to gather. We want to worship. We want to honor Jesus. We want to love others. We want to be safe. We don’t want to be a bridge for Covid to take someone’s life, especially if they have not yet heard the gospel. Therefore, the elders believe this is the best path forward, at least temporarily so. Let’s continue to pray. We’re in this together and we’ll keep you posted as the situation develops.

Christ is all, 
Pastor Adam 

FAQ

Q: What do the elders believe about Covid? 

There is a spectrum of beliefs in the public sphere regarding the dangers associated with Covid, and the appropriateness of varying responses. We, as elders, do not want to adjudicate or bind anyone’s consciences, with respect to these varying beliefs and personal choices. We, of course, have to make risk assessments when deciding if/when/how we will gather as a church. To do so, we are relying on what we perceive to be credible health authorities when assessing that risk. At the same time, we have to do our own risk analysis, since authorities, whether health or political, can see worship and fellowship as optional, while we see them as commanded by God for our spiritual well-being.

Q: How should we relate to one another amidst our differing Covid consciences? 

Covid puts us in a Romans 14 situation where we must learn to lovingly bear with one another amidst different opinions. For some, this means not passing judgment on those who believe they have more freedom. For others, it means being willing to sacrifice some freedom in order to display love, care, and concern. No matter how deeply we hold our beliefs about Covid, we must remember that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). We think it’s best to focus less on quarreling about Covid opinions (Rom. 14:1), and more on welcoming one another in love (Rom. 15:7). This applies to individuals and churches. 

Q: To what extent should we submit to the government? 

There are multiple passages in the New Testament that command us to submit to the governing authorities (e.g. Rom. 13:1-7, 1 Pet. 2:13-16). Such submission is not exhaustive but is bounded, as we must obey God rather than man when the two come into conflict (Acts 5:29). The general principle is that civil disobedience is permitted if the government mandates what God forbids or forbids what God mandates. As such, we believe the government does not have the authority to decide on the components of our corporate worship (e.g. singing). 

But, the decision-making matrix doesn’t end there. When the government oversteps its authority, we have a strategic decision to make: (1) Are there good reasons to comply even though we have “the right” not to (e.g. a pandemic)? (2) Or, do we resist the government’s authority, whether actively or passively (e.g. by filing a lawsuit or simply ignoring)? (3) Or, is there a middle way (e.g. fulfilling the spirit of the law, while dismissing the letter)? Different scenarios call for different responses.

Q: But, doesn’t God command us to sing? 

There is no doubt that singing is an important aspect in the worship of our God (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). However, we don’t believe that restricting our volume puts us in a place of disobedience. After all, singing is singing, no matter the volume. Ultimately singing emerges from our hearts (Eph. 5:19). But, temporarily lowering our volume enable us to (1) continue singing, (2) while mitigating the potential spread of Covid, and (3) preserving our witness from being unnecessarily tarnished by others who might see us as being “uncaring” should we ignore the Governor’s directives. We believe showing such flexibility is a way to display our love and care towards those in our community (members, visitors, neighbors, etc) who are very concerned about Covid-19. Thus, this is a matter of being flexible where we can out of love and for the sake of our testimony, rather than merely exercising our rights. 

Q: Did you speak with a lawyer in making this decision? 


Yes, we spoke with our lawyer. We have considered taking legal action but, at this point, we have been advised against it on practical grounds. At this moment, the courts are not entertaining such arguments, especially for temporary orders. Further, we have to make strategic decisions given the resources that are available to us. While we think maintaining religious freedom, for example, is very important, we don’t have the bandwidth to fight this battle at this moment, nor do we think that it the most strategic battle given all of the uncertainties of Covid.

Q: Did you speak with any medical professionals in making this decision? 


Yes, we recently surveyed over ten DCC members who are working in health-related fields, and their unanimous response was that the government’s assessment that “singing increases risk” is a reasonable one. That is not to say that (1) they agree with the Governor’s restriction(s) or (2) they think we should not sing, but that they think that the government is not acting in a completely arbitrary manner. 

Q: Why is the government limiting band sizes? 

Part of the government’s new order limits the size of our bands to a single vocalist and a single instrumentalist, which seems to be arbitrary and to have nothing to do with Covid risk. However, we decided to comply anyway for strategic reasons: the size of our band is ultimately a matter of indifference, and we don’t think it is worth picking a fight with the government amidst a pandemic, though we’d be within our rights to do so, especially when this order is temporary.

Q: How flexible are we willing to be? 

Many of you are (rightly) asking: How far are we willing to go in following governmental guidance that seems to infringe on our corporate worship and shared life together? We are not willing to disobey God under any circumstances, so we will disobey the government if it comes to that. But, we haven’t drawn clear lines in the sand as to how flexible we are willing to be yet. For example, we haven’t yet determined how long we are willing to sing at a low volume. That decision will probably depend on whether Covid seems to be spiking or the curve has been flattened. We are actively working on answering this exact question. 

But, to be clear, we would never consider showing this level of flexibility if it meant compromising on the gospel. Our history demonstrates that we do not shy away from topics that are abhorrent to many in the culture around us and even to many Christians (e.g. the sinfulness of humankind, the reality of judgment, abortion, homosexuality, the role of men and women, racism, predestination, etc). While we are ready to adjudicate on those, we are not ready to adjudicate on Covid-19 risk, nor do we think that choosing to lower our volume temporarily is a compromise of the gospel or God’s commands. We don’t mind if our city hates us for loving Jesus and taking him at his word (Mt. 10:22), but we don’t want our city to think we don’t care about their safety when, in fact, we do—temporarily and eternally so.

Sep 12
2020

Video: Regathering as Jesus’ People

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Covid-19 Update

Downtown Cornerstone,

We’re continuing to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic together and, as we do, we trust that the Lord sovereignly rules over it and is at work, for our good, amidst it.

We recognize this season is a challenge, and part of that challenge is beginning to regather as Jesus’ people. Therefore, we thought it’d be good to put a simple video together to give you a sense of what it looks like to join us on a Sunday.

We’re going above and beyond to keep our church and our city safe, and to love one another well amidst this season—ultimately so that the gospel can be advanced and Jesus can be worshiped.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@downtowncornerstone.org.

In Christ,
Pastor Adam

Jul 10
2020

Covid-19 Update: Request to Join a Gathering!

Covid-19 | by Pastor David Parker

Covid-19 Update

Downtown Cornerstone,

As of today, King County is still in Phase Two of reopening, which has allowed churches to begin regathering, with restrictions. While these restrictions can feel burdensome, they are a small sacrifice to ensure the safety of one another and our city.

As Pastor Adam shared a few weeks ago, we first started opening our doors by extending an invite to our members on a three-week rotational basis. Since then, we’ve had extra room and more seats available that we can fill!

Therefore, we want to go ahead and begin opening up these remaining seats to other non-members and guests who may feel comfortable participating with us.

If you are interested in participating with us on a Sunday:

  1. First, please read these guidelines to ensure you understand the limitations, risk, and are able to meet the requirements for gathering with us.
  2. Please fill out this Request to Join a Sunday Gathering Form (please note that filling out this form does not register you for a Sunday Gathering.)

Once you have submitted a request to participate, someone will reach out to you with availability and next steps for joining us on a Sunday.

During this pandemic, our Sunday Livestream will continue indefinitely for those of you who are uncomfortable gathering, for families with young children, or for those with underlying health issues.

Let’s continue to pray that God would be glorified through this unusual season and that he would give us wisdom each step of the way.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know by emailing info@downtowncornerstone.org.

For the King,
Pastor David

Update: You can now pre-register directly for a Sunday Gathering by visiting this page.

Jun 24
2020

Our First Steps Towards Re-Gathering Begin This Week

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Covid-19 Update

Downtown Cornerstone,

Jesus’ church is unstoppable. Nations rise and fall, but His Church remains. Wars uproot and destroy, but His Church remains. Secular ideologies come and go, but His Church remains. Hostile opposition persecutes and rages, but His Church remains. Human pride boasts and flexes, but His Church remains. Pandemics spread and kill, but His Church remains.

Jesus put it this way, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). There is no stopping what God is doing, no matter what might be happening. It is important to remember that in a season like ours. We are hindered, but Jesus is not.

As of last Friday, King County is now in Phase Two of reopening which has brought with it greater flexibility for churches to re-gather—though, in a limited fashion.

Churches are now allowed to gather at 25% of the maximum capacity of their meeting space, while social distancing and wearing face masks. For us, that means we can host 54 households (i.e. whether a single, couple, family, or housemates), allowing for 54-110 people to gather for worship.

Therefore, beginning this Sunday (6/28) we will resume gathering at 10am within these limitations. For now, our plan is to hold one gathering throughout July for DCC members on a rotating basis (allowing for Sunday participation approximately once every three weeks). We are considering moving to two gatherings in August. Please note that you will need pre-register to attend.

Why only members at this point? Church membership is not parallel to a Costco membership. To be a church member is to formally unite yourself as a member of a specific body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-26) and member of a specific local family of God (Eph. 2:19). It’s a visible and visceral way of putting flesh on gospel realities.

In that sense, the members are the church. Members are those who have committed themselves to one another for the sake of discipleship (1 Thess. 5:11), accountability (Mt. 18:17), pastoral care (Heb. 13:17), guarding of the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), and the glory fo God (1 Cor. 10:31). Therefore, it makes sense to start with the members—at least, at first. If you want to learn more about the local church, and the biblical rationale for membership, you may find this sermon on The Wonder of Jesus’ Local Church helpful.

Members, you will be receiving additional information this week that outlines how to sign-up for an upcoming Sunday gathering and what to expect when we get together.  We understand this raises all sorts of questions, so we ask for grace and flexibility as we navigate these uncharted waters together.

Our Sunday livestream will continue indefinitely for those who are not yet members, for members who are uncomfortable gathering, for families with young children, for those with underlying health issues, and those exploring the person and work of Jesus. We’re not out of the woods yet, so let’s keep praying.

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

P.S. Here are two important documents for your reference:
1) An updated version of Our Tentative Plan for Resuming Life Together
2) Our COVID-19 Gathering Instructions