Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

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UPDATE AS OF 7/31/20 AT 6:00 PM PST

We have been receiving many questions about when we are able to resume meeting in person on the weekends. We totally understand these concerns and questions. It is difficult to feel like we are a community when we are unable to meet. 

For the safety of our neighbors and in order to act in a loving way towards others, the best decision we can make is to not gather in large groups indoors for at least the rest of the year. Of course, this could change based on what happens in the next couple of months. But for now, that is the plan. 

Please take a moment to watch this video of Pastor Steve addressing Cornerstone’s plans moving forward:

Also, please check out this FAQ page where we address many of the questions we have received. 

UPDATE AS OF 7/1/20 AT 4:45 PM PST

As we continue to follow our state and varying county guidelines, our in-person re-gathering plan remains intact. We remain in Stage 1 and Stage 2 of that plan. With the county’s SIP restrictions still in place and the COVID-19 numbers still increasing, we are not yet moving into Stage 3. As a result, we will not be gathering at our facilities during the month of July. We will continue to gather online for now from our homes.

All of our campuses remain safely within Stage 1: Cornerstone at Home of our re-gather plan. This stage continues to allow awesome weekend teaching and worship AND online community groups for continued growth and discussion! We love being able to connect with everyone in this way!

Stage 2: Small Watch Parties are being discussed at the individual campus and individual safe cohort level. These Small Watch Parties are organized by you and are not publicized by Cornerstone.

As this season continues to unfold, as guidelines continue to adjust, and as we look into this new month, we are choosing hope. We are going to CHOOSE biblical hope by opening our Bibles and allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us, to encourage us. We would love for you to join us as we kick off a new weekend series, “Anchored;” as we focus on this HOPE that is available to anchor us in the midst of storms.

UPDATE AS OF 5/29/20 at 5:00 pm PST

Hey Cornerstone Family, 

Thanks to those of you who filled out our re-gather survey last week. It was really helpful to us. If you want to see the final results of the survey this link will take you there.

And, in this (rather long) email I am giving you important details regarding our plans in the upcoming weeks. Please read the whole thing. It will help you plan your engagement with Cornerstone this month.

As we move forward, we are moving toward in-person gatherings in 4 distinct stages:

Stage 1:  Cornerstone at Home - Happening Now

Stage 2:  Small Watch Parties - Happening Now

Stage 3:  Cornerstone Watch Parties - Coming Soon

Stage 4:  Worship Services on our Campuses Coming A Little Later

Today we are in Stage 1 and we will be adding Stage 2 this week.

But before we talk about the details allow me to pause and say this, I cannot believe we have been physically apart for ELEVEN WEEKS! 77 days of not physically gathering as a church. It feels like an eternity. We have all missed something so valuable to us, so necessary. We were created to be together, to hug, to pray, to sing.

I have been so impressed with you, how you have adjusted to church online, to groups online, to EVERYTHING online. It is incredible how we have remained connected while being apart. 

I have also been amazed at your generosity and your creativity to reach out locally to our neighbors who are in need. Our church has pressed forward like never before to love our neighbors in tangible ways as we have paid their rent, bought their groceries, dropped off cash, delivered dinner, and so much more. We daily hear of local needs that we can easily meet if you will continue to be generous. This season has opened the door for us to meet real needs. So, thanks!

Thank you for BEING the Church even though we haven’t been able to COME to church. The buildings have been locked but the Church has been open 24/7! These days are good days for the Church. In this pandemic, we have identified with Christians throughout the ages who have never allowed dark troubles to dim our light. Instead, our light shines brightest in the darkness!

As we unpack the June plans and speculate about July and beyond, I appreciate your trust and your patience. All of us are anxious to see each other, to gather like we used to. So, let’s talk about the 4 Stages that we believe are the safest and most satisfying way for us to move forward.


With the county’s SIP restrictions still in place and the COVID-19 numbers still increasing, we are not going to be gathering at our facilities during the month of June. We will continue to gather online for now from our homes. Someday later we will again gather in our buildings to fellowship with each other and worship God, but this really is the best plan for now. It is safer, plus if we gathered next weekend in our buildings under the current state and county regulations, it would be very unsatisfying for all of us. We could not offer you a cup of coffee or a donut or bagel when you arrive. You would be asked to enter on one marked path on the floor and then later exit by another path. We could not touch each other. Your children would always remain with you because we cannot guarantee social distancing in their classes. There would be less than 100 of us in the entire building, yet we would have to meet in the largest room because we must abide by 25% occupancy rates. In the worship service, we would all be socially distanced at least 6 feet apart with everyone wearing masks, and no one would be singing. We could not pass you the communion elements. You could not come close for prayer at the end of the service.

None of this sounds like a church service I want to lead or ask you to attend. I do not think you or your friends you are wanting to introduce to our church would enjoy this type of gathering. Plus, I don’t want to put our precious staff and volunteers at risk from someone attending who may not even know they are carrying the COVID-19 virus. We would all feel terrible if someone got sick because they attended Cornerstone. We have worked too hard for almost three decades to build the great reputation we have throughout the East Bay to foolishly squander that now.

We must weigh our constitutional right to gather against our Biblical responsibility to do what love requires.

Let me encourage you to attend Cornerstone online each weekend in June. You need to be in church every seven days, and right now, church is at home. If you are alone in your home, FaceTime or Zoom with a friend or family member during the service. If you are feeling safe with a small group of folks whom you have already been physically gathering with (the government calls this your “safe cohort”) then get together inside your home, or just outside on your patio, and enjoy the online service together.

This is what we are calling a Small Watch Party.


I envision Small Watch Parties springing up this next week. These would not be live services but simply gatherings where those of us needing to be with each other could enjoy watching the online service together. Your Small Watch Party could include your “safe cohort” or you could expand your circle a bit to invite a few more people who need fellowship and feel safe to you. These Small Watch Parties would be organized by you and not publicized by Cornerstone.

Then, in the next few weeks, Stage 3 could launch.


It’s the same idea as a Small Watch Party but now Cornerstone gets involved with a more open invitation on our social media platforms. We could train the leaders, handle registration, and keep the environments safe. We expect the county to relax the rules in a few weeks to allow slightly larger groups to legally gather. At that point, Cornerstone will have planned Watch Parties all over the East Bay, including on our campuses. These gatherings would most likely be groups of up to 100 people watching the weekend service live or later in the week. You and your friends could reserve places each week to be together. Watch Parties could catch on as people are introduced to our church in smaller groups where friendships are easily established and needs are quickly met. We believe that there are people who need to know Jesus who might attend a Watch Party before ever visiting a Cornerstone campus. Even after larger Cornerstone worship gatherings resume at a future date we are hoping that our Watch Parties would continue as groups that got to know each other during SIP and want to continue meeting.

Then, someday...Stage 4 is added.


Once enough of the restrictions are relaxed and we feel like we could offer you a satisfying worship experience, we will resume on-campus services. Weekends where our greeters would greet you, our kids & students programs would be open, and our worship would be live and energized by singing, laughter, prayer, communion, and a great sermon. I can’t wait!

But until then let’s keep on BEING the Church even though we cannot COME to a church building. At this point, I cannot give you a date when we will resume in-person worship services.

Pray for your church leaders as we navigate all this. That we don’t rush to place any of you in harm’s way, but we also don’t hesitate to call you together as soon as we can. We NEED to be together. Church gatherings are essential to us and to those who we serve. But we also need to be wise, even when we feel restless. We want to invite our local community to trust Christ, and often that starts once they trust us. So, pray that our decisions during this season are a good testimony to our neighbors. Somewhere in all of this, there is a balance. Pray that we strike that balance in the weeks and months to come.

And since we cannot gather in large groups in June, I want us all to truly believe that small gatherings are just as meaningful as large ones. Smaller gatherings make caring for individual needs much easier. Church is better in circles instead of rows. So, during this time, find your circle. If you are struggling to find fellowship with a few other believers hit this link and we’ll help connect you with some folks who want to meet you. Or maybe it’s time for you and your friends to make yourself into an official Cornerstone Community Group. This link will allow us to register your group and then support you.
In closing, I’d like to remind you that there are good people all over the spectrum when it comes to reopening churches. Let’s stay unified during this season. Don’t be baited by social media rants. And be gracious to people who have different views than you do. Our world is divided, and a divided world needs a united Church.

God is with us, and He is for us. Let’s be FOR each other.
The hope of the gospel is that Jesus Himself is the world’s Healer, the world’s Savior.
Fix your eyes on Jesus and He will shepherd us through this dark valley to green pastures and still waters.
Lift up your eyes. Jesus is present. Jesus will make all things right soon.

I love you!

Steve Madsen
Lead Pastor


FAQ'S - as of 4/14/20 at 5 pm PST

Please review the following Frequently Asked Questions: