COVID-19 (Coronavirus) status
Note - we're reducing the frequency of the updates to this page now that things are settling down. We will update this page when a new development occurs.
The mask mandate has been extended through Nov 15, and we will continue to honor that mandate. Note that the county may choose to meet and alter that mandate before Nov 15. See: https://www.kshb.com/news/coronavirus/johnson-county-business-owners-support-mask-mandate-which-remains-in-effect.
Julia Parker, LPC, has gathered some resources for mental health self-care. Situations like the one we're in now can cause all kinds of stress and anxiety in ways that may surprise us. It's normal, and it's nothing that we need to feel shame about. It doesn't mean someone's faith is weak if stressful times cause stressed reactions. Please take advantage of the following resources - not only now, but in the months ahead. Stress reactions can occur well over a year after stressful events.
Video from Julia: click here
Self-care brochure: click here
Christian therapists in the area that we've worked with before: click here
Video messages from our pastor and guests
- How are they doing? Check out Pastor Colby's latest short video: https://www.wevideo.com/view/1815929346
- Pastor Colby's latest video, "Being Strong," is right here.
- Click here to see a video message from Pastor Colby called "Unity."
- "What about those masks?" See Pastor Colby's video response by clicking here.
- Click here for a video message called "The Church is Different."
- Click here for a video message from Pastor Colby about the prayer for righteousness and justice in our land during a time of heightened racial tensions.
- Click here for the latest video from Pastor Colby - a story of how you are being the Church in a wonderful way.
- Click here to see an update from Elder Cliff Coss and Pastor Colby Kinser.
- Click here for Pastor Colby's 7th video message.
- Watch a special video message to all kids 5th grade and younger by clicking here.
- Click here for Pastor Colby's 5th video message.
- Click here for Pastor Colby's 4th video message.
- Click here for Pastor Colby's 3rd video message, with a special guest.
- Click here for Pastor Colby's 2nd video message.
- Click here for Pastor Colby's 1st video message.
Worship service will be online and NOW in person
See our "Disciples at Home" for getting connected:
Please remember to continue supporting Grace with your offerings. We will not receive cash at this time. Checks mailed in are OK, but we prefer online giving during this time. You can switch to online giving here: give.fellowshipofgrace.org
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the church office M-F 8 am - 2 pm, or Pastor Colby directly during off-hours if you need an immediate response.
- 9/28: The county numbers keep going up and down, but not making much progress downward overall. Pace yourself and do what you can to help our county drive down those numbers.
- 9/23: Grace Garden Preschool is gearing up to restart in less than 2 weeks!
- 9/21: The local school district will resume full-time on-site classes for elementary students soon. We will follow these events, however it doesn't appear that these changes will result in any changes in our ministries because our children are already welcome to join us onsite.
- 9/17: The county decided today to extend the mask mandate along with the extension of executive order #20-65 through October 15.
- 9/16: There have been a lot of rumors about the state mask order expiring this week. Those rumors are untrue. The state has extended Executive Order #20-16 with Executive Order #20-65 to extend the emergency designation through Oct 15. It could be extended again. The Johnson County Board will meet tomorrow (9/17) to discuss what the order will be at the county level.
- 9/15: The governor has extended the executive order that, among other things, mandates mask use. This extension will expire Oct 15, and could be renewed. The county board will discuss the matter on 9/17. It is our policy to not be more permissive than the county on these issues as long as our rights to worship are not infringed upon.
- 9/10: This Sunday, we're having a congregational meeting. Due to health concerns, members can attend either in person (with social distancing and masks) or online (just stay on the call after the worship service is over). Our only order of business for this meeting is electing leaders for 2021. Members will receive by mail and by email instructions and the ballots, which must be postmarked by the 16th or received in the office by 2pm on the 18th.
- 9/8: Join us as we pray for students, parents, teachers, and school leaders this week.
- 9/4: This is the last weekend before school starts for most of our students. Many in our church family are traveling for one last family trip over the long holiday weekend. We pray for safety, joy, and restoration. We also pray for a healthy start to the new (and odd) school year.
- 8/31: We're oiling up the gears to start adding some more offerings for the children, who have had so many things taken away from them temporarily by COVID-19. These will be incremental changes and will take quite a while to re-establish. But the momentum is going from 1st gear to 2nd. Stay tuned!
- 8/26: In reaction to the local school district's plans, we will continue to hold our current ministry plans for youth and children, with particular care for CDC guidelines on social distancing, masks, and hygiene. Should the district go into the Red Zone, we will convert to remote-only for those ministries until we can assess the situation at that time. Our preschool will follow the guidelines specific to their context set by the appropriate authoritative bodies.
- 8/21: The local school district has decided to start the school year in the Orange Zone, which means elementary students will be on a hybrid model and the middle school and high school students will be remote-only. They will reassess every few weeks. Sports have been suspended. The leadership of Grace Fellowship will now convene to decide how to position our ministries to children and youth and will communicate with the church body as soon as possible.
- 8/20: Things are changing fast! The local school district will be announcing their plans tomorrow (8/21) and so we will take their practices in consideration to determine our own policies for gathering, especially with our children.
- 8/19: The county has issued a statement affecting public schools. Currently, Johnson County is in the "red zone" - as long as we remain in that zone, schools will not be holding in-person classes, except for maybe the youngest ages. Since we often mirror decisions made by the local school district, this could affect decisions we make for our own ministries and activities. Stay tuned. https://www.kctv5.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/ae/faea5b3e-e194-11ea-a66b-335070786d93/5f3c3ff8e318d.pdf.pdf
- 8/17: Proverbs 26:20 says, "For lack of wood, a fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling will cease." In other words, when we stop gossiping, arguing tends to die down. Passing along half-truths or unvetted claims about COVID-19 is gossiping, and just fuels the useless arguing. Be sure of what you repeat so that we don't make a hard situation worse. We must be diligent to be truthtellers always in all situations.
- 8/12: We continue to monitor the local school district for the purpose of following their lead on re-opening. We are prepared to open up further or to go back into remote-only in short order, taking into serious consideration what the state, county, and school district recommend. We do not want another shelter-in-place order, but we are prepared for it.
- 8/10: How are you doing? If there is anything you want to talk out with someone, let the office know and a pastor or elder will contact you.
- 8/7: Read this article about the efficacy of masks: https://fox4kc.com/news/kansas-counties-with-mask-mandate-show-steep-covid-19-drop/.
- 8/5: Data shows that several recent outbreaks are related to family gatherings. We tend to think that family is less likely to transmit the virus than strangers, but that is not the case. Please exercise wisdom even while in your own homes.
- 7/30: We will be celebrating the Lord's Supper this Sunday, so before the worship service, have your bread and cup ready for your whole family.
- 7/29: Join us on Aug 5 online to pray for our local schools, the principals, and the administrators. They have very difficult decisions to make, and no matter what they do, a large group of people will be upset. It's a tough leadership challenge, and we can support them in prayer. See Grace Notes for details.
- 7/28: Now that we've been in this a while and all the signs point to many more months of reacting to Coronavirus, now is a great time to take stock. Take some time to do a self-checkup ... "How am I doing physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? What have I been neglecting "until this thing blows over"? Since this thing isn't going to blow over anytime soon, we can't afford to put our own well-being on hold. We've got to have healthy habits now for the time we're in instead of waiting for things to clear up. Take stock, be honest with yourself, ask others how they think you're doing in these categories, and make adjustments for your own sake. We've made all kinds of changes to accommodate a virus - we certainly can make changes to accommodate our well-being.
- 7/27: We're seeing more of our church family return to the building for our worship gathering, while practicing social distancing and masking. Once you get used to it, it's less cumbersome. Not the same, of course, but still an improvement from seeing someone only on a screen. If you feel comfortable, we'd love to see you in person on Sundays.
- 7/23: Blue Valley school district has announced their plans for the school year, starting 9/9/2020. They will offer on-site and online classes, and will install modifications to their facilities to reduce the chance of transmitting diseases, such as partitions at student desks and staff desks. Grace Fellowship can now begin planning their children's and youth programs to coordinate with the school district. More details coming.
- 7/22: On a 5-5 vote, the Board of Education rejected the governor's order for starting schools after Labor Day. It appears that each school district will be making their own decisions. We will monitor Blue Valley School District's plans in order to coordinate our children and student ministries. The district's status page is here: https://www.
- 7/20: For our children's programs, preschool, and Awana, we will be following the general practices of the local school district in terms of timing and practices, in general. We might not start everything on the same day, for example, but our practices and calendar will take the local school practices into consideration. We don't intend to be drastically more restrictive or drastically more permissive.
- 7/16: The governor announced yesterday that an executive order is coming on Monday to postpone the start of public schools until 9/9/2020. Grace Garden (our preschool) and our Awana program tend to follow the local public school calendar, so our starting dates will also be affected. We are not yet ready to publish those dates.
- 7/13: Here's a good article in Forbes on the science behind the efficacy of masks: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/07/10/ask-ethan-what-is-the-science-behind-wearing-a-mask/#2a35e9745f3c
- 7/9: We don't suggest that the COVID-19 is God's specific punishment for specific sins. However, things like diseases are the result of a fallen universe that sin perpetrated. Furthermore, we believe the sovereign God uses things like diseases to accomplish His greater will. Join us in praying for God to accomplish His purpose and to rescue the world from this disease. Pray for Him to lead leaders and scientists, and for them to receive His leading.
- 7/6: Although we'd prefer not to have to wear masks when singing together and discussing the Word together, we realize that having masks on allows us to meet in person rather than going through another shutdown. So, we're grateful for that aspect. We pray for God to deliver us from this so that we have no restrictions. Remember those believers in other parts of the world who meet together under severe penalty by their governments - our inconveniences remind us to pray for their harsh restrictions.
- 7/4: For our gathering tomorrow, remember that if you'll be on-site, bring your ask. And if you'll be online, have your bread and juice or wine ready before we gather since we'll be sharing the Lord's Supper together.
- 7/2: The state and the county have affirmed a mask mandate effective 12:01 AM on 7/3/2020. Therefore, we ask that all who will join us on-site Sunday morning to wear their masks. The worship team and pastor will remove theirs only when they are on stage keeping 6 ft of distance.
- 6/30: The governor has issued a statewide mask requirement starting Friday, July 3. We will monitor to see if that order changes any by then, but we advise you to make sure you have a good mask or two before then. We have been recommending masks, but if this order stands, we will require them. However, we are waiting for the text of the order to know what conditions there might be.
- 6/25: The building is ready for the gathering (up to 45 people). With the increasing rate of COVID-19 cases in the county, we remind you to take whatever precautions you feel necessary to worship with us on-site or online. The CDC has just strengthened their advice to wear masks in public. Pastor Colby will be wearing a mask (except to preach) to remind everyone to take proper precautions.
- 6/24: The county numbers for new cases is on an uptick. We have not altered our plans to welcome up to 45 people for our Sunday service. Keep reading reliable sources of aggregate data and make informed choices. You are more than welcome to wear a mask during the worship gathering for extra precaution.
- 6/23: All indications are that we will have fully-functioning restrooms by Sunday, so we look forward to seeing more of you in person! The remodel looks great!
- 6/22: We continue to increase the number of people joining us onsite, and the bathrooms are supposed to be completely done by this coming Sunday. We'd love to see you in person as soon as you are able and feel safe.
- 6/20: We will have a special breakout session for children this Sunday. See Grace Notes for instructions.
- 6/16: We're ready for up to 45 people on Sunday, but be forewarned, we still have only one commode available while the bathrooms are being remodeled. The Phase 3 numbers for Johnson County have not begun to decrease as of the latest statistics available. We continue to monitor, and encourage you to do the same.
- 6/11: We continue to monitor the spikes that are occurring with reopening businesses and churches. You can also check by going to the county COVID-19 website: https://www.jocogov.org/coronavirus-covid-19-update and the trending data here: https://public.tableau.com/profile/mapper.of.the.day.mod.#!/vizhome/covid19_joco_public/Dashboard .
6/9: Please see Grace Notes this Friday (6/12) for important announcements about our plans for regathering in the building, including plans for this coming Sunday.
- 6/8: The floors are finishing up this week, but the bathroom remodel is going to take a couple of weeks. Therefore, we are still limited in the number of people who can join us onsite. If you're interested in joining us onsite this Sunday, please contact Pastor Colby to see if there's room.
- 6/4: Click here for a video by the Bible Project on the biblical view of "justice."
- 6/1: We are grieved over two infectious diseases harming our country today: COVID-19 and racial discord. We pray for healing for our bodies and our hearts.
- 5/29: The new flooring will be installed next week (first week of June), so the office will be closed all week.
- 5/28: The rules have changed. The county has now changed to recommended rather than required phases. (See https://www.kansascity.com/
news/coronavirus/ article243044401.html.) Our plans remain the same for now, but we have more options to consider. Our building remodel makes it impossible for us to return to open doors at for the new few weeks regardless. Stay tuned.
- 5/27: You can keep up to date and even sign up for daily email updates from Johnson County at the following website: https://www.jocogov.org/coronavirus-covid-19-update.
- 5/26: There have been some articles in the news about an increase in suicides with COVID-19 as a likely contributor. Stress and anxiety are normal responses, but they are also insidious. If you have not checked out the "Counseling resources" on this page, please do. The best way to manage this is to develop good habits before stress becomes a problem. If stress and anxiety have already started to cause you difficulty in daily life, please reach out to Pastor Colby or a mental healthcare professional. We're in this together!
- 5/25: Now that we're in Phase 2, we're working on getting all the tech in place we need for Phase 3 (we continue to wrestle with some automated tools on our audio that make our balance and volumes difficult to maintain). Phase 3 has been modified to a limit of 45 people (down from the original plan of 90). We are still having only worship team, tech, and the pastor in the building on Sunday mornings. Furthermore, remodeling continues in the building, so we can't physically hold more than a few dozen at a time even without any COVID restrictions.
- 5/21: Johnson County entered Phase 2 today, which means we can now gather up to 15 people in the church building. The plan is still for most of our congregation to join us online, so for this phase, family members of the worship team, tech team, and pastor are welcome to join us in the building on Sunday mornings. For others, please check with Pastor Colby before joining us in person so that we can maintain the 30 person limit. Furthermore, the building is undergoing major projects of remodeling, so the building itself is not ready for many people.
- 5/20: How are you doing? No, really ... how are you doing? If you want to talk some things out, please contact your shepherding elder, Pastor Colby, or some other mature believer you trust. Not talking is one way we multiply our problems. Catch things before they become deeply problematic. Preventing anxiety is easier than recovering from it.
- 5/19: We look forward to adding more musicians to the worship team this Sunday as we test out the capacities of our online services. Also, we are looking into options to provide us a clean "Plan B" if our service provider experiences another outage on a Sunday morning. Also note that work continues on the interior of the church building while it remains at minimal usage. The office will experience truncated hours during that time.
- 5/18: Our first service with the worship team and pastor leading from the church building while the rest were on Zoom worked well. Even with the last-minute change to which video platform we needed to use, we had our first "hybrid" worship service with people onsite and others online. As the county opens up, we will add more people onsite.
- 5/15: We are set for the worship team and pastor to lead the worship service from the church building this Sunday, while the rest of the congregation joins us by Zoom as we have been over the last several weeks.
- 5/14: We will have an all-church open discussion Sunday morning about our plans to reopen, plus a chance to pray for Grace Fellowship.
- 5/12: We will soon call a meeting of all the elected leaders of the congregation to start laying out specific plans for re-opening the facility. Stay tuned for that announcement.
- 5/11: Johnson County opened Phase 1 today, with a maximum of 10 people in a location. That will allow us to attempt to bring worship music and the message from the worship center, while the rest of the congregation still gathers online until the next phase opens.
- 5/7: Remember to vet all the information you read about COVID-19. There is false information being spread on both ends of the spectrum of what's the best approach. We wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Read the views that challenge yours, too.
- 5/6: No announcements just yet, but progress is being made on slowly bringing everyone back into the same building. The first phase is likely to start within the next few weeks.
- 5/5: Please check out the new section called "Counseling Resources" for some excellent advice from one of our own.
- 5/4: It's clear people are starting to show wear and tear from the duration of social distancing. It appears that we will need to practice social distancing in various forms for many months. If you are experiencing sheltering fatigue, don't ignore it! Let someone close to you know what you're feeling and think about creative ways counteract what you're feeling. And if you're really experiencing distress, now is the time to contact someone trained to help you walk through these concerns. If you need a referral to a Christian counselor, please contact the church office. We have a list of recommended counselors.
- 5/2: The state and county officials have laid out their plans for re-opening. We're still restricted to only small gatherings at least through the middle of the month. Stay tuned! We do not yet have a start date for being able to meet in person. When we are allowed to have 50 people, we may start meeting soon after that - but we'll have to stay within the 50 person limit. We will continue to have an online worship service as long as we're restricted to fewer people that we normally have.
- 4/30: All regular attenders should have received an email from the chairman of the Elder Board, Cliff, about our plans to start gathering in person over the next several weeks and months, phasing in our onsite activities deliberately and patiently. If you did not receive it, please contact the church office.
- 4/28: Watch Grace Notes this Friday for an update on the plans to phase back into meeting in person.
- 4/27: The state will be lifting some restrictions in early May. We continue to monitor official statements and data. We don't anticipate making any decisions this week.
- 4/23: Various governments in our area are discussing when to open things back up again. We have members in cities, counties, and even states. We are considering all the statements we can, not just those for Overland Park and Johnson County. It is premature for us to make any speculations at this time.
- 4/21: Lord, may our change in circumstances reveal to us any idols that we've had unknowingly and may You remove the hold they've had on our hearts. While we are trying to keep our bodies clean from a virus, work on our hearts to clean them from any sin or misplaced loyalty. We trust that even in the midst of a pandemic You can do great things, including in the hearts of those who love you.
- 4/20: We are monitoring the local and state declarations for sheltering. You may have read that some declarations affecting churches have met legal challenges and been rescinded. However, our decision to reconvene in person is not related to the soonest possible day we're allowed to meet, but when we believe it is the best societal decision for the safety of our members and our community, as well as best representation of Jesus. Pray for the church leaders to be wise. Note that when we do start meeting again in person, we are planning on having online options for those who are not yet ready to mingle in public.
4/18: Put politics aside and pray for our leaders in every sector of society. They need God's wisdom even if they don't acknowledge Him.
4/17: We look forward to "seeing" our church family on Sunday morning as we switch our technology a little so that we can have more interaction. COVID-19 will not prevail against the church!
4/14: Our elders have been praying and discussing how to look forward to when we meet in person again - under what conditions, with what adaptations, with what technology, etc. We don't know when that will be, but we want to be ready when it's the right time.
4/13: We pray for the defeat of this disease and for wisdom for all decisionmakers in our faith communities, business, and government. We pray for God to lead the researchers to find a vaccine and cure. We pray for the Church to lovingly and boldly proclaim the Good News available in Christ as the world is seeing how fragile "life as normal" is. We pray that the followers of Christ would treat sin like a pandemic, changing every aspect of life in order to avoid it.
4/10: Today is Good Friday. May your heart be drawn to the depth of the love and sacrifice Jesus displayed for us on the Cross. He is now resurrected and on the throne, and so all is well. Jesus says in John 16:33, “In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”
4/9: We are looking forward to Resurrection Day online on Sunday, but also when we will be able to have a re-scheduled Easter weekend in person sometime soon, with our own Good Friday, Easter brunch, and Easter worship service together.
4/8: New video from Pastor Colby! Click here: https://www.wevideo.com/view/1642189037
4/7: Resurrection Day is coming! The church building being empty reminds us of the tomb that was empty. The space is empty, but the church still exists! Wherever our members are, there our church is. COVID-19 will not stop the Church from being the Church. Be encouraged!
4/6: We're grateful to God that our church family has remained safe through this pandemic, and we pray for our neighbors and our city for God to stay this disease. We grieve for the loss that has occurred, especially mindful of the predictions that the next couple of weeks are likely to be the most devastating.
4/4: All systems are "go" for meeting online tomorrow at 10:15 AM. But don't forget Monday through Friday. If you need help connecting up with a small group, let us know. They are moving online!
4/3: Our elders are continuing to check on our flock, especially the more susceptible members of our family, to make sure we're all doing well. If you have a particular need, please let us know. So far, our members are safe, although there are some job impacts as there are in every church. Remember to pray for your church family.
4/2: The latest data suggests that we are going to be in this mode for several more weeks. So, pace yourselves for the long haul, keep yourself spiritually and physically healthy, rest, and maintain a pace that you can keep for the weeks ahead. If you are starting to get anxious or lonely, but all means contact us! We're here for you in all circumstances.
4/1: We have a plan for Easter! We will not be able to meet in person on the traditional Easter weekend April 10-12. But we're still going to celebrate Easter together. As soon as we can meet in person again, we'll take a couple of weeks to get settled, and then we'll have our Easter weekend! Whenever that is. We'll do Good Friday on that Friday, our Easter brunch on that Sunday morning, and then our Easter worship service after that. Stay tuned!
Counseling resources: see above
Johnson County COVID-19 Status page: See local status and updates: https://www.jocogov.org/coronavirus-covid-19-update
CDC on COVID-19: The US Center for Disease Control’s up-to-date resources on coronavirus.• https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
CDC Resources for Community and Faith-Based Organizations: The CDC has also created resources specifically for faith-based organizations to respond to an influenza pandemic, which are applicable in this situation.• https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/archived/community-planning.html
Managing Anxiety Around Coronavirus Coverage: The American Psychological Association created this resource to help manage anxiety around coverage of COVID-19.• https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/pandemics
Addressing Mental Health Issues: This resource from the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network provides guidelines for addressing mental health issues that may arise and offers advice for messaging, including among children, older adults, people with disabilities, and those in quarantine. https://app.mhpss.net/?get=354/mhpss-covid19-briefing-note-final_26-february-2020.pdf
Ideas for talking with your kids: https://www.wdsu.com/article/a-guide-to-keeping-your-child-safe-and-reassured-as-coronavirus-spreads/31242886#
Coloring book for kids to talk about coping: https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/readywrigley/documents/RW_Coping_After_a_Disaster_508.pdf
Living in Plague Times by Philip Yancey: https://philipyancey.com/living-in-plague-times
Article on child abuse reporting concerns: http://kmbc.com/article/decrease-in-child-abuse-reporting-concerns-advocates/31960828?src=app
Impact on children related to abuse, food insecurity, lack of school support: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/coronavirus-impact-potentially-catastrophic-for-millions-of-children-un-report-says/
Potential mental health issues for patients on extended ventilator/ ICU stays: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/15/us/coronavirus-icu-delirium/index.html
Coronavirus and depression/ anxiety: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-depression-anxiety.amp.html
Impact of Coronavirus on health care workers: https://www.vox.com/2020/4/2/21204402/coronavirus-covid-19-doctors-nurses-health-care-workers
Impact of finances and loneliness, https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/24/mental-health-coronavirus-lockdown-helplines
A great resource for reputable news sources on mental health related to coronavirus: https://www.bu.edu/sph/tag/mental-health/
Addiction resource list online: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/health/coronavirus-sobriety-online-help.html?campaign_id=154&emc=edit_cb_20200430&instance_id=18083&nl=coronavirus-briefing®i_id=101421390&segment_id=26257&te=1&user_id=81df6c06a3e5b9660d43071e739e9982
Resources for Parents: https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/
Family Resources: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/health-safety/keeping-kids-healthy/development/supporting-mental-wellness-and-family-life-during-covid-19/