APRIL 24 UPDATE: We posted a video update that you can view on YouTube.
In light of the new executive order from Governor Ducey, I wanted to give you an update on how Desert Hills is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic for the month of April (for previous updates, see this and this).
The governor’s order requires us to stay at home except for engaging in essential activities. Under essential activities, the governor has listed many notable activities, including outdoor recreational activities (like hiking and golfing), hardware and supply stores, salons and barbershops, and engaging in constitutionally protected activities like assembling for religious purposes. On the governor’s website, the explanation of the order says that essential activities include, among other things, “Engaging in constitutionally protected activities such as speech and religion, the democratic process to include voting any legal or court process provided that such is conducted in a manner that provides appropriate physical distancing to the extent feasible” (https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/03/new-executive-order-stay-home-stay-healthy-stay-connected). This order upholds our constitutionally-protected right to gather for worship on Sunday mornings, and it asks that if we decide to do so, that we provide appropriate physical distancing to the best of our ability.
Therefore, Desert Hills will continue to give you the option of attending worship on Sunday mornings in person. We will continue to livestream the service as well for those who decide to stay home on Sundays.
If you are in a vulnerable demographic (you are over 65 years old or have underlying health conditions, etc.) or if you have ongoing contact with someone in a vulnerable demographic, we would strongly encourage you to stay home on Sundays. If you have symptoms of any illness or if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we direct you to stay home on Sundays until you are completely recovered or until a 14-day period from your exposure has passed without sign of illness. If you test positive for COVID-19, please contact me immediately so I can pray for you and also take any necessary steps to communicate to others who might have been exposed in our church family. To date I do not know of anyone who is a member or regular attender of Desert Hills who has tested positive for COVID-19. Praise God for that, and I pray that continues if it is His will.
If none of the above applies to you, then we encourage you to make a decision prayerfully about whether you will gather with us on Sundays or stay home and watch online. If you decide to attend, we want to honor the governor’s order to keep appropriate physical distance; therefore, for those who attend, please follow the following guidance:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who is not a member of your household
- Use sanitizer (provided by the entry doors) upon entry and departure from church
- No shaking hands, hugging, and definitely no holy kisses. But seriously, keep a safe distance from others of at least 6 feet, which means no hugs or handshakes. We’ll have a big group hug when these orders have been lifted!
- Spread out around the worship center to keep appropriate distance from others during worship
- Please leave the campus when the service ends. If you want to have extended fellowship with others, please do so off-campus
All of the same caveats and conditions we currently have are still in place regarding not having a nursery, greeters, bulletin, etc.
Our plan is to have these conditions in place through April 30. We will re-evaluate on a daily basis as the situation unfolds, and if anything changes, we will let you know immediately.
Finally, all other events are either canceled or moved to Zoom for April. You can check the church calendar to see what events are on Zoom (any events listed are Zoom events) and which events have been canceled or postponed. AWANA has been canceled for the year, and your AWANA leaders will be communicating with you how your kids can finish their books, if you have children participating in AWANA.
Thanks for your continued prayers and support. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the elders and deacons for any needs you have as we all try to support each other through this pandemic. We love you and are praying for all of you.