We want you to know that we are already preparing for reopening our church worship services according to the phases that our government leaders have announced. I still remember the last minute work we had to do on a Saturday evening in March after our governor announced his executive order that afternoon, limiting the size of mass gatherings. We had to contact our members, cancel our in-person services, and then stitch together a live streaming worship service the very next morning. This was something we had never done before. And we don’t want to do that kind of last minute scrambling again if we can help it. So as the phases for reopening are announced, we want to have already planned for our response.
With this in mind, a couple of weeks ago, we appointed a reopening team. Their job is to stay abreast of the governor’s reopening phases and to make appropriate plans for each phase. We have also asked this team to stay in touch with other local church leaders, so that we can learn from each other. On this reopening team we have representatives from our worship team, guest services team, children’s ministry team and housekeeping team. This reopening team will be looking at how each phase impacts each area of our in person worship services and our other gatherings.
We can’t give you a lot of detail today as to how we’re planning, but there is one area that we can be certain about. When we do reopen, our online live campus will remain. In the midst of this chaos caused by COVID 19, we have realized a great opportunity to reach more people with the gospel by offering a live worship feed. This will essentially be our third campus when we reopen. And it will need new ministry teams, like online shepherds and online tech, to support it.
As I said, we can’t give a lot of detail yet, but we can remind you of what the three phases to reopen are, and what the implications for each of these phases are for our church.
Our governor has announced that the earliest that Phase One could begin is May 9th. This phase really doesn’t change anything about our church gatherings, as the limit of no more than 10 people remains. Each phase will last a minimum of 14 days.
The earliest that Phase Two can begin is after May 23rd. When this phase is announced, the stay-at-home order will be lifted and mass gatherings will be allowed at reduced capacity. The governor has not given a number for that capacity as of yet. Assuming the phases work in reverse of the former phases for closure, we are guessing that the capacity will be limited to 50. Again, this won’t change anything for our Sunday worship services. But our Community Groups, Men’s and Women’s ministries and Youth ministry may decide to begin meeting in person again. Of course, social distancing and hand-washing practices will remain in place, as will advising those over 60 years of age and those with health problems to continue staying at home.
The earliest possible date for Phase Three to begin is after June 20th. At this time, greater capacities will be allowed for public venues, restaurants and churches. However again, the governor has not given a number for this capacity. If he follows the former closing phases, then the capacity will be limited to 100 people in a gathering. Assuming this phase lasts as long as phase two, then the earliest that phase three will end will be after July 18th. We are not ready to offer any details at this time about how we will respond to this phase. But we will keep you informed as we are able.
I hope this information concerning our preparations is helpful to you. But please don’t hold us to details and dates. We are only able to prepare our response to what our government leaders order, and that can change at any time. So, please keep us, and all of our local, state, and national leaders, in your prayers during this very challenging time.
We love you and miss being with you in person. But as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And our hearts are bursting with anticipation of worshiping together with all of you very soon!