I first want to say that I have missed you all over these past two months, and I pray that you have felt ministered to during this season. I have been so encouraged by your calls, cards, and messages while we have been apart. It truly is a privilege to be the pastor of the Plymouth Park Baptist Church.
I want to write to you today to inform you of our plans to regather as a church, with one big caveat. This plan is written in pencil, not pen. Things could change, dates could change, our methods and plan could change. We are going day by day and trying to make the best-informed decisions and will make sure you are aware of everything we decide.
We plan for the Plymouth Park Baptist Church to regather on Sunday morning, May 31st. The way we gather immediately will look different than the last time we met. We will have three English services that Sunday, and one Spanish. These services will be limited to 100 people in order to follow the proper social distancing guidelines. To achieve that, we will be taking reservations that are available through the website or by calling the church office for each service.
The first service is specifically for those 70 and up, so they can be the first ones in the building each week. The sanctuary will be disinfected and thoroughly cleaned after each service. Our other two English services are available for anyone who is comfortable gathering in our sanctuary with 100 people. This means our sanctuary will be less than 25% capacity.
The three worship services in English on Sundays during Phase One will be at 8:15, 9:45, and 11:15. The first service will be a more traditional service where we will be led in worship by piano and organ as we sing hymns. The second service will be a blended service and will look like what we have been doing on Facebook for the past two months. The third service will be a modern service where we will sing hymns and modern songs led by a band. All three of these services will be streamed to our Facebook page.
During this time, there will be no Sunday School, Student ministry, Kids ministry, or Nursery. All of our Wednesday night activities are canceled until August when we will reevaluate when they can resume. Children are absolutely welcome to attend our services as we re-open our doors. If you have any questions regarding plans and events that pertain to specific ministry area, you should contact the minister over that ministry.
I want you to know I do not take this decision lightly. The decision to re-open our doors has been much harder than the decision to temporarily close them. Much prayer, thought, and advice has gone into our plan. Our regathering committee (consisting of Deacon Chairman Jerry Sorrell, Dr. Ron Abersold, Dr. Barry O’Neal, and myself) believe this is the best plan for our church.
Here are two questions we have heard from some of our members:
(1) How do I know if I should come back? That is only a question that you can answer, but we have some ways to help you think through it. If you have been going to Wal-Mart, the grocery store, or anywhere else and felt comfortable during this time, you will be here as well. We will actually make sure social distancing is followed, and are taking necessary precautions for your safety.
If you are sheltered at home during this time because you are at high risk due to age or compromising health, we encourage you to continue to do so. We will still be streaming our services on Facebook and posting them on the church website. While we know you long to gather with us in this building, we want you to do that safely and at the right time. Please prioritize your health.
(2) What kind of precautions? We will be sanitizing the sanctuary with a hospital-grade disinfectant after each of our services. We will limit one person to the bathroom at a time and have them cleaned after each use. We will have hand sanitizer stations nearby as well. Also, we will be doing things differently for a while. We will not have a greeting time, we will not pass the offering plater, nor will we have any food or drink available.
Lastly, here are some things we ask of you:
(1) We strongly recommend that you wear a mask. A mask will not prevent you from contracting COVID-19, but it dramatically decreases the chances of you spreading the virus. Remember, you could have the virus but be asymptomatic. Consider this a way to love your neighbor well.
(2) If you are sick, please stay home. Even if you think it's allergies or something else, please be responsible and stay home. This is another way for you to love your neighbor well.
(3) Bring your own hand sanitizer with you. While we have some at the church, it is limited. Every store is back-ordered, and so if you can bring your own, it will help conserve the church’s supply.
(4) Only use the restroom if you absolutely have to go. We will only be allowing one person in the bathroom at a time, and then cleaning the restroom. To help our custodial staff, please only use the restroom if you absolutely need to.
(5) Please be patient. As we re-open doors, we do not foresee having issues allowing everyone who wants to worship here to be able to do that. However, if by chance we reach 100 reservations and are at capacity and cannot give you a reservation, please know it’s for yours and everyone else’s safety. We are new to this and ask for much grace and flexibility.
I look forward to, Lord willing, seeing many of you on May 31st.