Phased Re-Gathering Plan

One of the passages I read this week in my personal devotions was Ecclesiastes 8:6-7.  It reads as follows, “For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.  For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?” (ESV)

What Solomon is saying is that there is both a right decision to make, and a right time for that decision to be implemented.  And, because no one knows what the future will look like or when decisions should be made, the weight on a person’s shoulders can be very heavy.

This is the weight on the shoulders of many churches, pastors and organizational leaders at this time.  As someone recently said, “We’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat.”  Several churches are beginning their re-gathering/re-opening plans this week, others have been open since the end of April, and still others are not opening until June or later.  Please know that we all desire to return to “normal” as quickly as possible, but we also want to be cautious given our demographic and community.

After much prayer, counsel, and reviewing local, state, and national guidelines, here is our plan for a phased return to in-person worship.  This plan, while not ideal, allows us to monitor new developments and also helps us avoid a potential start/stop scenario should something happen in our community.

PHASE 1

(Monday, May 18th – Saturday, June 6th)

  • Bible study classes resume
    • Men: Tuesday, May 19th (usual time / Fellowship Hall)
    • Women: Thursday, May 21st (usual time / Fellowship Hall)
    • Co-ed: Sunday, May 24th (usual time / Fellowship Hall)
  • Prayer groups re-gather
    • Mid-week: Thursday, May 21st (usual time / Parlor)
    • Weekend: Sunday, May 24th (usual time / Fellowship Hall)
  • Musical rehearsals resume in staggered weeks
    • Men: Wednesday, May 20th (usual time / Sanctuary)
    • Women: Wednesday, May 27th (usual time / Sanctuary)
    • Combined: Wednesday, June 3rd (usual time / Sanctuary)
    • Handbells: TBD
  • Worship remains online ONLY
  • Other church-wide gatherings remain cancelled until further notice

PHASE 2

(Sunday, June 7th – Further Notice)

  • Worship will resume in-person (11AM)
    • Recording will continue and be posted to our website and YouTube channel
    • Seating limited to every other pew (4 per pew, unless all are family)
    • Fellowship Hall will be set up for overflow
    • Deacons/Ushers will direct congregants to proper seats
    • NO passing offering plates (they will be placed at sanctuary entrances)
    • NO bulletins will be printed or distributed
    • NO hymnals or Bibles in the pews
    • Masks / gloves encouraged but not required (MHCC to make available)
    • Hand sanitizing wipes will be available for every congregant
    • Arrival / Dismissal directly to seat and directly to vehicle
  • Bible studies continue per Phase 1
  • Prayer groups continue per Phase 1
  • Musical rehearsals continue per Phase 1

PHASE 3

(TBD)

  • Worship resumes as normal
    • Coffee & Refreshments resume
    • Fellowship resumes
    • Offering plates passed
    • Bulletins distributed
  • Church-wide lunches, weddings, retreats, conferences, etc. resume
  • All other church services resume

(NOTE: In all phases, people with pre-existing health conditions, vulnerable immune systems, and those that are uncomfortable gathering are encouraged to worship from home.)

In these unprecedented times, we have seen God’s work advance in extraordinary ways.  The Church of Jesus Christ has had the opportunity, literally, to preach the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth!  While we remain deeply grateful for the technology that has allowed our church to continue to assemble, we are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to safely re-gather on Sunday, June 7th.

God bless you,

Pastor Lee