August COVID-19 Update
I was asked by a very dear friend, a very good question; ‘Is the church sending a mixed message by saying we want you back and then asking members to rotate church attendance?’ My answer is I hope not. Allow me to explain why I think that way.
Right now, due to state and CDC guidelines, we are limited in our physical space at the church. There are some churches that think they should dispense with the guidelines all together. Neither we (nor our insurance company) agree with that. Based upon the best information available, we think it is wise practice that out of love for our church family and visitors to remain seated six feet apart from one another, enter and exit through different doorways to minimize unexpected face to face contact, encourage the use of masks when unable to be six feet apart, and continue to sanitize the facility after each use. We take the threat of the virus seriously as we would any contagion. But by abiding by these guidelines it does limit the number of people that can attend events.
So, in order to allow everyone an opportunity to participate in physical worship, we are asking our membership to volunteer to rotate in order to ensure that we will be able to have visitors attend the church. This is a way that every member can serve. My family has been rotating ever since we re-opened for worship in May. We see it as a way to assist others. And every week, the church has come close to hitting our limit in the worship hour. We do not want to turn anyone away from being able to worship, therefore we ask our brothers and sisters if they would volunteer to do virtual worship temporarily until we no longer have restrictions. Now, we also have the ability to watch the service online at the church, should we need an overflow room. Some have asked why we do not do multiple services. At this point, we do not have the ability to sanitize to accommodate that. Plus we think it is important not to divide the church into two groups which is why we are encouraging random rotation. In addition to our normal worship hour, we will continue the practice of having outdoor Lord Supper services the first Sunday of the month so that every church member can participate without any limits.
We have been blown away at the response to adult Sunday School. And while our new building is adequate to meet our needs during normal times, space in our classrooms are not. Mike Watson, our Adult Sunday School director, is working on solutions to make sure we have adequate space for those that desire to attend. But we must confess, we were surprised that so many were ready to return (which demonstrates the need). Please bear with us in patience as we continue to sort out the details. But you can help us by making sure you sign up for Sunday School so that the teachers can be prepared. Signing up by the required time is the only way we can be prepared.
What will happen going forward? I cannot say for sure. There are still normal aspects of our worship service that still need solutions. (For example, based on the best advice we still should not do choir due to seating requirements and masks). All I know I know is that the Lord has been incredibly gracious to Providence Baptist Church. We have acted prayerfully, cautiously and with wisdom at every turn. Unlike other churches, we have been able to meet, our ministry of the word is continuing, our education ministry is continuing, church members are growing through acts of service and the Lord has been providing for our financial needs during this troubled economic time. It would be easy to focus on what we do not have yet. But I prefer to do all things without grumbling (Phil. 2:14) and marvel at what God is doing among us now in the present. I hope you will join me in giving thanksgiving to God.