November 17, 2020 Update
– Governor Reynolds instituted new targeted temporary mitigation measures from Nov 17 to Dec 10.
– Given the safety policies (mask encouraged, spaced out, etc.) that have already been used in our weekend and Salt Company gatherings, we plan to continue to gather for corporate worship.
– For Connection Groups / In-Home Meetings, we are temporarily pausing groups or meeting virtually from now until December 10.
– For any in our congregation who are vulnerable or concerned with Covid exposure, we encourage you to continue to join us for worship online at cornerstonelife.com/live.
– We are grateful for God’s kindness to our church and we praying for His grace on our city, our state, and our nation.
- We cherish gathering together as a church more than ever during this time! At Cornerstone, we have three service times: 8:00a, 9:30a and 11:00a.
- During our public worship services we are resolved to gather wisely and follow all state and local health guidelines. To make our gathering low risk to the individual and no risk of large spread to our community, we stay 6ft apart, limit service length, and wear masks while indoors. For more information, please read our full Guidelines for In-Person Worship Gatherings.
- The various ministries of Cornerstone Church follow the same general health guidelines as they operate creatively and safely.
- If you want to get a more in-depth perspective on how the elders of Cornerstone have approached these decisions, listen to the episode of our Equip Podcast titled “How Should the Church Gather?”
- Cornerstone Kids classrooms will be open during all services for crawlers-4 year olds with updated policies and procedures.
Why are we taking health precautions as we meet to worship?
Our primary motivations of modifying our services to gather safely are two-fold: first, submission to governing authorities and second, love for our neighbor.
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown worldwide and in our country, public health officials have encouraged measures to slow the spread of the disease. One of the keys to containment of this disease and limitation of community spread is the practice of physical distancing and mask wearing. Our state governor has strongly encouraged all Iowans to wear masks when gathered in groups. So, in honor Romans 13, our gatherings have tried to follow the guidelines provided by our governing authorities.
Love has also been a primary motivation for our church to find creative and safe ways to gather. We love Ames, Iowa and want to be a great part of this community! In particular, we understand the risk of widespread community transmission of this disease is increased when large groups of people gather. Even if the risk of infection is low in our local community, when strong methods of intervention are adopted widely there is a greater opportunity to lower the total number of infections and the overall death rate in our state and country.
Additionally, while the full extent of the dangers of this disease are still being uncovered, it is clear that COVID-19 presents a significant health danger to vulnerable members of our community – namely the elderly and immunocompromised.
As such, we are glad to voluntarily modify our gatherings of worship to express submission and love in this time of global pandemic.
Has Cornerstone considered offering “no-mask” services?
Our elders have decided it is the best to encourage the use of masks in all indoor services of public worship and in all gatherings where physical distancing cannot be required.
As we walk forward, our elders have landed on this key operating principle — As we gather, we follow the guidance we’ve received to create a low risk (not no risk) for individuals and no risk for larger community spread. So, we stay spaced apart, we wear masks while indoors, and engage in worship together. In particular, medical guidance has urged the use of masks as churches gather due to the size of our gatherings and our practice of corporate worship.
In our local community masking is required or strongly encouraged in almost all major business and institutions. In our state, the governor has repeatedly urged Iowans to use masks when gathered in public to limit the spread of Covid-19. We want to be part of limiting the spread of Covid-19 so we can keep as much of “normal life” in our community open as possible.
Throughout all of this — we want to be clear and kind in our approach. Our elders know that in our church – we have folks who will come at this issue from different perspectives personally and individually as families– Good, godly, wonderful people can and should reach different conclusions and can have different risk tolerances. And we all know as a church — the issue of masking isn’t something that should divide the church in these difficult times. By following the guidelines our elders have established, we are continuing to gather and growing our unity as a church.
Aren’t governments restricting too much / taking away religious liberties? Should churches be exercising the right to gather freely and work in opposition to governing orders?
In this time of Coronavirus, certain churches have moved toward worshipping with no restrictions motivated by a desire to honor God, obey Hebrews 10, and a conviction that government authorities have no right to restrict Christians in worship. In general, churches with this approach see the Coronavirus as less serious on a public health level and also have serious concerns with government overreach and limitations on religious freedom.
At Cornerstone, we empathize with this much in this position. We share a deep desire to worship. We also see that much has changed in our understanding of the Coronavirus as the pandemic has progressed. And we cherish our religious freedoms in America.
However, our elders have decided that our gatherings should operate in full compliance with restrictions required by federal, state, and local health officials so far as those guidelines are temporary, reasonable, neutral, and generally applicable. We believe that Al Mohler’s argument from his August 3rd Briefing is a fair reflection of our position. He states, “If the regulation or the policy is neutral and generally applicable, then it probably is justified, at least in some sense for some time… A church or a religious camp or a Christian school would follow the same health regulations as any other enterprise of similar size and operation in this society.”
We realize that the application of this stance is more difficult in many contexts where gatherings are severely limited with no end date in sight. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a complicated situation of multiple and diverse and overlapping jurisdictions – we have 50 governors with 50 states, and we also have health regulations that are handed down by local officials.
However, we believe that Scripture clearly commands obedience to governing authorities in Romans 13 and this applies during this time of global pandemic. We believe that our voluntary and temporary alterations to our normal mode of worship can communicate love for our neighbors and enhance the witness of Christ in the world. We believe this novel Coronavirus remains a health threat and we should live with wisdom and creativity in these times. Therefore, we obey governing restrictions even as we gather to worship weekly, motivated by honor of God, not by fear of man.
How can I continue to give to Cornerstone Church while we are not gathering for services?
Your giving continues to be an important act of worship. You can continue to faithfully give online or by mail.
To give online, simply visit cornerstonelife.com/give.
If you prefer to give by mail, you can send checks payable to “Cornerstone Church” and mail to: Cornerstone Church, 56829 U.S. Hwy 30, Ames, IA 50010.
Where can I get solid information about the Coronavirus?
The following websites publish responsible and helpful information on public health and the spread of the Coronavirus:
For specific to Iowa information, we regularly consult our state-specific Coronavirus website.
How should I respond personally to this crisis?
On the level of personal physical health, we would urge you to follow the normal health precautions: to wash your hands regularly and stay home if you are feeling ill. In particular, you should strictly follow these guidelines if you are part of an at-risk population.
On the level of spiritual health, we need to lean on God’s truth to settle our hearts and guide us in trying times. Several truths can be a helpful reminder.
First, Romans 8:18-23 reminds us that all of creation is infected by the disease of the sin curse.
The sobering reality of this pandemic is a reminder that we live in a sin-cursed and fallen world. Suffering reminds us to cry out for Jesus to return to conquer the curse fully.
Second, Revelation 21:1-5 reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s guarantee that one day He will fully conquer sin and death! One day Jesus will come again and there will be no suffering, no sickness, and no death. We have a hope beyond the trials of this present age.
Third, in moments of anxiety and worry, Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us that we have a Father in heaven who knows our needs and cares for us personally.
Fourth, 1 Timothy 2:1-4 reminds us to pray. We should pray for the sick and for endurance for medical professionals who will provide care. We should pray for wisdom for government officials. We should pray for one another in the body of Christ. We should pray that God would use this crisis to call people to Himself.
In all of this, we want to live by four key principles as a church: Wisdom, Kindness, Creativity, and Faith-Filled Optimism.
- Wisdom – Be smart, be safe and live wisely.
- Kindness – As Augustine has urged – “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” We are committed as the people of Christ to be kind at all times, even to those from whom we differ.
- Creativity – Instead of focusing on what we can’t do — we will innovate into what we CAN DO.
- Faith-Filled Optimism – God is at work! The Gospel is powerful!