May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
First up this week: A little humor.
One more?  Okay, here you go.  A mash-up of all the COVID-19 themed commercials on TV these days:


With that over, let’s get down to business, shall we?

We’ve set the date.  A week from Sunday. 

On May 31, you’re welcome to join us at church for our Sunday morning service.

But here’s what you need to know before you decide to show up.  It’s a lot of info. 

Ready? 
Okay, here goes:

RCC’s Re-Opening Plan
Phase One
Beginning Sunday, May 31, 2020

This document lays out for you our plans for opening Redeemer Community Church for corporate worship in the midst of the current global pandemic. It will outline our policies and procedures for Phase One of the re-opening.

OUR GOAL

To re-gather to worship together as a church family in a way that keeps everyone as safe as possible.
 

The Principles Guiding Our Plan:
  • Loving our neighbor and putting the needs of others ahead of our own
  • Heeding wise counsel from medical experts and governing authorities
  • Preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace in our fellowship
  • Adhering to the biblical admonition that God’s people are to come together regularly to corporately worship God
  •  

    With those principles in mind, we will be implementing the following practices for Phase I of our re-opening:
    We will continue to live stream our weekly worship service so that anyone who is concerned about being part of a gathered group can, for a season, continue from a distance to worship together with the church body each Sunday.For those who will be coming to church for worship, we will all follow the same guidelines listed below.

    BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

     As a church, we will be limiting access to the main entrance, the lobby and restrooms and the worship center. These areas will be cleaned and sanitized before and after each service.

    Other areas of the church (the education wing, the church living room, the kitchen and the nursing mother’s room) will be closed for now.
     
    Make sure it’s safe for you and your family members to come. In compliance with what has been outlined by the Arkansas Department of Health, you should not attend if:

    1. You have had a fever of 100.4˚F or higher in the past 2 days.
    2. You currently have a cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
    3. You have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days (if so, you should already be under voluntary home quarantine). 

    Additionally, you should consider the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines regarding whether you are in a high-risk category:

    1. You are over 65 years old, or,
    2. You have underlying health conditions including:
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • chronic lung disease
  • diabetes
  • severe obesity
  • asthma
  • immune-compromising conditions

  • AS YOU ARRIVE

  • We’ll have greeters wearing masks who will welcome you, open doors for you, have hand sanitizer available as you enter and will ask if you meet the criteria for entrance outlined above.
  • Anyone who is 10 years old or older will need to wear a face mask to enter the building.
  • Parents will decide whether they want their children between the ages of 2-10 to wear a mask.
  • Children will need to stay with their parents at all times.
  • Once you enter the church, you’ll need to proceed directly to the worship center for seating. While we’re used to visiting with people in the lobby, shaking hands or even hugging each other, during Phase One, those practices are on hold.
  • Also, we’ll have no coffee service available as you arrive.
  • There will be ushers wearing masks to help you find a seat. Some rows will be closed off for seating to enable social distancing. In addition, in the rows that are open, families should leave 3 open seats between them and the next person/family.
  •  

    IN THE WORSHIP CENTER

    As you enter the worship center and are directed to your seats, you’ll also have the opportunity to pick up pre-packaged communion elements to be used during the service.You will need to continue to be aware of social distancing. It will be weird! All of us want to be able to engage again with others! But for right now, for everyone’s safety, we need to stay at least six feet apart.

    During this phase of reopening, with the exception of those who are speaking or leading singing, everyone in the worship center should wear a face mask throughout the service. For many people, this will be the hardest part of this policy. It is in line with the recommendations provided for us by the Arkansas Department of Health, and we are choosing to adhere to those guidelines.

    Again, kids will stay with parents throughout the service. No childcare or kids classes will be available during Phase One. If a parent needs to take a child out of the service for any reason, they will need to keep the child with them in the lobby or take them to the parking lot until they are able to return with the child to the service. 

    LEAVING THE BUILDING

    As the worship service ends, we will ask people to stay seated until their row has been dismissed. Once a row has been dismissed, people will be asked to proceed directly to the parking lot. 

    Once outside, masks can be removed, but social distancing should continue.   

    Our hope and prayer are that we can move from Phase One to Phase Two soon! As the number of people in central Arkansas who are infected with COVID-19 begins to decrease, we expect our state officials will be providing us with new guidelines. We are looking forward to being able to minister on Sundays to children in our church and to gather without needing to wear masks. We don’t know how long it will be until we’ll be able to do any of those things safely. But we look forward to that day!
     
    In the meantime, let me share again the thoughts of Dr. Russell Moore, some of which I shared with you on Sunday during our service. In thinking about re-opening our church, Dr. Moore made these observations:

    For a long time to come there will be aspects of church life that will be different. Churches that never thought about a category of “ushers” will now have people assigned to make sure that doors do not have to be touched as people enter and exit. Bathroom facilities will need to be restricted to very small groups to keep distancing requirements. The spacing of seating in auditoriums will require much more planning than just who normally sits where. And I can’t imagine anytime soon that the practice of “turn around and greet your neighbor” times in churches will resume if it ever does (some of you will miss it; some of us won’t). 

    Some people will want to re-gather immediately and will think their churches are “giving in to fear” if they take longer to re-open than the businesses around them. Some will think that the church is insane for re-opening whenever it does and will be tempted to say that their leaders don’t care about public health. In almost every case I have seen, though, pastors and leaders in this emergency are exercising wisdom and prudence. They are seeking to do the best they can, to make the best decisions they can. Let’s pray for one another and impute the best of motives to one another. 

    If your pastors or leaders make a decision you think is overly naïve or overly cautious, in almost every case, what they need from you is an “I love you, and I’m praying for you, and I know you are having to make really tough decisions.”


    Thank you for praying for us as we have wrestled with the right way to move forward in the midst of a global pandemic.

    We love you and look forward to being together for worship again on May 31.

     _______________________________________________________
       
    As for this Sunday, we’ll once again connect on line to dig into the Apostle John’s account of the parable of the feeding of the 5000 – the only miracle Jesus performed (apart from the resurrection) that is highlighted in all four gospel accounts.  
     
    See you (on line) Sunday!
     
    Soli Deo Gloria!
    Pastor Bob
     
     

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