The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus be with you and your families!
I’m writing to share an important announcement.
It’s really important that you read ALL of this letter!
Over the last seven months, we have been prayerfully discerning the next right step for us to take as we navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic. With Fall upon us and Winter approaching, with the number of cases in our area currently under control, and with crucial safety measures in place, we have prayerfully decided to open our doors for in-person worship services starting this Sunday, October 4th.
Before I share the details of our building reopening plans, I want to share a few reminders of why we are choosing to gather for worship, and why we’re doing so with safety measures.
- It is important for Christians to gather for support, belonging, and encouragement in our faith (Hebrews 10:25). We aren’t meant to do this spiritual life alone! This is why we have gone to great lengths to explore creative ways for gathering this year, when our conventional gatherings were ill-advised.
- We are called to care especially for the sick and the vulnerable (Matthew 25), and even that it may require us to give up some of our freedoms in order to serve one another in love (Galatians 5).
- While we believe that faith in our loving and protecting God allows us to face our fears (psalm 91), we also believe that we are not to put the Lord our God to the test, as Jesus himself remembered when he was tempted by the devil with the very same words from psalm 91 in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5-7).
- While we do not surrender to fear, we are called to walk in wisdom, seeking to serve God and love our neighbors in all that we do…including worship.
I could go on…but then this will become a whole sermon! But suffice it to say, there is solid biblical wisdom for why we are responding to this pandemic with appropriate caution and attention to the counsel of the health and governing authorities surrounding COVID-19.
I want to highlight some Key Safety Measures we have taken (or will take) in order to make our facilities as safe as possible as we approach in-person services:
- Installation of iWave Air Purifier units on all 3 of our furnaces to increase the effectiveness of air filtering in our HVAC system. (Send a note of thanks to Randy Seaman!)
- Regular cleaning of common areas, including a quick sweep between services (Thank you, Stacey Reynolds!)
- A full hour between services to allow for proper air filtering and surface cleaning.
- Physical distancing in all areas of the building, including in the sanctuary.
- Masks required while walking to/from the sanctuary, and encouraging their use at all times while indoors
- Overflow seating will be set up in the fellowship room in case our sanctuary is at capacity with physical distancing.
Here are the nuts-and-bolts details of our services:
- Service times are 9am and 11am. Services will be less than 60 minutes to limit exposure, and to allow for a full hour between services for cleaning and air filtering.
- The 11am service will include child care for ages 0-7. (See FAQ for more details)
- Services will still be accessible from home (see FAQ for more details)
Lastly, allow me to share what I am asking from each of you:
- If you are sick, do not come to church. Honestly, even if you’re iffy…just stay home. Remember that you can always participate in worship online or over the phone.
- If you become sick after attending an in-person service, contact us as soon as possible. This is especially important for contact tracing, and alerting people who may have been exposed to the virus.
- If you are especially vulnerable to serious illness due to COVID-19, please consider whether it is wise for you to attend in-person. We are going to great lengths to make our services accessible from home, even if you do not have internet access. (See FAQ)
- Please arrive on time for service. No one will be turned away for arriving late. However, consider us to be in “early is on time, on time is late” territory.
- Please bring a mask that covers your nose and mouth. You will need to wear it coming into the building, and when you’re traveling to and from your seat in the sanctuary. We encourage you to wear it for the whole service, but we understand if you would like to take the mask off while you are in your seat. If you wish to participate in congregational singing, you will need to wear your mask.
As mentioned at the top, this is our best plan for right now. Going forward, we will remain nimble, so that we can swiftly adjust to how things develop within our community. I am asking all of us to remain committed to being flexible as we go forward. This is the first global pandemic for all of us; we are indeed writing the playbook as we go, making adjustments as we learn more, and attempting to learn from others around us. We aren’t going to get all of this perfect every time. Rather, we will seek to respond to changing circumstances as necessary, and to best honor God and love our neighbor in all things.
Thank you for your support, and your prayers. They truly mean the world to me. Know that I am also praying for you. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tom Fifer