Dear Church Family (& others with interest in our fellowship):
Since our last in-house worship service on March 15, life as we once knew it has been drastically altered. Fortunately, we have found ways to continue to worship together online via video, while some of our Sunday School classes have met remotely. A big thank you to all those who have worked so hard to make these opportunities possible.
After many weeks of closure, state and local governments are beginning to loosen some restrictions, and it appears that we will be able to resume a modified schedule at Winstanley in the near future. Yet, as we begin to re-open the church, it will not be the same as when we last met together. We will be required to practice social distancing and wear face masks. For the foreseeable future, almost everything we do at church will be different. Listed below you will find a projection of some of the changes you will see once we are able to re-open on a limited schedule, contingent on what the governor dictates at the end of May:
1. We will, I anticipate, resume worship in a modified manner in the sanctuary beginning Sunday, June 7th. At that time, we will offer two different services: Sunday at 9 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m., with an overflow if necessary/preferred in Garrison Hall (audio and video provided). We will work to ensure social distancing of 6-8 feet from others. Everyone over the age of 4-years-old must wear a face mask at all times during the service. Obviously, this excludes musicians while leading the singing and pastors while praying or preaching. If you are uncomfortable wearing a face mask, we ask that you continue to worship with us online. We also ask that you bring your own face mask, if possible; for those who need a face mask, we will provide one for you at the main entrance.
2. We will not have a nursery or a separate children’s space during this time. Children should worship with their parents. It is okay if children are restless or if they cry, etc. We are a family. It remains important, however, for parents to keep their children at an appropriate social distance from others. When a parent needs to leave the service with a crying child or for the purpose of changing a diaper, individuals from the sanctuary can go to the large choir room, which will allow for social distancing. Or, parents might prefer to worship in Garrison Hall, which provides a bit more space in a less traditional setting.
3. We will only unlock the main front doors (not the side doors: we will have signs up on those doors directing people to the main entrance). We will have greeters at the front desk (a) to welcome people as they enter, (b) to keep count of people — as we reach 50 or so for the sanctuary, we will direct individuals to Garrison Hall, (c) and to provide face masks for anyone attending who does not have one or forgot to bring one. Greeters will keep an appropriate distance from others. The front doors will remain open so that individuals do not have to open and shut the doors. Our security team will be in place as normal.
4. We ask that individuals who are not comfortable with and/or who are not advised in coming back to worship by this date to continue worshipping with us online (hopefully “live” during the 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. hour). We will likely present a delayed service as well. I wholeheartedly support those who are most susceptible to this virus and the risks associated with it to worship with us from home until it is clear that it is safer for them. Also, please remain at home and worship online with us if you have any symptoms of sickness (especially recent fever, lingering cough, and/or shortness of breath).
5. We will not have a traditional Sunday School hour for the time being. Instead, we welcome those who are comfortable meeting as a class via the Zoom platform to do so on Sunday nights at 5 or 6 p.m. For those who are not comfortable or not able to meet via this platform, we encourage you to consider arranging for a small group gathering of 10 or less in a home where you can maintain social distancing.
6. We will not have a choir in the choir loft. There will be no choral anthem for the time being either. Additionally, we will not be singing out of the hymnals, but we will place the words up on the screen. We will, however, try to incorporate the talents of choir members into our worship services.
7. We will not print bulletins for a while, but we will send out the order of service electronically a few days before the worship service. If, for some reason, you do not receive that electronic correspondence in advance, know that we will be very clear in announcing things throughout the service so that it is clear for you to follow along.
8. We will not pass offering plates for the foreseeable future; instead, we will have offering bins in various places for people to place their gifts. We will ensure that we are not creating lines that cause people to wait to give. If you continue to worship from home, we ask that you contribute to the ministries of the church as you are able either by mailing in your tithe or by giving online.
9. I have a plan for the observance of the Lord’s Supper that does not require the passing of plates (for as long as necessary).
10. No shaking of hands please. (I advocate the head nod or the friendly wave) Again, the expectation of at least 6-feet apart from non-family members. In other words, family members can all sit together.
11. Individuals should exercise common sense as far as the bathrooms are concerned. Ideally, limit 2-3 people in the restroom at a given time.
12. As to Wednesday nights, after the church opens, MOPS will still meet via Zoom. As of now, there is an online opportunity for GAs and RAs for our children. Fielding will discuss with parents about whether or not they prefer for the youth to meet at the church on Wednesday nights (with appropriate social distancing), or if they prefer meeting together online.
13. All other church events will remain on-hold at this time, including VBS. We will continue to monitor everything, and we will make decisions about events in light of the information that we gather. Our situation will remain fluid. Be assured that we will clearly communicate to you during this unusual season.
While I realize this process entails a number of adjustments going forward, I pray we all find great joy in anticipating being together again soon in person for the worship of our Lord.
For Christ’s great fame!