Emmanuel Church’s COVID-19 Response Updates

1/27/21 Update:

Dear church family,
 
We want to provide you with an update regarding Emmanuel’s COVID response for the remainder of the winter and beginning of the spring. We have had some important conversations recently among the leadership and want to share with you our plans for the next couple of months.
 
On the one hand, we are encouraged that a number of key indicators have begun to turn over the last couple of weeks inclining us toward a more optimistic outlook with respect to the virus. We are encouraged that overall case counts in North Carolina and Forsyth have begun to decline. We are also encouraged that many especially of the more vulnerable among the population have begun to get the vaccine. That said, we continue to be concerned particularly with hospitalizations in Forsyth County which remain quite high. We do not want to contribute in any way to the stress on our hospital systems.
 
As we’ve processed this data, and as we continue to observe attendance patterns at church, we have arrived at what we think will be a good plan for approaching the next few months. Please consider this to be a tentative plan as it depends very much on how things go with the COVID pandemic over the next several weeks.
 
We have decided we would like to target the beginning of March for reinstating many of our regular gatherings such as Sunday school/Equip class, small groups, and evening prayer meetings. We have decided to forego these meetings in February so that we can resume them with greater commitment and participation come March. We know that many are eager to resume these gatherings as soon as possible. However, we think that by taking a conservative approach for February, we can then bring them back with fuller engagement from the congregation beginning in March.
 
With that in mind, we would encourage you to begin thinking together as families to what degree you feel comfortable participating in some of these other regular gatherings that we plan to resume in March. If you feel by that time that it is generally safe to once again re-engage in these gatherings, then we would highly encourage you to do so. We want March to be the month when we really begin the process of throwing ourselves back into some of these normal rhythms of life at Emmanuel. That said, be assured that we will continue to be supportive of those who would still like to wait till later in the year to resume their participation in these gatherings.
 
We are hopeful that the situation surrounding the pandemic will look brighter by the beginning of March. Let’s give ourselves to united prayer that this would indeed come to pass. And let’s begin to prepare ourselves for re-engagement in wider church life as the situation improves.
 
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
 
Yours in Christ,
The Elders of Emmanuel Church

1/7/21 Update:

Dear church family,

We hope you are well and staying safe in these days. The elders continue to monitor case counts in Forsyth County and are carefully tracking developments related to the vaccine which has already begun to be administered. As many of you know, case counts are quite high now leading to some strain on our hospital systems here in Winston Salem. We as a church want to continue to gather, but want to make sure we steward this privilege as best we can. We have decided that for the month of January, all other meetings will be suspended except for our Sunday worship gatherings. This means we will not have small groups, Sunday school/equip classes, or evening services in January. However, we hope many who feel safe doing so will continue to gather for worship Sunday by Sunday.

We do ask that all those who attend our Sunday worship be careful to follow the guidelines the elders have laid out for our gatherings. This means especially wearing a mask while singing and reciting, and doing so in the hallways as you enter and exit the building. We believe this will make our gatherings as hospitable as possible for many of our members and visitors. Thank you for your ongoing partnership with us in this effort.

We recognize all of us are eager to get back to normal as soon as possible. We are optimistic that the situation surrounding COVID is going to improve in the months ahead. As it does, God willing, we plan to layer back in all of our regular gatherings and ministries. We are eager to be back to normal as soon as possible and look forward to the day when COVID is in the rear view mirror. But in God's providence, we're not there yet. Let us in the meantime seek to be patient and learn what it means to wait upon God. Let us also adopt a posture of openness to learn whatever lessons God is teaching us individually and corporately during this season. Finally, let us continue to esteem highly our regular worship gatherings Sunday by Sunday as God has called us to do.

We love you and are here for you if you have any questions, needs, or concerns,

Yours in the love of God,
The Elders of Emmanuel Church

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Fall/winter 2020 update:

As we continue to gather for indoor services this fall, 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 all of our regular Sunday gatherings with various protocols in place.

  • Our 9:15am adult equip classes and children's Sunday school classes are arranged to allow for social distancing.
  • The 10:30am worship service will be a socially-distanced service. We have a plan for seating that allows for a distance of roughly six feet between families. This will allow for a capacity of approximately 135 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.
  • When we reach the 135 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.
  • During the service we require that all attenders wear face-masks while singing and reciting creeds and Scripture reading . If you don't have a face mask, a one-time use disposable face-mask can be provided for you. We have a table with masks at the back of the sanctuary. Those with medical conditions that are compromised by wearing a face mask are exempted from this request.
  • We offer childcare for children ages 0-4 in our nursery facilities downstairs during Equip and Sunday school classes as well as our morning worship. 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.
  • 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 3. We will continually be re-evaluating these measures over the next several weeks and may make adjustments as needed, which will be reflected on this page.

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'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 share any concerns with us at any time. 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