Letter to the Church
We will be resuming Sunday Morning Worship Services on May 24th.
It is the conviction of the leadership of ChristChurch, our Elders and Deacons, that gathering corporately for worship is vital to the health of the church and the health of its members and participants. We believe that there is a mandate to gather and worship in scripture but, also believe that our participation in the corporate body is not simply an obedience, but also a blessing. That by gathering in person, not just in spirit, we are blessed by the fellowship. So, over the past few months as we have been in this state of lockdown the leadership has come together to try to find the best ways to both seek the health and safety of our church and also sought to find the best ways to regather. We believe that at this point, based on the information we have available, we feel it is proper for us to come back together.
There are many factors that have played into this conversation, some of which I will address in this letter and others will be left out for the sake of being concise. The largest factor in our decision to both close our services and now to reopen has been the spirit of the time. While in Ohio, churches and other religious groups have technically remained exempt from all the orders, we have felt that the best approach is to be compliant to the spirit of the orders, as best we can. Part of the difficulty we have faced as we seek to reopen is how to best interpret the orders in relation to the church. Because of the importance of the church and its value in the lives of its members and participants, we believe that as restaurants and businesses reopen it is proper for the church to reopen as well.
While the above was probably the largest factor in our decisions the most important factor in both our closure and now our reopening is the safety of our church family. In the beginning, we were operating largely in the unknown. We wanted to aid in the effort to flatten the curve and to slow the spread to give us more time to understand this new virus. Closing our doors was not an effort of fear but of precaution. In the same spirit of precaution, we will reopen with some changes.
Before I list the changes, I want to address the reality of risks we face as we reopen, both the church and our state. The most basic reality is that life is a risk. We all take risks every day just waking up, but we measure those risks and take them when we feel it is worth the risk. This is in no small part because we feel we have a large part to play in our own safety. But, the reality of life is, that all our efforts, in the end, are an act of futility. In the end, we do all die, some even before the “right” time. But, as believers, we know that the Lord is in control. That belief, however, does not mean we act recklessly or foolishly, no one who has this conviction believes, or should believe, that if I jump out in front of a car on the highway God will stop that car because he is in control. God could and has done those types of things, yes, absolutely, but some of what we mean by saying God is in control is trusting his wisdom that has been entrusted to us. We act wisely and the wisdom of God protects us.
We will severely restrict what we do as we come back to church, not because we think that the things we are removing are unimportant. Or also, not because the things we will be doing different will remove or even greatly diminish the risks, but more out of an effort to be wise and loving. There is still a risk to coming to church on the 24th, a larger risk than normal. There is biblical wisdom in washing our hands, the cleanliness laws in Leviticus, and remaining distant, those same laws in Leviticus, and even obeying the rules and regulations of the government, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Most importantly though, is the love we do and should have for each other. I can sacrifice a handshake for those who are higher risk than I might be. And we all can be tender and kind to those who might differ when it comes to how we feel about everything that is going on.
Here is how we are going to change things up come the 24th. These will all remain in effect for the foreseeable future. As things progress, we desire to shift back to our normal, as much as we can, but are also aware that some things might be forever changed and only time will show us what is changed permanently. There are many things in these changes that are things we desire to and will get back to doing, but for the sake of gathering, we are willing to hold them off a little longer.
Things the church will be doing.
- We will be going to two services, at 9 am and 11 am, to keep us closer to 50% capacity of the sanctuary.
- We will not have any Sunday schools or nursery.
- We will not be having communion.
- We will not be passing the offering plate; offerings can still be given in the offering box.
- We will have socially distant seating.
- Depending on weather we will either have the front doors propped open or have greeters at the doors to open and close the doors.
- There will be ushers to coordinate the flow into and out of the sanctuary.
- Hand sanitizer at various places around the church.
- We will also be sanitizing as much as possible between services.
- We will also continue with our online services, though they will look a little different and will likely be posted later than normal.
Things we will ask of you.
- We ask first that you are courteous of everyone and how they are dealing with the current situation. Now more than ever love and compassion should prevail.
- If you are not feeling well, please stay home.
- Wash your hands and be aware of the things you do touch.
- Avoid shaking hands.
- We ask that you keep your families relatively together during service. In the same vein, we know that children are going to be excited to be with friends and there is only so much we will demand of them. Please just have conversations with your children explaining what our efforts are for.
- We will never discourage fellowship but will ask you to go outside as much as possible, not just to keep distance but for those who will be wiping things down to have time and space to get that done quickly.
- We are not going to require masks but, want to encourage anyone who feels more comfortable with a mask to please wear it.
- Lastly, and most importantly, please do not feel pressure in coming. The last thing we want is for someone to assume a risk they are not ready to take. The church is supposed to be a place we can feel safe and joyful, and if you are coming because you feel pressure then you will likely not feel safe and joyful. We know many are at a higher risk and some want to be more cautious and that is completely fine. We will still do our best to serve you where you are.