Pastor's Reopening Information
With a grateful heart, it’s my pleasure to announce that we will be resuming in person services on Sunday, May 24 with a limited capacity and new safety protocols in place. We are excited to be able to worship together again and look forward to seeing your faces and hearing your voices in worship to our Lord. In every season, He deserves the glory! I will describe the safety measures in detail, but first, let me encourage you with a word regarding attitude and expectations. When we are together again, it won’t be just like it was before Covid-19. We are hopeful that we are moving toward that, but now we’re in an in-between time that calls for flexibility, adaptability, understanding, grace, and patience. In other words, I’m asking you to be a frontier church. Fortress churches are rigid and inflexible. When things change or don’t go the way they expected, complaining and assuming wrong motives are their standard reaction.
Not so the Frontier church! Frontier churches are able to adjust to the road they are on. They exercise patience and perseverance as they fix their eyes on the goal, not a particular way of conducting services, but the high call of God in Christ Jesus. Frontier churches exercise grace with one another when there are unexpected bumps in the road. That’s what we need to do right now. When you come back to church, it will be different for a while, so I’m asking you to have a frontier church attitude that is understanding, adaptable, and assumes the best about others. I’m also asking you to have realistic expectations so as not to be disappointed, but grateful.
With that in mind, the guidance we received from the state revolves around three big ideas, capacity, social distancing, and face masks. We are able to open at 40% capacity. We must socially distance whenever possible, including when seated in the sanctuary, and we must wear face masks when unable to socially distance.
Here is the plan for this Sunday. We will have two services at their regular times, 9am and 11am. You need to register online for the service you would like to attend at www.bethany-ag.org. If you cannot register online, please call the church and one of our administrative assistants will be glad to help you register. If you find that your preferred service is already full, you may try and register for the other service. We have to count people as they come in and cannot have more than 40%, or about 285 congregants in each service. If registration for both services fills, we will make accommodations for a third service at another time, then beginning next week. When you register, make sure that you include all the members of your household who will be attending with you. Keep in mind that we cannot have any nursery, children’s classes, or adult classes. Your children are welcome to come to service with you, but they need to be included in the number you register.
Please arrive no more than 15 minutes prior to service. Use the main entrances outside the sanctuary (under the steeple). If you or a loved one cannot climb the steps, please notify one of the members of the security or ushering teams that will be stationed outside the front doors and we will let you in an accessible entrance. We cannot have fellowship time in the lobby either before or after the service, so, when you arrive you will be directed to a seat. For now, we cannot shake hands, hug, give high fives… You can smile and say “hello!” I know that we all have preferences about where we sit, but it will be much easier for us to maximize the use of our space while maintaining social distancing guidelines if you will follow the directions of the ushers. Please bring a mask with you to wear as you enter the building and throughout the service. Children under 2 years of age should not wear masks. Wearing a mask for children 2-5 years old will be left to the discretion of parents.
You will be seated with your household (anyone who lives in the same place with you) and are not required to socially distance from them. Your household will be seated so as to socially distance you from other households. Every other pew will be closed and ushers will seat you six feet from other households.
During the service, we will worship, pray, and preach in much the same fashion as we have been doing while our services were online only. We will have a receptacle for offering in the lobby and we will pray for people who raise their hand indicating a need, but from a distance. We are not able to effectively have a choir while maintaining social distance, so the black curtains you have seen in the online services will remain up temporarily until choir can resume. This helps the front not look so empty and improves the quality of our livestream services. The service will last approximately 60 minutes so as to give us ample time to sanitize after each gathering.
When the service concludes, ushers will release you to leave row by row. Again, please follow the directions of the ushers. This prevents us from having a bottleneck in the lobby and enables us to exit in as safe and orderly a fashion as possible. Please wear your mask while exiting the building. There will be hand sanitization stations in the lobby for you to use as you exit and we encourage you to do so. Again, we will not be able to congregate or fellowship in the lobby following service. If you cannot exit the main doors due to the stairs, please notify an usher who will let you out via an accessible door. Please note that most of the building will remain closed so that we can avoid cleaning unnecessary areas between services.
When you are in the parking lot, please remain socially distanced from other households. Of course, you can speak to others outside, but do not congregate in large groups. We want to communicate to our community that we have the health, safety, and well being of all in mind as we resume meeting. As always, there will be an officer directing traffic as you exit the parking lot, so please pay attention to his directions.
If you are feeling ill, have a fever, a cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell, please do not come to service. We want to see you, but we also have a responsibility to keep people safe. Also, if in the last 14 days you have been exposed to someone with a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19, please refrain from coming to service. A potential exposure means having household contact or having close contact (within 6 feet) with an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (over 10 minutes) while the person is symptomatic or 48 hours before symptoms developed. We want to avoid having to cease our in-person services because of exposure in our building. Thank you for your understanding.
Persons who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home and continue to participate in services online for now. That is a judgment call we will not make for you, but you should be aware of the risks.
Whew! I know that’s a lot to think about and take in. It certainly will be different, but we’ll be back together and this is just the beginning! I appreciate your cooperation and understanding in all of this. We will continue to learn and grow as we go along. I’ve never done church like this before, and neither have you. So, let’s be generous in our attitudes toward one another. I know that there are differing opinions and attitudes about various guidelines and regulations. This is not the time to express dissent but to be grateful that we can begin meeting together again and do it in a manner that demonstrates our care and concern for one another and our community.
With all of that said, remember Psalm 122:1: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let’s go to the house of the Lord!”
Grace & Peace, Pastor Stephen Thee
- Services Sunday at 9am and 11am.
- 40% capacity or 285 congregants per service.
- Register for a service online (if you can’t access online registration, call the church).
- Please arrive no more than 15 minutes in advance of the service for which you registered.
- Enter through the main entrance only (if you can’t climb the steps, ask an usher or security team member stationed outside the doors for help).
- Please wear a mask at all times while in the facility. Children 2 years old and under should not wear masks. Children 2-5 years may or may not wear a mask at the discretion of their parents or guardians.
- Please follow the directions of the usher to find a seat.
- When the service is complete, follow the directions of the ushers and safety team members to exit.
- Please do not attend if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 (a fever, a cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) or if you have had a potention exposure to Covid-19. (A potential exposure means having household contact or having close contact (within 6 feet) with an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (over 10 minutes) while the person is symptomatic or 48 hours before symptoms developed.)