This past Thursday night, a number of church leaders were invited to attend the monthly Elders' meeting to discuss plans for future church meetings. When in early May the elders proposed our current two-service format (masked; masks optional) with the chairs being set up so as to maximize social distancing, we were pleased with how well it has worked out. But the desire to get back to a single service, have a nursery and classes for both children and adults has not been lost. So with that in mind we met on Thursday. The prayer going into that meeting was for wisdom and unity.
We believe that God answered our prayer. For after lengthy discussion, we unanimously came to a number of decisions. All of these "decisions" are considered tentative as it is impossible to know what the state of things (in regards to the coronavirus) will be two months or more from now. One of the elders was unable to attend the meeting and so all of these points will be reviewed again at the August Elders' meeting. We are committed to unanimity on these decisions. But so that you might know where we think we should be going, here is what we agreed upon…
- We are committed to working towards that end that we again have a single worship service.
- In order for us to have a single service there must be some accommodations made so that both the masked and the unmasked might be in the building at the same time.
- We can see no other way to see points #1 and #2 be met without removing a section of the back wall of the worship space. We believe this can be inexpensively and quite quickly done, making an initial use of the folding partitions as a barrier between the two rooms with the construction of an insulated rolling "barn door" being a more permanent solution. This would allow the worship space to be expanded (door open) while preserving the back room as a separate space for certain events (door closed).
- If those who prefer masks, are open to the idea of being in the same building with those unmasked, this back room space – being the furthest away from unmasked singers and speakers – would seem preferable. With that in mind, the additional double doors to the buildings entrance would be designated as a "masked only" entrance.
- During this period (which could well go beyond even the end of this year) ALL attenders, young adult age and up, will be required to use a mask when walking to/from the restrooms and using the restrooms. The point here is to minimize unprotected contact particularly for those for whom such contact is being avoided.
- Just as we currently have the "masks required" service FIRST, under this combined service format, the worship service would move to 9 am with a Sunday School hour, beginning at 10:45, taking place after (the reverse order of what we had before the coronavirus struck). The nursery, Toddler Time and Children's Church would all begin, once this is in place. As for the Sunday School hour, the two adult classes (younger and older), a (new) youth class, and the elementary age Sunday School classes would all take place. Sarah Rausch has again volunteered to head up a Christmas pageant for the children, and she would lead the elementary age Sunday School class in learning their music during this time.
- All of these changes would take place on September 13.
- Until that time, things would remain as they currently are with one exception, that being that on August 30 we would go ahead with our annual Church Picnic in the Park (Neffsville Park). The meal for this would be different than in the past as everyone would be required to bring their own food, drinks and ware. But there would be plenty of room for seating, games for children, corn hole for adults, etc. The softball game would be dependent upon who is interested.
- We will poll those wearing masks to see if the above would be acceptable to them. We will also poll parents of infants and young children to see what they expect (in regards to masks) from those overseeing their child/children.
So that is the plan. It was agreed that this plan is not only tentative, but it is also subject to those who are currently coming to the "masks required" service being open to these proposed changes. We are not interested in losing anyone. We truly hear those who prefer not to wear a mask, just as we hear those who believe it best to wear a mask. We know this is asking a lot, but with a view towards what is best for the entire church, including our children, we believe we should try and move in this way.