On March 17, we announced that the church would suspend all in-person activities on the church campus until further notice. At the time, we announced that we would resume those activities when we can be confident of the safety of the congregation. We are approaching that moment.
We are welcoming church groups back on the campus starting June 1. We will be resuming in-person worship starting Sunday, June 21. Click the link below to read the full guidelines recently approved by the session.
There are many details to consider, but here is a general outline of our expectations.
THE SICK AND THOSE AT-RISK
Anyone who is sick should stay home to avoid infecting others. Any person who has flu-like symptoms (high fever, coughing, runny nose, chills, body aches, fatigue, etc.) should refrain from coming onto the church campus.
Likewise, if you are at higher risk for this coronavirus (the elderly and those with serious long-term health problems), we encourage you to stay home. We do not want to place anyone at unnecessary risk.
FACE MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
A surgeon wears a face mask not to protect herself but to protect the patient from airborne pathogens. In a similar manner, we are encouraging the congregation to wear face masks to protect the vulnerable attending in-person events from COVID-19. We will be providing face masks for anyone who needs one.
We are also asking everyone to practice social distancing. In most circumstances, six feet distance is enough. In the sanctuary, the distance is ten feet. This is to protect congregants from the virus being projected during congregational singing.
On Sunday mornings, we will be limiting our seating area. Families will be allowed to sit together. Our ushers will be directing worshippers to their seats to avoid any confusion. Likewise, at the end of the service, they will be releasing the pews one by one to avoid bottlenecks. When socially distancing is difficult, we are requiring the use of face masks. This can happen especially as people are entering or exiting the building.
Fellowship is essential to the life of the church. That is one of the reasons that we are re-opening the church campus. However, this pandemic still requires us to limit our interaction. There will be no receiving line or coffee hour following worship. We ask people to leave the building after church gatherings or worship. Please do not congregate inside the building or near doors. Save your conversations for outside while practicing social distancing.
MULTIPLE WORSHIP SERVICES
We are planning on one worship service for June 21. However, that may become impossible as we try to maintain social distancing. As a result, we may need to have two, three, or even more services to accommodate as many people as possible. We will be communicating with you in the next week or so about your availability.
Practicing good hygiene will ensure that we stop the spread of this virus. We encourage everyone to wash their hands or to use hand sanitizer as they come to a church gathering or a worship service. There will be hand sanitizer available in designated bathrooms, the Great Room, and outside the sanctuary. Volunteers will be wiping down and sanitizing surfaces including pews after usage. Our custodians each night will be doing a thorough cleaning and sanitizing protocol.
UNABLE TO ATTEND
If you are unable to attend worship on Sunday for whatever reason, we will continue to provide on-line worship opportunities. We will be live-streaming the worship services on Facebook, and later in the day, they will be posted on our YouTube channel and website. Likewise, we will continue to provide Zoom meetings for adult discipleship and committees. Please contact Pastor James for times and days if you are interested. If you know someone without access to the internet, please contact the church office. We don’t want to forget anyone during this critical season.
DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact the church IMMEDIATELY. We want to help contain the virus. We will be assisting public health officials and communicating with the congregation about any risks.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE
Although we cannot mitigate every risk, the session and the staff are taking what we hope are reasonable precautions. We urge patience from the congregation, and we beg for forgiveness for moving too fast or too slow depending on your perspective. We will be reviewing these guidelines each month. God willing, we hope that we will be loosening the restrictions as the situation improves.
Please note that most of these restrictions are not about you. They are really about the other person. We wear a mask or socially distance ourselves to protect the vulnerable. At best, these precautions reflect Jesus Christ’s command to love our neighbor. We inconvenience ourselves or