CORONAVIRUS UPDATE—May 28, 2020

SO, ABOUT INSLEE’S ANNOUNCEMENT…
As you’ve probably already heard (or will hear if you scroll a little further down your social media feed), Governor Inslee held a press conference this afternoon announcing updated conditions for the reopening of churches in WA. Let us save you an hour of your life:

Effective immediately (Phase One), churches can hold outdoor services on location assuming precautionary distances measures are in play and in Phase Two churches can meet indoors at limited capacity – up to 50 people (not including staff) – assuming various safety precautions are communicated and implemented. This step towards reopening is encouraging and a welcome announcement on an otherwise boring Quarantine Wednesday.

Here’s where that leaves us (EastLake) – as much as we would love to give you free coffee and watch your kids while you enjoy a live service, this is still too far from normal for us to move away from our current online experience. We’re not convinced that meeting in our parking lot or limiting the room to fifty people (and no kids rooms open) is BETTER than what we’re currently doing. It’s definitely DIFFERENT, and perhaps we’re so numb to the status quo than anything different sounds inherently better. But, realistically, we still don’t think that someone who typically isn’t into church would think that this incredibly modified version of ‘church’ is something worth checking out at this time. And, since the beginning, we’ve said this isn’t about us gathering together on a weekly basis to reaffirm our already held beliefs, but to live as a witness to another Way of doing life – a Way that looks and feels a lot like Jesus would have done it.

We know it might not be what some of you were hoping to hear from us. We recognize that other churches in our area have opted/will opt for a different approach with some valid concerns and arguments. It’s uncharted territory for all of us and we know whatever decision we make will not sit well with everyone who calls EastLake home. We can only ask that you believe us when we say we’re trying to operate with wisdom about what’s best for us as an organization in the long run.

While we wait for our area to move into Phase Two, we are hopeful for continued steps towards reopening and will keep meeting with our COVID Relaunch Team to discuss necessary steps that we need to take in order to reopen safely and with the same attendee experience that you’re used to and have come to expect from us when inviting your friends to EastLake.

Thanks for understanding!

Grace + Peace

The EastLake Leadership Team

###

UPDATE FROM MARCH 19 2020

It’s been almost a week since our last COVID-19 update, and we wanted to keep you up to date on our current outlook:

01. We successfully launched our first ever live stream last weekend thanks to a heroic effort by our tech/operations team. In case you missed it, you can rewatch it at www.eastlaketricities.com/talks. We’ll be back this Sunday at 10:00 AM and would love to have you church from home with us.

02.  Our Uptown Theatre operations have completely closed down for the foreseeable future, allowing us to start tackling some on-site projects that have been on our to-do list for a while but are difficult to complete with our typically booked schedule. All of the events scheduled for March/April have been canceled, and all event organizers have been offered full refunds of their holding deposits. Depending on the length of this current situation, this should only have a limited impact on our financial bottom line as our theatre income is minimal.

03.  All of our current offerings on the Community Marketplace are on a hiatus for the safety of our people, and we don’t have a restart date in mind. We’re in a holding pattern until new information about group gatherings is announced.

04.  In response to this crisis, we’re looking for ways to WEAR LOVE in our local community. However, with quarantine expectations in place, our opportunities are limited. Here are just two ideas that we’ve moved on recently:

– We’ve purchased one hundred $5 gift cards to Kagen’s coffeeshop (next to the Theatre) and will be dropping them off at KADLEC hospital to give out to some of the amazing medical staff working tirelessly to keep our community safe.

– We’ve donated $500 to the Boys & Girls Club of the Tri-Cities who have elected to remain open and offer emergency childcare services for our community—especially to those parents who would otherwise have no options.

We’re keeping our eyes peeled for further options. If you’re interested in contributing to a COVID-19 relief fund that will benefit local concerns, we’ve added a “COVID-19 RELIEF” fund on our GIVE page. 100% of the money that comes in through this fund will go toward COVID-19 RELIEF, which may include, but is not limited to utility payments, rent assistance, food assistance for those experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19, and/or financial support for organizations that are meeting needs like this in our local community.

05.  We’ve had several people ask about the church’s financials during this unique circumstance, so here’s the skinny on that:

For the past several years—under the advice of our leadership team—we’ve made intentional decisions to operate with a high level of financial margin: spending consistency less than net revenue. We’ve been consistently adding funds into long-term savings because we felt like that was the responsible thing to do. We want to run our ‘business’ finances with the same priorities we’d recommend you administer your personal finances. As a result, we have just over six months of operating expenses in reserves and have enough of an economic moat to survive any short-term headwinds— like what we’re currently experiencing.  Due to our small staffing budget, no one on payroll is currently facing a short-term risk of layoffs and/or reduction in hours, and we feel completely blessed to be in that position.

The only reason we’re in this position is because of the consistent generosity of so many people who call EastLake “home” and see it as something worth investing into for the benefit of themselves, their family, and the community as a whole. For that, we say “THANKS!”

While we still have a baseline set of monthly expenses (just like all of you), we know that in times of economic uncertainty and especially in times of loss of employment, certain adjustments and difficult financial decisions must be made. If charitable giving to EastLake falls into that category for you, we want to be available to help you adjust, pause, or cancel altogether your monthly recurring giving. Even though you can manage your giving profile on your own via our Giving platform at www.eastlaketricities.com/give. If the process is unclear, or if you would prefer us to make those changes manually, just let us know at giving@eastlaketricities.com.
_____________

We’re all in this thing together, and I know we’re all looking forward to the upcoming Sunday where we get to meet together again to share coffee, stories, and maybe even a non-contagious high five together.

Until then…

Grace + Peace.

Brent

P.S.  If you’re looking for a more spiritually productive use of your time than binging Better Call Saul on Netflix, N.T. Wright is offering a free online bible study course on “Paul and his letter to the Philippians” via Udemy Online here

BUT the free offer ends TONIGHT. I’m planning on participating in the course personally and will start a private Facebook group for those who would like to discuss as we progress through the course. Just shoot me an e-mail at brent@eastlaketricities.com, and I’ll send you an invite to the group.

###

UPDATE FROM MARCH 11 2020

As you’ve probably heard, Governor Inslee has issued a statewide mandate ordering all school districts to close beginning Tuesday. Included in this mandate is a ban on all social gatherings of over 250 people statewide.

While the particulars of this are still a bit unclear at this point, the leadership team at EastLake has determined that our best option moving forward is to cancel our weekend gatherings until further notice and focus our energies on our online presence. We love our Sunday mornings just as much as you do, and we hate that it’s not an option or a temporary escape from all of this chaos. Please know that we are working diligently to stay informed and get back up and running as soon as possible.

We’ve ordered extra equipment to try out a live streaming option for our Sunday service, and we’re doing everything we can to get that up and going by this weekend. We don’t have a link for where exactly we’ll be hosting this live stream—but it’ll probably on one of our social media platforms (Facebook Live, IGTV, etc.)  We’ll let you know once we’ve confirmed.

This is uncharted territory for us because we truly believe in the value of an in-person experience and have, since our inception, tried to prioritize the physical presence over a digital one because the former seems to promote community and the latter consumerism. But sometimes extenuating circumstances make preferences irrelevant.

During this unique period, we’re currently brainstorming ideas for how we can step up and WEAR LOVE in our community. Once we’ve identified a few live options, we’ll be sure to pass those along to all of you.

To summarize:

Our in-person gatherings have been canceled effective immediately and until further notice.
We’ll be offering brand new online options starting this Sunday—March 15th
Our leadership team is exploring what it might look like to WEAR LOVE in our community while we’re under state-wide quarantine.Would you consider:
Staying in the rhythm of making your church community a priority by setting aside time at home to participate in our online experience as a family.
Praying for wisdom for our governmental leaders and scientific community who are working overtime trying to find a resolution to this pandemic emergency.
Thinking about unique ways that YOU personally can WEAR LOVE towards the people around you – checking in on them, offering them your extras, including their shopping needs when you’re out getting your own – all from a safe distance, of course. :)Thanks for helping us continue to create community for people who don’t typically like church.  Who knows, this may be a prime time to do things and behave in ways that make people who don’t typically like church reconsider it?Grace + Peace.

Brent + the EastLake Board.

###

UPDATE FROM MARCH 11 2020

We wanted to shoot you a quick update on where we’re at with the coronavirus.  Not, like, nationally…we defer to news outlets and local health districts, obviously.  Our local health district website is THE place to start

UPDATE ME

 

And since the Tri-City Herald has lifted the paywall for all stories related to coronavirus and its up-to date impact on the Mid-Columbia, we also suggest you keep tabs open there.

Our leadership team met last night and was briefed by one of our team members who is closely monitoring the situation because of her job requirements with the school district. Essentially, there are three threat levels associated with this outbreak, and we’re as of today (Tri-Cities as a whole) at Threshold Two (“moderate risk”)—with no reported cases, but in close proximity to reported cases.  For information on what is included in these Thresholds:

THRESHOLDS

 

At this level, according to the local health departments, we are advised to consider how to minimize person-to-person contact through our business activities, to practice “social distancing,” and to take precautionary measures: making sure we meet or exceed cleaning and disinfection standards—which we have been doing and will continue to do.

Safety is a massive priority for us—which is why we cleaned and disinfected our kids areas before and between both weekend services this past weekend and made hand sanitizer (liquid gold if you’re currently in the market for it) available at all entrances. We will continue this level of caution and continue to evaluate more efficient and more comprehensive options for the foreseeable future.

We know that Governor Inslee has implemented a ban on all social gatherings above 250 people in several counties within our state. Our county is not currently under that advisory, however things are moving quickly, as you know.

Our plan, at this stage, is to continue to monitor the situation as it’s coming to us via the means described above and communicate any changes (as it relates to EastLake activities) to you via text, e-mail, and our website.

We plan to hold a weekend service, as usual, this weekend with the following changes:

If you are showing signs of any kind of illness and/or have done so within the past 10-14 days, we are kindly asking that you stay home and watch online. We’re not exactly sure what the incubation rate or recovery timeline looks like at this point, so we’re going to be conservatively cautious with our quarantine expectations.

If you plan on having any person-to-person contact with the at-risk community (elderly, those with respiratory issues, etc.) within the near future, please stay home (and please consider making short-term changes in your daily activities for their benefit).

We will not be receiving communion this weekend —even though we typically do it at the end of a series. Please consider doing it as a family, couple, or individually at home. Here’s a great resource to help you in that process:

COMMUNION

If you are a scheduled volunteer and fall into that high-risk category, or you just don’t feel comfortable serving in a volunteer capacity this weekend, please contact your Team Captain as soon as possible so that we can find a replacement.

Our team is working hard at coming up with creative options to make the best out of this unfortunate situation we find ourselves in.

We’re committed to:

CREATING AN ONLINE OPTION.
Getting as much of our experience online as soon as possible and resourcing you with as much as possible so that you can still feel connected to the EastLake community—from home or anywhere. Our Talks will be posted online as early as Monday afternoon at: www.eastlaketricities.com/talks. We’re in the process of adding a branded, smartphone app, making it even EASIER to participate online, and we will keep you posted on status updates.

OVERCOMMUNICATING NEXT STEPS.
You might get more e-mails and updates from us than usual over the next few weeks. We try not to bombard you with too much during our standard operating practices, because no one likes to get multiple e-mails about the same thing over and over and over again (*cough Amazon). But considering the situation, we think/hope you’ll be fine with it.

PRIORITIZING SAFETY.
While we understand not wanting to overreact/operate out of fear and “what if’s…”, we also want to respect the severity of this situation—especially because of how it affects the more vulnerable in our community.

If anything changes—and it likely will in this ever-evolving situation—we’ll let you know as soon as we can. And if you have any immediate concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@eastlaketricities.com, and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner. But if we don’t get to it right away, it’s probably because we’re out washing our hands and/or disinfecting the kid’s bouncy house.

The EastLake Board.

 

###