FBC REGATHERING PLAN (May 27, 2020)
When we cancelled our in-person church ministries and services in March of this year, following the recommendations of our national and local authorities, we knew that this could only be a temporary and short-term arrangement for our church. The church is a gathered people. We are called to be physically present with one another in worship, in fellowship, and in service as the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:25). This is essential to the church as a healthy, growing, faithful body of Christ. For this reason, we must ask, “When will our church gather for worship again?”
When is our church open again for worship?
This is the question we have all been asking. After much prayer and discussion (both as a staff and with many of our church members), we have developed a plan for regathering. It will not be satisfactory to all, but it is our attempt to be faithful in gathering together while being submissive to the authorities God has placed over us and loving one another while showing concern for the well-being of others.
There is much we still do not know about this virus, but more is being understood almost weekly. What we do know is that large indoor gatherings are high risk opportunities for the spread of COVID-19. Add to that the close proximity of people, talking, singing, hugs, and handshakes that occur in our worship services and the risk is even higher. So, even though we are committed to regathering as the church, we will need to adjust our expectations and what we do when we gather.
The best preventative measures, at this time, appear to be social distancing and the limiting of activities such as singing, and close contacts without facemasks. This means that even when we begin to gather again for Sunday morning worship, it will still not “feel” like church for a long time. This will be restricting and not the way we want it to be. However, this is also what it means to serve one another (Galatians 5:13) and look not to your own interest, but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).
On June 14, we will begin gathering again for worship in the building in what we call Phase 2 (see below). We will be glad to see some of you and worship together with you again. However, we realize MANY still cannot be or will not be attending in person. Of course, Livestream will still the available for those who do not join us.
Can or should I attend worship?
You should NOT attend our worship gathering if you or a close family member have shown any symptoms of illness in the past 10 days. Also, you should NOT attend if you have had close contact with someone in the past 14 days who is COVID-19 positive (or presumably positive).
For others, you should know the risk to your health when attending a church gathering. We recommend you NOT attend our live services and continue participation by online Livestream or radio only if:
- you are 65 or older
- you are at-risk with other health conditions
- you are uncomfortable with the risk of attending a church gathering
- you are not ready yet for in-person activity
- you are uncomfortable with or unwilling to comply with the current plan restrictions that are in place
For those who plan to attend our services, please be prepared to follow the guidelines outlined for Phase 2.
OUR PLAN FOR REGATHERING THE CHURCH TOGETHER IN STAGES
You will see our plan is to return to our worship services, meetings, and ministries over time, through several phases. Phase 1 was an immediate and temporary response that we believe both honored our commitment to submit to and respect our authorities and expressed our concern and care for one another in the midst of crisis. However, the church cannot remain healthy for long in such a separate and individual condition. We have been in Phase 1 since March 22 and God willing, we will begin Phase 2 on June 14. The dates are target dates, and may be adjusted according to local conditions and recommendations.
Phase 1 – No Local Gathering / Church Building Closed (March 22)
- Sunday morning worship is Livestream only
- Bible studies / youth are offered online only
- Meetings are by videoconferencing
- Church offices are closed to the public, except by appointment
Phase 2 – Partial Sunday Gathering (June 14)
- Many are encouraged to stay home and to continue their participation online only
- Some are free to gather with us for our Sunday morning worship. However, gathering will be greatly restricted by social distancing and recommended guidelines for preventing the spread of disease.
- No nursery, Sunday School, children’s or youth programs are provided
- No choir
- Church Bible studies are still online only.
- Gospel life Groups are encouraged to have a plan for remaining in contact with one another.
- Church offices remain closed to the public, except by appointment
Phase 3 – Cautious Gatherings / Ministries (July 5)
- Those most at risk are encouraged to stay home and watch online
- Most are encouraged to gather for Sunday morning worship (restrictions eased, but some will continue)
- No choir and no Sunday School
- Limited nursery provided
- Small group gatherings are allowed / encouraged (bible study, small groups)
- Church building and office reopen to normal hours
Phase 4 – New Beginning (July 26)
- Return of ministries (men’s breakfast, Wednesday evening gatherings, youth, fellowship, etc.)
- Sunday School classes resume – (Update S.S. will resume 8/16/20)
- Full Nursery during worship service (0-3 years)
- Extra precautions / careful consideration of CDC and local guidelines
Phase 5 – The New Normal (August 16)
- Return to a normal church calendar of events and ministries
- Choir practices and performances (children and adult) can resume
PHASE 2 – WHAT TO EXPECT BEGINNING JUNE 14
As we move the church into Phase 2 of regathering, we want you to be aware of the changes you can expect in our worship service if you choose to join us in-person on Sunday mornings.
Phase 2 – What You Can Expect
- No nursery, childcare, or Sunday school will be provided. Make sure that you are prepared to have all your children with you during the service.
- Only the main entrance will be unlocked for entering the building. This way we can open doors and help people seat appropriately in the auditorium.
- High touch areas will be disinfected, and we will make your entrance and leaving as “no touch” as possible so to prevent the possible spread by contact with the hands.
- In the sanctuary, pews will be blocked off to create social distance during the service. Beware, your favorite seating spot may not be available.
- There will be no bulletins handed out, no meet and greet time, and no offering plate We will use offering boxes at the back.
- There will be an abbreviated and limited singing time during the service (prolonged indoor singing has been shown to spread the virus if anyone is infected)
- When the service is over, we will dismiss by section to distance people as you leave.
Phase 2 – What We Will Expect of Those in Attendance
- Sit together in your family group on one pew and follow the directions of ushers as to where to sit.
- Make sure in your seating that you maintain appropriate social distance from others who are NOT in your family group.
- Please do not use the church’s restrooms unless necessary. Wash your hands and go to the restroom at home before you come. This will help limit exposure. We hope to be able to provide hand sanitizer to those who wish to use it after entering the building.
- Face masks are NOT mandatory but are strongly recommended. This protects others from you since you can be contagious before showing symptoms. If you want a facemask and do not have one, we can provide you with one.
- If you would like to visit with someone at church, then respect others’ space and comfort level. If possible, visit outside the building keeping the 6-foot rule between you.
- If you attend a service and later test positive for COVID-19, please notify our church office so we can determine how to notify those whom you might have been in contact with and to respond accordingly.
What we hope you WILL DO if you come:
- Smile at others – it’s encouraging and contagious.
- Rejoice and give thanks to God to for the privilege of worship together.
- Pray for those whom you do not see in worship yet.
- Come prepared to genuinely worship together with the people of God.