Dear Church Family,
It has been twelve weeks since we last worshipped together. COVID-19 has impacted all of us in some way, but I hope that your faith has grown stronger during our time apart. I’m writing to share with you our plan to return to worship on Sunday, June 7th. While our worship service will look different from what any of us have ever experienced, please understand that we are trying to take every precaution to create a safe worship environment. The following plan will not only take the leadership of our church to execute, but all of us taking an active role to protect your health as well as the rest of your church family.
On Sunday, June 7th we will gather for worship at our normal time; 10:45am. At this time, we will only have Sunday morning worship. There will be NO Sunday school, children’s church, nursery, Sunday evening worship, or Wednesday night Bible Study. All children must sit with their family!
Each person and household will need to decide what is in their best interest as to whether to attend worship under the guidelines below. Please understand that no one will be judged for not attending. Your fears are understandable as you consider your own health, the health of your family and the well-being of your church family. The Bible provides several examples of how our communion extends beyond physical contact, but also through the Spirit of faith that we share in Jesus Christ. The sermon will be available on our webpage as it has even before COVID-19 restricted our in-person worship. The sermon should be available by the following Monday morning.
Before attending, if you have any flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, vomiting, cough, sore throat, etc.) please stay home! The normal flu as we all know is contagious. These may also be symptoms of COVID-19 which is also very contagious. If you have any underlying health issues, please consider the risk posed by being exposed to COVID-19. AGAIN, we understand that many people in our congregation are at high risk if they contract COVID-19. If you feel that attending worship is too high of a risk for you, please stay home, continue to lift your church family in prayer and if you are able, watch the sermon from home.
If you do decide to attend worship, please wear a face mask. If you do not have a face mask, one will be provided for you. We ask that you wear a face mask throughout the duration of the service. As you enter the church, you and your family will be directed toward the sanctuary. Ushers will assist in sitting individuals and households. Individuals will be asked to sit 6ft apart. Households may sit together, but 6ft apart from other individuals or households. Pews will be limited to every other pew. We ask that you enter the building through the parking lot side entrance using either the door leading up to the sanctuary or the elevator door if necessary. All other access points will be closed.
We want to do our best to isolate ourselves to the sanctuary. Men’s and Women’s restrooms will be available to use, but only the upstairs restrooms will be made available. The nursery will be available, but there will be no workers on duty. If you need to take your child out of the sanctuary we ask that you remain with your child in the nursery. There is a T.V. in the nursery where the service will be broadcasted. The toys in the nursery have been sanitized and will continue to be each week.
We know that shaking hands and hugging is a meaningful way to share in fellowship, however we ask that you refrain from shaking hands or hugging at this time. Offering plates will not be passed during the service. They will be made available at the back of the sanctuary as we are dismissed from the service. You can also send your tithes and offerings through our P.O. Box at P.O Box 502, Belpre, OH 45714. Pew Bibles and hymnals will be removed from the pews, however the words for songs and scripture will be provided on the screen. Communion will not be served at this time. Hand-sanitizer will be made available as you enter the church and sanctuary. Please practice clean hygiene as you make your way through the church.
Once the service has concluded, ushers will assist in dismissing each pew. Please wait for the appropriate instructions from an usher before leaving your seat. When you proceed out of the sanctuary, please make your way to the parking lot before socializing.
We realize that these guidelines may seem to restrict the freedoms that we typically enjoy as a congregation. Please know that we have tried to do our due diligence in consulting the national guidelines provided by the CDC and other resources pertaining to places of worship. We have also consulted other churches and pastors throughout this process and will continue to do so. The guidelines we have provided above are similar to the guidelines and precautions churches are taking throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley and our nation. So while we understand that these guidelines may feel uncomfortable or rigid, please understand that we are trying to take every precaution to ensure a safe worship environment.
Much like you have witnessed nationally, we too will begin to open services in phases. There is no timeline for how the phases will unfold. This process is more complicated than just opening up the church and going back to normal. It involves more than just making a leadership decision, but also consulting with our janitor and others assisting in cleaning our facility as well as ministry volunteers. None of us are professionals in this area, including your pastor! So while all of us want things to resume as normal, please be patient, understanding and in prayer as we navigate this uncharted territory.
The sermons throughout this period have reminded us that God is sovereign and always provides. This is an opportunity for us to bear witness to God’s presence as we trust in God’s promises. Together we will make it through these challenges and together we will be stronger!
May the Spirit of grace and unity continue to carry us forth!