Starting Sunday, May 24th
Sunday Service will be divided into 3 Worship Services.
11 AM, 1 PM & 5 PM-
(these will be the exact same Service)
We ask those regular attendees
who plan to attend, to divide into the following groups.
11 AM - Last Names A-I
1 PM - Last Names J-O
5 PM - Last Names P-Z
Our 9:45 AM Sunday School & 11 AM Worship Service
will continue to be Live-Streamed
for those who choose to Worship from home.
Policies & Plans for Opening EBC for Public Worship
I have been eagerly awaiting this announcement for weeks. It is now more than two months ago that I talked with the deacons in a phone conference to determine Elmira Baptist Church's response to the COVID-19 crisis. When we first decided to suspend our worship meetings in order to protect the public health, I anticipated that we would only suspend our services for a few weeks. However, in God's sovereignty, He allowed the stay-at-home orders to be extended without specific guidance on how we could re-open. Recently, the state of California and Solano County came out with guidance on how we can protect ourselves and others and still safely meet. It will take everyone's cooperation, but I know we can do it.
To echo another preacher, we are not going back to normal immediately. But we do not want this season of caution to become a season of spiritual drought & disobedience for our church. So with counsel and patience, I have been considering how to meet again at our church's building. I have consulted with the deacons and other members to seek a way forward. All of us would be alarmed if a member of the church became sick and was hospitalized with a viral infection. We must all do what we can to avoid spreading infection. With that in mind, be aware that things are not returning to normal.
One way that our situation is not normal is that not everyone will be able to re-join us immediately. You must consider your own health conditions and the health conditions of others. If you have underlying medical issues such as a compromised immune system, diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions including asthma, need dialysis, or recently had surgery you will need to refrain from joining us in-person at this time. Medical guidelines also ask people over the age of 65 to remain at home at this time. To accommodate the various needs of the church members, we will continue to live stream the services in the same manner that we have in the past. There are no plans to discontinue or degrade the quality of the current live-stream. Indeed, we plan to continue to improve it. So you should be confident that if you stay at home you will be able to continue to participate. I wish we could guarantee everyone's safety, but we cannot absolutely say that you will be safe to come to the church building at this time. This is a very contagious disease, and we must be vigilant. We do not fear this virus but certainly respect it. You must take responsibility for your own health and the health of your family. If you have any concerns about going out in public at this time, the safest place for you is at home.
Another way that it will not be normal is that we will not be able to meet all at once. One way that we can protect ourselves and others from this virus is to practice social distancing. That means that we can only use about a third of the seats in our auditorium. For that reason, we will be assigning each family to groups. Please feel free to attend our services in person at the church building when you are assigned to come. When it is not your turn, please participate with our worship services at home. Once the ushers determine that the auditorium contains as many families as is safe, we will ask others who come to return home or watch the live-stream from their cars. Please respect the usher's judgment in this decision.
Also, because the situation is not normal, please be flexible and adapt to the conditions as you find them. If you cannot cooperate with the protocols we have in place, you may participate in Elmira Baptist Church’s worship services at home.
As you consider attending, keep in mind these preliminary precautions.
If you or a member of your family has had any contact–even inadvertent contact–with someone who had or later is known·
to have the COVID-19 virus, you should stay home! We will continue to have a live-stream of our services, and you may participate in this way.
At this time and because of an abundance of caution for your safety and the safety of others, we will be conducting our services differently.
As much as it pains me to say this, those older than 65 or living in the same home as someone older than 65 should stay home at this time.
The COVID-19 virus becomes more dangerous the older you are.
We will not host any children's classes or have a staffed nursery at this time. The nursing mother's room in the back of the main building will be available for mothers to use to change their babies, etc. A speaker in that room will allow you to listen to the service.
WT will continue to teach his Sunday school class online at 9:45 so that people may watch it before they come. We will live-stream his teaching. Or you may watch it after, as well.
We will not sing as much. Research shows that singing can increase viral load. We will limit our singing for a while as we monitor the situation. This will necessarily reduce the length of the meeting and the amount of time that we are indoors.
We cannot fellowship inside the building. All fellowshipping should take place outside maintaining a safe distance between families.
All other buildings other than the main building will remain locked. The ministry room, the classrooms, the bathroom in the ministry room, and the playground will remain closed at this time.
Regrettably, this is not the time to invite visitors. We ask that only those who are part of the Elmira Baptist Church family attend at this time. In the future as the Lord enables, we will open up our services to visitors again. Direct your guests to watch our services online.
We will refrain from observing the Lord's Table until we better understand the health risks and until more of us can participate at once.
Meeting at the church building will also require everyone's cooperation. When you come to the church building to meet, please observe the following precautions.
Before you attend and after you return home, please wash your hands.
At all times whether inside or outside, we must maintain a distance of 6' between families. Obviously, you may sit with and stand close to people in your immediate family and with whom you are sheltering-in-place. You must always maintain a distance of 6' from all others. This includes entering & exiting the building. To maintain proper distance, expect the ushers to direct you when entering, exiting, and moving within the building.
Only use every other parking space. Because we are attending in smaller groups, there will be plenty of parking. If you are mobile, please park as far from the building as you can to leave the close parking for those with limited mobility.
Follow all instructions from the ushers and all signs. We will be moving vehicles & people through the parking lot and moving people through the building in a prescribed way.
Please wear a mask in consideration of other people.
Bathrooms are a prime vector for transmission. Bathrooms will only be available for emergencies. To minimize the use of the bathrooms, we will take some unusual measures.
First, we will limit the length of the service. Second, we ask you to use your bathroom at home before coming to church and to avoid any unnecessary drinking or eating while at church.
If you cannot attend a service without needing to use the bathrooms, you should stay home. Do not wait in the hallway to use the bathroom. If the bathroom is occupied, please return to your seat and use it at another time. Finally, be assured that the bathrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each service.
Except for the bathrooms, all doors will be propped open so that people can move through the building without touching anything. Please leave the doors as you found them.
As necessary, the ushers will open and close doors.
If you are sick or have a fever or cough or are sneezing--even from allergies--please stay home. Even if it is only allergies, you can imagine the consternation of others if you are continually sneezing or coughing even behind a mask.
We will not be distributing any items at this time. We will continue to send you a bulletin by email. Please print it out and bring to the worship meeting if you would like a bulletin.
We will not be passing an offering plate. Offering plates will be available at the front of the auditorium. You may place your offering in them before the service, during the offertory, or after the service. At no time should there be a line waiting to give. Alternatively, you may give online or by mailing your check to the church post office box.
We cannot guarantee seating for everyone. When the building reaches a safe capacity, we will ask all others to return home or watch the live-stream from their cars.
Let me state again that the elderly, those with a compromised immune system and those who have (or live with those who have) health concerns should continue to watch the live-stream online because we cannot guarantee anyone's safety. We would be mortified if anyone who attended our services in person was infected with the virus. Therefore, I need the cooperation of all of you to make this safe and possible.
Please consider the following checklist before you come.
o Within the past 21 days have I or anyone in my family had contact with someone who had or later developed symptoms of the COVID-19 virus?
o Do I or anyone in my family have the following conditions: compromised immune system, diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions including asthma, currently visiting dialysis, recently had surgery, scheduled to have surgery shortly, need to frequently use the bathroom, or recently have been ill with an unidentified disease.
o Please take your temperature and confirm you are not running a fever. Then ask yourself: do I or does anyone in my family currently have a fever, have a loss of taste or smell, unexplained muscle pains, sore throat, or feel unwell for unidentified reasons?
o Can I follow all instructions, posted guidelines, and sit through a service without needing to use the bathroom? If you cannot do these things, please participate at home.
Scott Dean | firstname.lastname@example.org | 707-297-2259
Pastor, Elmira Baptist Church