May 29, 2020

Dear Hillcrest,

I wanted to take a moment to share with you what is happening as your staff team, Hillcrest leadership board and Nazarene district leadership board navigate the reopening of our church for worship together.  Let me begin by saying how proud I am of all who call Hillcrest home. Yes…we may not have been gathering together in person each Sunday, but we have never been closed. I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for all of you as you have found creative ways to share Christ’s love with each other and those around you in your neighborhoods and communities.

As we have begun moving through Washington State 4 Phase Guidelines for reopening these last three weeks, we have been in almost daily communication with our Nazarene district leadership, our fellow Vancouver Nazarene pastors as well as other denominational pastors in greater Vancouver. All of these leaders (myself included) can’t wait to reopen our worship services. We also desire to be sensitive to our witness in the community and the message we are sending to others by our behavior. As a group we are finding it very difficult to navigate and make sense of the ever-changing updates and statements from state and national leaders.

On May 26, our Nazarene District Advisory Board issued 10 guidelines for Nazarene churches as we move forward based on our current realities. You will be able to find these guidelines below.

On May 27, your Hillcrest leadership board met and prayerfully considered the district guidelines; the CDC guidelines; the latest revisions to the Washington State 4 phase guidelines; liability insurance guidelines as well as what area Nazarene Churches are doing and came to follow conclusions:

  • We will continue to follow the Washington Phased Approach for reopening our public worship services as advised by our district leadership.
  • We will continue to follow the CDC guidelines for communities of faith as both national, state and Nazarene leadership have instructed.
  • We will review where the Phased Approach is at every two weeks to determine if we will continue on this course. We will keep you updated on our progress.
  • We will work in partnership with our area Nazarene churches so that as we reopen our buildings for worship, we send a united message and model a God-honoring approach to a watching community.
  • Since the safety of every person who calls Hillcrest home is a priority to us we are preparing the facility and putting into place a well-developed plan for deep cleaning as we prepare for public gatherings again.

I will close this letter with the words from our district leadership…

We believe that the single greatest issue we face is our missional witness to a watching world. These are days of uncommon opportunity to disciple people to follow Jesus, both the truths He taught and the way He walked. We intend to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

We recognize that this approach will not be met with total agreement by our entire district. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” It is a common mistake to identify meekness with weakness. The definition we like best is power under control. “We don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand.”

Hillcrest Family, God’s Great Commandment calls us to love the Lord and love the people around us, so as we make our way through the coming days together, let’s live, love and lead like Jesus.

Pastor Tim

Washington Pacific District Church Guidelines

WaPac Churches,

With a hope to add clarity and an intent to provide guidelines for the Washington Pacific District Churches of the Nazarene, the District Advisory Board met in a special session. We believe that the single greatest issue we face is our missional witness to a watching world. These are days of uncommon opportunity to disciple people to follow Jesus, both the truths He taught and the way He walked. We intend to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

These are the guidelines for WaPac District Churches to follow:

  1. Focus your attention on creative ways to share the love of Christ where you have influence. Develop and strengthen ministries of pastoral care and compassion.
  2. Continue to focus on prayer and discover creative ways to teach and encourage discipleship.
  3. While we understand the rationale of a first amendment argument for gathering for worship, we do not believe demanding our rights is a mission fit for us. We choose to assign good intent to our leaders even when we do not agree with their decisions, mandates, or views.
  4. We will be careful and respectful when sharing our opinions on social media.
  5. We believe that COVID-19 is a real health concern. An outbreak in one of our local churches could be destructive to our witness and tragic because many in our congregations are in the at-risk category.
  6. We will follow the CDC Guidelines for Communities of Faith as both the President of the United States and the Governor of the State of Washington have instructed. Those guidelines instruct us to, “establish and maintain communication with local and state authorities to determine current mitigation levels in your community.”
  7. We will cooperate with Washington’s Phased Approach for reopening our public worship. When we see inequity in treatment of faith communities, we will raise those issues in ways consistent with who we are as representatives of Christ.
  8. We will take seriously the care of our congregations both young and old by having a well-developed plan for deep cleaning and preparing our churches for public gathering.
  9. We will “be devoted to one another in love, honoring one another above ourselves” when it comes to requests to keep everyone virus free, even if we do not agree.
  10. We will make it our responsibility to alleviate suffering by supporting first responders and health care professionals, caring for those physically infected by the virus and supporting members of our congregations and community struggling with employment.

We recognize that this approach will not be met with total agreement by our entire district. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” It is a common mistake to identify meekness with weakness. The definition we like best is power under control. “We don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand.”

Jerry Kester, District Superintendent
Ben Norris, District Secretary
District Advisory Board – Craig Laughlin, Dave Ness, David Rodes, Ev Tustin, Tim Westerberg, Scott Cantrell, Debbie Edgbert, Randy Freeby, Dick Halvorson, Debbie Kuykendall