Update on Indoor Worship Services

Dear Church Families:

We pray that you are all doing well. We wanted to take a minute and update everyone on the progress of moving forward with indoor in-person church services. On September 16, we received an email from Bishop Taylor, approving all Holston Conference churches to move forward with Indoor In-person Services. Here’s an excerpt from that communication:

Today, I want to continue steps forward and announce beginning this Sunday, September 20, 2020 all churches with a plan that has been approved by their District Superintendent may return to their buildings for in-person worship. But let me be clear, attorneys have advised not following your approved plan creates liability for your church and your future. I want to stress this doesn’t mean your church has to return to your building on September 20. In fact, I suggest you continue gathering outdoors for as long as you can, because it is a safer way to gather. I am fully aware some areas within our conference are reporting increasing numbers of COVID-19 per the Harvard Metrics. In those areas, churches may wisely decide to wait until the numbers decrease.
 
It is also important for church leadership to meet regularly to discuss the ongoing situation within their own community and make wise decisions on gathering. The Phase One protocols are to be followed and are put in place for the safety of all those who will gather. I strongly urge churches to continue their on-line worship presence because there are many who are unable or uncomfortable gathering in-person at this time.

In response to this news, we held a called joint Church Council meeting with the leadership of all 3 churches on Monday, September 21st via Zoom to discuss moving forward with Indoor services. We are excited to announce that we will move forward with offering Indoor In-person worship services at all 3 churches beginning Sunday, September 27th. The services will be at their regular times; 9:30 AM at Savannah; 10 AM at Out of the Box, and 11 AM at Mt. Vale. All 3 church services will be Livestreamed on each corresponding church’s Facebook page for those who may be uncomfortable attending in person.

The following plan was developed using the guidelines mandated by the Holston Conference for providing Indoor In-person services and has been approved by our District Superintendent. Here is what you need to know:

Infection Prevention:

A deep cleaning of the church has been completed. Weekly deep cleanings of the church will be scheduled while In-person services are being held. You will notice that all Hymnals and Bibles have been removed from the pews. We encourage you to bring their own Bibles. Scripture and words to the songs will be displayed on the TV screens. Bulletins will not be utilized during this time. Touchless Hand Sanitizer Stations will be available at the designated Entrance and Exit of the church and Restrooms will be fully stocked with soap, toilet paper, and paper towels.

Attendance:

The Entrance and Exit will be clearly identified and marked. You will be asked to maintain 6 feet of social distance while waiting to Enter the building. At the conclusion of the service, the congregation will be excused by rows in Exiting the building to ensure proper social distancing.

If you are sick (fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, headache, recent loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting); have tested positive for Covid-19, or are awaiting Covid-19 test results, please stay home. If you are vulnerable or live with a vulnerable person, please make the decision that you feel is best for you.

Approved seating will be clearly marked. The church’s Greeting/Usher Team will provide assistance and instruction to you on where this is located. Seating will be restricted to every other pew/group of seats. Alternate pews/groups of seats will be roped off to ensure social distancing. Families who live in the same household will be allowed to sit together; including youth and children. Attendance will be capped at 75 people at Mt. Vale United Methodist Church, at 50 people at Savannah United Methodist Church, and at 50 people at Out of the Box United Methodist Church.

It is mandatory that attendance for each worship service be documented. Wearing masks and practicing social distancing is also mandatory. If you arrive without a mask or face covering, a disposable mask will be provided to be worn during the worship service. Folks leading worship will wear masks and only remove them when it’s time to sing; they will immediately put their masks back on once they are finished leading worship. The pastor(s) will wear a mask prior to the service and only remove it once the service begins.

Worship Service:

The length of the worship service will be shorter than normal to minimize the amount of time spent together indoors. There will be no choirs, congregational singing, or time of fellowship during the worship service. Touchless methods of Greeting each other; such as waving to each other or giving each other a thumbs up; will be used to encourage and promote fellowship. Microphones will not be shared or passed during the service for announcements or prayer requests. Please text or call the pastor ahead of the service to provide any announcements or prayer requests that need to be shared. The pastor will share any announcements or prayer requests with the congregation during the service.

On Sundays that we observe Holy Communion, it will be administered by utilizing prepackaged self-serve communion cups with the bread inside the flap. These prepackaged communion sets will be passed out to you as you enter the building. Online Communion will be offered virtually for those watching via the Livestream.

To help with the spread of germs, we ask that you continue to utilize one of our 3 touchless options to give your tithes and offerings; through the Mail; Online on our Website; or through Tithely. In the event that you cannot utilize one of these touchless methods; an offering plate will be available for you to place your tithes and offerings in.

Communication Plan:

We will continue utilizing the One Call Now system, emails, text messages, posts on all 3 church Facebook pages, posts on all 3 church websites, and phone calls to communicate service times and guidelines. In the event that someone who attended a worship service tests positive for Covid-19, the Pastor will ensure that all pertinent communication and follow-up is completed.

We know that this is a lot of information to take in. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work together to make these services the best they can be. We are so excited to finally be at this point. We love and miss you guys, we pray for you all daily, and we can’t wait to see you Indoors beginning on September 27th.

Blessings,

Pastor David and Pastor Ronnie