(News: October 16, 2020)
Dear Brothers and Sisters;
Our last COVID update was posted on July 17, 2020 in response to the then-current spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in our local area. Since that time this spike has largely passed. We are trusting that this trend will continue and making plans for further re-opening.
The biggest move we hope to make is to return to adult, youth and children’s Sunday School on January 10, 2021. We are trusting that the current trends in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue for the three months between now and then, and we have some hope that many of the restrictions currently in place for Texas as a whole will be lifted by then. In any event, we need to plan ahead, and so the plan is to begin our long delayed “Confronting Christianity” Sunday School class for youth and adults on that day. This will be supported by offering classes from nursery to sixth grade.
The details of this plan have yet to be fully worked out. We expect that the main class, “Confronting Christianity” will be held in the auditorium, using socially distant seating but with relaxed expectations for masking. If possible by January 10th we would like to make masks entirely optional, but this will depend on how the COVID numbers go and what the authorities are recommending for businesses. The CE Committee is still working on what reopening will look like for the kids, but our expectation is that it may be in-person in classrooms, with the same recommendations for masking.
As always since the start of this pandemic, we will be asking those who are symptomatic, or have known exposures to stay away from in-person attendance until their status vis-à-vis the virus is clear. Those who care for vulnerable people or are vulnerable themselves are also encouraged to prayerfully consider not attending. We will livestream the “Confronting Christianity” class on YouTube for those who can’t attend in-person.
We’re really looking forward to this and ask that you would pray for God’s provision and guidance to make it possible.
Other Current Changes:
As you’ve noticed in recent weeks, we are trying to carefully resume a number of events. We’re excited about the Men’s Retreat this coming weekend, which will be well attended. We’re also excited about the church campout in November. We plan to continue having one-time events like this in the coming months, and we hope to have several of our Christmas events in near-normal fashion.
We’re also glad that a few groups are beginning to meet in-person. We recommend that Small Groups and Bible Studies that have been on hold or on Zoom consider meeting. The wisdom of this will vary from group to group, but with the coming of cooler weather the options for meeting in parks or backyards are definitely greater, and where everyone in a group is known to be healthy, meeting in a home or a classroom is an option. We are in the process of contacting leaders of all the pre-COVID groups to get their input and put the groups page on the website back into shape.
We have been gratified by the good degree of masking and distancing that have been evident in our worship services these last months. We want to continue encouraging that for the present, but we recognize that masking at our seats, which are already socially distant, may not be adding much to the stopping of community spread. While we plan to continue encouraging masking on entry and during social times, we are comfortable with people making their own informed choices for what to do at their seats. As we said above, we’re hoping masking can become entirely optional by January.
Some other areas where this same current personal-choice-at-your-seats guideline will be in effect are the Sunday Scripture Reading (9:45 AM each Sunday) and the Weekly Prayer Meeting (7:30 PM on Tuesdays).
We are praying for you as you navigate the ongoing chaos in our country, that “according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
“20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)
Bob, for the elders