Letter to the E39th Congregation
It seems like it has been forever since we have had the opportunity to meet together as a body to worship.
Many of you have joined worship settings through social media, Zoom, and others in order to keep those connections going, and I applaud you for that. It is important that we keep those connections and relationships going.
Now we find ourselves at another crossroad so to speak, and with the lifting of certain restrictions, we find ourselves with the ability to once again meet as a corporate body.
Many questions arose as a result and truly, we honestly are making this up as we go along as there is so much to consider.
To this end, our team of co Pastors met Sunday afternoon the 17th to discuss what and how we do corporate worship moving forward from here.
Firstly, to the new guidelines issued by the state of Missouri and the Mission Center.
There was a Leadership meeting on the 14th of May to discuss these items and we are looking for a formal document to itemize these that we should have in hand in a few days. There may be more than what I have listed here and if so we will modify accordingly. For our purposes I can summarize what they are, as of now.
1) Due to Jackson County not meeting the requirements of the guidelines, no services will be held until at least 1 July 2020.
2) Social distancing will take place (6ft between family units)
3) Limit gatherings to 30% of total occupancy
4) Post signage on the entrance doors advising about non contact greeting, wearing of PPE, and not entering if you have any symptoms of COVID 19
5) Recording of names entering for contact tracing purposes if needed.
6) Keep an attendance record for contact tracing purposes
7) No mid week or Sunday school activities
Based on these guidelines, our team discussed what our services would need to look like to accomplish these and other things that have become necessary to help insure our safety.
We decided on the following:
1) You will be greeted at the entrance doors by a person designated
2) You will be required to wear a face mask during your time in the building. These can either be homemade (sewn) or premade. If you do not have one, it will be provided to you by the greeter.
3) There will be hand sanitizer available at the entrance doors and at the entrance to the sanctuary. Please use it when you enter and leave.
4) For the foreseeable future, community cafe will be suspended and the social hall will be closed to gatherings of more than 10 people at a time
5) There will be no 9AM church school
6) There will be no mid week services at this time (rest easy Wayne)
7) The Deacons will be responsible for maintaining distancing of family unit seating in the sanctuary, but basically we will not use every other pew. If you are unsure where to sit, please let them guide you.
8) Restrooms will be available, just be mindful of others and try to limit not only the amount of time you are in there but also keeping the amount of people to no more than two at a time.
9) There will be no corporate singing due to this as even with a mask, the possibility for spread increases.
10) There will be music however, from the piano, organ , a soloist or combination of these.
11) There will not be a printed bulletin, it will be displayed on the screen
12) There will be a basket for offerings placed at the foot of the rostrum, at the appropriate time during the service, you will be invited to come and place your offering in the basket. If you have difficulty standing or walking, one of the Deacons will come to you.
13) There will only be two people on the rostrum during a service, the one presiding and the speaker. All of the other participants will occupy the front pews
14) Limiting the service time to no more than 40 minutes
I'm sure that over the course of time these things will be modified, changed, eliminated, as the virus winds its way through our society. We are in uncharted waters folks. We have taken the extra step in having contracted with a cleaning service to come in and deep clean the entire top floor of our building including all of the pews, foyer chairs, restrooms, carpet and hard surfaces. This was accomplished on the 26th of this month. The ultimate goal is for us to be able to enjoy each others' company, worship our God and do it in a safe and respectful manner.
We do not know where we go from here, I confess, Zoom meetings and video services do nothing for me and I am one who eagerly awaits the time when we can share in the intimacy of close fellowship. I also recognize the need to do these and indeed, any measures that promote the safety and well being of all of our membership. We must press onward, we do not know what the future holds and we make the best decisions based on the knowledge we have at the time. It has been my good pleasure to assist in doing anything I can to help accomplish that end. The times, they be a changin' indeed. I love you all, be safe and I will see you soon.
Jim Parcel, for the Pastorate.