These comments are what many of my colleagues and I are hearing and its very challenging for us. The Bishop is allowing to reopen churches in our area if we have developed a plan of action and have submitted it to the District Superintendent. It was a lot easier to close the use of the building than it is for us to gather again in worship within the walls. Gathering in church buildings have been categorized as one of the high-risk areas to be. Besides the plan of action, the trustees also must make sure the checklist is implemented provided by the Texas Department of State Health Service that follows the CDC guidelines to reopen. We are currently ordering supplies needed to get things in place and soon taking action to do some of the tasks needed.
After with being in conversation the incoming pastor, Rev. Carol Sparks, I have decided that we will continue worship as we have been since March 22nd, which is Facebook Live on Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. Here are my reasons why:
- My own health concerns and the danger of me being exposed.
- We do not have the proper supplies on hand. They have been ordered, but some may not arrive until July.
- The concern with singing in worship and the dangers being proven by various examples and how that will impact our worship experience.
Your incoming pastor will be deciding when worship will begin in-house in consultation with church leadership.
Here is what I want each of you to be aware of and what will be expected of you when we do come to worship together, if you so choose.
Here is what every worshipper needs to know and understand before returning to in-house worship.
- We encourage our at-risk congregation (those 65 years or older, especially those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, chronic heart disease, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, liver disease, or weakened immune system) or anyone not feeling well for the day to stay at home. (Ultimately, it’s your decision, to attend or not, but this has to be expressed to you by CDC guidelines.)
- We strongly encourage every worshipper to wear a mask and will have masks available to put to practice the general rule of the church “to do no harm” to others. A mask benefits your neighbor and consider keeping your neighbor safe and they will do the same for you.
- We strongly discourage shaking hands or hugging each other, or any physical contact between persons. We are to observe six-foot social distancing within the building. (CDC guideline) I know this will be very hard for some of you. I miss the physical contact as well, but please consider the welfare of others. Moments of gathering with others will have to be before you enter the building or after you exit if you wish to do so.
- If you come to worship, you will have your temperature taken touchless at the door. If you have a temperature of 100 degrees or more or appear to not be well, you will be asked to return home for the safety of others. (CDC guideline)
- You will be ushered to a seat to maintain the six-foot social distancing. Our capacity level is 20 family units in the sanctuary marked with painter’s tape. Sanctuary will be filled from front to back. You will enter sanctuary front door at beginning of service and exit casket door at the end. Sanitizing station will be available at entrance.
- If sanctuary reaches capacity or if you feel it would be safer for you, the Memorial Hall will be used as an overflow area using a TV monitor and persons gathered there will exit out the Memorial Hall.
- Singing is being highly discouraged for churches to participate in due to the deep respiration and droplets projected out while doing so. I know this is an important part of the service, but it may be something we can’t participate in at this time.
- If you choose to stay safe at home, the service will be still be available on Facebook Live. We want all persons to feel they can stay connected to the church through worship — in person or via internet.
If you want to gather as the church in the building in the future, I hope you will be willing to abide by these guidelines. A spirit of cooperation is greatly needed. Your pastor and the trustees have a lot placed on their shoulders to keep all persons safe. If you have questions about the actions taken, please contact me or Roy Williams, trustees chair.
May God grant us wisdom and understanding for the coming days.