On behalf of the deacons and myself, thank you for your prayers and support! We met together on Tuesday evening (Via Zoom) to pray and discuss how we might be able to move toward holding public gatherings again. I am pleased to announce to you that we have a tentative plan for reopening the church in at least two phases (Phase 1 is detailed below. At this point, Phase 2 is when everything goes back to normal). Please read to the end because we need your help to complete our plan!
As you are probably aware, there is a whole spectrum of views out there on how this pandemic should have or could have been handled. There will continue to be many varying views on how churches should respond as well. Here are some truths that should guide our responses and actions:
- Our governing authorities were ordained by God and unless they command us to disobey God, we should obey them (Romans 13:1-2). The Apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Rome, where he would later be beheaded for his faith by those governing authorities.
- We should be striving for unity and humility in our words and actions toward one another (Ephesians 4:1-3, Philippians 2:1-4).
- Let’s be motivated by love and respect, not politics, fear or anger (Romans 13:10, 1 John 4:18-21). Whatever we do must be motivated by love for God and our neighbors, both in the church and in the community.
- We must be careful not to expect every church to follow the same plans. We are the pastor and deacons of the First Baptist Church of Mt. Pleasant, MI. And we are the First Baptist Church of Mt. Pleasant, MI. Other churches are in different areas with different numbers of attendees, different technologies, different buildings, different rooms, different COVID-19 statistics, etc. We can certainly encourage one another and consider similar biblical principles in our approaches to reopening. But, the application of those principles will be unique to each individual local church.
- As is always the case, all our plans are subject to change (James 4:13-15). Let’s hold these plans with an open hand and declare, “If the Lord wills” as we move forward.
- We will plan to hold meetings at the church building starting Sunday, May 31st.
- We expect to have two separate meetings at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
- If more people plan to attend than we can safely accommodate with two services, we will also add a third meeting at 6 p.m.
- We understand that some may not feel comfortable with attending quite yet, so we will be providing a live stream video of the service, making the video available to view from home.
- We will utilize the following precautions to pursue a safe environment:
- Doors will be left open for your arrival. You should not need to touch any door handles, except perhaps for the restrooms for privacy reasons. We will clean them before/after each gathering as a precaution.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be available in various areas of the lobby.
- The chairs will be set up in groups of two, three, or more and be set at least six feet apart. We will do this to practice social distancing for each household. No people from two different households will be sitting within six feet of each other. We estimate our seating capacity will fall between fifty and sixty people with this set-up.
- An usher, who will be wearing a mask, will be at the doorway into the auditorium to direct you to your seating area.
- Masks for attendees are encouraged, but will not be required.
- Restrooms will be sanitized between each service.
- Drinking fountains will not be used. Please bring your own water if needed.
- Windows in the auditorium will be opened and the fans will be turned on for improved ventilation.
- We will dismiss after the service is over in an orderly fashion and ask that no one remain in the building afterward. Please exit to the parking lot and practice safe distancing both before and after the services as you come and go, and in the parking lot.
- As hard as it might be, please do not shake hands or give hugs. Keep your distance.
- Chairs will be sprayed or wiped down after each use with COVID-19 approved disinfectant.
- There will be no Children’s Church, Sunday School, or staffed nursery. It would be impossible to maintain safety measures with all of the children in these ministry environments. Please don’t worry about the noise. We want everyone to feel welcomed and comfortable to attend. We love children! The nursery will be available to parents who need to utilize the space to care for their own children if needed. All other areas of the building should be off-limits. Please keep your children with you at all times.
- Instead of passing offering plates, offering boxes with locks will be stationed at the back of the auditorium.
- We will not be passing out paper copies of the bulletin. We will try to utilize our new projector for announcements.
- We will wait to observe the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday we are able to hold regular worship services, unless that date ends up being too far down the road.
- We ask that you inform us of any visitors ahead of time so that we can ensure seating is available. And, any visitors should not be coming from another church who have not yet held services. We would encourage people from other churches to continue participating in the life of their local church.
- Please follow these other CDC recommendations as well:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your face.
Our hope and prayer is that this list of precautions only lasts for a few weeks to a month. If things look like they will last longer, or if our government gives further guidance for churches or large gatherings, our leadership will meet together to see if any other phases or adjustments to our reopening plans make sense for our church.
Here’s where we need your help!
We need to know how many of you plan to attend, starting Sunday, May 31st. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of our deacons or myself and tell us if you are or are not planning to attend. If we do not hear back from you by the end of this Saturday (5/23), we will contact you. Again, there is no judgment in whatever decision you make for your family. We simply need to know how to plan in order to best accommodate everyone.
Please note, we may not be able to offer preferred time-slots for services.
If you choose not to attend on the 31st but later receive good news that changes your thinking for Sunday, June 7th or thereafter, please let us know and we will happily make the changes necessary to add you in.
As time moves forward, we will begin to address mid-week activities, Sunday School classes, Sunday evening Bible study & prayer meetings, etc. For now, we are excited to see this opportunity and direction to move forward.
Looking forward to hearing back from all of you!
Saved by Grace,
Pastor Andy Molyneux