Beginning November 1, we will be gathering in Alumni Chapel on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for our Sunday morning service. 

Click here our church's response to the coronavirus.

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Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30am for Sunday School & 10:45am for worship

Coronavirus Update

October 16, 2020 Update

Dear Clifton Family,

In this video, we announce our plan to begin gathering weekly as a whole congregation while still abiding by recommended health guidelines. Beginning November 1, we will be gathering in Alumni Chapel on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for Sunday morning service. Details and explanation are in the video.

A lot of work and prayer went into this plan, and we are excited about the coming weeks in the life of our church. What a gift it is to be all together regularly. Hit play on the video and enjoy.

In Christ,
JP

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July 1, 2020 Update

The guidance from May 2020 is still current however, section 3. A Portion of Our Congregation May Choose to Gather has been updated. You will notice that we are no longer splitting the congregation by last names. At this time, we are limiting capacity through the use of RSVPs. Please see the update below.

3. A Portion of Our Congregation May Choose to Gather.

Some of our congregation will choose to gather in reduced numbers. It’s certainly not the whole church gathering we long for, but it can still have the benefits of encouragement and fellowship. For those who choose to gather, we’ll keep the ability to social distance by by capping our attendance through the use of RSVPs.*

  • RSVP Members who have not exhibited any signs of illness, with or without fever, within the previous 14 days are welcome to join us each week. We ask that you RSVP no later than the Friday prior to the service you plan to attend. If you receive confirmation of your RSVP, then you are free to join us each week. Please click here to RSVP for the upcoming service.

  • Any guests who visits us will be welcomed. This is a way our membership can serve those who may be seeking a word from the Lord. Guests or vistitors are not required to RSVP. We have capped our RSVPs at a safe limit to allow space for anticipated guests and visitors each week.

*We believe that with the folks that either need to stay home from illness or choose to stay home for any other reason, capping the attendance through the RSVP will allow us to comply with best practices regarding our ability to distance in the auditorium. Our governor currently asks that we not exceed 50% occupancy of our building.

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May 20, 2020 Update

Phase One Plan for Partial Gatherings

The Present Situation

In a word, the present situation we find ourselves in is unclear. This is true both of the governmental guidelines we are receiving and the actual threat level of the COVID-19 currently.

Regarding governmental guidelines, federal and state guidelines don’t always line up. Both have shifted themselves a number of times. Furthermore, there’s disagreement among the federal judiciary and state legislature about how binding these directives are for houses of worship. Unclear is the right word.

Regarding the actual threat level of COVID-19 currently, we hear reports that our country has flattened the curve of new infections, greatly reducing the threat of overwhelming the healthcare system. We also hear reports of the latent threat the virus still poses and the likelihood of a second outbreak. People are still dying from the virus, yet the death rate is decreasing. Again, the word that comes to mind is unclear.

All this means that different perceptions of the threat have arisen—not only in our government, but also among neighbors, family, and friends. Even brothers and sisters in our own congregation have legitimate, differing views. How do we move forward wisely? 

The Heart Behind Our Response

We want to gather as a whole church as soon and as safely as possible. In fact, our church has not truly gathered until we’ve all gathered together in the same place at the same time under the same word. The tough part to figure out is what soon and safe mean in an unclear situation.

We believe the way forward is to focus on practices most widely acknowledged as beneficial to community health, then to allow freedom on practices less widely acknowledged as beneficial. As we make this distinction, we will do so in consultation with the Center for Disease Control guidelines, which also encourage consideration for state guidelines, while recognizing these are not legally binding directives.

Presently, the most widely acknowledged practices include quarantining sick or particularly vulnerable portions of the population, conducting frequent health checks of those gathering with others, washing hands and sanitizing spaces frequently, maintaining appropriate physical distance, and making appropriate use of facemasks. These may change with time.

Presently, less widely acknowledged practices include quarantining the entire population, restricting all gatherings, closing restrooms and public gathering spaces, restricting congregational singing, and strict enforcement of facemasks even when physical distancing.

We believe focusing on the right practices will allow us to navigate wisely both the reality of the threat and the perception of the threat. Both are not the same, though they are related. Regarding reality, we do not want to put our community in the way of actual harm. Regarding perception, we do not want to unnecessarily offend onlookers by seeming to be either reckless on one hand or intimidated on the other. 

Overview of Plan

In all phases, we are dedicated to include our entire membership in the life of our church. We will continue our Sunday livestream, weekly Wednesday email, and other online opportunities for discipleship. We will also keep in contact with everyone through personal communication. It may be awhile before our whole church is gathered, but that won’t stop us from being a whole church. 

But we would also like to begin partial Sunday morning gatherings on June 14. The purpose of these partial gatherings will not be to replicate our whole church gathering, but rather to allow for increased contact with one another for mutual encouragement as we wait for our actual regathering. At this point, only Sunday morning service is in this partial gathering plan, but we may add other smaller gatherings in the weeks to come. 

Partial Gathering

So, what does partial mean? In order to observe the practices most widely acknowledged as beneficial, we can only gather in our building if we reduce the number of people entering into it at the same time.

This reduction is no simple matter. Our people are in a variety of situations regarding their personal health, their occupational exposure to potential carriers, the age range of their families, and even their own opinion regarding governmental restrictions. We wish to be sensitive to these differences, while having a unified strategy for regathering. Given these realities, how will we end up with reduced numbers on a given Sunday morning?

1.   A Portion of Our Congregation Will Need to Stay Home

In this phase, we are asking that anyone who has exhibited any sign of illness, with or without fever, within the previous 14 days to not attend services. This is in keeping with the standards for workplaces and gatherings laid out by the CDC, and we think it is especially important in large group gathering. As we said, online services will remain so everyone can still participate.

2.   A Portion of Our Congregation May Choose to Stay Home 

In this phase, some of our members may choose to stay home out of concern for their own health or, conversely, out of concern about the restrictions being asked of them. As we said, the leadership remains dedicated to continue serving you remotely in the present phase.

  • Aged 65 and above. We know many of you are healthy and strong, and that 65 is just a number. But we also know the risk associated with this threshold according to many public health advisories. The danger to this age demographic is higher than any other, and we want you to preserve your health as best as you're able. You may choose to stay home for the time being. But if you feel that it is safe to gather, you are welcome.

  • At-Risk health conditions. If you are immunocompromised in any way that makes you either more susceptible to illness in general or particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems (e.g., asthma), there is a greater threat to your health associated with larger gatherings. We want you to be safe at home. But if you feel that it is safe to gather, you are welcome.               

  • Uncomfortable with restrictions. Anyone who is uncomfortable with the guidelines below or thinks it is unlikely they will be able to comply with them may choose to stay home. The restrictions below will be uncomfortable for everyone, but for some it may be uncomfortable to the point of distraction from the purpose of gathering. We respect this decision if you think it serves you and your family best.

3.   A Portion of Our Congregation May Choose to Gather  

Some of our congregation will choose to gather in reduced numbers. It’s certainly not the whole church gathering we long for, but it can still have the benefits of encouragement and fellowship. For those who choose to gather, we’ll keep the ability to social distance by gathering intermittently while abiding by new hygiene practices.*  

  • Members with last names beginning A-K who have not exhibited any signs of illness, with or without fever, within the previous 14 days are welcome on June 14 & 28, July 12 & 26, and August 9 & 23.  

  • Members with last names beginning L-Z who have not exhibited any signs of illness, with or without fever, within the previous 14 days are welcome on June 21, July 5 & 19, and August 2 & 16. 

  • Any guests who visit us in this phase will be welcomed, yet informed publicly of our strategy for intermittent attendance. This is a way our membership can serve those who may be seeking a word from the Lord.

*We believe that with the folks that either need to stay home from illness or choose to stay home for any other reason, dividing the remaining portion of the congregation into two will keep us able to comply with best practices regarding our ability to distance in the auditorium. Our governor currently asks that we not exceed 33% occupancy of our building. As we all know from our renovation discussions, our realistic occupancy is currently 525, making our Phase One occupancy 175. (Our membership is around 440 people, plus children and guests. In total, we average around 600 people in the building on a Sunday morning. A third of this is 200.) Again, these directives have not been declared legally binding, yet our strategy to act according to physical distancing practices roughly aligns with this standard.   

How the Service and Space Will Be Set Up

Our partial gatherings will feel odd, maybe even frustrating. We’ll all feel that. But those negative feelings only prove the value of what we have. A wonderful community of young and old, sincerely glad to be with one another. Anything that hampers that will be tough. But it’s worth our effort to gather partially anyway.Our service will be 60 minutes long, which means we are not trying to replicate our whole-church gatherings. We will, however, worship the Lord corporately with the elements we’ve always believed are essential: the reading, singing, praying, and preaching the Word of God.Here are the most evident changes to the service in the present phase:

  1. No Sunday School, nursery, children’s ministry, or youth group services will be offered.

  2. Only the two Frankfort Ave entrances will be used.

  3. Passageways throughout the building will be restricted.

  4. In the auditorium, pews will be partially blocked off and without seat pads.

  5. Bulletins will be digital, to be used on personal devices.

  6. Ushers and other volunteers will clean with disinfectants before, during, and after service.

  7. We will keep room temperature cooler than usual because face masks have a tendency to make people feel too warm.

  8. When the service closes, we will dismiss by section.

What We Ask You to Do: A Quick Guide to Sunday AM

In addition to the setup we outlined above, each of us will have to actively participate as individuals. We ask those who gather to practice the following standards during Phase One. As we said, these practices will be uncomfortable and will even feel like they infringe on personal freedom. That’s because they do. But we believe these practices are a way of serving others at cost to self. We will reconsider each of these practices week-to-week in hopes of removing them as soon as we safely can. 

Getting Ready to Go

  1. Check our weekly communication to see if you’re scheduled to attend that week’s service and to RSVP if you plan to attend.

  2. Check the temperature of each family member planning to attend. If anyone is above 100.5°F, please keep the whole family home for at least 14 days.

  3. We suggest using the bathroom before you go. We’ll have a restroom open for urgencies only since they’re the highest risk area for germ transfer. The shorter service should help.

  4. Remember your cellular device for use as a bulletin in the service or download the bulletin on a tablet before leaving the house.

  5. Pack a cloth facemask for each family member over 2 years old. Facemasks protect others more than they protect yourself. We ask you to abide by this standard not because face masks seal out everything dangerous, but because they reduce the overall exchange of respiratory droplets, an important factor in contagionality of COVID-19. For more information, please see CDC guidance.

  6. We will be removing seat cushions, so pack a personal cushion if needed for comfort.

  7. As much as possible, please avoid residential street parking. We don’t want neighbors to be frustrated or fearful at too many people descending on their space. Please use Frankfort Ave, our lot, or the Kentucky Printing House for the Blind lots.

  8. As you approach the building, there may be a line since ushers will be seating everyone. Please stand on the marks we place 6 feet apart as you wait.

 In the Building

  1. Please wear facemasks while you are in the building. If in the service the mask causes you difficulty breathing or is making you faint, we want you to take the necessary measures to protect yourself. No judgment for keeping yourself conscious.

  2. Enter the building through the Frankfort Ave entrances.

  3. Ushers will help direct traffic and suggest seating, since pews will be partially blocked off. We will fill front sections front-to-back and rear sections back-to-front.

  4. Please refrain from handshakes, hugs, and other greetings that require physical contact. Even from behind a mask, a smile goes a long way.

  5. Do your best to maintain six feet of distance from people who are not part of your family.

  6. We will dismiss by sections at the close of the service. Enjoy the outside air!  

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March 12, 2020 Update

At the recommendation of medical professionals, including those at the Center for Disease Control, we have suspended our public gatherings indefinitely.

Until further notice, we will have no Sunday School or small groups, and no extra ministry gatherings. We have replaced our Wednesday evening prayer service with a video devotional from Pastor Jeremy and prayer guidance from Pastor David. Most significantly, we have replaced our main Sunday morning service with a livestream service of Pastor John leading us through the Word. A recommended order of service, with accompanied prayer points and songs, will be released each Friday in lieu of the Messenger. We hope this will feed you with the Word as we wait to gather again.

The livestream will become active at 10:30am and John's message will begin at 10:45am. You can find the link to the livestream and the Order of Service each Sunday by clicking here.

The principles that guided us to this decision are the following: 

1. Gathering is essential to who the church is. We are people redeemed in Christ gathering under the Word of God. Gathering is irreplaceable to church life. We are committed to gather in the long term (Heb 10:24-25).

  • The church through the ages has faced threats to life and liberty. Through them all, Christians entrust themselves to the providence of God while upholding the value of meeting to care for one another, pray with each another, and sit under the Word of God together. 

  • The life of the church requires presence, particularly in times of need, when the strong are told to uphold the weak.

    This is our long term commitment, even when present factors may disrupt this for a brief time.

2. Loving one another is essential to who the church is. Love for one another is primarily expressed in building each other up in love, so that we are formed after Christ (Eph 4:15-16). It is also expressed in caring for the physical needs of one another (2 Cor 9:1-15).

  • To love people is to consider how best to contribute to their good, based on the knowledge we have at time.

  • What we currently know is that a novel virus is spreading quickly without widespread availability of competent testing, let alone treatment.

  • Those who are most threatened by the virus are folks with weakened immune systems. Those who are most likely to introduce the virus to a new area are travelers. Those who are most likely vectors (bridges) of the virus, even without exhibiting many symptoms, are children.

  • Our church is characterized by the combination of children, folks who travel for work or vacation, and folks with weaker immune systems from age or illness. We take this seriously. We want to love our people well.

3. Loving our community is essential to who the church is. We are told to respect those in authority over us and to be as courteous as we can be while upholding the often counter-cultural values of the Kingdom of Christ (Titus 3:1-2).

  • The governor of Kentucky has asked churches not to gather. From the standpoint of seeking to reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread, this is a reasonable request. It is in keeping with the limited understanding we have of curtailing the spread of this particular virus. We also know there are confirmed cases in the city of Louisville. We respect the governor’s request.

  • In addition, we have many public servants in our church. Educators, retailers, and especially healthcare providers. Compromising folks in such professions is more of a public health threat potential.

4. Trusting God sometimes means holding to your plans no matter what, and sometimes means holding your plans with an open hand. Setting a plan based on known factors at the time is a godly thing to do, but it is humility to adjust plans when the factors shift significantly (Prov 16:9; 19:21; 20:18; 21:5).

  • This situation is extreme enough to indicate the latter. We can hold our plans with an open hand, confident that the Lord knows exactly what he’s doing in bringing this significant period of uncertainty into the lives of our people and community.

  • Uncertainty is the lack of clarity that comes from inadequate knowledge of a situation. In this case, because so many of the assumptions we make about healthcare, market behavior, and community expectations has shifted suddenly.

  • Even if we one day might retrospectively think of our society’s reaction to this as an overreaction, we are nevertheless in the moment of fresh, new urgencies still being figured out.

  • In other words, only God understands this entirely. We are only able to act wisely with the level of understanding we have.