Plan for Sunday Gatherings (so far!)
To strengthen and be strengthened, Paul often made plans to gather with believers. Sometimes, though, God interrupted his plans. On one occasion Paul wrote, “I have often intended to come to you, but thus far have been prevented” (Rom 1:13). Church, you too have longed to see one another, but thus far have been prevented. As stated before, we thought it was both wise and loving to discontinue Sunday gatherings until governing authorities and local health officials relaxed some of their restrictions.
As of last week, Governor Abbott revised the previous COVID-19 orders and initiated an incremental plan to “re-open Texas.” Included were guidelines for churches to consider. The mayor of Fort Worth has offered similar guidelines. These changes have led the elders to consider restarting in-person Sunday gatherings but only in a very limited way that complies with safety precautions outlined in these guidelines.
We understand that not everyone favors restarting in-person gatherings just yet. Others of you may have family whose health conditions require you to take more precautions and for a longer period of time. Others wonder how younger children would respond to the precautions we set. We understand. Caution is prudent. By restarting in-person services, we are not requiring anyone to participate against their conscience. We’re only providing an in-person service for those who are able and feel comfortable attending one. So here’s the plan…
Starting on May 17 those who are able and feel comfortable gathering at Redeemer Church may do so at the regular starting time of 10:30am. The service will likely be shorter than usual since it will have fewer components (see below). However, the following restrictions and safety precautions will be in place:
- If you are over the age of 65 or have direct responsibility in caring for someone over the age of 65, if you have immune deficiency or other conditions that put you or your family at risk, or if you have had contact with anyone testing positive for COVID-19, please stay home and take advantage of our online resources. We will continue facilitating home worship for you. We are also working toward a livestream service on Sunday mornings, so that you will be able to view the songs and listen to the sermon while they are happening.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be available at each doorway, and masks are sincerely recommended for the worship service. Worship guides will already be sitting in the available pews when you arrive. Also, please avoid using the water fountains at this time.
- Please practice social distancing before, during, and after the service, keeping a distance of 6 feet between you and others. Avoid hugs, hip bumps, and holy kisses. Only every other pew will be available. Families may sit close together while leaving 6 feet of space between them and the next person.
- Neither nursery nor onsite Discipleship Hour will be provided. We are not planning to resume onsite Discipleship Hour (adult or DIG) until the fall. However, an online Discipleship Hour will be available throughout the summer starting at 8:30am on Zoom. We encourage parents to engage in family devotions and family worship. We will also continue to evaluate when it is best for nursery to resume later in the summer.
- The Lord’s Supper will not be served at this time, as we desire the majority of our church family to be together before doing so. Offering plates will not be passed either, and so we ask that you continue giving by mail, direct deposit, or through the church website.
- After the service closes, plans are in place to sanitize each of the pews and then regular cleaning and sanitization will continue throughout the week.
Please keep in mind that these plans are subject to change as we’re unsure what these next few weeks will look like. Smaller group meetings like the women’s bible study would do well to continue online. Care groups will be allowed to determine their own schedule and means of continuing care for one another. If you are not part of a group, contact the church to find a group near you.
Again, we realize that not every Christian shares the same set of circumstances, and not every Christian agrees on the best strategy moving forward. Yet we do share in and agree on the most important things: the glorious riches of God’s grace to us in Christ. Therefore, even in very complex times like these, we can regard one another as beloved in Christ and pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Grace be with you all,
More in Redeemer Blog
July 4, 2020Guidelines in Response to COVID-19 Effective July 5
June 20, 2020Worship Guidelines in Response to Covid-19 Effective June 21
June 12, 2020In-Person Services Suspended June 14