Join the Sunday morning interactive online service //HERE//
View Mercy On Demand Videos //HERE//
The City of Minneapolis has reinstituted a mask requirement for indoor settings effective January 6, 2022. As a result, Mercy Vineyard Church will resume requiring masks.
A limited number of disposable masks are available upon request for anyone who does not have one or forgot to bring theirs to the service.
Masks can be lowered briefly to sip water or coffee. Please wear your mask at all other times including singing. Speakers/leaders (with microphones) are the only exception – masks may be removed during the act of speaking/singing from the stage only, and then worn at all other times by speakers/worship leaders.
Thank you in advance for following the below guidance as we work to protect and honor one another as Jesus calls us to do.
COVID-19 case rates are rising in Minnesota and we are experiencing a high rate of community spread in the Twin Cities. We continue to seek guidance from public health experts and consider the impacts of our decisions and protocols on the most vulnerable among us, including children and others who are unable to be vaccinated.
Given the above, we strongly recommend that all MercyKids & MercyYouth volunteers, kids and youth wear masks on Sundays. As weather permits, MercyKids programming will continue to spend roughly half of their time outdoors. We will continue to monitor guidance from public health experts and reassess our guidance as appropriate.
This week the City of Minneapolis lifted its mask requirement for indoor and outdoor settings. As a result, Mercy Vineyard Church will no longer require masks. However, in alignment with guidance from public health experts, we strongly recommend that anyone who is not fully vaccinated, including children, continue to wear face coverings indoors. On Sunday, you’ll see people wearing masks and not wearing masks–we encourage you to use wisdom in what makes sense for you and your family, and welcome and honor one another.
As you may be aware, the CDC recently updated their mask recommendations to say that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks (with some exceptions). Later the same day, Minnesota’s Governor Walz indicated that Minnesota’s mask mandate will also be lifted for fully vaccinated people in nearly all settings, recommending individuals check rules in municipalities and at private businesses. At this time, the mask mandate in the City of Minneapolis remains in place while public health data and local vaccination rates are reviewed.
In light of this, we ask all in-person attenders of Mercy services to continue to wear a mask on Sunday morning until further notice.
As guidance changes, we will keep you informed. Thank you for being part of the Mercy community!
Mike Buerke and Tommy Wesley
Co-chairs, Mercy COVID Protocol Team
We continue to monitor the latest available information regarding COVID-19 protocols and safety guidance. Below are several changes to our in person service experience since our last written update!
First, pre-registering for our Sunday morning in-person worship service is no longer required. When you arrive, you are free to head right to the auditorium for the start of service, or stop at the welcome desk if you are looking for more info about upcoming events or volunteering with Mercy teams.
If you have kids with you and planning on having them attend our Kids or Youth services, check them in at the check-in desk before heading back to the secure kids & youth area. We are currently offering programming for children two years old through 12th grade. Our nursery remains closed to infants. Most of the rooms are operating at a limited capacity and will be first-come, first-served! If you arrive to a full room for your youngster, you are welcome to bring them with you to the auditorium for the worship service. Sanitized “busy bags” are available at the kids’ check-in desk for you to keep your little occupied!
Other COVID precautions remain in place including mask wearing and social distancing. We are continuing to skip the coffee for now as well as corporate communion.
And as always, if you are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone that tests positive for COVID, or just feel more comfortable staying home – please join our online service instead! We love gathering with you on Sunday mornings in any format.
Greetings Mercy family,
We have been monitoring the news daily as it concerns COVID-19 in the Twin Cities area, and are pleased to announce that we will be resuming offering in-person Sunday morning church services on Sunday, January 24 at 10am in the Mercy auditorium!
Of course, there are still plenty of risks to gathering in person even with some encouraging trends like lower infection rates and the beginning stages of vaccine distribution. We’re not out of the woods yet! We urge you to continue to join us for our interactive online experience (live.mercyvineyard.org/) if you are more comfortable there, are ill, or have been exposed to someone with the virus.
For those choosing the in-person services, we will continue to follow these protocols to ensure we are being as safe as possible:
- Pre-registration is required and you will be checked in as you enter the building. This is for contact-tracing only. A new online registration form will be available each Tuesday prior to the upcoming weekend.
- Mask wearing will be required at all times by all attendees.
- In order to assist with mask compliance, we will not be serving coffee, snacks, or public communion (there will be communion supplies available for you to take home if you choose).
- The kids area will remain closed.
However you choose to join us–in the building or online–we’re so glad you are part of Mercy and look forward to connecting with you every week!
Tommy Wesley and Mike Buerke
Co-chairs, Mercy COVID Protocol Team
Hi Mercy family!
As you know, the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota are changing daily. Hospitals are near or at capacity and Governor Walz has outlined new guidelines on how and when we gather to help protect as many people as possible.
With the infection rates as high as they are in our area and hospitals nearing capacity, we feel it is prudent to hit pause on our regular, in-person Sunday morning worship services, for the safety of all of our attendees, volunteers, and staff. Starting Sunday, November 29, we are shifting our Sunday morning worship service to online-only until January 17th, 2021.
While the official mandate does not restrict religious services from gathering, we want to be safe and to contribute to the safety of our most vulnerable including the overburdened health care professionals in our midst. Waiting until January creates some space between potential family holiday gatherings and our in person services and also allows our healthcare system time to reset.
We will continue to meet you online on Sunday mornings and offer as many ways to connect virtually as we can. We are moving to a new platform for our interactive online Sunday morning service. Stay tuned for more information from us about Mercy Vineyard Online this week. You can volunteer to be part of the Online Hosting Team to welcome others, build connections, and encourage people to take next steps with Jesus during our online Sunday morning service. And be sure to follow Mercy on social media, visit our events page or download our app to see every option available to you.
While most things are moving online, starting Sunday, December 6, we will offer a low-risk, in-person contemplative worship space on Sunday evenings at 7:30pm that will be facilitated by Pastor Cassie Smith. This is not meant to replace a Sunday morning service. Instead, you will experience a reflective time of scripture reading, silent contemplation, and music that will follow strict COVID protocols of mask wearing, social distancing, and health screening.
As we join our brothers and sisters in dialing back how we interact for the safety of all, we are disappointed not to gather in-person for services during the holiday season that we cherish every year. We grieve our losses while we look ahead to a brighter and healthier new year.
We miss being with all of you and celebrating our wins and mourning our losses together. We are still the church, we are still the body of Christ, and we will get through this together.
Tommy Wesley and Mike Buerke
Co-chairs, Mercy COVID Protocol Team
Yesterday, Governor Walz updated and expanded the State of Minnesota restrictions for public gatherings due to the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections. We are watching the developments closely and will continue to do our best to make sure that we are staying within the recommended guidelines in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.
The new changes are primarily directed toward bars and social gatherings and are not applied to religious gatherings like our Sunday morning service. At this time, we plan to continue to offer our Sunday morning services to those of you that would like to safely gather in person. We are making two changes to enhance our existing COVID-19 protocols.
- We will no longer be taking corporate communion at the end of each service. Communion supplies will be available for you to take home after the service.
- We will be more strict (sorry, talkers!) about lingering in the cafe after the service ends. Once you are dismissed, please promptly exit the building, bundle up, and say your “Minnesota goodbyes” from the parking lot.
At no time inside the building should you have to remove your mask. For the health and safety of us all, please honor the mask mandate. The only exception would be to take a quick sip of water or a beverage that you bring from home. We will continue our coffee-free experience.
Of course, we will continue to offer our service online for you to safely join and participate from home. We are striving to improve how we deliver at-home viewing and participating!
We are looking forward with you to a time when we can gather safely as a whole body. Until then, be safe, practice social distancing in all your endeavors, and wear your masks!
Tommy Wesley and Mike Buerke
Co-chairs, Mercy COVID Protocol Team
As the air gets cooler and the weather turns a bit more unpredictable, we are transitioning indoors with a single, in-person service starting on Sunday, October 11 at 10am. Masks are required and we are not serving coffee during this service. We will continue to offer an livestream option for those who wish to participate online in this season.
Although we are not providing childcare or MercyKids & MercyYouth programming during the 10am service, we are launching some new opportunities:We are piloting a 9:30am MercyKids service for the whole family. Join us for Holy Moly, Kids Worship, and Family Prayer as we engage with the Bible and connect with each other.And MercyYouth will begin meeting on Sunday evenings at 5pm for live teaching, games and small groups.Read our Indoor, In-Person Service Protocols and register to attend on our Events page.
Hello Mercy community,
As we make final plans to launch in person, outdoor services starting Sunday, August 23, we are grateful for our Mercy community that continues to demonstrate resilience in spite of a global pandemic. As a Mercy staff team, we are learning new ways of doing things in real time, and seek to adjust and improve as we move forward. We’re thankful for the support and encouragement we receive from you in this process.
Outdoor In-Person Services, starting August 23
In our next phases of larger, in-person gatherings, we are gathering for outdoor worship services starting at 10am on Sunday, August 23. Following the recommended protocols, we will have one, shorter, family-friendly service in Mercy’s rear (west) parking lot. We invite you to bring your own chairs/blankets, and we will provide a limited number of chairs.
We will not have coffee service or in person MercyKids or MercyYouth programming at this time. We will guide you to practice 6’ social distancing and touch-free greetings. Please read our full Outdoor In-Person Worship Service Protocols if you plan to attend. We will continue to provide up-to-date guidance and protocols for in-person activities due to COVID-19 with each Sunday registration event on our events webpage.
We are also limiting the number of attendees and volunteers at each service to 250 people. To accomplish this, each individual/family will need to register. If you’re interested in attending our outdoor, in-person worship service at 10am on Sunday, August 23, register //HERE//.
If you are not comfortable gathering in person outdoors at this time, we will continue to livestream our services and offer online services and resources on our Facebook page, website and app. Join us on Zoom after the livestream ends for the Online Cafe, a chance to take communion, receive prayer and connect with a pastor. All are welcome, with special invitation to those who are new to Mercy. Stay tuned for dates and details for Fall Small Church.
We are also exploring next steps for safe indoor usage of our building and will continue to evaluate guidance and data regarding gathering for worship services indoors. We will re-evaluate in early- to mid-September and at regular intervals going forward to plan next steps.
We look forward to seeing you online on Sunday, August 16 and then in-person or online on Sunday, August 23 per your preferences.
The Mercy staff team
Dear Mercy Members & Leaders,
The start of July marks three-and-a-half months since we gathered together in person for a Sunday morning worship service due to the COVID-19 pandemic facing the US and world. These past months have been challenging but have also demonstrated the resilience and creativity of our Mercy community.
We are thankful for opportunities like Summer Small Church, outdoor worship gatherings, and the upcoming Everyone Gets To Play park events that allow us to gather in person. In addition to these opportunities, we are planning next steps for returning to the building for worship services.
The Mercy staff team is planning to resume in-person worship services on Sunday, August 23, with two shorter, family-friendly services at 9am and 11am. We will not have coffee service or MercyKids/MercyYouth activities at that time. We will livestream our 9am worship service for those who wish to participate online.
Stay tuned for additional information from your ministry area leaders and coaches regarding volunteer needs and opportunities, and additional information on what you can expect for worship services when we gather in-person at Mercy.
As I think over these past three-and-a-half months, I am grateful for God’s presence with us in our homes, as we walk outside, as we have “sidewalk talks,” as we see our friends and family safely. Recently, I have been drawn to some very encouraging words from Jesus in John 5 that I want to share with you. Jesus had just healed a man who had been sick for 38 years so that he could stand up and walk! It was an amazing miracle! And yet the Jewish religious leaders were upset with Jesus for healing him on the “wrong day.” Incredible! Jesus lets them in on what is really going on with some amazing words:
- “My Father is always working and so am I.”
- “The Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
- “For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater things than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.”
- “For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dad, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.”
As I read this, I felt God saying to me, “Tell everyone at Mercy that I love them just as much as I love Jesus. I want to show each of them what I’m doing right now in their lives and families so they can do what I’m doing.” Why not set aside some time just for you and God? You can share what’s on your heart and hear what’s on His heart for you. He is always working and wants to include you in His work.
Jon Marsden and the Mercy staff
Update 6.19.20 |Survey Results
Dear Mercy family,
First, thank you to the many of you who took our recent Back to Building Survey and shared your thoughts with us. Your responses expressed how much you care about the Mercy community!
We want to highlight a couple of trends we saw in the survey results. Among those that completed the survey, preferences for returning to Mercy’s building for services vary widely. Here’s what we saw:
- There is no clear majority of opinion. Preferences for returning to the building are fairly evenly split between those ready to return to the building right now, those who want to wait until singing is permitted and those who want to wait until there are no restrictions.
- Singing and kids church/childcare are important to you! We agree! And we want to be sure that we can safely provide these service elements.
- Parents who responded show a preference for waiting until childcare is available and there are no restrictions.
- People of color in our community show a stronger preference for waiting until there are no restrictions.
We received 136 survey responses and invited respondents to select multiple options to reflect their preferences more fully (you’ll note that total percentages do not add up to 100% as a result). See the bar graph results of preferences for returning to the building.
The Mercy staff is considering guidance and recommendations from the public health community and governing leaders in decision making. Currently, churches are rated amongst the highest risk category for exposure to COVID-19, primarily due to indoor gathering with limited air movement, length of exposure time and communal singing.
And we are also considering your preferences and desire for in person connection.The Mercy staff is exploring how we might safely return to using our building and when. Your feedback helps to guide our planning and decision-making. We are developing best practices and protocols for cleaning and activities to make our space as safe as possible. And we will be developing new teams and training to safeguard individuals in our community, especially those who are at higher risk.
In the meantime, we are striving to provide you as many opportunities as we can to cultivate connection:
- Streaming – We will continue to offer Sunday services online while we plan next steps. When we return to using the building for Sunday services, we will also stream Sunday services online to support those who are unable or uncomfortable joining us in person.
- Summer Small Church – We have launched Summer Small Church as a brief weekly opportunity for connection with a small group of people (10 or fewer) from Mercy for corporate communion and a question. The online or combination online and in-person gathering is intended to reflect the kind of connections we would make in the cafe at Mercy, make space for new relationships and provide a next step toward gathering in person in larger groups. You can still join a Summer Small Church at https://bit.ly/summersmallchurch.
- An Evening of Outdoor Worship at Mercy – Join us on Sunday, July 5, at 4pm for an outdoor worship set in Mercy’s back parking lot (west side of the building). Park in the front of the building or on the street. Bring your own chair to worship outdoors with us! We will encourage everyone to practice social distancing.
- Everyone Gets to Play – We are tentatively planning biweekly Wednesday evening gatherings at area parks to provide a next step for gathering in a little larger groups outdoors for connection and fun. We are planning Everyone Gets to Play events for Wednesdays, July 8, 22 and August 5, from 6-8pm. Stay tuned for additional details in the announcements and events page of our website for this opportunity to gather outdoors with your Summer Small Church and others from Mercy, hear from one another and have fun.
- Summer Growth & Connect Groups – Mercy’s Growth & Connect Group summer season is officially underway! Visit https://mercyvineyard.org/mercy-groups/ to explore and find a group that meets your needs and comfort level. Some groups meet online, others in person or in a hybrid. Email the group leaders to find out more.
Again, thank you for helping to inform our planning and decision-making going forward. We look forward to communicating with you, and hearing from you, as we make next step plans regarding returning to the building for Sunday services.
Mike Buerke and the Mercy Staff
Update 6.14.20 | Survey
Dear Mercy family and friends,
First, we want to say thank you for everything you’ve been through with us since we made the hard decision to shift to online-only services in March. Because of the hard work of some truly gifted people, we were able to get online quickly, and for that we are a better church! We have a broader reach, and while we’ve hit bumps along the way as we all learn how to do community via the internet and it has been really difficult to not gather in person, we now have the technical abilities needed to continue our online presence well into the future.
Currently, we are now confronted with even more decisions to make about when, and how, and in what capacity, to reopen our building for community gatherings including Sunday morning services. As of June 10th, the state guidelines indicate that we can use our building up to 50% capacity. Specifically for Mercy, we have several challenges to make sure that our next steps are wise, safe, and practical. And specific to our building with its two main entrances, and our population that includes so many kids as well as significant age diversity, it won’t be as simple as “turn on the lights and let’s go.” The staff is working diligently every week to reimagine church!
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations and guidelines for in-person gatherings are complex and present unique challenges for Mercy. We’ve never used a system for tracking attendance on Sunday mornings, but we would likely need to do that in order to assist with contact tracing in the event that someone that attended reported a positive test result for COVID-19. Additionally, with each of our kids classrooms frequently maxed out on Sunday mornings before the stay-at-home order, we’re finding it difficult to figure out the logistics of how to have kids’ church while practicing social distancing.
While we genuinely miss seeing everyone every week, we don’t want to be hasty in reopening, not only for the very practical challenges of re-inventing how the building spaces are used, but more importantly we have the utmost concern for the safety of everyone in our community that would want to attend. And while we understand what other churches are doing around us and honor their choices without judgement, every church community is different. We want to make decisions based on what our community needs.
Again, no matter what happens, we are the church. You are the church! The building, though we love it and are thankful for the blessing that it has been, is not the church. We are committed to bringing Sunday worship and teaching into your homes every week. We are committed to helping you in times of need, praying with you in times of grief and heartbreak, and rejoicing with you in times of blessing.
As best as the staff can determine, if we were to open the building for services in the next several weeks, we would need to make the following changes:
- No childcare, kids programming, or youth gathering – all kids of all ages would stay with caregivers at all times.
- No coffee or treats provided (stuff brought from home for individual consumption would be permitted, but no sharing).
- Bathrooms limited to emergency use only.
- Attendance taken at the doors. Possibly a health screening at each door (temp check or something similar).
- Chairs in the auditorium spread out into small groups and clusters to enforce social distancing. Reservations for seating.
- Masks required at all times indoors (current Minneapolis rule for indoor space).
- No singing.
We do want to hear from you! We have created a survey to better understand your preferences and plans for yourself and your family. The main question we are asking – if we were to open, with new restrictions, would you attend?
We will continue to do the best we can to navigate this season with God’s help. We will continue to pray fervently for our hurting friends, our essential workers, the families of more than 100,000 people that have lost their lives, those that are sick, those facing economic disaster. We pray for a cure and a vaccine, for wisdom for doctors and government officials making decisions that impact all of us. And we especially pray for unity and for a huge outpouring of grace for each other.
Mike Buerke and the Mercy Staff
Hi Mercy Family,
We begin this letter with an invitation through the cross of Jesus–toward the pain that our city is experiencing from the death of George Floyd, who was killed while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department early this week. As we respond as a church and community of Jesus followers, we first affirm that George Floyd is an image bearer of God. We enter into grief, lament and repentance as this moment invites us to expose racism in ourselves and the systems we participate in.
As we continue to respond, we invite you into the work of Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Mercy was founded with a vision to be a large, multicultural, multiethnic church. It is in times like these that we remind ourselves of that commitment and challenge ourselves to dig in to the holy work of racial justice as spiritual formation and discipleship as individuals, in relationship with others and corporately. Some ways to start are:Pray. Seek the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.Choose empathy.If you are a person of color, have empathy for yourself. Take time to rest and remind yourself of the ways that you reflect the image of God. Release yourself from the responsibility of educating others.If you are white, choose earnest curiosity and compassion, to understand how others feel, about themselves, their life, experiences and history. Choose to be people who go towards the pain. Through the cross. Reach out to people in our community to let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them. If they want to talk, make space for their emotions. And also respect if people need to be alone.Respond. We see there is work to be done and we say yes. We choose to lean into this work. To learn, listen and lament. To use our power and privilege to call for justice and to acknowledge and raise up the voices of others.As we share next steps and invitations in the coming days that we plan to take as a community, we invite you to join us in a posture that sees and affirms the image of God in others, carrying a unique facet of God that we otherwise would not get to see.
Below, I want to update you on Mercy operations, urge you to take part in Summer Small Church–a new opportunity for connection, invite you to join us for Drive Thru Communion this coming Sunday and update you on our COVID Care Fund impact.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
–The Mercy Staff
Mercy remains open, online!
Mercy is open. In fact, we have never closed! Our building is not accessible right now, but that has not stopped us from connecting to God and one another, growing in our faith and impacting our community. We are so grateful for the many ways that you embody Christ as His church–praying for and encouraging one another, delivering meals, sewing masks, donating to the COVID Care Fund and our impact partners, and many other ways.
We continue to seek guidance for churches and faith communities from the Minnesota Governor’s Office and other local leaders as we plan next steps for Mercy. The recently updated Minnesota guidance allows congregations to meet together, in person, up to 25% of occupancy with safe social distancing. Using this formula with the current occupancy of our auditorium, plus the number of people needed to make a Sunday happen, would only allow us to have 40-55 people (adults and kids) in the auditorium for a service.
Given the occupancy limitations and the many protocols needed to put in place to ensure safety for all of us, we are choosing to remain online-only until we can safely have a larger number of our community members gathering at one time.
Summer Small Church launches June 14
We’re launching a new way to connect while continuing to responsibly care for one another and those most vulnerable in our community. Summer Small Church gatherings are small, diverse groups of people at Mercy connecting briefly each Sunday throughout the summer from 11-11:30am for Communion and a Question. Summer Small Church will launch online at first, with the option to meet in-person with appropriate social distancing.
Mercy will assign individuals and families to a Summer Small Church with the goal of making space for new relationships and connections as we practice loving and valuing all individuals at Mercy as image bearers of God. Summer Small Church is intended to serve as a Sunday church gathering–it does not replace Growth Group participation. Summer Small Church hosts will facilitate Communion and a Question each week as the corporate Sunday gathering.
SIGN UP at bit.ly/summersmallchurch.
Drive Thru Communion
We want to connect with you, offer communion and pray a blessing over you. Join us after the livestream service ends on Sunday, May 31, from 11:15am-12:30pm in the Mercy parking lot for Drive Thru Communion. Enter the Harding Street entrance and follow the signs. The Mercy team will be following safety protocols to ensure your protection. The Mercy building will not be open. Visit mercyvineyard.org/events/ for more information on these and other activities.
COVID Care Fund Update
We are so grateful to the many of you who have contributed to our COVID Care Fund to provide financial gifts to support those within and connected to our community who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
To date, we have given gifts totaling $4,500 to individuals or families.
Please continue to say “Yes” to applying on behalf of yourself or others or contributing toward the COVID Care Fund. Visit mercyvineyard.org/covidcarefund.
This is one of my favorite blessings in the whole Bible! I love to pray this blessing over my family and our Mercy family. Would you join me in praying this regularly over our Mercy family?
This crisis is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. And it seems like it will last much longer than any of us expected. I continue to hear of cancellations and closings that extend into and even through the summer. That is going to be very hard for us Minnesotans! And I believe it is very necessary as well. We all have many losses to grieve, don’t we? But we can grieve with hope, because Jesus has died and risen. And He is with us by His Spirit to give us wisdom and courage.
I believe we need to approach this crisis as if we were training to run a marathon. My daughter Carrie ran the Twin Cities marathon a few years ago. She developed new “rhythms” in her life so that she could run well and finish. And she did! Sue and I cheered her on as we drove beside her on Minnehaha Parkway while eating donuts! That probably should not be included in our training program!
I believe we each need to develop some “marathon rhythms” so we can walk through this crisis well. Thankfully, the Bible has much to say to help us. In fact, the Christian life itself is considered a marathon. For example, the writer to the Hebrews encourages us,
“As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures.” –Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Passion Translation)
What might be some “marathon rhythms” that you and I can develop? What did Jesus do to finish His race well? The Hebrews passage tells us that He focused His heart on the joy He would experience as a result of His suffering on the cross. What was the joy that gave Him the strength to endure the agony of the cross and conquer its humiliation? It was “the joy of knowing you would be His!” Isn’t that amazing! The writer encourages you and I to do several things:
- Let go of our wounds and the sins that we so easily fall into. I believe one thing God is doing now is forming His character in our lives more and more. Pressures and difficulties like these can purify our desires and help us focus on what is truly important in life, if we allow the Holy Spirit to help us.
- Focus our gaze upon Jesus who birthed faith in us and is leading us forward to maturity. We all want to grow to become more like Jesus, don’t we? Jesus knows how to lead us into our journey toward maturity. And the Holy Spirit wants to give us all the power and tenacity that we need.
- How do we focus on Jesus? We can read Scripture alone, and with others. We can listen to worship songs and we worship with each other. A song that has been encouraging me lately is called “Quiet Down” by Jeremiah Carlson of the Boise Vineyard.
- We can watch daily devotionals. We can join a Group. We can call or text or email a friend. We can download Zoom and connect with friends and family. We can get some exercise (I’m walking with my wife almost every day!). We can learn to eat healthy.
- We can pray! Again, we can pray alone or with others. Why not try joining the Wednesday night Mercy prayer group? Or start one yourself?
As this year began, I felt like God said that we were to “grow in every way” as a Mercy family. I still believe that. And I think God is using this present crisis to stimulate growth as we cooperate with Him. This would be a great time to invite friends and neighbors to join you in watching our services online.
Finally, thank you all for the many ways you are connecting and contributing at this time. Thanks so much for your generous financial giving. We continue to have our basic expenses of course, and we want to be helpful to those who are having financial trouble as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. If you would like to join us on a generosity journey, give electronically using PushPay.
“May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.”
–Jon Marsden and our Mercy Staff
Hi Mercy Family,
Thank you to the many of you who joined us on Sunday for our very first Facebook Live service! Mike noted that we had more than 1000 views on the livestream over the course of the morning. We will work to improve each week. Thank you to the many of you who sent encouraging and helpful comments. We welcome your suggestions. This is a brand new reality for all of us.
As a staff, we want to respond and serve you well. I read a great promise today from Hebrews 4:14-16:
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
I would encourage you to meditate on it as we walk through this crisis with God and one another. God loves each one of you, and everyone around you. Let’s continue to come boldly to God’s throne. There we will find mercy and grace for ourselves, and to share with others who need it. God is at work in the midst of this very challenging time!
This crisis is changing rapidly and we want to keep you updated on what is happening with us as a Mercy family for the upcoming weeks.
Sunday Services // We will not be meeting in-person for the coming weeks and instead hold our Sunday services on Facebook Live starting at 10 am to make it easier for everyone to participate live. We will continue to evaluate and update you when new information is available.
@MercyWednesday & Weekly Activities // We are suspending our current in-person @MercyWednesday classes. We are reaching out to the instructors to confirm next steps for their classes. For updates on Mercy events and activities in this season, please visit our website or Mercy App for the latest information. If you have a question about coming to church or meeting at Mercy’s building, please contact Mike (email@example.com).
Prayer // If you have a prayer request or you’d like someone to pray with you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. These messages will automatically be sent to each staff member and Tommy will forward them on to our Prayer Team as well. You may also send your prayer requests to your Growth Group leaders.
Growth Groups // Connection is still happening digitally through Growth Groups. For the next few weeks they are going to look a little different than the norm, but we’re excited to see the creativity that unfolds in our community. Your leaders will be in contact with you.
New to Mercy? // If you’re new to Mercy, we’d love to connect with you! Please download the Mercy app and fill out a Connect Form so we can follow up with you. That will enable you to receive our email updates as well. Please consider joining a Group! You can find a full list on the Groups page of our website or the Connect icon on our app. Email group leaders directly from the app or website. Want a personalized suggestion of what group might fit your needs? Email Kelly at email@example.com.
MercyKids & MercyYouth //Cassie will be providing resources to families to encourage their children. She will be communicating each week to help you as you navigate this season as parents. Leo and his team will be exploring the best way to love and support our youth during this time. He will be reaching out to parents of youth for their ideas and wisdom.
Care Team // The Mercy Care Team is committed to be present with practical assistance as needs arise. If you or someone you know in your community could use assistance with food needs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can mobilize a response. If you’d like to volunteer, we could use more help with practical needs (food delivery, meal prep, personal visits using social distancing). Fill out our volunteer form at bit.ly/carevol.
Office Staffing // I have encouraged our staff to work from home as much as is possible following guidance from the MDH and CDC. You may contact any one of us by email if you have questions or needs. We are committed to caring for one another during this time. Each one of you is very important to us.
We plan to communicate regularly with you in a variety of ways during this unusual time, including connecting on Facebook, Instagram and via videoconferencing. Please let us know if you have any questions.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13: 14
Jon Marsden and the Mercy staff
For the foreseeable future, Sunday services will be hosted online. You can watch them at a variety of places:
Services will start online at 10:00am and immediately be available for replay on Facebook, YouTube and the Mercy website. These services will last approximately 45 minutes. We hope you’ll join us.
Pastor Cassie is posting new content and messages for kids in our community on the MercyKids Facebook Page. Be sure to like and follow the page to see the content updates. Tune in at these times for special MercyKids content:
- Sundays at 9:30am – MercyKids Message
- Wednesdays at 9:30am – MercyKids Facebook Live
Mercy staff are working from home as much as is possible following guidance from the MDH and CDC. You may contact any one of us by email if you have questions or needs. If you have a question about coming to church or meeting at Mercy’s building, please contact Pastor Mike (email@example.com).
We are so thankful for your faithful and generous giving to God’s work at Mercy. Because of your generosity and careful management, we have several months of cash reserves. We want to love and care for one another well during this difficult time.
And if you are just beginning your giving journey, we invite you to consider electronic giving using our Pushpay app. It is simple, safe and it will help our community as we walk through these challenging times together.
And we encourage you to consider donating to the COVID Care Fund that has been established at Mercy to love and support individuals in our community facing financial need due to COVID-19.
We know many people want to help and support others right now. If you are at low risk and are able to help others, please volunteer for the Care Team.
Care Requests & COVID Care Fund
We know that now more than ever there may be church members in need, and our Care Team members are ready to support individuals with practical needs, especially meal preparation, grocery purchasing and errands. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those experiencing negative financial impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or concerned with those in your community experiencing financial hardship, we encourage you to request financial support from our COVID Care Fund for yourself or on behalf of others.
Update 3.13.20 (PM)
Hi Mercy Family,
This afternoon Governor Tim Walz moved Minnesota into a peacetime state of emergency. As part of this announcement, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm advised against gatherings of more than 250 people. She also recommended practicing “social distancing” by placing at least six feet of space between individuals.
In light of this new guidance, Mercy’s Sunday, March 15 services will be ONLINE ONLY. We will be streaming our 9AM service to Facebook Live. Please join us virtually for our regular service structure with announcements, worship, and sermon. The recording will be available for several hours for individuals who wish to watch the service online at 11AM. There will be no MercyKids or MercyYouth on Sunday, March 15.
Mercy staff and leadership will continue to seek guidance, evaluate options and communicate next steps. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please follow us on Facebook or at our website for the most up-to-date information. And we encourage you to share this message with individuals in your Groups or social circles at Mercy.
Jon Marsden and our Mercy Staff
Update 3.13.20 (AM)
Hi Mercy Family,
God is with you! The Holy Spirit loves you and so do we. With concerns around coronavirus/COVID-19 on many of our minds, we wanted to share an update with you on what we’re thinking and doing at Mercy.
We’re listening to and following the guidance of experts. The Mercy staff team is monitoring the situation and watching for guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If health officials recommend social distancing (6’ between people), we will suspend Sunday church and weekly meetings.
We are proceeding as planned for services on Sunday, March 15. We would love to see you if you are able to join us. If anything changes, we will let you know via email, social media and our website. You may also tune in to the Mercy Facebook page as we pilot a Facebook Live stream of our 11AM service this Sunday, March 15. If you’re concerned about the virus or particularly susceptible (70+ and/or have a compromised immune system), this might be a helpful option for you.
We are cleaning and sanitizing surfaces very frequently and changing regular practices. We will begin using prepackaged communion cups with juice and a wafer on Sundays. We will discontinue passing the offering baskets and instead have an offering basket at the Welcome Desk. Please consider electronic giving through our Mercy Pushpay app.
We encourage you to follow recommended precautions and stay home if you are unwell. Wash your hands often and with soap for 20-30 seconds (consider praying the Lord’s Prayer!). If you’ve been exposed to someone with coronavirus or are sick, please stay home. Let someone at Mercy know that you’re sick/staying home. We have a care team that is willing to help and individuals who would like to visit with you and pray for you. Here is a helpful video that explains how the coronavirus works and what we can do to protect ourselves and others.
Let’s continue to be loving and to trust God as a community. With the concerns about coronavirus, there have been increasing incidents of racism targeting Asian Americans and Asian people worldwide. Infectious diseases can only be fought through solidarity and cooperation, rather than anxiety, stigmatization, and hostility. Jesus says, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” These commands are true all the time. And Psalm 46 encourages us in this way:
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.