Removing Protocols for Worship Services
Dear Church Family,
As we mentioned at the quarterly update, the elders have accepted a plan to begin lifting some of our COVID protocols and to begin incrementally returning to our ultimate goal of a single church worshipping at a single service. We ask that you carefully read the full content of this letter so you are aware of details of the process.
The first question we would like to answer is why we feel now is to begin that process. Below is our rationale.
The Infection Rate in the county has diminished overall. It has dropped from 1183 (January 13) down to 144 at the time of this letter.
The governor of Alabama began relaxing some restrictions this past month with a return to normal after 5PM on April 9.
Madison County Schools and Madison City Schools are removing most Social Distancing Requirements.
The hospitals now have most front line staff vaccinated. The numbers of hospitalized COVID cases (Huntsville & Madison) have dropped from 270 on January 4 to 35 on March 16.
We are not aware of any infected households within our church family.
The vaccine has begun county wide distribution. The percentage of the county of those vaccinated goes up daily.
Our church members have been responsible to stay away from church if they a) have been exposed or b) are demonstrating any symptoms of the virus.
All of these are indicators that we are ready to start the process of resuming most of our normal practices. Therefore, we are choosing Easter Sunday to begin. It will be a wonderful occasion to have most of the congregation present for the same service. There will be three options for worship at that single service. We are choosing April 4 because there is no Sunday School scheduled on that day and it is usually our highest-attended Sunday of the year. Quite frankly, we need the space for visitors and members.
Option #1- Families who are still at high risk are welcome to continue their worship at home via our live stream
Option #2- The sanctuary will have all distancing protocols removed. There will be no more roped off pews. Families will not be ushered to seats. You may sit wherever you are comfortable. For the time being, we will not pass offering plates or Lord Supper plates until we feel we are comfortable with the process.
Option #3- We will offer an alternative simulcast service in the fellowship hall for families who would like to be seated in ‘pods’ and still adhere to social distancing protocols. They may park beside the Fellowship Hall and enter and exit from the side doors. They may also choose to leave without congregating with the general congregation in public. Some families may desire this option to worship with others but are not yet comfortable being in a crowded room. This will also ensure we have enough overflow space for the Resurrection Sunday worship.
Beginning the following Sunday, April 11, the plan is to offer two separate services possibly through June. In the early 8AM service we will continue to practice the current COVID protocols.. Families will still be seated six feet apart. And they will be ushered out to maintain those distances either to the exit door or to the SS area. The sanctuary will still be sanitized the day before the first service, but it will not be sanitized between services. There will still be no nursery offered during the 8AM service. Please note, since we are moving toward resuming a single worship service, the early service may not have elements of the second service such as choir, special music or missions interviews.
The 10:30AM second service will have all COVID protocol restrictions lifted with the exception of passing the offering plates and Lord Supper plates. We will be resuming choir and special music at these services. At the conclusion of the service, members and visitors will not be ushered in or out the doors. They may congregate in the sanctuary rather than outside.
Adult Sunday School will have at least one (possibly two) ‘COVID sensitive’ class(es) that will still maintain our current social distancing practices for the entire quarter. All other classes will no longer maintain these practices. These options will be determined by the Teaching Ministry Team. You will receive communication regarding this prior to signing up for classes. Children’ Sunday School and Nursery shall continue as they have been.
Adult Choir and Special music will resume in April. Glen Harper will be communicating to you soon about a special meeting for those who would like to participate in choir. Please contact Robin Kramer if you are interested in presenting any other special music.
Beginning April 4, it is up to the K-group facilitators and host homes when they want to resume physical meetings and removing social distance protocols within their small groups. We will continue to have at least one virtual option. Masks will be left to your personal discretion.
We realize there are some who are just not ready to resume ‘normal’ practices. We understand and have no desire to ask you to violate your conscience on this matter. We recognize some have their own reasons for moving at a slower pace. However, we did want to inform you that we will be moving towards a single worship service where the entire body can gather. Our two-service model was intended to be only temporary under these unique conditions. We have been longing for the day when we can worship as one body. The Lord has been gracious and is moving us toward that moment. Thank you for bearing with one another in love during this season.
If we can answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to call the pastors or speak to an elder.
Sola Deo Gloria,
The Elders of Providence Baptist Church
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