From the Elders:
Dear Church Members,
We are excited to be writing this letter to you. We (the elders) have been meeting to plan for our reopening of the sanctuary by June 14th. In fact, some of you may be wondering why we haven’t opened under phase 1 since other churches have. The answer is simple. Under phase 1, services are limited to less than 25 people. We didn’t feel comfortable telling a third or half of our congregation that they were not welcome. Furthermore, we want to be able to minister to any visitors who show up and we couldn’t effectively do that and comply with a 25 capacity limit.
When we do open on June 14th we will initially have 2 services. The first service will start at 8:30 and will end by 9:30. The second service will start at 10:30, not 10:00. The hour between services will be used to clean and replenish communion supplies. Online services will still be offered. Even with 2 services, it will require people to choose in advance which service they want to attend. The exact mechanics for selecting your favored service time are forthcoming.
Unfortunately, all programming for youth will remain on hold until we get more guidance on how to properly keep kids from violating social distancing rules (after all they love to cling and hug).
When you arrive for service, things will look different. First of all, you won’t see the “automatic and typical” handshake or hug. It isn’t because we don’t love or welcome you; it’s because we have a vulnerable population (elderly and those with compromised immune systems). We want everyone to feel safe. In fact, we won’t have the traditional meet and greet time either. Someone using rubber gloves will hand out bulletins.
In the event that someone offers you their hand or wants a hug, please don’t feel obligated to return the action. It is okay to say something to the effect that you would rather not at this time as you are practicing social distancing. If you are the person offering the hand or hug, please don’t be offended. On the other hand, if two people are comfortable shaking hands or hugging, that is up to you. The point we want to stress is that we want people to feel both safe and welcome.
Speaking of social distancing, you will notice that every other row of chairs in the church is taped off. People are encouraged to maintain social distancing unless you are a family unit.
Coffee will still be provided but someone will be pouring it and asking if you need cream and sugar. For the time being, cookies will not be available.
Masks will not be required, but they are encouraged. Members can slide their mask down while singing and pull it up when finished.
We will not be doing temperature checks. People are encouraged to stay home and use the online church service option if they have a fever or cough or just aren’t feeling well in general.
Contact tracing: There will be no members sign in before service since we should know who is attending based on the choice they made for which service they will attend. However, if someone gets ill with COVID-19 symptoms after service, they are encouraged to let us know so we can quickly notify other members who attended that service.
Communion will look different too. The communion table will be at the back of the sanctuary. We hope the deacon of the month will be able to help during one church service and the deaconess of the month with the other. In any case, someone (gloved individual) will hand you a filled communion cup and a wafer on a napkin. You may take it with you to your seat and put the cup in the cupholder beneath the chair in front of you.
Offering bags will not be passed. Instead, they will be placed in the back of the sanctuary where you can deposit your tithes and offering when you come in or as you leave. People are still encouraged to use the online giving option or you can send your offering to the church using the Mill City Christian Church, P.O. Box 78, Mill City, OR 97360 address.
All small groups (life groups, Bible studies, men’s group, etc) are still on hold as are board meetings, financial and building committees.
This is probably the most important paragraph of this letter. Although we have done our best to plan for a successful reopening, there are still many unknowns. Plans and procedures may have to be “tweaked.” However, it is important to remember that we the people are the church. It is not the building! We can and must still minister to the people of our community. We hope things will eventually get back to normal but we must also plan for a new normal. Keep the faith and be strong in the Lord.