Fall 2020 Newsletter

The Bell Tower

Greetings Church Family!

It’s hard to believe that we have been apart for 6 months. When this pandemic started, most of us had no idea we would be quarantined for so long. I sure hope you accepted my challenge to read some books, learn something new, and do something nice for someone else. Those are probably the easiest challenges we faced during this time. As your pastor, I have faced many challenges over the last few months, and some of those challenges are still before us. The staff and Elders have been trying to dis- cern the right time to return to in-house worship. Some of you participated in our recent survey and the results are varied. Many of you indicated you won’t return to worship in the sanctuary at this time for various reasons, while more of you said you would.

At a special session meeting on Thursday, September 3rd, we made some decisions. First and foremost, all of our decisions are subject to change based on CDC guidelines, as well as state & local government regulations. All social distancing and precautionary measures will be strictly followed. Because of the current regulations and the small size of our sanctuary, we will only be permitted to have 25 people at- tend any worship service. Everyone entering will be required to wear a mask the entire time they are in the building, even during worship. There will be elders at the door to take everyone’s temperature, take attendance for contact tracing purposes, and usher people to a seat. Please note you will most likely not be able to sit in your regular seat. You will also be ushered out after the service, and you are asked to go directly to your cars. There will be hand sanitizer available for your convenience.

As we begin to unfold the plan to return, we will worship at 11:00 a.m. ONLY. We will resume our 8:45 service at a later date. Due to the limited capacity in our sanctuary, you will be required to call the church office to register for worship. You may call the office Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. the week prior to worship. When you call, you may only register for one service; registration will not be taken more than a week in advance. The only exception to that is if you call to register for the upcoming service, and it is booked, you may register for the following week. If you register to attend a worship service, we ask that you notify us if something comes up, and you are unable to attend. That will allow us to call those who might be on a wait list. If you register and don’t show up, we will call you on Monday to make sure you are ok. Please remember that when you register and don’t show up it takes a seat from someone else. Please be respectful of others.

We are attaching a disclaimer on the next page, so we ask everyone who plans to attend worship to read it and understand that by entering the premises you understand that you won’t hold the church or indi- viduals who attend worship responsible if you should become sick. You are also agreeing that you will not enter the church building if you are currently sick, have a fever, or have been exposed to anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19, and you are agreeing to follow the guidelines that are set in place.

As we return to in-house worship, Joel and I are going to continue our online worship services as they are now. Please understand that a lot of work goes in to those services, and we are not sure if we will be able to do both, but we are going to do our best to make that happen. We may get to a point that we will have to discontinue the current online style and go back to live-streaming the service in the sanctuary. We will continue doing both as long as we can.

Having said all that, we are going to have worship in the sanctuary on Sunday, October 4th, which is World Communion Sunday. Communion will be different than you are used to. For every- one’s protection we are going to be using the pre-packaged juice and wafer. If you are planning to stay at home and worship online, we will make the communion elements available for you to pick up at the church office between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday through Friday the week of Sep- tember 28 so you can participate in communion during the online service. If you are unable to get to the church but want to participate in communion, you may call the church office and let Judy know and we will get someone to bring the elements to you.

Friends, I realize some of you aren’t happy with this decision, either because you think we should just get back to the way things were before, or you think it’s too soon to return, and there are many of you in between. This has been one of the most challenging times for me as your pastor. I am painfully aware that our decisions will not please everyone, no matter the decision. We are living in difficult times, but we need to bear with one another in love, remembering what Paul said in Romans 12:9-12, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be de- voted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Please continue to pray for your leadership and staff as well as each other, our community and our nation, and remember to love your neighbor as yourself. May God have mercy on all of us.

In Christ,
Rev. Tina

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