Well, the time has finally arrived for us to come back to church to worship together. On May 31, at
10:30 am, our church service will begin for all who are able to attend. However, things are going to look a lot different for awhile, so I wanted to inform you of what changes will be taking place and what we need you to do for us. This is going to be a long letter! Feel free to take a coffee break in the middle of it.
1. First of all, as I have stated before, I realize that not all of you will be ready to start back this soon. Exposure to the coronavirus would be especially dangerous for those who are elderly or who have pre-existing conditions. I totally support your decision to hold off attending church until you feel it might be safer. For example, we have decided it would be better for Colleen to wait a while longer before she comes back to church. So if even the preacher's wife is staying home, you can, too! Please do not feel any pressure or obligation to attend if you are not comfortable in doing so. We are not going to be gauging the church's health according to attendance in 2020. Judging by how you have responded to this crisis in so many productive, Christ-centered ways, I would say that our church has remained very healthy, even though the pews have been empty.
Be assured that even though our podcast will not be able to be viewed at 10:30 as it has the last two months, we will be recording the service and have it posted on the website as soon as possible. So you can watch the service a little later and still feel that you were at church with us. When I get an idea of how soon the podcast will be posted, I will try to let you know.
2. Please, if Sunday comes and you are not feeling well, just stay home. You might think this would need to go without saying, but I am sure there have been many times that you have attended church, even when you weren't feeling the greatest. I know I have often come in even though I was quite sick.
We cannot do this at this time. The symptoms of the coronavirus are so varied and unpredictable, there is no way to be certain that you do not have it. Even if you feel it is just a little cold, a little fever or headache that would not ordinarily prevent you from doing every day things and you feel quite sure you do not have this virus, it would be a ministry to others to just wait until you are feeling better to come and be with the rest of the congregation.
3. Because of the need for social distancing, there are a number of things that regrettably, we will just not be able to do. These restrictions will be applied throughout the month of June, and then be re-evaluated to see if they can be lifted. In the meantime,
a. We will not be having Sunday School classes.
b. There will be no Sunday evening activities (although we will continue to have our Power in
Prayer time via “Zoom.”
c. There will be no Wednesday evening activities
(although we will continue to have adult Bible study via “Zoom.”
Sadly, we will not be able to offer our usual children's ministries, at least through June. All the things we usually do would be nearly impossible to do with social distancing restrictions.
a. That means that the nursery will be closed.
b. We will not have the children come up for children's time. (Although if children are in
attendance, we will have a special children's message to be presented.
c. There will be no children's church.
We would love for families with young children to attend, but you would need to keep your children with you at all times. If you feel this would be too stressful to do, I certainly understand, even though we would all miss seeing you.
5. Entrance to Building
a. When you come into the building, you will see that the steps to the basement will be cordoned
off. We would like everyone to stay upstairs. The hallway to the mailboxes and restrooms will be open, but access beyond that to the education wing will also be restricted.
b. The water fountain will be closed off. If you feel you may need a drink of water while you are
here, please try to bring some bottled water along with you.
c. facemasks- Most of you, by this time, have acquired face masks that are to be worn in
public. Please wear them as you come into the building and during the worship service. If you do not have one, we will have a supply of disposable face masks that you can use and throw away after the service. ( I feel like I am reading you your rights! “If you do not have a
face mask or you cannot afford a face mask, one will be provided for you!”)
Seriously, please view the wearing of facemasks, not as making a political statement, or of expressing fear that you will contract the virus, but more of expressing your desire to protect others from the virus that you may be unknowingly carrying.
Those speaking from the pulpit or leading worship will not be wearing masks as they speak or sing. But wearing masks while singing as a congregation will help protect from the risk of expelling droplets, which we are told is greater from singing than it is from even coughing or sneezing.
There are a dozen of cloth masks that were lovingly made and generously donated by Shirley Beatty, that will given away on a first-come, first-serve basis.
d. hands- We actually ask that you do not bring in gloves that have been worn outside the building. The potential for cross-contamination is greater than the protection they would provide. If you
bring gloves that have not been previously worn, by all means, feel free to put them on during the service if you would like. We will not be providing gloves.
We do ask that you go to the touchless hand-sanitizing station that we have purchased, which will be just outside the sanctuary door. Please apply hand sanitizer before you go into the sanctuary. Parents are asked to monitor your children's use of the hand sanitizer.
6. The Worship Service
a. A seating plan is being worked on that would enable us to be spatially distant from one another. Of course, members of the same household may sit together, but we want to sit at least six feet part from those from different households. The plan will most likely consist of sitting in every
other pew, but may be adjusted according to the number of people present. Chairs will be set up
in the back for additional seating if needed. There will be someone to help you figure out the
best place for you and your family to sit.
b. We will not be printing paper bulletins for the service for the time being. An order of worship
will be posted on the video screens to help you follow along with the service, as well as general
church announcements. We will remove pencils from the pew racks, but will be leaving the
hymnals, Bibles,cards and envelopes. It would be helpful if you would not touch these items if
at all possible.
c. We will not be doing our fellowship and greeting time. As hard as it will be to refrain
from greeting one another with hugs and handshakes after not being with each other for so long,
we ask you to try your best to do so. (I may have to walk around with my hands behind my
back to inhibit this instinct!)
d. If you have prayer requests, please write them down and get them to me before the service,
and I will read them from the pulpit. We will not be passing the microphone around as we are
accustomed to doing.
e. Offering plates will be placed on a table in the back of the sanctuary. Please place your offering
in your envelope from home. You may place your offering in the plate before you are seated or
when you leave the sanctuary. If you are more comfortable continuing to mail in your offering,
by all means do so.
f. Communion - We have ordered pre-packaged, individual communion kits that will be placed
on a table in the back of the sanctuary. On communion Sunday, just pick one of those up
and keep it with you until the end of the service when we observe the Lord's Table.
The kits are on order and we are hoping they arrive before our next communion service.
If they do not arrive by then, we will move communion to the next week and will observe
it on June 14.
g. Dismissal - In order to prevent the instinctive congregating and fellowship around the sanctuary after our worship services, we are going to dismiss you row by row. If you would like to
visit with folks outside in the parking lot, that would be much safer than the indoor
I anticipate that the service will be much shorter than we are accustomed to, so you may want to take that in consideration as you plan your day.
7. Vacation Bible School
It is with much angst that we have decided that holding our traditional VBS would not be advisable. We had already purchased the materials and were very excited about this year's VBS. So we are going to save that material and plan to use it in 2021.
We are going to try to put together a “virtual” VBS for 2020. Michelle and her team are working on a plan to have songs and lessons online, and for families to be able to come to church to pick up a craft pack for kids to do crafts at home. Stay tuned for more details about that.
I'm sure that there will be more details to be addressed that we haven't thought of so far. Thank you to our Church Council for all the time and attention given to these matters and for their help in coming to these policy decisions.
Now that I have written this book, I will have to look into having it published! I will continue to do these emails to pass along news and prayer requests, and as always, please let me know what I can be doing for you. If I haven't spoken to you recently, please give me a call to let me know how you are doing. If you would like to let me know if you are planning on coming Sunday or have decided to wait, that would be helpful.
May God be with you and bless you all, and may we thank Him for His goodness to us as we continue to grow and learn to trust Him to take us through this trying time.