Late in the month of April, it was determined by our church leadership, based on the guidance we were receiving from the governmental and medical authorities, that we would not have any church activities until AFTER May 17th. That’s today. And now, with the lifting of certain restrictions, we feel at liberty now to say that we will be gathering for public worship again, beginning next Sunday, May 24th. We are EXCITED about this beyond measure!
However, this does NOT mean that everything will automatically go back to “normal.” There are still some guidelines that will need to be followed as we move forward. This will be the case for the foreseeable future, until these guidelines are changed and these further restrictions are lifted. With that in mind, we will proceed to reopen our church for services on May 24th, but with the following practices being enacted.
- For now, we will have only have ONE public service each week, that being Sunday mornings at our regular worship time of 10:45 AM. Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services will continue on Facebook and other social media platforms for the time being. This is because of the need to sanitize our facility between each service, and this will allow us adequate time to do so.
- Also, there will be NO Sunday School, no children’s ministries (nursery, children’s church, or children’s chat) until further notice when groups that meet in closer quarters are allowed.
- There will also be NO BULLETINS and the hymnals and pew Bibles have been removed from the sanctuary for the time being, because these items would need to be sanitized after each use.
- The doors of the church will be left olien as weather permits, or someone will be at the door to let you in. This will minimize contact with door handles.
- When you arrive, an usher will direct you to an area where you can be seated, allowing for the mandated 6 foot distance for social distancing. Families who live under the same roof will be able to sit together. This may mean an adjustment from where you would "normally" sit; we only ask for your understanding and liatience with this. Besides, you may like a different view of the service 😉.
- There will also be NO HANDSHAKING/HUGGING/FELLOWSHIP TIMES in the service to encourage proper social distancing.
- Masks will be expected to be worn by everyone. If you do not have a mask, we will have them at the door. This is for not only YOUR protection, but the protection of our entire church family. Gloves are not required, but optional.
- There will be changes to our order of service: NO CHOIR and not as much congregational singing (if at all – because of masks). For those of us who love to sing with God’s people, this will be tough. Singing is such a part of the worship of the church when they gather. But for the time being, this is an adjustment we will have to make.
- NO OFFERING will be received in the service, but the plates will be at the doors so you can give as you leave the services. Also, you can continue mailing in your offerings as you have been doing.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR FAITHFULNESS IN GIVING DURING THIS TIME!!
- If you would need to use the restroom facilities, the doors will be fixed to where you will only need to push the door open. However, we would encourage the use of a paper towel to open the door to exit. We strongly encourage the use of hand sanitizer both BEFORE and AFTER use (of course, hand washing is also strongly encouraged!). Also, only one person at a time will be allowed in the restroom.
- At the end of the service, each section of pews will be dismissed by ushers, and you will be asked to exit the building using the exit that is closest to your section. This will allow a smooth transition and will minimize social contact. Thanks for understanding!
- As for parking, if you can walk, please park further away or even in the lower lot to allow others access to the spaces closer to the Main Street entrance, because that is the only entrance we will be using. We want to minimize the use of the downstairs area, although we can use it for “overflow” if need be. But if not, we don’t want to have to sanitize that area.
- ALSO A WORD TO THOSE WHO MAY NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE COMING BACK RIGHT NOW: WE UNDERSTAND!
Those who are 65 and older or those with underlying health concerns that would still make you vulnerable to this virus are still encouraged to stay home. If you fit into that category, please do not feel that you MUST come just because the church is open again. As we said at the beginning of this crisis (before services were canceled): you are not a hero if you come, and you are not a wimp if you don’t. We honor and respect whatever you choose to do. Please do what YOU feel is in YOUR best interest at this time. Soon, we trust that the virus will be behind and you will be back with us again then.
This may seem like a lot, and in a way it is. However, we do these things out of love of God and love of neighbor. We want to do everything we possibly can to ensure the safety and health of anyone and everyone who chooses to worship with us.
We were reminded in our deacons’ meeting Tuesday night (by Bucky Hall) of Deuteronomy 22:8, an obscure text, but one that has far reaching implications and principles for the present moment. In that verse, Moses instructs the people of God: “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet [a low protective wall along the edge of a roof] for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.” In many ways, what we have outlined for you today is your church leadership’s version of a parapet. Again, I would stress that we are seeking to protect all of us by every means possible, and yet, seek to get us back to worshipping the Lord together in person.
Psalm 122:1 I believe aptly describes the attitude of heart that many of us have at this time: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”