Re-Opening and Thoughts from Romans 14 | Matt Williams
Re-Opening and Thoughts from Romans 14 | Matt Williams
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Small Campus Gatherings Experience
Welcome! We are excited to be with those of you who are able to join us for one of our worship services. And for those who can’t, we’ll continue to provide the entire service online for you to worship at home.
While COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, the state government believes that current conditions are mild enough to allow us to worship together if we take significant precautions in order to mitigate the risk of spreading the illness. We hope you will join us if you are able.
Of course, conditions are unpredictable and could change at any time. With that reality in mind, we need to all be prepared to adapt together as we go.
During each of our services, our staff and volunteer team will take the following precautions:
As we gather, we want to take precautions out of love for one another and to protect those worshiping alongside us and the vulnerable in our community. Please join us in this by following these guidelines:
We understand that there is inherent risk of exposure to the virus by meeting in groups and for worship services. For now, our state government officials have made it clear they are trusting church leaders to make wise decisions and follow guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other health authorities in order to minimize health risks.
We have also considered Scripture as we continue to make decisions about how we will respond to COVID-19. We know that the Bible commands us to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1), which is one reason we have followed and will continue to follow the guidelines and laws set in place by those authorities. We also understand that believers are encouraged to continue in fellowship with one another—we believe meeting together to worship is both a biblical mandate and crucial to our mission (Hebrews 10:25).
Coming to worship is never completely without risk—whether it is car accidents, the flu virus, or falls on a sidewalk. While the risk of COVID-19 is still greater than any of these, we believe it is currently low enough that worshiping with precautions is the best way we can currently fulfill our mission of making disciples.
If you are unable to join us in person, our full service is available online. We do ask that you register for the online service—this enables us to know and communicate with those who join us online, which is consistent with how all of our other services function. Once you register, you will receive a link for the weekend service which will be available from Saturday evening through Sunday night. If you are unable to join us over the weekend, the teaching is always available on the Grace Church app or in our Resource Library.
We know that coughing, sneezing, speaking, and singing release tiny particles from the lungs. A mask greatly reduces the distance these droplets travel. Since scientists believe that asymptomatic people are an important part of the spread of COVID-19, the only way to help protect our neighbors and the vulnerable in our community is for all of us to wear a mask since we may not know when we are infected.
Singers will use a plexiglas shield instead of a mask to allow them to better lead the congregation while also protecting those who are near the stage. Band members who do not sing have been given permission to remove their mask once on stage, provided they have adequate distance from the congregation and other band members.
We’ve received good questions about masks at worship services. It’s clearly not a right vs. wrong decision, but rather a situation where a group of leaders must use their best judgment. We know most masks do not protect the wearer; however, medical professionals widely agree that they do help protect others if the wearer is infected (and may not know it yet). We also understand that wearing masks is uncomfortable for some and traumatic for others. So this is not a decision we are taking lightly. It could also change as circumstances change.
These are NOT reasons why we are wearing masks:
• Because we are afraid of dying ourselves.
• Because we are overly concerned about liability.
• Because we think they will keep the wearer from getting sick.
These are reasons why we ARE wearing masks:
• People being hit hardest by the pandemic are the poor and vulnerable—those we should be trying to serve and protect.
• They are suffering not only in terms of health, but also economically as viral spread discourages people from all sorts of activities.
• Some transmission chains that start in our church will inevitably end in someone who is elderly or vulnerable.
• Many people in senior living facilities in the upstate consider Grace Church their church.
• Not only is their health at risk, but more transmission means that they will continue to be locked away from family and pastoral support. While we are not responsible for whatever strategy our government chooses to pursue, we are responsible for how our decisions affect those that God has put under our spiritual care. And at present, we believe wearing masks inside, especially when singing, is the best decision to balance our competing priorities.
Before you come to the worship service, we recommend that you take your temperature. If your temperature is above 100.4 °F, please stay home and worship with the online service.
Registering for a service will help our staff team effectively and safely conduct worship services. Registrations help us ensure that services are not exceeding the safe capacity of our rooms or children’s areas. In the event that we are notified that someone in attendance at a service has tested positive, registrations will allow us to contact others in attendance to inform them.
If someone lets us know that they have been diagnosed and gives us permission, we will notify everyone else who attended that service and send information about the area of the room where that person was sitting.
We are working to offer Grace Church Kids at each campus based on need and availability of resources. Contact the children’s director at your campus for campus-specific information. Children planning to attend are required to be registered.
We will ask our small group leaders to help students maintain a distance of six feet from one another and to meet outside or in an area with enough room for social distancing. Leaders have been given these guidelines and have been asked to follow them.
We understand that not everyone will feel comfortable meeting in person for various reasons. Each community group that is meeting in person has been directed to include a video conferencing option to ensure that all group members are included in the small group setting.
We are asking community groups to adhere to our guidelines for small group gatherings. We believe these guidelines provide a safe environment for groups to meet together in person.
Yes, in order to help protect others, we would ask that you stay home if you know you have been around anyone who has tested positive or is showing symptoms of Covid-19.