Dear Heights Church,
We are excited to gather for corporate worship on Sunday mornings at 10:15am. Our Gathering Plan is included below.
Our plans for gathering are made as we acknowledge a diversity of opinions regarding the threat level of COVID, and the varied opinions over what practices are actually best practices for reducing the risk and spread of the virus. We’ve implemented the mandated guidelines from MN, we’ve consulted other resources, and we’ve considered your feedback to make a plan for our church.
Our aim in this plan is to get the maximal amount of people from our church here to worship God in the least distracting way possible, with measures in place that help prevent the spread of COVID. Our goal is not to persuade you of the need for each measure, but simply to lay out a plan that we can be unified over for the sake of gathering as one church, as we show deference to the needs and concerns of others.
This plan is not perfect nor is it without risk—that plan doesn’t exist—but we believe it is sufficient, reasonably cautious, and with your help, we believe it is doable. It also seeks to address concerns that were raised by our church in the survey. Corporate worship involves corporate service toward one another—and this situation provides a clear opportunity to carry that out.
SERVING THE WHOLE CHURCH
Some of you are ready to gather, and some of you have indicated that you are not. This is fine. Another high priority in our planning is to continue to serve both groups as we transition to regathering.
As we have shifted our energies to regathering, we have also begun to provide video services. (Our services will be video recorded and made available online following the worship service.)
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ON SUNDAY MORNINGS
The Sunday morning service starts at 10:15am and is approximately 75 minutes long. Corporate worship includes singing, scripture reading, prayer, and a sermon.
Here are some additional changes to our service during this phase of gathering:
- Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the building.
- Every other pew will be roped off to help us maintain appropriate distancing while seated.
- Bulletins will still be provided, and will be placed in the pews prior to your arrival.
- Offering plates will not be passed during the service; instead, offering boxes will be available at the back of the sanctuary.
- The Fireside room has limited seating with chairs arranged for distancing, and the room remains available for parents with restless children. Both audio and video will be provided for that room.
- Bathrooms are cleaned and disinfected. Each bathroom will have disinfectant wipes inside, and a hand sanitizer station outside.
- Facemasks are required while indoors for all attending as stated by the new executive order issued July 22. Regarding children, MN requirements are as follows: “Children under age 2 years must not wear face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old are not required to wear face coverings, but are encouraged to wear a face covering when in public if they can do so reliably in compliance with CDC guidance (i.e., without frequently touching or removing the face covering).”
- After the service, we ask that people exit outside to continue fellowship.
CONSIDERING WHO SHOULD AND SHOULDN’T ATTEND
There are things you need to consider before planning to come. Some will need to stay home, and some will still choose to stay home. Consider the following:
- Some from our church will need to stay home.
You should not attend if...
a) You or anyone in your household have new COVID-19 symptoms since last Sunday, and these symptoms cannot be attributed to any other health condition. According to the MN guidelines, these symptoms include (fever or feeling feverish, chills, a new cough, shortness of breath, a new sore throat, new muscle aches, new headache, and a new loss of taste or smell).
b) You or anyone in your household have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days of the service. (Also, please refrain from attending in cases where you have had close contact with someone who was tested for COVID and the results are unknown).
- Some from our church may choose to stay home.
Many of you have indicated that you are not ready to return, and that is fine. Here are some things to consider:
Aged 65 and above. According to the CDC, those who are 65 and over bear more risk with COVID. Especially if you are in this age bracket, please consider whether now is the right time to come.
At-Risk health conditions. Your risk for contracting COVID is higher if you have pre-existing conditions. If you are immunocompromised or suffer from repository problems, we encourage you to consider staying at home and take advantage of the video services during these initial phases of regathering.
Uncomfortable with restrictions. Some of you may be uncomfortable with the measures that we are laying out here. All of us will have to bear with some level of inconvenience for the privilege of worshipping together, but if you believe that you cannot comply with these plans—you either find them too restrictive or too relaxed--you too should stay home, and this is a decision we would respect.
WHAT WE ARE ASKING OF YOU
This plan works best when we all participate in it. The following section lays out what we are asking you before you arrive and when you arrive.
Before You Leave for Church
- Check your email and or website for any last minute communications regarding corporate worship.
- Check that each person in your household is well and not sick. If anyone is sick or has a fever, please keep the whole family home.
- Pack facemasks for each member of your family.
- Park wherever you usually do.
- When entering the building, be mindful of social distancing out of respect for the concerns of others.
In the Building
- Please wear facemasks as you enter and exit the building. If in the service your facemask causes difficulty in breathing or is making you faint, by all means take the necessary measures to protect yourself.
- Enter through the main entrance, and make your way to the sanctuary.
- Please refrain from handshakes, hugs, and other greetings that require physical contact. It grieves me to even type this since the first thing we want to do is provide a warm greeting. But again, out of deference for others, please allow for space as you greet one another.
- Do your best to maintain six feet of distance from people who are not part of your household.
- As you are seated, please observe that every other pew is blocked off. And households should sit together. As noted above, the Fireside room remains available for parents with restless children.
- After the service, please make your way out of the building and enjoy fellowship outdoors.
LET GOD, NOT COVID OR CAUTION, BE THE FOCUS OF OUR WORSHIP
In all of this, let us not lose sight that the goal is to worship God together! Christ is the focus. Not COVID, not even cautious measures, but the glorious and living God. So please come prepared, and come prepared to worship.
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28
For His Glory,
Pastor Weyland Leach