08/18/2020

Dear Church Family,

 

We had our first regathering services on Sunday, August 9th, with a live stream during the 10:45 service. The services went really well and I want to thank those of you who have attended and supported the initial guidelines that are in place. I know it was not the way any of us wanted to regather in worship after being apart for so long, but regathering was an important step to take.

We have been taking baby steps to get to our destination in this time of regathering as a church.   Our first step was regathering for worship on Sunday, August 9th. We will be taking our next step in two weeks. On August 30, services will go back to a 9:00 traditional and 10:45 modern service. Please note that this is a change from the current structure of two identical services with the first being for those who are high risk.

On August 30th, live music will begin at our 9:00 traditional service. This will be traditional worship only. The 10:45 modern worship will remain prerecorded at this time. We plan on having live music for the 10:45 service in the near future. Traditional worship requires less technical attention and resources which is why we are only holding live music at the traditional service at this time. Due to this change, both the 9:00 traditional and the 10:45 modern services will be live streamed online.

For those who choose to attend in person, preregistration will no longer be used. We feel we are able to get enough information from our on-site check-ins. Unless the state mandate changes, masks will continue to be required. Our team is adjusting the in-person services each week to better regather and feel a sense of community while respecting health and safety guidelines. Each little step will help us do more effective ministry as we go forward. Ministry programs will still be taking place this fall. Specific dates and details about each program will be sent out in the coming weeks. We will continue to keep you posted on any changes.

Please pray for God to guide us in each decision.  Pray for our staff and Leadership team as we serve Jesus and His Church together.  Pray for unity in our church, healing in our community, and world.  And, pray for each step we take to honor and glorify Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

With you, following Jesus one step at a time!

Pastor Todd

7/31/2020

Dear Church Family,

 

May God’s grace and peace be with you!  As we prepare to regather for onsite worship services on August 9, we have enclosed a short version of the guidelines we will be following as we take this first step to regather for worship in our church building.  Please carefully read them over.  It will be important to have your support in following these guidelines in providing a safe and caring environment that will help us continue to do more effective ministry as we go forward. The full set of guidelines will be posted on our website and available to read in the church office.

 

We ask that as we reopen you will preregister online at our website each Sunday or call the church office letting us know how many are coming from your family and what service you will be attending.  This will not only help us to be better prepared but also allow for a smoother transition as you arrive for worship.  We will also keep providing our worship services online for those who are not yet ready to join us in person.

 

When you return, you will notice some changes that have taken place within our church building and our church staff.  The courtyard has a fresh coat of paint and portions of it have new carpet.  We also have two new staff members!  Mallory Arnold has joined our staff as our Director of Communication and Technology and Cheri Carey as our part-time Office Manager.  We are excited for you to meet and get to know each of them!

 

At the same time, we will miss Darla Hazeltine who has resigned as our part-time Director of Children.  We are so thankful for the wonderful five years of ministry Darla has provided and the impact she has made.  I am also thankful that she and Jeff will not be leaving but will stay involved in the life and ministry of our church family.  Please be in prayer for this transition in our children’s ministry.

 

Enclosed with this letter is an update on our finances and a financial summary from the beginning of the year.  Thank you for your faithful support through your prayers and giving during this uncertain time.  We ask for your continued support as following our prescribed guidelines, we will not be passing the offering plate during this initial regather time.

 

Things will not be the same for awhile and I wish I could tell you when we will be back to the way worship and ministry was prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, when we can have children’s ministry events, when the youth can meet again, and when all sorts of things will be able to happen at Bemidji Covenant.  But, as you know, we are all in a time of waiting and rapid change. We simply can’t predict what is next or how quickly (or slowly) things will move. But we will keep you updated as that time draws nearer.

 

But with that said, I look forward to seeing all of you, either online or at our church building on August 9!  I believe God is going to show up in power and grow our hearts as we worship Him. It is a joy to serve You, and serve our community with you…even in this very strange and unpredictable season. Remember, God loves you, He rules the universe, and He is on the throne.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Todd

7/10/2020

Dear Church Family, 

May God’s grace and peace be with you! 

I want to update you on our plans for regathering as a church.  We have intentionally used the word regathering because even though the church building has been closed the church has not been closed.  Ministry has been happening and we have been celebrating white roses as people have been coming to Christ!  We give glory to God and thank you for your prayers and faithfulness!   

As you know, we have been planning and preparing for this step carefully and seeking to prayerfully be wise, following the state guidelines, getting your feedback from a regathering survey, and forming a regathering and implementation team to help provide a plan to regather.  This has been a great team and they have done a wonderful job!  In a collaborative decision between the Leadership Team, staff, and input from the Regathering Team, the date of August 9 has been set as our first Sunday to regather in the church building.  

While I know some of you were hoping for a sooner date and some a later date, we feel this date works the best to have everything in place and ready to go in order to provide both an effective online stream worship presence as well as a regathering worship presence in the church building.  It has been our commitment from the beginning that before we regather we would continue to stream our worship services online knowing that some will not be ready or able to join us in person right away.  

We will be communicating more details as the day approaches.  I believe the next few months will be more complex for the church than the last three months.  I believe opening up our building will be much more challenging than the process of closing.  I am convinced that the need for us to walk in unity will be paramount for each of us.  The enemy exists to lie, steal, kill, and destroy.  Jesus comes to give us life abundant! 

Will you continue to pray for us and these next steps we are taking to regather?  Will you pray against the divisive work of the enemy and cry out to God to unite us?  Will you commit to have a gracious spirit and speak kind words even when you don’t agree with every decision or the timing of things?  Will you ask the Holy Spirit of the Living God to fill each of our staff members and me as the Lead Pastor?  

I feel like we have just competed in a Triathlon and the finish line is actually the starting line of another Triathlon.  I also know that God can give me, you, and all of our Bemidji Covenant leaders the strength we need for the next part of the race.  Will you join me in following Jesus and holding to His hand through this next season?  Remember these words from the prophet Isaiah: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

We are better together. I am excited to walk forward with each of you as we follow, serve, honor, and glorify Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Todd 

6/25/2020

Dear Church Family, 

God’s word encourages us in so many ways! In Colossians 3:12-15, God says, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

The passage strikes a chord in our hearts as we face these ever-changing days we find ourselves in.  We are to live as a representative of the Lord Jesus clothing ourselves with His love and grace and we are to always be thankful! 

With that note, I want to update you on some exciting news we are thankful for!  First, we have filled both of our open staff positions with two quality individuals that we believe will fit in well with our staff and church family and enhance our ministry.  We have called Mallory Arnold, currently living in Alexandria MN., to the fulltime position of Director of Communication and Technology and we have called Cheri Carey, from within our church family, to our part-time position of Office Manager.   

They both will be starting around the middle of July and we look forward to introducing them to you.  I want to express my thanks to Denae Alamano, Terry Fisher and Pastor Doug who did a wonderful job in serving with me on the Search Committee.  Please join us in celebrating this exciting news and also to be in prayer for Mallory and Cheri as they transition into our staff and church ministry.

Secondly, we are moving closer to regathering for worship.  Thank you for all who submitted a survey.  As you can imagine we received strong views on both sides of the scale about how soon to regather and what the regathering would look like with the majority falling somewhere in the middle.  Your feedback helps us get a pulse of what to expect.  

In addition to the survey, we also have a great Regathering Preparedness Team in place working to help make the guidelines and prepare the necessary steps we need to take to regather.  They are Steve Quamme, Gale Struthers, Kari Kantack Miller, Bill Palm, Orlando Alamano, Sarah Holt, Darla Hazeltine and John Kovatch.  

We have a desire to move as quickly as possible in this step to regather, but we have important logistics we need to address and have in place.  One, is installing permanent live streaming equipment in the sanctuary, so we can continue and enhance our online worship experience in the future.  Currently, we are not live streaming but taping and editing our services.  When that time comes, it is important to understand that both going to live stream and our initial regathering services will look different than we are currently used to, but I am confident they will be done well and God will bless them.  

When we do move to that place of regathering, we desire that it will be a positive experience for everyone whether some choose to continue to worship online for a while or others join in person.  

 

Please pray for God to guide us each step of the way.  Pray for our staff, Leadership Team and Regathering Preparedness Team as we serve Jesus and His Church together.  Pray for unity in our church, community, and world.  And, pray for each step we take to honor, glorify and represent Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Todd 

6/12/2020

Dear Church Family

A lot has happened in the past two to three months and people are looking at the world in many different ways. When it comes to gathering in our worship center and worshipping together (even with appropriate measures), we know people have very diverse views of what they are ready to do.

In order to best prepare us, our staff and Leadership Team have made a short “Bemidji Covenant Survey” to help us get a sense of what you are thinking about how you will engage in church as we go forward. Thank you for those who have taken it and if you have not we encourage you to do so.  We have extended the deadline for completing the survey to June 17 because we understand some did not receive the link.  If you know someone like this, please encourage them to go to our website and there is a link for them to take it.   

In addition, we are in the process of forming a Regathering Preparedness Team made up of some 7 - 8 individuals including some of our staff and Individuals from our church to help prepare and implement a plan to regather for worship and eventually Fall ministries.  We will keep you informed on the steps and plans we will take.  Please continue to keep us in prayer.  

I am so thankful for each of you. Your input and prayer is important and you can help us navigate our way forward with wisdom. I am excited to walk forward with each of you as we follow Jesus, love each other, and shine the light of our Savior into our dark world!

 

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Todd

 

5/17/2020

May Update

Dear Church Family:

As we continue to be in the midst of this pandemic, this season of national turmoil and financial upheaval, it is good to be reminded that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The church is still the church (Matthew 16:18).  In this email, I would like to give a brief update on the ministry of Bemidji Covenant and the current plans I, along with our church staff and Leadership Team, have been working on to prepare for the next chapter of Bemidji Covenant’s ministry. 

First, I want to share that during this time of physical separation ministry is still happening!  God’s Word is being proclaimed and taught at all levels, care is being extended in new ways, mission support is still occurring and outreach is happening.  We have had over 25 white roses of new commitments to Christ during this time of separation. Imagine the joy when one hears “Yes, I want to follow Jesus.”  God continues to do the good work of His Kingdom through each of us. 

The end of May we will be doing interviews for a new position entitled, Director of Communication and Technology (IT).  This position will be doing some of Lori’s past responsibilities but primarily focusing on areas of communication and technology which is a growing need for ministry today.  We have posted Terri’s position of Office Manager and will be taking applications until the end of May.  If you are interested or know someone who might be - please apply from our website; https://www.bemidjicovenant.com/jobs/  We are thankful to Barb Hall who is temporarily working primarily with our finances during this time.  Please keep us in prayer for these new staff positions and during this transition.

Secondly, we are all praying for, and looking forward to, the day we can meet together in worship and resume a sense of a new normalcy.  In the mean time we are committed, as a church, to continue living out the Great Commission of Christ to make and deepen disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and the Great Commandment of loving God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).  Lets continue to partner with God during this crisis meeting the needs of our community. 

I have talked to many of you who are saying, “I can’t wait to be together with the church again.” And, “I miss seeing everyone!”  I miss all of you too!  I very much look forward to when we can be together again!  

With this in mind, I want to let you know that your church leaders are discussing and working on multiple scenarios that will help us connect and be together as we prayerfully discern what is a God-honoring and safe journey forward.  We will continue to honor and respect those in governmental and medical leadership while we prepare to re-gather as soon as we are able.  We will communicate these plans just as soon as we have clarity on when we can gather, what size groups will be allowed and how we can provide safe and clean facilities. Until then, continue to enjoy the worship services, and all of the children’s, youth, and adult resources provided online. If you have any questions, please let us know.  

Always feel free to call us or email us.

 Finally, I want to thank our staff and ministry leaders for their hard work and adaptably during these times of change and uncertainty.  You have reflected the light of Christ.  I also want to extend a “Thank You” to each one of you for your prayers, support, financial giving and reaching out to one another with phone calls and care during this unique and challenging time.  You are helping make Bemidji Covenant Church a great family of faith.  May our Lord continue to lead us into the plans He has for us.

In Christ

Pastor Todd

3/17/2020

Dear Bemidji Covenant Church and friends,

As of right now, there are no positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Bemidji. We are aware that could change at any moment. 

As information stands at this time, we are joining our Health and Government leaders in closing access to our facility and moving our ministry online. All regular and scheduled activities are canceled. Many will move to online and be resourced. 

Please be aware that we are watching the developments of the Corona Virus carefully. We will keep you all informed of Bemidji Covenant schedules as best as we can. 

Watch for our Bemidji Covenant Church emails and visit the church Facebook and website for the most current up to date notifications.

As is being mentioned everywhere: Please practice physical distancing, intentional hand washing, do not shake hands, do not touch your face, etc. 

To assist us in being aware of one another’s needs and to aid in our prayer for one another, please let us know if you are ill. This is helpful all the time, but particularly during this time.

To attend worship online use our website: bemidjicovenant.com or here on Facebook. One of our concerns with attendance at our online services is the loss of gathering together in community. We can mitigate this a bit by letting one another know of your online presence with a greeting and comments in the live chat line. If you have questions or difficulty or need further instructions on how to do this please call us and we will try to guide you.

Finally, remember that we need not be fearful. God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in times of trouble.

 

Your partner in the gospel,

Pastor Todd on behalf of the Bemidji Covenant Staff and Leadership Team

3/16/2020

Currently, all on-site church activities are canceled, including Wednesday. Services will be streamed at 10:00 am on Sunday, but not held onsite.  Video on demand is available to watch at any time via our website, bemidjicovenant.com.  Online options for NextGen Ministries can be found on their Facebook pages, Covenant Kids Bemidji and Student Life @ the Covenant. The entire church campus will be closed for all meetings including gym use.  The office will have normal office hours, Monday – Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. And will be able to receive phone calls 218-751-3699. Sign up for our newsletter bemidjicovenant.com/newsletter to keep updated on information.  We will be re-evaluating ministry status on March 30.