Emmanuel Church’s COVID-19 Response Updates
Dear church family,
As we gather for indoor worship services this summer, we wanted to provide you with a detailed sketch of our plans and protocols in light of COVID-19. In preparing this plan the leaders of the church have spent a great deal of time talking to one another, researching the underlying challenges related to gathering, reading and processing guidelines from various health organizations, and interacting with a number of our members on various concerns. Know that the plan we’re presenting below has been prepared with a great deal of thought, prayer, input, and dialogue. We recognize that there are lots of opinions out there about how churches should handle this situation. We also acknowledge no one’s preferences will be perfectly met by this plan. However, we view this as a good opportunity for us to apply Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3-4,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Presently, we plan to hold our regular worship gatherings at 10:30am on Sunday mornings. Below are some of the accommodations we will be making under phase 2 of our Governor’s plan, which presently runs through July 17, 2020:
- We will not hold Equip or Sunday School classes during phase 2.
- Entrance into the building will be exclusively through the doors under the portico.
- The 10:30am worship service will be a socially-distanced service. We have a plan for seating that will allow for a distance of roughly six feet between families. This will allow for a capacity of approximately 130 people in the sanctuary. When you are ready to enter the sanctuary, you will be greeted by an usher who will escort you and your family to your seat.
- If we reach the 130 person capacity in the sanctuary, we will then make use of an overflow room in the chapel just down the hall from the sanctuary. We will have chairs set up at a safe social distance and will have a video stream of the service piped into the chapel
- We are requesting that members wear face-masks while indoors. We recognize that there are lots of different opinions about face-masks and their relative usefulness. We are not seeking to endorse any particular political or medical perspective by requesting the use of masks. The reason we're requesting that members wear face-masks is particularly to accommodate those who presently feel unsafe in the building if most people are not wearing masks. We believe this is a good way to communicate to others our regard for them and our desire to preserve the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us. We have good reason to believe that by requesting the use of masks under phase 2, this will make our church more hospitable to the elderly, those who are more vulnerable to the virus, and those who might visit our church during this time. We recognize some may have legitimate reasons for not wearing a face-mask, so we are not strictly requiring that you do so, but if you are not wearing a face-mask we do ask that you plan on sitting toward the back of the sanctuary during the service. If you don't have a face mask, a one-time use disposable face-mask can be provided for you by the ushers.
- Beginning July 5, we are offering optional childcare for children ages 0-4 in our nursery facilities downstairs. Extra sanitary protocols have been put in place to provide for the safest possible environment for children. Parents are also welcome to bring their children into the sanctuary or the overflow room (chapel) during the service as well.
- All of the restrooms in the building are open, but please limit capacity in the restroom to no more than two people at a time.
- After the service, people are free to mingle and fellowship, but we encourage folks to move all fellowship outdoors after the service.
- When you are ready to exit the building, please plan on exiting outside the upstairs sanctuary doors on either side of the platform. Please do not exit the building from the main downstairs entrance under the carport.
Our plan is to keep these measures in place during all of Phase 2 which ends on July 17. We will continually be evaluating these measures over the next few weeks and will decide later in July if we will maintain some of these measures after Phase 2.
One final word about what we might call the "tone" of these restrictions. Please hear these guidelines as warm encouragements from the leaders of the church. We are not going to police the congregation. We are not going to hand out demerits for infractions. We're a family, and we want to create as comfortable an atmosphere as possible during our meetings. So please feel at ease as you seek to follow these guidelines. We are not going to judge one another nor will we divide over our differences. We'll work through this in a spirit of love, tenderness, and grace toward one another.
We appreciate your prayers and your patience. Feel free to relate any concerns to us. We are always open to you. We will navigate this situation together with Christ's help!
Yours in the love of God,
The Pastors of Emmanuel Church