From Your Pastor
Originally, when we decided to stop gathering for the time being it was in order to honor the government’s wishes so that we could do our part in flattening the curve. At this point, that has happened and Gov. Abbott has given churches permission to resume gathering under certain guidelines. Over the last two weeks many churches in our area have started gathering again. We haven’t yet, in part because we wanted to be cautious and care well for those at risk within our congregation, and along with that it didn’t seem as though we’d be able to abide by Gov. Abbott’s current guidelines because they were so strict. However, some things have changed, and we have secured the services of a Covid-19 certified cleaning crew that will clean the church each week in a way that will allow us to operate in compliance with the Governor’s guidelines, as well as allow us to gather in a much safer format.
The cleaning crew will keep everything downstairs clean and sanitized. And Lord willing, with the help of the cleaning crew and by taking precautions of our own, we’ll be able to gather again safely and legally. But, though we will be gathering again things will not be business as usual. For however long we are under the current restrictions, and for however long we need to maintain these restrictions for the safety of God’s people, we will hold services only in the worship center (the big auditorium). And along with that, during this time:
- There will be no Sunday school in the beginning.
- There will be no in person Wednesday Bible study in the beginning.
- There will be no nursery, child-care, or children’s ministry in the beginning.
- There will be no coffee or donuts provided.
- There will be no bulletins provided.
- We will have the chairs spread out to provide social distancing standards.
- We will have ushers guiding people to seating areas.
- We will dedicate an entire section of chairs for those in the at risk category who wish to attend.
- The Lord’s Supper will be prepared by one deacon with proper protection.
- The Lord’s Supper will be administered by people wearing proper protection, and the elements will be passed out, not retrieved by the congregation.
- We ask that everyone honor social distancing while in the church building interacting with others as well as in the parking lot.
- A mask is not required, but will be encouraged for those who fall into the at risk category (we have masks and gloves for any who need them).
- We ask that all parents keep their children with them at all times in their appointed seating space before and after the service; however, we are working on an area designated for parents with young children that would give their children space and freedom, where the parents would still be able to hear and see the service.
- We will stream the service on Facebook live for those who need to stay home, those who are still uncomfortable attending, or for families concerned about children sitting through the full service.
- The only restrooms that will be accessible will be the two in the main hallway.
- We will dismiss by row after the service concludes.
- The cleaning crew will disinfect the areas we use each week to prepare for the next Sunday.
I know this seems like a lot, but we want to be responsible and legal. We will monitor the CDC and the Governor’s guidelines regularly, and we will reevaluate our situation after doing this for a couple of weeks, and see about adding Bible studies or loosing up restrictions as we see how things go.
So, Lord willing we will resume gathering as a church starting Sunday May 24th. Again, there will be no Sunday School, so service will begin at 10:40am. If you are not comfortable attending due to Covid-19 we completely understand, but we do ask that you reach out and let us know you won’t be attending at this time. For those of you who do plan to attend please abide by the above guidelines, and along with that please exercise everyday preventive actions recommended by the CDC to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before and after eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Along with that take common-sense steps to minimize hand-to-hand contact with other people. Besides regularly washing your hands with soap, “social distancing” is one of the most important and effective ways to slow the spread of disease. So avoid handshakes and hugs for now… Consider other things as well such as pushing and pulling open doors with your foot or a paper towel instead of your hand.
With all of that said, I want to be clear that you should feel no pressure or compulsion at all to attend service during this time, though we want you to if you can, and feel comfortable doing so. But, even though we want everyone with us who can be with us, there are many reasons that some should not come. For instance, if you develop a fever, shortness of breath, a persistent cough, or other flu-like or respiratory symptoms, do not attend church services until you have been symptom-free for 48-72 hours. This of course applies to children as well. Even if you are quite convinced that all this is “nothing to worry about’ or “overblown”, or even if your theology would somehow lead you to the conclusion that you should come to church even if you’re sick, please humble yourself and stay home if you are exhibiting these symptoms, for the sake of the fellow saints of Cornerstone.
I love you all so much! I want you to be safe physically, and even more I want your soul to be safe eternally. And as for me, my soul is weary and in desperate need of gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ. So, I do hope that you will be able to gather with us on 5/24/2020. And until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; and may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Christ is all!
Your privileged and unworthy minister and friend,