COVID-19 Response

Check in here for the latest news regarding our response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Update: October COVID-19 Update – Posted 10.15.20 at 9:00 AM

Dear South Metro Vineyard Church Family,

We have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be in-person on Sunday mornings these last six weeks. We have been committed to safety in the midst of this pandemic, which includes registering for services, physical distancing, wearing masks, personal health screenings, and extra cleaning.  This also includes continuing to offer online services for those who are not able to attend. So far this has worked great and has allowed us to meet in-person in safe ways!

Please know that we as a council have taken these last six months very seriously. We have been in prayer and seeking to trust God in all things. We feel strongly that the best way to love our neighbors during this time is to be committed to the safety and health of every one of our members and neighbors. That is how we trust God and follow his guidance during this time. To that end, we have relied on the numbers that the best medical experts report through the Minnesota Department of Health for Dakota County and have tied the phases of our reopening to those statistics, specifically new cases of COVID and deaths associated with the virus. As of this week, there are still about 60 new positive cases of COVID per day in Dakota County. We need that number to drop significantly and stay low before we can consider moving to phase three, which would allow for more people in the building and fewer restrictions.

The good news is that the last six weeks of in-person services have gone so well, we feel now is the right time to lower the age restriction for children to 8 years old (previously only children 12 and older could attend with their parents). This will allow more families with children to attend our in-person services.  Note that we are not yet offering children’s ministry, only allowing children 8 and older to attend and sit with their families for our Sunday service. We trust families to help us ensure all safety protocols are followed so we can continue to have our in-person services in a way that helps keep everyone healthy. To help with this, we ask families with children to sit on the east side of the sanctuary (i.e. to the right when you walk in).

In addition, our sister church La Viña has started meeting in the building as well. We have purchased a sprayer and the building is sprayed with a disinfectant between services in order to ensure safety for both groups using the building on Sundays. 

Please keep our church and our leadership in prayer! We are challenging all of our members to fast one day a week for the rest of the year. This will look different for each of you. However, the Bible is clear that fasting and prayer are essential tools for God’s people in times of crisis. We ask you to stand with us for the rest of 2020 and that the love of God’s kingdom may be realized in our lives and community.

We invite any questions or concerns to be sent to the council at council@smvineyard.org.  Also, be aware that prayer requests can be sent to prayer@smvineyard.org.  If you or anyone you know has needs during this time, email needs@smvineyard.org.  Note that we also are hosting free food distributions every Monday in October out of our warehouse from our parking lot. Please see our Facebook page for details. We also encourage everyone to join a life group. Through this strange time, connection and community are more important than ever. Email greg@smvineyard.org for more info.

God bless you!

SMVC Council

Update: In-Person Service on August 30! – Posted 8.14.20 at 11:42 AM

Dear SMVC Family,

We’ve been looking forward to the time we can meet together again, and that time has come!

We know other churches began meeting weeks or even months ago, but we strongly believe that waiting until the COVID-19 situation significantly improved in Dakota County was the right thing to do in order to love God and love our neighbors through this time.

We have a phased plan for re-opening our building for in-person gatherings, and moving from one phase to the next is determined by the state of the virus in Dakota county — specifically the number of deaths from COVID-19 each day.  We are currently at Phase 1, where small groups of 10 people or less are able to meet inside the church (i.e. worship team, leadership teams, etc.) and up to 25 people outdoors (i.e. youth group). It has gone well and been life giving for our staff and teams.

We will now move into Phase 2 and plan on holding our in-person Sunday services beginning on August 30th at 10:00am! We are excited about this as we humbly and cautiously move forward. Should the situation worsen between now and August 30th, we will postpone the start of in-person services. For now, these elements will be in place to minimize the potential health risks:

  • Preregistration online and a limit to 50 people at the service; a second service will be scheduled if we exceed the attendance limit 
  • Self-health scan questions and temperature checks for all attendees prior to arrival
  • Mask policy enforced
  • Social distancing
  • Building cleaning/disinfecting pre- and post-service
  • Clear signage for people to follow for auditorium seating
  • No children’s ministry; no kids under 12 may attend at this phase
  • No youth fireside group; all students 12 and older may attend and be seated with their family

We will continue to offer services online for the foreseeable future for anyone who prefers not to attend a Sunday service in-person. As the situation continues to improve, we will be able to move to Phases 3 and 4, which will require fewer restrictions. 

If you plan on attending the service on Sunday, August 30th, please register here. Before you arrive, please answer the self-screening questions found here and take your temperature. 

When you arrive in the parking lot, we ask that you park in every other parking space. Auditorium seating will be numbered to assist social distancing guidelines, and everyone can go straight to their numbered seating for the service.

During this phase, we are planning shorter services that will last around 45-50 minutes to minimize the length of time spent indoors. With this in mind, everyone will want to arrive on time at 10:00am to catch the full service. We discourage gathering in groups before or after the service at this phase because the risk of contracting the virus increases with the duration of time gathered in one space without sufficient ventilation and distancing. We also need to clear the space for cleaning and setup before La Viña’s afternoon service. 

We do encourage you to join an online or in-person Life Group after the service to fellowship and discuss the message. Just email greg@smvineyard.org to get connected!

We recognize this process is stringent and will feel different, but if we maintain the care it takes to follow these guidelines, we feel it will preserve our ability to meet together in-person as long as we can. We will continue to assess our policies and procedures and communicate accordingly as they change. Our hope is that we can move quickly getting us all back together as soon as possible!

Thank you for your grace and patience as we continue to navigate through these uncharted waters. Pray this prayer with us by Phyllis Tickle from The Divine Hours: “Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.” 

Blessings,

SMVC Council 

Update: COVID-19 Building Update from SMVC Council – Posted 7.16.20 at 9:00 AM

Dear South Metro Vineyard Church family,

We hope this letter finds you well! Thank you so much for filling out the survey we sent out last month. These are unprecedented times and learning how this pandemic is impacting all of you helps us important decisions as a council.

As you know from our previous communications, we are taking this pandemic and our responsibility to our community very seriously. This truly is an opportunity to love our neighbors by following recommendations by the most informed medical experts and organizations: wearing a mask, social distancing, frequent hand washing, avoiding large gatherings, etc.

In the last few weeks, we have compiled some policies and procedures for our ministry team leaders to follow with their teams and small groups meeting at the church building (up to 10 people indoors; up to 25 people outdoors). In order to move forward with this step, here are some preparations we have made:

  • The entire church building was disinfected last week by a professional cleaning service via fogging machine. This will likely happen on a somewhat regular basis going forward.
  • We re-keyed all of the locks in the building, ensuring maximum security regarding who has access.
  • We developed a list of policies and procedures for using the building (attached), both indoors and outdoors. Some of these policies include:
    • A self health screening
    • Cleaning any surfaces you intend to use when you arrive, and cleaning all surfaces used again before you leave
  • We obtained several quick-scan thermometers to quickly administer temperature checks.

We appreciate your continued patience as we navigate this difficult time. Please know that the health and safety of all of our people is our greatest concern. We so look forward to the time we can meet in person and worship as a whole congregation again!

In the meantime…

  • Continue to engage with our online services.
  • Email council@smvineyard.org with all questions, concerns, and requests to meet inside or outside the church building.
  • Send prayer requests to prayer@smvineyard.org.
  • Send other kinds of need requests for yourself or someone you know to needs@smvineyard.org. 
  • Please keep praying for our church leadership!

Grace and peace,

The SMVC Council

Update: What are next steps for SMVC? – Posted 5.27.20 at 1:37 PM

Dear Church Family,

First, I want to say how thankful and proud I am of our staff and leaders over the past couple of months. They have been amazing!  Because of them, we were able to pivot immediately and develop a strong presence online when we were missing that before. We are a better church now, extending our virtual reach to the community beyond what we thought possible. We have also been forced to make many difficult decisions that none of us were prepared to make. Having never been through anything like this before, we continue learning as we go. It has not been easy, so please pray for and encourage our staff and leaders. Let them know how good of a job they have done. You can see all of our updates since this started here

Second, we are now confronted with more decisions to make in regards to reopening our facility. I just want to say right away that I love and miss all of you. I’m very relational by nature, and recording messages to you on my phone alone in my basement has been incredibly difficult for me. I have wrestled with all kinds of feelings, wondering if I am doing enough and what more I should be doing. Needless to say, I am eager to get back to in-person gatherings! But we have several challenges that make our next steps more difficult for us than others. We have two church communities, SMVC and La Viña, meeting in one facility. We are not equipped with any administrative staff that a church needs to navigate the logistics of tracking who is in the facility at different times, ensuring people follow CDC recommendations and that the facility is regularly sanitized according to the necessary health standards. When considering a hasty approach to re-opening our building for in-person gatherings, we not only face these practical challenges, but we have the utmost concern for the safety of everyone in our community at the forefront of our minds. We understand what other churches are doing around us, but every church community is different. We want to make decisions based on biblical truths and scientific knowledge, both of which have been given to us by God. These decisions will not be made based on politics or pressure from what others are doing but on prayer. We need to prayerfully consider what the right next steps are for our specific community and our La Viña brothers and sisters. 

Third, we recognize that the global pandemic is being politicized, polarized, and comes with immense economic pressures. We see that misinformation continues to flow and divide people. Federal, state, and local governments are all conflicted about the timing and next steps for re-opening, even undermining each other. Again, none of us has been through anything before on this scale, and we need to exercise extra grace in the middle of this mess. Even so, the decisions are not made any easier for us. There are concerns about singing in church that need to be considered, as this church in Washington and another in Calgary learned. As we seek to understand the risks associated with whether or not to start public worship gatherings, we have to consider it all. We do not want to see anyone succumb to this virus because of the decisions we made. We need to answer the questions: is it worth the risk to gather the church in-person wearing masks, socially distanced, without singing, coffee, or treats? Without kids under the age of 12 if they cannot stay at their parents’ side at all times? Discouraging those from attending who have underlying health conditions or age 65 and older? Imagining gathering as a church family under these conditions not only seems unrealistic but unfair, exclusionary, and simply heartbreaking. We don’t want to show love only to the young and healthy or those with strong immune systems. We are called to love everyone — the elderly, the immunocompromised, and people with underlying health conditions that would put them at risk if they caught COVID-19. Being online with our weekend services allows us to extend that love to everyone, including people we don’t know, and even those who have never attended a service in our building before. We are intentionally inconveniencing ourselves and making this sacrifice for others because that is the way of Jesus.

So for now, our next step is continuing to do virtual church online. If we can overcome the logistical challenges mentioned above, we will begin to allow both SMVC and La Viña to record their messages for online services in our facility sometime in June. At such a time, we would also allow staff to begin working in their offices onsite. The SMVC council is currently creating policies, procedures, and health scan questions for these next steps to move forward. These possibilities will remain subject to prayer and watchful assessment, should there be a resurgence of COVID-19 cases resulting from other entities reopening in the community at this time. We would also love for you to fill out this survey to help us improve our online services, see how you’re doing, and what you are willing to do as we continue evaluating what in-person gatherings might look like for us.

In the meantime, I encourage you to listen to the message from Memorial Day weekend called “Making Decisions in Uncertain Times” at the 29:35 minute mark, which concludes this way: “Together, with one mind, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will seek God to do what seems right and keep being the church wherever we are.” After all, the church is not a building. We are the people of God whether we gather in buildings or are forced to meet each other online and in much smaller groups outside. In fact, the early church didn’t meet in buildings especially designed for worship services for centuries. The church, which is the Body and Bride of Christ, worshiped God, evangelized, discipled new believers, baptized, taught the scriptures, healed the sick, and cared for the poor for many years without the use of church buildings. This is still true today in countries where followers of Jesus are persecuted. The church is still present and active without using church buildings. 

We will continue to do the best we can to navigate these uncharted waters with God’s help. We need to stay unified and continue to do what Love requires of us. In John 15:13, Jesus talked about the requirement of brotherly love—laying down our lives for each other. Right now, that looks like choosing to give up comforts and conveniences for the sake of others and extending a whole lot of grace along the way. These are uncommon times, but we have an uncommon God that carries us through, and He calls us to be uncommon people — different than the rest of the world. We will get through this together. 

Last but not least, please continue to pray! It’s our greatest weapon. Pray for us as we make decisions. Pray for government officials as they make decisions. Pray for doctors and researchers that inform those decisions. Pray for essential workers on the front lines. Pray for the families of the nearly 100,000 people who have lost their lives. Pray for those who are currently sick. Pray for protection for those who aren’t. Pray for a cure and a vaccine. Pray for the virus to be eradicated from the planet. And pray that we all would see where God is at work and how to join Him to reach the 300,000 in the south metro for Jesus.    

Peace to you,
Pastor Greg & SMVC Council

Update: COVID-19 Update – Posted 5.7.20 at 10:55 AM

You are probably well aware that MN’s stay at home orders have been extended further into May, and we continue to keep the safety of our community the top priority. For now through June 7th, we will continue gathering virtually through our online Sunday services and other Zoom meetings offered during the week. We are eager to see you all again in-person and will continue to evaluate our ability to do so on a monthly basis.

In the meantime, we are receiving prayer requests through our digital connection card and prayer@smvineyard.org email, as well as other needs through this form on our homepage and needs@smvineyard.org email. We miss you and we are here for you!

Update: In-Person Services Postponed thru May 3rd – Posted 4.6.20 at 4:43 PM

Dear Church Family,

We continue to be proactive with the latest information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and measures that we should be taking as a church. As it stands, we will continue to suspend all in-person worship services and events through May 3rd, 2020. We will continue to assess the situation on a month by month basis and communicate accordingly. 

We will continue our online worship services with this upcoming Sunday being Easter. You can join us on Sundays at smvineyard.org. Families with young kids can tune into the Vineyard Kids Sunday Lessons page every week as well. We have some fun stuff planned for Easter so we hope you will join us!

All of our weekly ministries and life groups continue to gather virtually. Vineyard Kids have daily virtual storytimes and playdates all week long (click here for more details), and Thrive Middle & High Schoolers meet virtually every Wednesday night (email nikki@smvineyard.org for details). If you’re not already connected, we encourage you to join a life group to experience the emotional, spiritual, and prayer support of our community.  If you have any specific needs or things you would like prayer for, please email us at needs@smvineyard.org and prayer@smvineyard.org.

During this time, we remind you to continue giving! Your contributions enable us to be generous in ministering to our community. You can give online through our website or through our church mobile app.  If you usually give in-person on Sundays, please mail your offering to 13798 Parkwood Drive, Burnsville MN 55337. 

On Sunday, MN Governor Walz delivered the State of the State address, and I would encourage you to read it here no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. About the challenges we are facing, he says it’s “a hard, cold reality. One that far exceeds the reality of Minnesota’s harshest winters… We are used to long winters in Minnesota. We are resilient people with a deep reserve of courage, optimism, and grit. But this will be a winter like we’ve never seen before.” 

I think it is helpful for us to think about the current crisis as something with which we Minnesotans can all relate: winter. Even though the sun is out, the days are getting warmer and longer, we are fighting an invisible enemy that we cannot afford to forget. We have to continue to take precautions, be diligent, and do what we can to help save lives. As Governor Walz said, “staying home reduces face-to-face contact and thus the threat of virus transmission by up to 80 percent. Staying home is the only vaccine we have right now.” When we stop moving, the virus stops spreading; when the virus stops spreading, it will eventually die. This is what we are all hoping and praying for, and we all have to do our part. We will get through this together!

When this winter is over, we will “dig out” and help each other get back on our feet together. In the meantime, stay home and stay healthy. We miss you, and we love you. We pray this over you from Numbers 6:24-26: 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.”

Peace and blessings, 

Greg and SMVC Council

P.S. We will continue to post updates via email, social media, and on our website. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email us at council@smvineyard.org.

 

COVID-19 – What Should We Know – Posted 3.20.20 at 11:06 AM

We had the privilege to have Dr. Frank Rhame, from Allina Health, a colleague of Dr. Vino Raj, who is a council member for SMVC. Dr. Rhame has been an epidemiologist researcher for 30 years and has worked in the Infectious Disease field for over 40 years. SMVC’s Lead Pastor Greg Perkinson, La Viña’s Lead Pastor Miguel Aviles, and SMVC council member, Katie Lafky, also  join Dr. Rhame in the video.

As a church, we want to be proactive in the efforts to help navigate this troubling time and want to build a bridge between the health care field and the church. We want to help the community understand more about the virus, negate panic, and be vigilant in promoting peace. In the video, we ask Dr. Rhame the following questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:

 – What exactly is COVID-19?

– How should we be informed?

– What should we be doing as a community and individually?

We also address various questions about the most at-risk communities, how the virus affects children, and more. At the end of the video, Dr. Rhame also sheds light on some rumors and false information that have been shared via news and social media.

Links to reputable sites mentioned in the video that include relevant information:

CDC Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

MN Dept. of Health: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html 

Collaborative.gov Website: https://www.coronavirus.gov/ 

Dr. Frank Rhame’s Website: https://www.drfrankrhame.com/

Sunday services postponed through April 5th – Posted 3.14.20 at 3:19 PM

Dear Church Family,

After further consideration of the information available to us, South Metro Vineyard Church will suspend all in-person worship services through April 5th. This is a continued effort to protect the well-being of the community and prevent the spread the COVID-19 virus. 

Our hope is to help “flatten the curve” in an effort to save the lives of those most vulnerable among us, as well as support our local medical professionals and systems. While this is incredibly difficult, it is best to take the necessary steps now to avoid the possibility of far more catastrophic consequences later.

Instead of meeting physically on Sunday mornings, we will be going online with our worship services.  You can join us on Sundays at smvineyard.org. Vineyard Kids will stay in touch with families virtually, providing lessons and activities via email to do together at home.

All of our other weekly ministries and life groups will continue to gather at this time unless otherwise notified by ministry and group leaders. We encourage you to sign up to join a life group to stay connected with our church community.

During this time, we remind you to continue giving! We usually receive about one third of our total tithes and offerings in-person during Sunday morning services. In order to maintain healthy finances and keep up with our facility’s bills, we ask our church family to continue giving generously. You can give online through our website. If you usually give in-person on Sundays, we thank you for mailing your offering during the next few weeks to 13798 Parkwood Drive, Burnsville MN 55337. 

We will continue to post updates via email, social media, and on our website. If you have any needs or questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email us at council@smvineyard.org.

Even though we are facing great challenges, those challenges come with great opportunities. We look forward to growing in many ways as a community and still pursue reaching the 300,000 people in our surrounding cities. May we seize every opportunity before us to become like Jesus and be Jesus to the world!

As we go forward, we trust in our God who does not change, who sees the big picture, and knows exactly where all this is going. Thank you, Lord, for this truth: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4

Peace to you,

Greg and SMVC Council 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response – Posted 3.13.20 at 5:23 PM

Dear Church Family, 

I have never seen anything quite like what has unfolded this past week. We have all watched as Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first detected halfway across the world, make its presence known in our country, and now our state. In just a few weeks, this virus has canceled travel plans, closed borders, forced college campuses to move online, stopped almost all major events, and wreaked havoc on our economy. Worst of all, the death toll continues to climb as the virus spreads. Since there is currently no vaccine and it tends to affect the most vulnerable (the elderly, those with underlying health conditions), vigilance is in order. We want to do whatever we can to ensure your safety. 

We will face this as we believe Jesus would have us face it: we will “fear not.” We will not respond in a panic, but we will face the reality before us with our trust and faith in Jesus alone. We will prepare ourselves to do whatever possible in our power, and we will leave the rest to what God will do in His power. I believe God is calling us to be a calming presence to this chaos in our communities. Let’s make it a priority to check on those who are most vulnerable and serve them as we can. Let’s pray for those who are sick, who have been directly impacted, those around the world that do not have access to healthcare, those in the medical field serving patients tirelessly and working towards a vaccine, as well as local, state, and national government officials as they make decisions to keep citizens safe and healthy. 

As a church, we can do several things in addition to prayer:

Stay informed: Here are several links that provide important updates from trusted and verifiable sources. The responses I have seen on social media have been extreme, either overemphasizing the potential or underestimating it. We want to see it for what it really is and not buy into the conspiracy theories.  

Prevent the spread of any illness: It almost goes without saying, but for this case of COVID-19, the most important factors are as follows:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
  • Stay at home away from others if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands
  • Do not bring your children or go to large gatherings if you have cold or flu-like symptoms (elevated temperature, fever, cough, shortness of breath) 

Keep our church facility clean and other precautions:

  • Our building is regularly cleaned each week, but we are implementing additional sanitization of frequently touched surfaces, including doors, handles, water fountains, sinks, and our kids’ classrooms. If you would be willing to help with this extra sanitization during the week or on Sundays, please let us know!
  • Staff and ministry team members will wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.
  • We will have hand sanitizing stations and handwashing signs up. 
  • We are considering only pre-packaged food items at the refreshments table. For now, there will be hand sanitizer around the coffee and treats; please use it!
  • While we highly value community and the handshakes and hugs that come with it, please ask others if they are comfortable with that before making physical contact. Social distancing is a helpful precaution during this time, and there is nothing wrong with giving a big smile and air-five instead!

If you choose not or are unable to attend services during this time, here are some helpful links to stay engaged: 

  • Sermons – Here is where you can listen to our weekly sermons that are posted on our website.
  • Giving – Here is where you can continue to contribute your tithes and offerings.
  • Prayer needs – If you have any prayer requests or needs during this time, please don’t hesitate to email me at greg@smvineyard.org.
  • Livestream – While we have never done this before, we are considering what it would take to begin live-streaming our services so that you can watch them from home. We will get you this information when available 
  • Email Updates – Please sign up to receive our emails if you haven’t already.

In closing, I encourage you to read Philippians 4:4-7, and then read it again! Meditate on it. Let God speak and minister through His word by the Holy Spirit. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Peace to you, 

Greg and SMVC Council 

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