May 22nd, 2020
Great news! We can start assembling together once again in small numbers of not more than 25.
This order is in place in Phase One for 21 days. The start date is May 22, 2020. This means, providing we can move to Phase Two, 21 days from May 22, 2020, our next target date will be June 12, 2020. Sunday morning services are still closed to a live congregation at the church through June 11, 2020. A tentative number of people who can assemble has been set in Phase Two, but is subject to change so we will cross that bridge when we get closer to that date. Currently that number is set at 100 (“tentative and subject to change”) in Phase Two, and would remain in place until September 30, 2020, or until there are remedies for the disease. Again, that is subject to change, so let’s not worry about that today.
Our focus is going to be getting smaller groups together starting this Sunday! Our staff will be working on that all the way into Sunday to get things started once again. With that said, Monday is a holiday and we will not be scheduling any groups on Monday, May 25, 2020.
For the sake of safety, please let me begin with some precautions. If you have an underlying condition and or you are over 60 years of age we invite you to attend only if you understand you are exposing yourself potentially to Covid-19. Further, if you are pregnant the same consideration is for you as well.
We will be social distancing a minimum of six feet. We will require hand washing or sanitizing upon entering the room where you will be meeting. This means we will be needing more time to start a class on time so please plan that into your schedule upon arriving at the church. Further, elevators can only be used one family at a time.
If you are sick, PLEASE DO NOT COME. If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, PLEASE DO NOT COME. If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive within the timelines stated by the C.D.C., PLEASE DO NOT COME FOR AT LEAST the number of days set forth in the C.D.C. guidelines.
There will be absolutely no hugging, handshaking, elbow bumps or any other physical contact while on church property. Leaders will have the responsibility of enforcing this, so please help them be successful and remove stress from their lives by complying.
Masks will not be provided by the church for the general population, however we will have some available if you forgot yours and desire to wear a mask. Masks are optional and encouraged.
Food and drinks will not be provided by the church nor can anyone provide food and or drinks for another person while meeting. However, you can bring your own coffee and food if that is what the gathering so decides!
Sunday School classes and Bible study classes will be contacted in the coming days to begin calendaring times to meet at the church. Our church facilities are cleaned and ready to be used once again. We are very excited to start meeting again with our church family!
Getting everything started again in a large organization such as ours with restrictions, guidelines and moving goal posts is going to require patience and kindness, as we want to do as much as we can as fast as we can as safe as we can.
Currently, child care will not be provided because social distancing does not permit child care. However, the child care rooms will be available for a parent and child if a need arises.
We are not considering at this time, Sunday night prayer meeting, Wednesday night programming or what used to be the normal Sunday school hours, as we are focusing on getting all our small groups together within the guidelines and restrictions we are required to follow.
Committee meetings will start up again using social distancing. Stay tuned for those dates that will be announced in the coming days.
Office visits can be scheduled once again too, using social distancing.
Social distancing makes many of our previous rooms and set ups obsolete. Which means, you likely will not be meeting in the room you are accustomed to meeting in, certainly not with the set up you previously had. Tables, for the most part, will not be used as they impact social distancing guidelines.
FLEXIBILITY is a great word to practice moving forward.
I spoke in January about how much the river has changed and how church life is rapidly changing. My friends, the river has changed and we must learn to adapt just as every business and every community is learning to adapt to life as we know it today. I am thinking about the fresh innovative ways to gather and do effective ministry. I am thinking about the gift of live streaming and how many more people we are reaching because of the ever-changing river. I am thinking about the fresh new testimonies that have been forged out of this crisis. I am thinking about the hunger some are experiencing to be back in church and appreciate being together more than ever before. I am thinking about the opportunities we have had to better identify with countries that are living under oppression and are being persecuted for their faith. We now have a very small taste of what they live with year after year.
This is a new day for all of us. I close with Ephesians 3:20-21…Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Pastor Randy Butler