Church Reopening Update!

Author: Tukker
Reopening Update

Good evening, Pequea!

Here's our video about our reopening plan

Here are the details:

Sunday, May 31:

We are planning an outside church service for this coming Sunday May 31, weather permitting. If the weather this Sunday takes a turn for the worst, we will make a decision by Friday to cancel and notify the congregation. There will be no congregational service in that case on the 31st, but you will still have the option to watch the service at home as you have been for the past two months. 

Unfortunately we cannot ensure anyone’s safety when we start meeting together again and we caution our high risk members to use good judgement. While we are going to try to put some safety measures in place, the reality is that everyone gathers at their own risk. For these reasons we are planning to meet outside whenever we can for the foreseeable future since we believe this is the safest option for everyone. Outdoor services will allow us to meet with much more freedom than indoors. We will ask you all to bring your favorite lawn chairs, sit in family groups that are separated from one another and masks will be optional.

June 7th will be our official reopening date and from that time forward we will be prepared to move indoors when weather threatens our services. Unfortunately, this will require much more restrictive precautions and policies for the near future such as wearing masks and going directly to our seats once we get into the building, etc. We are finalizing those plans and policies and we will get them out to you before the June 7th service.

June 7: Re-opening Our Church

Our church leadership team hopes this COVID-19 update finds you all well and as excited as we are to meet in person once again. Undoubtedly, this experience is unprecedented in our lifetime and one we will not soon forget. Please know that in this absence of physical meetings both the Trustee and Deacon Boards, as well as the Pastoral and Office staff have all struggled weekly with how to best minister to our church families during this time. The decision to suspend in person services for a season was made for a number of reasons. 

1. The health and well-being of everyone in our church family; 

2. Sensitivity to ensuring the many health care workers were not overwhelmed beyond their ability to properly care for patients, as shown to be possible in other countries like Italy; 

3. Respect for the office of governor which issued a stay-at-home declaration. Even though churches were exempt from that declaration from the beginning, it was strongly recommended we adhere to it for the safety of all; 

4. Trying to biblically balance God’s desire that we worship and fellowship together, coupled with concern over everyone’s health, and weighed against the church not becoming a stumbling block to unbelievers in our neighborhood that would frown upon a perceived lack of consideration for people’s health and the governor’s order. 

We understand that there may be many who wished we opened sooner and we are sympathetic to that desire.

As you may sense, this matter has been given a lot of thought and prayer. With that in mind our church leadership team has decided to reopen for morning worship only beginning Sunday, June 7th, the doors will open starting at 10:15 AM. At this time only the sanctuary and foyer will reopen; the rest of the building will remain closed, and will not be open for use during the week for any reason. 

The choice of June 7th was made after prayerfully considering 

1) the reduced risk of COVID-19 with Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines placed in effect, and

2) the comments heard from many of you asking that we resume worship together in person at church. 

See you June 7th at 10:15 AM! 

What to Expect When We Gather…

Outdoor Service

Weather permitting services will be held outside during this time of social distancing,  in the grass/parking lot in between the gym and the bus shed. An email will be sent no later than Friday evening to indicate if we will be inside or outside. Face Masks Optional for Outdoor services.

• There will be no Sunday School or Child Care planned for June 7th. The restart date for Sunday School and Child Care at church will be determined by the leadership team after we experience a number of morning worship services and see the feasibility of restarting these within the social distancing guidelines.

• Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs for outdoor services, and will be encouraged to sit with their families, while maintaining CDC recommended distance between themselves and other families. 

• When services are held outside please refrain from parking in front of the bus shed and gym, as this area will be used for seating. Instead use the overflow stone parking lot, or park near the Scope and Ed buildings.

• Offering plates will be located on a table near the gym doors and will not be passed around. We encourage all church family members to continue giving in the same manner that they are currently giving, electronically or via mail.

Indoor Service

If the weather is not permitting outdoor service, indoor service will be held with various protective measures in place at our church building, including ushers located at the church entrance and interior spaces to open all doors and remind people about face masks and social distancing per the CDC guidelines. 

• A deep cleaning of all common touch surfaces in the church will be completed prior to June 7th. 

• Hand sanitizer and masks will be available at the church entrance for at least the first week we reopen, please feel free to bring your own. We will require that all attendees above the age of 2 years old wear a mask during their time inside the building in accordance with CDC guidelines. 

• Chairs will be strategically placed in clusters around the sanctuary to meet CDC social distancing guidelines (chairs will be added or removed from clusters by ushers as necessary to accommodate families). We can all praise the Lord that it was part of his plan for us to have chairs in the sanctuary.

• Our worshipers will be asked to limit bathroom use to 2 women and 3 men at any one time due to the layout of our bathrooms and our ability to keep social distancing guidelines; the nursery bathroom will remain closed at this time. (If you enter a bathroom and it is considered full under these guidelines, please exit and return later)

• Offering plates will be located on a table inside the sanctuary, please drop your offering in the plates as you enter or leave. We encourage all users who have signed up for online giving to continue to do so. Additionally you may continue to send checks in via the mail.

• Attendees will be reminded to not congregate in groups after entering the church. This is needed to ensure a wide-open pathway to the Sanctuary for others entering or exiting the building. Please free to talk outside the building prior to or after the service using the appropriate CDC Social Distancing Guidelines.

• There will be limited music shared along with the service. We request that attendees refrain from singing and simply enjoy the music, as the CDC and other health officials have determined that singing may be the largest factor in spreading the disease throughout a church service.

• After the worship service is finished, those in attendance will be dismissed by family cluster, starting in the back. Everyone will be asked at the end of the service to not congregate, but instead to hold socially distanced fellowship outside the church. 

• All services will continue to be shared online in video format, but please understand that they may not be accessible on Sundays upon our initial reopening.

We recognize the idea of masks and social distancing may not sit well with everyone. Truth be told, church leadership members would rather we not have to wear masks either, however, we have attempted to arrive at a solution that allows us to meet corporately for worship, is in adherence to CDC guidelines, and gives a degree of comfort to those who wish to attend. We also believe that whoever chooses to join us for worship would never want to learn they were an asymptomatic (person who is healthy/not sick) carrier of the virus and potentially passed it on to someone due to our decision to not wear a mask . We will assess the continued need for them in the weeks ahead. 

We are anxious to see all of you once again; however, we recognize the decision to join us for worship will be an individual decision made on a family-by-family basis. We request that if you are not feeling well (sore throat, cough, fever, chills, etc.) please continue staying home, caring for yourself, and returning to full health quickly so you are able to once again join us. 

We reserve the right to rescind this decision, even at the last minute should something specific arise that causes us to have greater concern for everyone’s well being. Thank you for your patience as we have worked our way to this decision.

May God bless all of you!