Dear church, As you know, the pastorate has been praying and working toward a plan to begin to safely bring the church back together. Please read the below May 2020 COVID19 update. It will give insight into where we are on the subject and provide a plan to begin to come back together, currently planned for the morning of May 24th. If you are part of the vulnerable population or if are not ready, you should feel no pressure to begin coming back at this time. However, if you are ready or would like to think you are if you could feel safe, please study the plan. Tonight, following the service, there will be a summary of the plan given and next Wednesday a more detailed explanation provided using a short video. Continue to pray one for another and for wisdom as we move forward for Christ. The Pastorate”
Hello church. May 13th, 2020
From all around us we are basically being told that we are faced with two mutually exclusive (either/or) choices; either a) isolate and stay healthy or b) “reopen” the country. However, there is a huge opportunity cost associated with either choice. If we remain isolated, we may stay healthy, but the cost of doing so is a) an inability to feed our families due to lost wages and b) an inability to worship and fulfill God’s plan for His church. If, however, we are dismissive of the COVID19 threat or throw caution to the wind and assume we can simply reengage in what were our normal routines of work and worship (church/service to God), the likely cost to many will be our health. The pastorate believes we (our church and the nation) cannot accept the idea that we are limited to mutually exclusive choices. It is not sustainable, especially if as some predict this will be with us for some time to come. Rather, by faith, we believe we must learn to work and worship while staying safe/healthy. As in other things we learn for the first time, there will be a learning curve; we may not get it right the first time. We understand the success of our plan – to learn the new balance of work, worship and staying healthy – is largely dependent on our congregant’s desire to achieve the balance, brotherly love toward each other, and a willingness to cooperate. We are counting on every member to prove we are not limited to mutually exclusive approaches by reading, understanding and cooperating with our plan.
So, as we plan to bring the church back together, we are developing a set of phased responses which will emphasize safety, then the familiar, then convenience (new normal). It is important to realize that phase 1 (safety) won’t get us to normal and does not come without risks to individuals (health) and the church (legal), but begins the process sooner than later.
As ND’s confirmed cases are lower than most states, recall our cycle of cases in the state started later than most and it is still early to know how many will be infected. The FM area, with Fargo being the largest city in ND, not surprisingly is seeing the majority of the positive cases. Many people are asymptomatic, showing no *signs of COVID19, but are carrying the virus. Staying home continues to be the safest option. However, we believe the conscientious portion of our church family who decide to begin making their way back to live church services will help us mitigate the risks by careful adherence to our phased response plan.
The CDC, ND Public Health and the Christian Law Association are still advising the most **vulnerable population to stay home. However, there are no orders in ND to prevent us from beginning to come back together. In fact, the Governor’s earlier order to close many businesses has lapsed and businesses in ND may, at their discretion, reopen as they take certain precautions. While these things don’t directly pertain to a church, we are wise to take like-extreme safety measures to protect the health of our church family and visitors.
So, as we ease back together, don’t expect normal for a while. You will notice our phased responses are not tied to any time table. Rather, they will be dependent on COVID19 issues in our locale; which means as we travel through time, we may move between response phases depending on resurgences of COVID19 spread if applicable.
Our first phase still requires planning and coordination, but is outlined below. The anticipated date of our first service under our phase 1 response is May 24th. It will be the Sunday 10:30 only. We will continue to live stream the Sunday evening and Wednesday services. Notable points: 1) There will be no children’s ministries or child care (nursery). 2) The traditional Sunday School hour will not be part of phase: we will move the 09:30 Sunday School hour up 30 minutes to 09:00 as an option for those over 60 (ONLY) - who are healthy - enabling them to get in and out, avoiding crowds. Please note, if you are over 60, and you decide to attend any service, we prefer that you use the 09:00, avoiding services at this time. 3) Social distancing, hand hygiene, sanitizing high touch surfaces will be stressed. 4) ***Key staff will be assisting congregants before and after the services, to ensure social distancing, hand hygiene, etc… 5) Families will need to stay together as we come and go
*COVID19 symptoms (known) = Fever; • Cough; • Shortness of breath; • Chills; • Repeated shaking; • Muscle pain; • Headache; • Sore throat; or • New loss of taste or smell or other neurological issue
**Vulnerable population = over 60 and those with underlying/pre-existing health conditions, including, but not limited to; diabetes, heart disease, asthma, lung disease, high blood pressure
***Key ministry staff = security, greeters, ushers, housekeeping, others who interact with congregants