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Indoor Worship Guidelines

Pastor Jason Hughes - May 22, 2020

As you may have learned there have been some new developments since my last email to you. First, NC has moved into Phase 2 as of today, a full week earlier than I expected. Secondly, a United States District Judge has issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the state of North Carolina from taking any action against a place of worship that conducts religious services indoors. Evidently because of this, Governor Cooper has not given any guidance for churches hoping to worship in Phase 2 like we were expecting. I know of local churches that have already met for worship, some whom are meeting at 10% capacity starting next week, and I know of some churches that are not planning on opening until much later. Despite these developments, the main objective has always been deciding when it was safe and responsible for us to worship together. The truth is that singing in a closed room increases the chances of spreading germs and possible illness and so it is my desire that we are very careful as we move forward. Over the last few weeks we have developed a plan to have worship with safety and social distancing measures. This letter will outline what you can expect and provide guidance for our public worship services which will resume on May 31st, 2020. Everyone will have to exercise personal responsibility as they decide what is best for them and how they would like to worship going forward.

  1. First, our greatest concern is for anyone that is a senior citizen or has ongoing health concerns that would make you more vulnerable to COVID-19 such as immune diseases, etc. Statistics are showing that the clear majority of people who have contracted or died from COVID-19 have been elderly or people who were already vulnerable due to other health conditions. Of course, I am not a physician and please know that I am not trying to alarm you; however, I love you and I want you to be the most careful. Some people will feel comfortable while others will choose to continue worshiping online. That is perfectly fine. Online worship will be available from now on as an additional ministry to our community. Whatever you decide, we support your decision. Please be careful.

  3. The most obvious safety procedure is personal hygiene and accountability. We all should be washing our hands much more regularly, keeping our hands away from our face, using hand sanitizer, etc. Sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and masks will be available in the welcome area of the sanctuary building for you to use as you enter the facility. Masks are encouraged, especially for seniors.

  5. If you are sick in any way, please do not come to church. Rest, watch online, and make sure you are well before you attend in person despite your sincere desire to worship together. Aside from identifying symptoms, taking your temperature at home is the best way to determine if you are possibly symptomatic. Hospitals and doctors’ offices are requiring temperature readings before patients come into their facilities.

  7. When you enter the facility for worship I am asking that you move directly to find a seat and not congregate in small corridors which would prevent social distancing measures. You will find that every other row in the sanctuary will be taped off to prevent people from sitting too close. Family units who live together can sit closer, but we need to attempt to keep distinct family units at least 6 feet apart from other family units.

  9. Offerings will be now dropped in locked offering boxes located around the welcome area of the sanctuary instead of in offering plates that are passed around.

  11. Obviously, personal contact such as hugging and shaking hands is not a smart way to prevent sharing germs. We must practice mindful self-control and refrain from personal contact which is different from what we are so used to.

  13. Nursery and childcare will not be available until later this summer when we are well into Phase 3.

  15. We will not be resuming normal Sunday School classes until a later date. In the meantime, there will be some Sunday School classes offered on our YouTube channel which you can enjoy at a time convenient to your schedule.

  17. All other ministries will be carefully moving forward to determine how they can resume this summer. We are thinking through all the considerations regarding children and youth ministries, VBS, Adult Bible Study, and more. Please be patient and understand we desire that we get back to a new normal in the safest way possible.

Finally, let me say that God deserves praise! He has been so good to us through this time. Everyone has dealt with this wonderfully and I am so thankful to you and especially to God for His help. As of now I am not aware of anyone in our church family who has contracted COVID-19, and we know it has been in our local community. Praise Jesus for His protection and for His people. Your encouragement and prayers for us, for one another, and for our church are so appreciated. I am excited that we are moving forward, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you in person on the 31st. If you have questions or concerns, please email or call the church office. We love you and are fully trusting in the Lord as we walk forward through this with Him together.

Blessings to you in the Name of Jesus.