May 13, 2020
Dear Morningview Baptist Family,
Even though our governor announced last week that churches could resume meetings on May 17th, our pastors have decided it is not prudent to gather for at least 2 more weeks. During the past 7 days, there has been a surge in hospital admissions for COVID-19. This causes great concern. After consulting with physicians and other pastors in our local Montgomery Baptist Association, it is clear that many churches are going to wait until later in the month or even June before holding Sunday gatherings. When we do resume meeting, we want to be rightly prepared to come together in a safe manner that ensures the well-being of our members and accords with civil directives. To that end, we have compiled this list of items to help us navigate how we will gather initially in the aftermath of this pandemic.
When we open back up, we will resume with just our Sunday morning service at 10:30am. Our goal is for the service to last about an hour instead of the regular hour and a half. We will not immediately resume Sunday evening services or Sunday School (see next paragraph), and we will have an early beginning to our summer schedule of having no Wednesday activities on campus until August. This also helps us to better maintain building sanitation between Sundays. As is our summer practice, we encourage members to plan and gather for fellowship in homes on Wednesdays when social distancing guidelines are removed. We will resume Sunday evening services as soon as sanitation between services does not need to be as stringent.
SUNDAY SCHOOL/SMALL GROUPS:
Given social distancing needs, as well as challenges involved in repeatedly sanitizing so many smaller spaces, we are going to forego having Sunday school the first several weeks. Leaders at every level have also expressed reservations toward returning to classes like normal because many have family members who remain more susceptible to this virus. For adults, video conference meetings may continue, or if the majority of a particular group is favorable toward resuming in-person meetings, they may do so in a manner most conducive to biblical fellowship and safety. Please coordinate such meetings through Pastor Jon English Lee.
When we resume Sunday gatherings, we will not have preschool care during our worship services for the first several weeks. The reason for this decision is the same as the reason for delaying Sunday School. Plus, our small ones tend to interact in a much more physical manner, and we do not want to risk their health. So please bring your preschoolers with you to the Worship Services. We know it can be hard, but we love our little ones (even their noises!), and it is a great opportunity to lovingly train them. If you have need, our Fellowship Hall will be set up as an alternative space for families to view the live stream with proper social distance.
In accordance with guidelines issued by our local government, for the first several weeks of congregational gathering, we will maintain social distancing by keeping every other pew empty and by asking you to sit at least 6 feet away from non-family members when you share the same pew. Our ushers and deacons are here to help us maintain these guidelines, so please allow them to assist you and make every effort to comply with their instructions as they serve us so faithfully. They will monitor hallways and gatherings points to help us maintain social distance, and they will also help us exit by rows when the service concludes.
In accordance with the guidelines given by our medical professionals, we ask that everyone please maintain 6 feet of distance from one another at all times. Continue to refrain from shaking hands, hugging, or having any physical contact with anyone outside of your own immediate family. I know we miss one another, but we must share our joy and show our love for one another in more reserved ways during this season. We will also not use hymnals or bulletins during this time in order to reduce the risk of hand-to-hand transference through such items.
In accordance with guidelines being given by our authorities, we request that everyone wear masks to our gatherings. Children that cannot because they are very young may go without, but all those capable of wearing one should wear one for the entirety of our presence on our campus. It will be awkward to sing in congregational worship while wearing a mask, but as singing produces higher than normal levels of expectorants, we must take this step to protect one another’s health.
For the near future, we will no longer pass plates for either the Lord’s Supper or for Offerings. Regarding communion, we will resume when risk levels have further subsided. Regarding offerings, our ushers will be holding offering plates at every entrance/exit to the sanctuary both before and after the services. Please drop your offerings in those plates as you arrive or depart. Remember that you can also give online through Morningview’s web site, or if you have not yet registered to use REALM, this is a great time to do so. Members can give and track their giving through their personal account.
If you or a family member has a cough, fever, heavy congestion, or other respiratory difficulties, we encourage you to seek medical advice and testing. We also ask that you refrain from participating in any in-person activity or gathering of any sort until coughing and sneezing have subsided and you are fever-free for at least 7 days. If you or an immediate family member becomes sick with coronovirus, please notify us immediately.
THOSE WITH AT-RISK HEALTH:
We love every member of our church family, and it is painful to be separated from one another at this time. However, we would encourage those with pre-existing health conditions and those over 65 to continue watching the live stream from home. Since many can carry this virus without ever developing symptoms, we are particularly concerned to protect you from exposure until the threat of this virus subsides.
In addition to normal cleaning procedures, we will continue to take extra measures to sanitize door knobs, push plates, handrails, and all other commonly touched surfaces. We will also continue to have hand-sanitizer available for use at key points in the building. Please help us by washing your hands, and the hands of your children, often.
We appreciate the fact that many of you are more cautious and may have greater concerns about the health of your family due to factors that place you at more of a risk for contracting COVID-19. If you feel it is best to remain home, we support your decision and remain committed to caring for your spiritual, relational, and physical needs. For your benefit, we will continue to live stream our Sunday worship services just as we did before this pandemic.
One thing we have all realized during the past weeks is the number of things we had previously taken for granted, including the privilege we have to gather for worship and fellowship. As restrictions are removed, remember that how we recover from this time is just as critical as how we have weathered it. These measures are necessary, but just temporarily – just for a season. So as we continue to grow through this challenging season, I pray that we each will have a renewed love for Christ and His church. As Paul says in Romans 12:5, we “are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” It is good for us to be cautious, but it is necessary that we work together to get back to regular biblical practices as soon a possible. I love you all dearly!
– Pastor Shawn