Latest Update on Worship Gatherings

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Plans for Outdoor Worship Services Starting Sunday, June 14
Dear Calvary,

Even though it was in small groups of 25, it was so wonderful to have on-site worship again at Calvary last Sunday.  “Micro-Service Sunday” was a great success and serves as a kick-off for what we hope to do this Summer.

On Tuesday, June 9, the State of New Jersey removed the outside gathering limits for houses of worship and increased inside gathering limits to 50 people or 25% of capacity (whichever is lower). This provided our Elders with the information we needed before meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss worship service plans for this summer.

After discussing various options (and given the positive experience of last Sunday), we have decided to continue meeting outside for now. We have the space, it’s safer, and it allows more people to gather at one time.

So this is the plan for this Sunday, with the idea that we will continue in this mode into the summer.

  • We will have two outdoor worship services each Sunday morning: One at 8:30am and one at 10:00am. There will be no limits on the number of people at each service and you won’t need to register in advance for which service you’re attending. People will be free to attend whichever service they choose.
  • People will continue to bring their own seating/blankets and sit wherever they are comfortable. Like last week, folding chairs will be available for those who would like one.
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet between family units is recommended. But people will have the freedom to add more space if they feel more comfortable.
  • Face coverings will be required as you walk around the area before and after the service. They would also be required when entering the building to use the restrooms. However, while seated in your own distanced space during the service, you are not required to wear a face covering.
  • While we await some key (but backordered) equipment to enable reliable, glitch-free “live-streaming,” we plan to record the 8:30 service and then “broadcast” it on YouTube at 10am. Anyone who is experiencing any cold/flu-like symptoms or is running a fever should not attend in person and should watch the service online.
  • If it rains, we will utilize the existing communication plan for weather-related cancellations in the winter. Elders and Deacons will decide as early as possible to cancel the service, and then communicate the decision through email, the website, social media, and on the recorded message when calling the church. The key worship personnel (pastor, musicians, sound/video tech) will conduct and record the planned service indoors at 8:30am for 10:00am broadcast on YouTube.
  • Also, in the event of rain, we’re working on a plan that would give the option (to an assigned portion of the congregation on a rotating basis) of attending the 8:30am recording in person. It will not exactly match the experience of a normal inside service because there won’t be screens and slides. But it would provide an opportunity for some to attend in person each time a “rainout” occurs. More information will follow as we work out the details.

Finally, if you would like to be a part of set-up or take-down crews, help with greeting people as they arrive, or participate on one of the re-starting church cleaning crews, please let me know and I’ll direct you to the right person.

As we’ve been effectively doing for three months, we’re “pivoting” again this week. It’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting. Because we’re serving and loving each other well and (in a world of so much conflict) we’re demonstrating the power of the gospel by doing so.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

For the life, hope, and joy found only in Jesus!

Pastor Tom

Thursday, June 4, 2020
Plans for Micro-Service Sunday on June 7

Dear Calvary,

Our last in-person worship gathering was on March 8. That was three months ago. It changes this week.

It won’t look like what we’re accustomed to, but it will be exciting. The current NJ Executive Order limits outdoor gatherings on one property to 25 people (with appropriate social distancing).  We’re hopeful that this limit will increase in the next few weeks, but for now, we’re going to host outdoor “micro-services” that allow us to start re-gathering the Calvary Family while protecting one another and respecting the state guidelines.

Earlier this week, our elders surveyed the congregation and the response was overwhelming. So we’ve done our best to design a plan that will be a great first step towards re-gathering weekly for worship.

Here are some more details:

  • There will be four, 45-minute services on Sunday, June 7:
    • 8:00-8:45am
    • 9:15-10:00am
    • 10:30-11:15am
    • 11:45am-12:30pm
  • We’re planning to live-stream the 10:30am service on our YouTube Channel which will also be accessible through our website. This live-stream will be archived as a recording after the broadcast.
  • Everyone who indicated a desire to attend has been assigned to one of the services (below). This keeps us at the 25-person cap for each service and tries accommodate (as closely as possible) everyone’s expressed time preferences. If we missed you (or something seems wrong) please contact me by calling or texting as soon as possible (609-707-7209).
  • Folding chairs will be available, but we are asking people to bring beach/lawn chairs or even blankets and beach towels. There will be a tent that is big enough to provide shade for some, but not all. So wear a hat, wear sunscreen, and dress comfortably.
  • In accordance with state guidelines, we are asking family units to socially distance from one another by 6-8 feet. And we are asking everyone to wear a face covering for the duration of the service as a show of love toward one another.
  • We are asking everyone to arrive between 10-15 minutes before the start time of your service. Unfortunately, there will be little time for lingering before or after. That will be hard, but it will come in time.
  • The restrooms will be open for people who need them. Doors will be propped open to minimize door handle contact and increase air flow. Antiseptic wipes will be placed on the counters and in the stalls and we ask that people wipe down touched surfaces after each use. Even after washing your hands, we ask that people use hand sanitizer upon exiting.
  • If you need to enter the building to use the restroom (or any other reason) we ask that you use one-way traffic—enter through the side door of the building (by the driveway) and exit from the front door onto the sidewalk.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Watch for a video tomorrow in which I’ll give a little more explanation of some of the plans. I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon!

For the life, hope, and joy found only in Jesus!

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Responding to COVID-19 – Calvary’s Plan
Dear Calvary,

Last night the elders at Calvary met to confirm our response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus restrictions being enacted by national, state, and local governments. The CDC recommended Sunday that all public gatherings over 50 people be cancelled for the next eight weeks, and individual states (including NJ) are enacting specific rules to help slow the spread of the virus as much as possible. Calvary will fully comply out of a desire to protect our members and the people of our community.

Specifically, this is what it will mean.

  • We will suspend the physical worship services at Calvary until the state ban and the CDC recommendation is lifted, moving to an on-line format for delivering worship content.
  • There will be no church-sponsored in-person gatherings either at our facility or in people’s homes.
  • I plan to be at the church office from 9am-5:30pm Tue-Fri (with a break where I may run home for lunch). I’ll be working from home at other points during the week and always accessible if needed at my mobile number (609-707-7209).
  • Church Cleaning Crews have been suspended until we reopen. The church was cleaned last week and then not used on Sunday. All door nobs and light switches have been disinfected.
  • Our Office Administrator, Barbara Terranova, will be working her regular hours (9am-2pm Tue-Fri) from home. She is accessible through email ( or be leaving a message on the office voicemail.
  • The giving of your tithes and offerings will all be remote. You can mail checks to Calvary (P.O. Box 190, Allenwood, NJ 08720). Or you can set up automatic bill pay with your bank on its website. When this happens, your bank generates a check that is mailed to Calvary at no cost to you or us. The other option is to utilize the newly set up online giving options on our website. There are transaction fees for Calvary when you give online, but we completely understand if this is the most convenient option for you.

Importantly, while the building will be closed, the Church is always open. Here is how we intend to make that more than a slogan.

  • Monitor your email. We don’t want to overwhelm your inboxes but this is the easiest way to get important prayer requests and communications to the largest number of people quickly. If you know people who don’t regularly get email, please call them and relay the information.
  • Follow us on social media. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram. Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast app. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.
  • In addition, I am filming daily “Staying Rooted” devotional thoughts–three minutes or so, where I share a thought I’ve gleaned from my Psalm of the day and from the 18th century English pastor John Newton.
  • At least once a week, you should hear from an elder or deacon. They want to hear how you’re doing and check if you need anything. Make sure you get from them their contact information so you can reach them as needed as well.
  • Worship services will continue to be online-based and we can reach out to do tech consultations via phone to help people get to video content. Let us know if you need help with this.
  • Sunday School alternatives. I plan to teach the remainder of the Good Neighbors Sunday School class via video and make the materials available to everyone. Children’s Sunday School teachers will be sending materials for kids to work on.

Finally, this is what you can do.

  • Take the public health warnings seriously. This is serious. Even if you are healthy, you can transmit the virus to others. The problem with pandemic situations like this is that it can quickly overwhelm the hospitals, leading to challenging choices about who is able to get care and who is not. You may not be at high risk for complications from a COVID-19 infection. You may not be anxious about your life. (Good, we Jesus said we shouldn’t be.) But do your part to halt transmission and “flatten the curve.” This is basic “love your neighbor as yourself” stuff.
  • Follow the 50/50 rule. Spend as much time consuming content that points you to the eternal promises of God as you do consuming news reports.
  • If you think of someone, call them. Social distancing doesn’t have to be social isolation. Remind people that they aren’t alone through frequent touches.
  • Look for opportunities to share hope. I have heard from several people how they used this past Sunday as an opportunity to send the worship service links to friends and neighbors.

This is big and we are living in serious times. There is a heaviness to consider shutting down worship services through Easter. But this situation is not bigger than our God and we, above all, should have the most hope. The resurrection that we celebrate every Sunday is the guarantee that light follows darkness and life follows even death for those who trust in Christ. May that confidence guide us in the days ahead.

For the life, hope, and joy that is found only in Jesus!

Pastor Tom

Saturday, March 14, 2020
COVID-19 Update
No Services Sun, Mar 15
Dear Calvary,
After several days of discussion and watching closely the local and national response to the COVID-19 virus, the elders met tonight and made the decision to cancel Sunday School and the Worship Service on Sunday.
We do this reluctantly because we take seriously the witness of the Christian Church as it gathers weekly to worship the God who saved us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet we also take seriously our Lord’s command to love our neighbors and do good to all, especially those in the household of faith.
As we listen to those with medical and public health backgrounds (in our congregation and in the broader public) we understand the unique nature in which this virus can be transmitted without people even realizing they are doing it. And so in concert with local school systems and civic programs, we desire to help with the goal of minimizing opportunities for the virus to spread.
Despite the fact that we won’t be meeting in person, we desire to help you use your Sunday morning for worship and remain connected to the ministry of Calvary. Watch for more information tomorrow from me about how you can do that. In addition, we want to be known for helping one another. If you need help with getting food or supplies, let us know.
For the eternal life, transformative hope, and unshakable joy found only in Jesus!
Pastor Tom