May 12, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE #7

Church Family,

This is a longer update so be sure to read it through to the end.

We are excited to resume gathering as a church family at church for worship of our great God starting Sunday, May 24.

Over the past several weeks, we have been discussing when and how we should resume physically gathering together. We want to love our members and community by protecting their health but also provide what God says is good for our souls.

During that time, many of our members have expressed their desire to resume our worship services with understanding the risk of gathering together. Other members have expressed their loneliness and sense of isolation. We understand that our spiritual health and emotional health are as significant as our physical health and these are actually intertwined and interconnected as embodied souls. We believe we should provide the opportunity for our members and others in the community to gather together with God’s people to worship Him and to encourage one another to love and do good works. We believe the gathering of God’s people physically is a means of grace that God uses to cause us to persevere and rejoice in our sufferings.

We also trust our members to make an informed decision of whether to prioritize their physical health and come back to worship services at a later date or to take a calculated risk of gathering back together in order to experience the encouragement their souls need during this difficult time. Each member has different needs. We do not consider those who choose to return to worship on May 24th as more spiritual than those who prioritize their physical health.

By taking as many precautions as possible we believe that it is loving and wise for us to resume our worship services. However, we must realize that services will not be the same when compared to the past. This letter is to help the FBC church family know how to prepare for the service.

Included with this letter are the general guidelines (Be SMART Coming to Church) everyone will need to follow while at church. Please help us maintain these guidelines by reading them and following them when attending church services.

In addition to these guidelines, here is some information you need to know.

  • We are only resuming our Sunday morning services. All other activities, such as Sunday School and midweek groups, will remain suspended until further notice.
  • Because we will conduct, for now, two services, each service will be only one hour in length.
  • If you will be attending services with young children, please bring with you activities for your children to engage in during the service.
  • Because the coronavirus is not eradicated, there will always be the risk of transmission while in public. You could be approached by the Amarillo Area Public Health Board and asked to self-quarantine for two weeks if a person you came in contact with at church tests positive for COVID-19.

Your fellow servants of Christ,
The FBC Ministerial Staff

Be SMART Coming to Church

Social Distancing

  • We will maintain six feet of separation between individuals/family units in the sanctuary.
  • We will utilize every other pew. Each pew will have no more than six people seated on it, unless it is a family unit of six or more people.
  • Ushers will seat people as they enter the sanctuary in order to maintain social distancing.
  • Please refrain from physical contact with others, e.g. shaking hands and hugging.
  • Instead of gathering in the sanctuary or hallways of the church after the service, please exit the church to gather outside for conversations.
  • If you are feeling sick (coughing, fever, and shortness of breath), please refrain from attending services until you are well.

Masks

  • All people will be required to wear masks while in the church building. If you do not have a mask, please obtain a mask and bring it with you. We will have masks available for those who do not bring a mask with them to church.
  • Why will people be required to wear masks?
    • Because wearing masks is more for the protection of other people around us than for ourselves.
    • Because we will be in a large social gathering of people for an extended period of time.
    • Because singing emits six times more particles into the air than speaking.
  • What about families with young children?
    • If you have elementary age children, we ask that they wear a mask for as long as possible.
    • If you have children who are prekindergarten, we do not expect them to wear a mask during the service.
  • We acknowledge that no one really wants to wear a mask. We also recognize that there are different opinions as to whether or not masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the air. However, at this time the CDC and our local health board are of the opinion that masks are beneficial and they advocate for the wearing of masks in public.
  • We will need to get over the awkwardness of wearing a mask. And, we need to realize that wearing a mask does not prohibit us from worshipping God in song and hearing his Word.
  • Don’t worry, wearing a mask will not be required forever.

At-Risk People

  • If you are considered an ‘at-risk’ person and you choose to remain home instead of attending the Sunday service, we support you in your decision.
    • According the Texas Department of State Health Services, the at-risk population are those who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system.
    • Beginning Sunday, May 24, we will post a recording of that morning’s service for you to watch that afternoon.
  • If you are in the category of ‘at-risk’ and you choose to attend the service, we will have a section reserved for you to be seated in if you wish to utilize that option.

Register for the Service

  • Since we will maintain social distancing in the sanctuary, we will offer two services in order to accommodate anticipated attendance. We can accommodate around 125 people in the sanctuary and still maintain six feet apart.
    • We recognize that not all members may be ready to attend a large social gathering at this time. Therefore, we are not certain how many people will begin to physically attend services in the months of May and June.
    • If we are able to consolidate from two services to one service while maintaining social distancing, then we will do so.
  • The two service times will be 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Each service will only be one hour long.
  • You will need to reserve your place in one of the two services each week.
    • We need members to register for a service so that we are not turning people away at a service and so we can maintain the proper number of people in the building.
    • Please make all effort to attend the service you register for.
  • Registration for Sunday’s service on May 24 will open on Sunday, May 17. The registration will be open through Thursday, May 21, or until all the seats are taken for a service.

Timeliness

  • Please arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the start of the service.
    • Because all people will enter the building through the West Office entrance doors.
    • Because our door greeters will check off names of those who registered for the service.
    • Because our ushers will need time to seat everyone in the sanctuary.
    • Because each service will begin at its stated start time to keep the service to one hour in length.
  • Please promptly exit the church building following the service.
    • Because we will clean the public areas of the building and the sanctuary immediately after each service.