Dear SMCC Family,
The past two months have been anything except normal, but through it all, one thing has been made abundantly clear: we are still the church, and nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “Back to Normal,” is a phrase many of us hear on a daily basis, and it is a phrase we are becoming increasingly aware is not adequate for this current time. Instead, as we look around at “The New Normal,” around us, we keep in mind that God knew this would be happening long before we did. Because of this, the thriving church does not approach this newness with fear, but with a renewed reliance on God and an eagerness to share the gospel of Christ in new ways.
This letter outlines plans for re-opening our building in the coming weeks, and as you read, we ask you to keep two things in mind: First, please be aware that some of us are eager to return and continue back to 100% as quickly as possible. On the flip side, many of us are still planning to wait and worship with our church family from a continued physical distance. We are making plans for the months ahead with both groups of people in mind so that no one will be left out, and so that we can continue to be a unified church as we move forward.
Second, as we continue ahead, everyone will benefit from abundant amounts of grace offered to one another. We ask that each of us choose up front to be gracious with one another every step of the way, as both our community and the world around us will know that we are Christians, not by our programming or building or resources, but by our love.
The rest of this letter will focus on our weekly worship gatherings, physical and online, and it has been written in a Question/Answer format. We are keeping in line with the recommendations of the CDC, as well as our federal and state governments, and if there should be updates to their guidelines, we will follow suit and update accordingly.
When will we start meeting physically?
We plan to meet back together on Sunday, September 6th, with two identical service times, 9am and 10:30am. The services will be identical to our current online format, and will last around 45 minutes.
Will there still be online services?
What will be the most notable differences when we meet physically?
We will be spacing groups of chairs 6 feet apart from one another in keeping with social distancing guidelines, and will have a maximum capacity of 40 people at once in our auditorium. Likewise, we will continue with social distancing as we meet together, meaning that we will greet one another with verbal greetings and waves.
What if we are over capacity?
If we are over capacity, we will have extra seating for both services in our annex building next door, which will also contain spaced seating for families, and we will stream the morning’s service there as well.
Are there special instructions on entering/exiting the building?
15 minutes prior to each service, ushers will open the doors to the building. We kindly ask that everyone who arrives early remain in their cars until then. When the doors open, please enter through our main double doors at the south end of the building facing the road, which is where most people normally enter. At the end of service, we will ask everyone in attendance to exit through the side doors leading out of our auditorium.
How will we take communion/share in offering?
During our time of communion, we will ask all attendees who are comfortable taking it there to come forward, one family at a time, to the front of the room, where a server wearing gloves will hand each person a cup containing both the bread and the juice we use to observe communion. Instead of passing an offering plate, we will place giving boxes at each exit.
Will restrooms and/or seats be disinfected between services?
Yes. Each seat and each restroom will be disinfected before each service.
What about children’s ministry?
Due to current regulations, we will not host children’s ministry classes; however, all children are welcome to join their families during worship services! Additionally, our facebook page contains resources that are posted each Sunday for parents to lead their children in the week’s Bible lesson!
What about Wednesday Bible Study?
Wednesday Bible Study and Youth Group will continue to meet online each week.
Should I wear a mask?
Yes, please. We are highly encouraging everyone who attends to wear a mask or face covering for the duration of the gathering.
What if I am in a high-risk category, or have recently had a fever, cough, or have shown other symptoms of the coronavirus?
If you fall into any of these listed categories, we ask that you please refrain from joining physically, and choose instead to worship online from home.
Thank you for taking the time to read our procedures, and thank you in advance for choosing to pave the path of uncertainty with grace and patience that flow directly from Christ. We write all of this in love, and with an abundance of gratitude for all that God has given us.
God is good all the time.
SMCC Elders, Deacons and Staff