GBC Monday Update: Regathering Update for 6-07-20
Grace Bible Church,
It has been absolutely wonderful to be able to gather together again in person. And the Elders of GBC are so grateful for the various ways you have shown intentional love and consideration towards each other. We are very encouraged by how our gatherings have gone. And after careful consideration, we have some adjustments we are planning to make to our Sunday gatherings. While we will be evaluating our practices weekly, we believe these changes will provide a foundation for our Sundays that is sustainable for the near future. We are going to be moving our Friday email update to Mondays for the foreseeable future. I encourage you to look for those as they will contain information regarding any changes or adjustments.
You have before you again a lengthy email and I apologize for that. However, we are putting before you a large amount of important information that we would ask you to read and carefully consider.
By way of reminder, our desire is to continue to be back together in person as a church, and to do so in a way that allows us to benefit from corporate gatherings while being sensitive to the current realities related to the COVID virus. We want you to know the details of what we are planning so that you can continue to make an informed decision about your participation in corporate gatherings at GBC.
Here are the latest guidelines issued in our state for places of worship:
CLICK HERE to read guidelines
The big-picture principles we are operating under in our regathering are 1) to limit breathing the same air, and 2) to avoid touching the same things.
Our service plans consist of the following:
We will host ONE service: 10:15am-11:30am
Having two services allowed us to assess our capacity both numerically and in practice. We believe that we can gather in one service while maintaining appropriate social distancing practices.
Thank you for participating in our short season of two services with joy. We do recognize that splitting alphabetically posed some challenges for some and are grateful for your accommodation.
Our service will be 1 hour 15 minutes long.
-There will be no food/coffee service, no book table ministry, and no information table other than prepackaged information packets available.
-There will be no Equipping Hour.
-There will be no childcare or NGM (children’s ministries). You will keep your kids with you in the service. We will continue to be led in an NGM lesson as part of the service.
-We will partake of the Lord’s Table together the first Sunday of each month. This is NOT our long term plan for the Lord’s Table. However, we believe this is an appropriate decision during this season of no NGM and shortened services.
Public Reading of Scripture
(The Lord’s Table/Elder prayer – 1st Sunday of the month only)
NGM (Children’s Ministry message)
(Elder Prayer on non – first Sunday of the month Sundays)
The Worship Center:
Our corporate worship space will continue to be configured with spaces between rows and sections of chairs. We strongly encourage you to arrive 5-10 minutes prior to our service start time of 10:15am. This will allow you to find seating prior to the beginning of service.
Also in consideration of others, we ask that you sit in a section of chairs that is most close to the number in your family or sitting party. For example: if you have 3 people in your sitting party, please try to find a cluster of 3 chairs. If none are available, then move to 4 and so on. This is a very simple practical way we can serve each other. It will aid us in accommodating everyone in a one service format.
The Lord’s Table:
As mentioned above, we will be celebrating communion the first Sunday of each month. We will continue to use self-contained, single-serve bread and juice, distributed to individual participants by servants who will be wearing masks and gloves.
These communion elements are NOT gluten-free.
We will stream the service into numerous overflow options on campus that will be available with socially distanced seating. The lobby area by the Coffee Table will have chairs set up. Also, the classroom by the warehouse and restrooms will be available. And the large classroom on the NGM side of the church that was previously being used for first and second grade will be available. If you need help locating any of these overflow areas please ask any of the ushers, greeters, or Elders.
Post Service Considerations:
We will not be dismissing by rows. We encourage those who wish to engage in conversations and fellowship after the service to do so in a considerate and responsible manner. We encourage you to do this in the worship center or outside of the church. PLEASE refrain from gathering in doorways, hallways, the lobby, and directly in front of the entrance into the church. Some in our gathering need to maintain careful distance from others and we need to maintain clear entry and exit points.
We would like to encourage you to help your children observe appropriate social distancing practices and limit what they touch. This may require somewhat closer parental attention than we might be accustomed to.
Continuing Temporary Adjustments:
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued the following recommendations for places of worship:
“Encourage use of a cloth face covering at all gatherings and when in the building. Coverings should not be placed on children less than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.”
CLICK HERE to read about mask usage
The elders, reflecting these recommendations, want to strongly recommend that you bring a cloth mask, giving special consideration to wearing a mask at entry and exit points, common areas, and during times of congregational singing. These would be the situations where masks provide a significant level of protection with little effort. Significant mask usage increases the ability of some in our body to participate in our corporate gatherings who would not otherwise be able to participate. Mask usage (especially during singing and entry/exit) is one of the most important interventions to provide an actual decrease in risk. Our greeters, ushers, and communion servers will be wearing masks.
Regarding mask usage and other precautionary measures, it is important that we all recognize the need for patience and understanding with each other. Wearing a mask is a good way for healthy people to actually love others. And there are some people who cannot, and who should not, wear masks. We want to encourage you to extend love to one another, lest mask-wearing or non-mask-wearing become an occasion for judgmentalism, suspicion, and lack of love. All of us have the opportunity to grow in our expressions of selfless concern for others, believing the best about others’ motives, and walking in patient understanding.
We would like to encourage you to limit your restroom usage while on campus. Plan ahead. These will be shorter services. Please just plan to NOT enter a restroom that has a lot of people in it.
If you are vulnerable, or may have been exposed, stay home.
If you are vulnerable, we encourage you to stay home and live-stream for now. Please refer to the CDC’s guidance regarding risk factors.
Also, if you have been exposed to COVID19 within the last two weeks, please stay home.
The virus can spread without symptoms; however, if you do have symptoms it is especially important to livestream for now. Symptoms that should keep you home include:
-Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
-Fever or chills
-New loss of taste or smell
If you are in regular contact with people who are vulnerable, please do not regather with us until it is appropriate for you to do so. We will continue to livestream our services, and we will seek alternative methods for meeting shepherding needs for those who cannot join us in person.
Out of sight, out of mind?
Those in our body who cannot join us in person just yet may experience acute feelings of being left out. It behooves all of us to thoughtfully care for one another and to be mindful of those in our body who cannot be present with us on a Sunday morning. Please consider the people in your smallgroups, in your ministries, and who normally sit near you on a Sunday — how can you be an encouragement to them? And if you are staying home and feeling left out, please reach out. We do not want anyone to feel neglected.
This is NOT the new normal.
We recognize that these procedures and precautions inhibit much of the body life that we love at GBC, and we are eager to get back to fuller expressions of that body as soon as is reasonable to do so. Short sermons and social avoidance are just not the way of things at GBC. We love mutual encouragement, loud singing, coffee, and Costco sheet-cake. We look forward to moving back toward those things we love about our church.
We want you to be assured that if you do not yet feel comfortable regathering with us on Sunday mornings, we understand. We want you to feel at ease in the decisions that best suit your family, your health, and your situation.