COVID-19 Return to In-Person Service Plan
May 9, 2020
Dear Church Family,
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Our church leadership has put their heads together and we have come up with our plan for returning to in-person services at Brushy Fork. We recognize that there is no way to make everyone happy at this time. Many just want to get back to normal and get this pandemic behind us. Others are still very concerned about the health threat in our community. We recognize and sympathize with both of these sides of the argument. Our desire is to wade through these uncharted waters responsibly and thoughtfully.
In considering when to go back to in-person services, the one striking reality is that the majority of our congregation falls in the “high risk” category due to age and/or health problems. We also recognize that the isolation has weighed heavy on some emotionally. We started our COVID-19 Bible Study so that we could meet this need. Financially, we started off a little rocky, but you folks really stepped up and we are on good financial footing as I write this letter. Going into Stage 2 of “Back on Track” Indiana, we do not know what we are going to see in regards to a further tightening of the stay-at-home orders.
For these reasons, May 24 at 10:30 AM we will have our first in-person service. Legally, we can congregate after May 8 in a religious gathering of any size. However, what is legal and what is wise is not always the same. Due to our churches large population of “high risk” individuals and our ability to continue with our COVID-19 Bible Study, we think it is wise to wait a few weeks to go to a full in-person service. Waiting will also allow us to see how the spread of the virus is affected by the opening up of some of Governor Holcomb’s stay-at-home order. I want to emphasize that we will continue with the COVID-19 Bible Study to provide a social outlet to those who need it.
I want to also emphasize that we understand if you are still uncertain about an in-person meeting even on May 24. As baptists, we believe strongly in following your own conscience and convictions. We want to give you the freedom to do just that. If you have any questions about your health risk and COVID-19, I would give your doctor a call and ask about their opinion on your attending an in-person service at your church with these safety precautions in use. On May 24, our services will continue as a hybrid of in-person and online worship. We will have the 10:30 church service in the sanctuary, but we also hope to provide an online church service at 10:30 on Sunday. Needless to say, I will continue to record my messages and the same message I preached Thursday or Friday will either be played via YouTube or witnessed in-person in the sanctuary. We want to provide for your needs throughout this transition period as we move to a more normal corporate gathering.
The in-person church service will look a little different. Seeing the wisdom of Governor Holcomb’s instruction on social distancing, masks, and good hygiene, we will have the pews clearly marked indicating which pews are open to sit in and which ones are closed due to the need for social distancing. We will also provide a marker that will show how much space needs to be allotted between each family unit. The scientific community tells us that our greatest risk is if we are in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 for more that 15 minutes. We can control one of those factors by social distancing. The scientific community has also shown the utility of cloth facial coverings to limit the chance of you spreading the virus without knowing it. We are encouraging people to wear a mask to our in-person services as long as they are 3 and older. Please do not put a mask on a child younger than 3 years old. We will have some extras for those who forget theirs or do not have one and would like one. Good hygiene practices will also provide us with some protection from COVID-19. We will have hand sanitizer at the exits and we encourage you to practice good hand washing hygiene in conjunction with the hand sanitizer. We will also need a group of 8 people each Saturday to clean the church in preparation for Sunday. You can volunteer on our website or by contacting pastor Chris.
Our in-person services on May 24 will not include Sunday School or any children’s programming. We are encouraging families to sit together in the sanctuary for our church service. We will be conducting a survey in the meantime to gauge the desire to start back to Sunday School. Our desire is to start some children’s programming in June. We will see how these first steps go in getting back to normal congregational life.
Again, I ask for your patience and grace as we work our way back into a more normal congregational life. Your continued financial support of our church is so appreciated and our ministries are continuing. Our desire is to get to a full in-person service safely and responsibly. Thank you for all your prayers and know that I have been praying for you too.
With great love,
Statement Timeline can be found here: https://www.brushyforkbaptist.com/covid-19/covid-19-statements-timeline/