Church family & friends,

I trust you are looking to the Lord for your strength and that you have been able to stay healthy during these coronavirus quarantine days. I’ve found that it’s sometimes hard to stay isolated because my health, and the health of those around me, has been normal. Yet as I venture out to the store I am quickly reminded of our present crisis by facemasks and limited supplies of some things. I participate on a governor’s call to pastors on Friday afternoons and it appear that Jackson county will be lifting our stay home quarantine on May 15th. That’s good news! The governor is quick to emphasize however, the need for continued social distancing even after the lifting of the quarantine. Everyone has limited themselves to exposure to others for so long now, that there is a real desire to be around others, and how much more the family of God as we desire the depth of fellowship with believers that we don’t get anywhere else.

That said, the elders have been communicating often, and praying about how to wisely step back into church activity. Several ministries have been the topic of our attention. Before addressing specific ministries, we want to greatly emphasize the importance of only participating in church activities when you, and those in your family, are healthy. We recognize the strong desire to be around others but want to stress the importance of only doing so when everyone is healthy. If there has been sickness or fever in your home, please consider the health of everyone involved and stay home until everyone in the household is 100% healthy.We are looking at Sunday May 17th as our first Sunday back together. Because of the need for social distancing we are planning 2 worship services, 8.30 am and 10 am. We don’t anticipate the need for 2 services to remain for long, but feel it will provide a good bridge allowing us to  enjoy worship, each other’s presence, and provide healthy activity.

The challenge that 2 services provides is how many will attend the 8.30 am service and how many will attend the 10 am service. In order to minimize confusion, and divide us into 2 workable groups we are asking the following:

  •             those 55 and above attend the 8.30 am worship service, and
  •             those 54 and below attend the 10 am worship service

Our thought is that this would allow for everyone to worship with those of a close age proximity, as well as, those having children to possibly be in the same worship service. This isn’t a hard fast rule, and no one will be turned away, but this should divide us into workable groups for the short duration that we anticipate.

It is also important to remember we might have an influx of visitors because of everyone’s desire to interact with others. Let’s be ready to accommodate that and share the love of Christ during this unique time. Again, we anticipate this 2 service plan will be temporary. Thank you for helping in this time of transition.

Several ministries will be affected that I’d like to highlight.

  • Lord’s Supper and offering plates – because of the need to limit potential germs we will not be passing Lord Supper dishes or offering plates at this time. There will be an offering box by the stairs at our north entrance. The Lord’s Supper will be observed with individual prefilled cups.
  • We desire that families sit together, with moms and dads keeping a pretty tight reign on their kids. If adults are challenged by the 6’ rule, how much more difficult is it for children.
  • We will not be providing a nursery, or SuperChurch at this time. All children are welcome in the service. We will be having an object lesson that communicates spiritual truth to kids on their level of understanding.
  • Ushers will help us with seating in order to accommodate the 6’ distance needs.
  • Small group activity –

We have several different types of Small Group ministry activities. Some of our Small Groups could accommodate the 6’ rule, while others would be challenged to do so.

  • We are asking those that normally meet at church during the 9 am hour, not meet during our transition time of 2 services. The only spaces we have that will accommodate the 6’ guideline are the fellowship hall and the auditorium.
  • Likewise, those that are unable to accommodate the 6’ distance rule should delay in restarting.
  • Our fellowship hall and auditorium are available during unused times if using them would help your group needs. Scheduling through the office will help avoid conflicts.
  • It’s spring and the weather often accommodates an outdoor cookout, or just sitting and visiting. This is a great time to invite smaller numbers from your group over for a time together. Let’s remember those not involved in a Small Group too.

We don’t anticipate this to be permanent Small Group activity, rather a transition into    a more normal schedule.

  • At the end of worship, we ask that visiting be minimal in the church building because of a needed sanitizing process that will take place. Visiting in the parking lot will allow for those cleaning to accomplish their work.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for use and we will be disinfecting our facility appropriately.

We are aware that this startup process might not meet the desire of everyone in our church family. We are sympathetic with that but feel a strong need to do what is best for the church at large rather than accommodate the desires of each individual. We have gone through quite a process in the last couple of months. We are anticipating this intermediate plan of 2 services lasting at least until early June, at which time we will reevaluate the need according to local and state health officials.

Let’s continue to live wisely as we come back together, doing so in as healthy a way as possible.

Let me add, those around each of us, family, neighbors, co-workers, might be more open now to us demonstrating the love of Christ through an invitation to participate in a worship service than ever before. Let’s continue to live for Christ at home, and where we have influence, and always remember that God’s hand is not slack, the Holy Spirit can’t be quarantined, Jesus will be glorified, and the word of God is powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword.

 

I look forward to seeing you,

Jerry for the elders