October 2020 COVID Response Update
Dear Fargo Baptist Church,
In response to the increasing COVID cases in North Dakota, our local area and within our church; and in an effort to balance our stewardship responsibilities of the Great Commission, the welfare of flock of God and an enduring testimony in our community we have decided to pull back from our Phase II (b) to our Phase I reentry plan.
Since the beginning of October, we have had three people that we know about within our church test positive for COVID19 and close to a dozen self-Quarantine due to close contact with those with COVID. We are receiving questions almost daily now by those asking if they should come to church or stay home since they were exposed to someone with COVID. Most of the questions go to the heart of the definition of “close contact” which will be defined below. First, however, let’s look at exactly what this update means for assembling as a church.
Specifically, this update seeks to inform you that we’ll have physical/in-person Sunday morning services, but will need to livestream the evening services and we’ll seek to protect the most vulnerable as we do. It also means a few of the ministries we resumed in Phase II will need to be suspended again.
Church services as of this update will be as follows: As in Phase I, we are asking those over 60 and/or those with underlying health conditions to limit their physical attendance to the Sunday 9:30 AM Mask-Only service in the West Wing. The Sunday 10:30 AM service will be open to healthy people who are not part of the 09:30 AM service. In order to limit transmissible moments/opportunities, as in Phase I, the Sunday evening and Wednesday services will be Livestream services. However, for those who can’t abide the thought of not attending the evening services, assuming they are healthy and not part of the vulnerable population, they may attend IF they wear masks on the way in and out (or unless seated during the services).
Ministry changes as of this update are as follows: You may recall the phased approach to reintroduction to ministries. Ministries highlighted yellow may have resumed in Phase II. This update asks Full Throttle, the Campus ministry and Refugee Soccer to suspend or significantly change the scope of the ministry efforts while Cass county is considered a High risk. Also, the Wednesday Missions Prayer Group ‘gathering’ will be suspended until the risk goes down in Cass county. Prayer letters will still be provided, however. Finally, we’re going to defer the portion of our Community Care outreach that puts us in contact with folks we don’t know in our community. However, perhaps we could start putting some of this into practice beginning at home and church and see how God can bless.
Close contact: As COVID cases increase, many of us will come in contact with or know someone with COVID; whether in the work place, the grocery store, church, or other public places. So, when you find out someone you’ve come into contact with has/had COVID, how do you know if you should come to church or other places in the community?
The answer is found in the definition of contact or exposure according to CDC and ND public health professionals. Please defer to those sources for this and other related information. For our purposes, we’ll use the term “close contact” to determine if a person should come to church. Close contact is defined as “within 6’ of someone with COVID for 15 minutes or more, unprotected (without a mask)”. If you pass by someone in the hall that you later learn had COVID, this doesn’t qualify as close contact, unless you had 15 minutes of cumulative contact with them in a day. If you sat down with them in a meeting or at lunch closer than 6’ for more than 15 minutes and without a mask, please self-quarantine in accordance with the CDC guidelines. If you come into contact with someone else who had close contact with someone with COVID, you did not have close contact with someone with COVID. Please feel free to come to church. We hope this helps answer some inevitable, questions. Also see https://www.health.nd.gov/sites/www/files/documents/Files/MSS/coronavirus/Factsheet_for_People_Who_are_Close_Contacts.pdf if you have more questions about what to do if you come into contact with someone with COVID.
Pastor Wilson, for the FBC pastorate