May 19, 2020 Faith Baptist Church

Faith Baptist Church Reopening Plan (COVID-19)

Faith Baptist Church Reopening Plan (COVID-19)

FBC INDOOR SERVICE INFORMATION (COVID-19)


Updated: 10/24/20


Here are some further specific details about gathering for worship indoors while following current state and local guidelines due to COVID-19. We will also provide online live-streamed / recorded services for those who cannot attend in person.


*These safety considerations are entirely consistent with the Massachusetts guidelines for houses of worship updated 9/8/2020 as well as subsequent updates, and the COVID-19 Order No. 31 of May 6 that is referenced in those state guidelines. You may review the guidelines for yourself as well as see additional details for requirements at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/safety-standards-and-checklist-places-of-worship


General Indoor Service Information

  • Time: We recommend arriving a few minutes early since seating may take a little longer than usual. (There will be no child care/nursery at this time).
  • Seating: The seating has been placed at a minimum distance of 6 feet to provide for social distancing between households. Individuals/household groups should generally find seating 6 feet separate from others (3 chairs between two households = 6ft). Ushers will be available to help you find a seat and maintain social distancing.
  • Climate: We will usually have some doors and windows open to maintain low-contact entrance/exit as well as to provide indoor-outdoor air circulation, weather permitting. We also have our new and highly advanced air conditioning system running, which has brand new filters installed and good indoor/outdoor circulation, to help maintain comfort.
  • Masks: State orders and local guidelines at this time require people attending indoor services in houses of worship to wear masks while entering, exiting, and participating in services whenever 6-ft distance cannot be maintained, except for a socially distanced speaker/leader. Please note that those with medical reasons/exemptions are not required to wear a mask or provide proof of their reason. Children under 2 do not have to wear masks. Children between ages 2-5 wearing masks is left up to the judgment of the parents. We are not required to enforce mask use and will not generally be enforcing mask-wearing on an individual basis but we do ask and encourage everyone to wear a mask that doesn’t have a medical reason while entering, exiting, socializing or participating in service whenever you cannot maintain a 6-ft distance. This is a way we can be respectful toward our governing authorities and considerate of each other. We also ask that all seek to be sensitive to their own consciences as well as respectful of the consciences of others and our testimony in the community with this controversial issue.
  • Building Capacity: Current guidelines limit us to 50% of our 200 people building capacity, which is 100 people. We do not anticipate reaching this limit, but the ushers will be monitoring our numbers. Those who cannot come in person can participate online.
  • Cleaning: The church is cleaned/disinfected after all services or significant gatherings/activities per state guidelines. If a case of COVID did occur we will follow the required deep-cleaning protocols.
  • High Contact Surfaces: All high-contact surfaces will have either been disinfected before the service or left vacant for a sufficient amount of time to kill any particles.
  • Offerings: There will be a no-contact offering box (we will not pass offering around) for checks or cash. You can also give online at https://fbcsouthbridge.com/give or send checks via mail made out to “Faith Baptist Church”.
  • Communion: The weeks where communion is offered (usually the first Sunday of the month), we will offer sterile pre-packaged communion elements (a sealed cup of juice with a small wafer in a top pocket). Ushers taking precautions will distribute the elements. Please feel free to refuse the elements if you are not comfortable taking communion for safety or other reasons.

Safety Considerations:

  1. Please generally forego handshakes, hugs, etc.
  2. Please maintain approximately 6 ft of distance from non-family/household members.
  3. Please sit with your family in a group that is socially distanced from others during the service.
  4. If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, know you have been in recent contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, or are under official quarantine, please stay home.
  5. We ask that only one person/household group will be using the bathrooms at a time. Wipes will be available for those who wish to disinfect before/after use.

Why are we being so careful to keep these regulations?

  1. Because we want to be a good testimony to our neighbors (Matthew 5:16).
  2. Because we want to honor our government (Romans 13:1).
  3. Because we want to love one another by minimizing safety risks (Mark 12:31).
  4. Because loving each other includes being sensitive to each other’s consciences (Romans 14:13).
  5. Because we know this is temporary and will not last forever.

 Online Video Service

  • We will be streaming our service via Facebook Live hosted on our church Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Churchsouthbridge). Please note that a Facebook account should not be necessary to view the live service. The recorded service will be accessible after on Facebook, eventually posted on YouTube, and via audio on our website.
  • Links and directions for the livestream will be posted on our website: https://fbcsouthbridge.com/
  • In the event that there are technical issues, we encourage you to access a recording of the service which will be posted afterward.




FBC OUTDOOR SERVICE INFORMATION (COVID-19)

Revised: 7/22/2020

Dear Faith Baptist Church,


Here are some further specific details about gathering for worship . We will be holding services outdoors following state guidelines while also seeking to provide online livestreamed/recorded services.


General Outdoor Service Information

  • Time: We recommend arriving a few minutes early since seating make take a little longer than usual. (There will be no Sunday school or nursery at this time.
  • Location: Upper parking Lot of the Church.
  • Seating: We will provide metal chairs but you are more than welcome to bring your own lawn chair. If you have your own chair it might be more comfortable. An usher will help you find a spot and maintain social distancing.
  • Parking: Please park at the lower parking lot and use the stairs (one person at a group or time up and down). If you are not able to walk up the stairs you can drop-off or park along the side of the road at the top. Please only park at the top of the parking lot on the side of the road if you are not able to walk up the stairs. Ushers will be available to assist.
  • Sun Protection: We recommend you prepare for sun exposure. This may include 1) wearing a hat, 2) wearing sunglasses, 3) bringing an umbrella, 4) applying Sunscreen, 5) bringing bottled water. Those who are comfortable bringing pop-up tents/shelters for group use are encouraged to do so. A light jacket may be helpful in the event of cool weather or wind.
  • Offerings: We will have a no-contact offering box (we will not pass it around) for checks or cash. You can also give online at https://fbcsouthbridge.com/ or send checks via mail.   
  • Bad Weather: In the event of bad weather we will move the service inside (masks are required by state order and local guidelines unless you have a medical reason or for children less than 5) and a livestream/recording will be posted online.

Safety Considerations:

  1. Please forego handshakes, hugs, etc.
  2. Please maintain approximately 6 ft of distance from non-family members. The ushers will help guide you in this way.
  3. Please sit with your family in a group that is socially distanced from others during the service. The ushers will help you with this.
  4. Please wear a face mask whenever you cannot be 6 ft from non-family members. This is most likely to occur when you arrive and leave. While seated with your families at proper social distance, it is not required to wear a mask under current guidelines.
  5. If you have cold or flu-like symptoms or know you have been in recent contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, please stay home.
  6. We will have an usher giving directions for the bathrooms so that only one person is using them at a time.

Why are we being so careful to keep these regulations?

  1. Because we are going to be in full view of our watching neighbors (Matthew 5:16).
  2. Because we want to honor our government (Romans 13:1).
  3. Because part of loving and serving each other is helping each other feel safe (Romans 14:13).
  4. Because we know this is temporary and will not last forever. 

 Online Video Service

  • We will be streaming our service via Facebook Live hosted on our church Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Churchsouthbridge). Please note that a Facebook account should not be necessary to view the live service. The recorded service will be accessible later both on Facebook and eventually posted on YouTube.
  • Links and directions will be posted on our church website: https://fbcsouthbridge.com/
  • In the event that we have technical issues, we encourage you to access a recording of the service which will be posted afterward.


I hope to see you. If you do not feel comfortable meeting or cannot for whatever reason you are welcome to watch on line.


*These safety considerations are entirely consistent with the Massachusetts guidelines for houses of worship updated July 6th as well as subsequent updates, and the COVID-19 Order No. 31 of May 6 that is referenced in those state guidelines. You may review the guidelines for yourself as well as see additional details at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/safety-standards-and-checklist-places-of-worship



REOPENING UPDATE:

6/5/2020

Dear Church family, 

    We wanted to give you a brief update as we continue to move forward with our church reopening as well as some encouragement in light of the many present difficulties.

  At times like this there are a number of things we should especially be thankful for. We should be thankful that we have a family that is closer than any physical family on earth. None of us are alone. Because of God’s love that is in our hearts we really do love and care for each other. We should be most thankful for a God who has set his covenantal, unfailing love upon us through the finished work of Jesus Christ. This means that all things are truly working together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes. This means that even the Coronavirus is working for our good. We are also deeply thankful for how our church family has come together and stepped up during these trying circumstances. Your tangible joy at being gathered together and your willingness to serve to make this happen are testimony of the love of God in your hearts and the glory of his gospel. We are so grateful to serve and worship the Lord with you.  

     There is so much to be thankful for. But if we were honest, I think we would all have to admit that the crises we are facing can feel like it will never end. When we are in the middle of difficulties, we have to stay extra vigilant and work extra hard to continue to love each other, to be patient with each other, and to avoid quarrels. Thank you for your patience with each other and with your leaders as we seek to figure out how to best serve you and honor the Lord.

  For our outside service this week I am happy to announce that we are planning on taking Communion for the first time since our separation. Of course, we will be taking a number of safety precautions that we will communicate with you and you do not have to participate if you are not comfortable. David Langevin was able to get a hold of plenty of communion kits. Thank you, David. They come with a wafer on top and the juice on the bottom. They are a little tricky at first but we will explain on Sunday how they work. Thank you also for the feedback many of you have already given us on any concerns you have for outdoor or indoor meetings. For the time being our plan is to continue to meet outside (weather permitting with an alternative livestream) because it is safer and enables us to have a little more freedom from constraints that would be required indoors. We are planning for what moving indoors will look like when the time comes and we will keep you informed. We want to thank God for giving us the facilities to do this and so far, the weather by God’s grace has been very cooperative. We want to thank everyone who has helped set things up. Everything has run very smoothly for the past few weeks and that is due in large part to everyone’s willingness to serve and be patient with each other. There are many of you who have stepped in to serve in many different ways; thank you so much! We wish we could mention each one of you by name. This coming Wednesday on the 10th we will have prayer meeting outside at the Church at 6:30pm.

  Finally; we want to encourage you by letting you know that God is at work. Please keep praying that God would enable us to stay focused on Him and His gospel that He has graciously delivered to us. 


Alex Neidhardt, David Langevin, Mike Coburn, Isaac Rattin 


MESSAGE FROM YOUR LEADERS ABOUT REOPENING:

5/19/2020

Dear Faith Baptist Church,

     As you are probably aware, the governor, as of Monday the 18th, is allowing churches to meet. While we are very excited at the prospect of beginning to regather, there are a number of guidelines that are going to make our meeting together a challenge. How we proceed from here is going to require that we are gracious and patient towards one another as we not only need to follow the government restrictions but everyone has their own opinions about how we should go about reopening. We received guidance from a Christian lawyer in Southbridge and also from www.mass.gov regarding “Safety standards for Places of Worship.” You can visit the website if you would like to understand better how we are making our decisions in light of the restrictions that the government has placed on worship services.

     An article I read recently warned the church about something more the dangerous than the COVID epidemic. What is more dangerous than COVID is pride. Pride can often take the form of a self-focused attitude that refuses to serve others. When this becomes the case, the damage is nothing less than our gospel witness to the community and the world. Our gospel witness is not less than words but more than words. Where we are dealing with our liberties there are times when we need to be able to show maturity by humbling ourselves and joyfully surrendering our own rights and freedoms to serve each other (Romans 15). Here is an opportunity to magnify our gospel ministry by how we love and serve each other at this time.

     Our plan is to hold services this week and in the foreseeable future outside on the upper parking lot at our regular scheduled time (10:30). This will allow us to meet together with less restrictions than an indoor service providing we have social distancing. According to the regulations, the state government requires wearing masks while inside or within six feet while outside. If you can maintain the social distancing you are not required to wear a mask outside. If you are sick, or know you have been exposed to a confirmed case recently, you should not come. Please take advantage of our online service resources. For those who do gather, we will need to show Christlike understanding by being sensitive to each other’s preferences. 

     If on Friday the weather looks like it would prevent meeting outside, we will either decide to set up groups for worshiping inside or we will live-stream the service on Sunday morning from inside. Pray that the weather is good! We are going to try and keep things as simple as possible.

     There will be no children’s ministry provided at this time according to state regulations. Any child care-related ministry will be coming at a later stage. Wednesday prayer service will still be held over Zoom at this time.

    If this is going to happen, we are going to need your help. Your Pastor has a lot of work to do in preparing the message so he is going to be limited with how much he can help. David Langevin is willing to organize the general set up. As we all know he loves to serve and would do the whole thing himself if he was able. But he is suffering with some physical issues that will prevent him from what he would normally be able to do. He does have ideas for set up so please go to him (774-230-6133) if you can help in any way. We could also use someone to volunteer to delegate the setting up and working of the sound system. We could also use some gentle servants who can usher which would include guiding people to their sitting location and helping to lovingly monitor things. Cheri Brier said she could make some Clorox wipes but she needs containers such as large coffee (plastic like Folgers etc.) with plastic lids to cut out for dispensing. If you can donate containers, we could have homemade Clorox wipes available. If there is any other way you can help please let us know.       

     I realize that some are not going to feel comfortable coming at all. We understand. We are hoping to be able to record or livestream the services so that those who are not able to make it can still view it. I realize that others of us might be unhappy with the fact that we are not immediately meeting inside and restarting all of our services as we normally conduct them. Even if we did meet together, we would not be really meeting together. We would have to keep a 6 feet distance (unless you are family), might need to do multiple services, and we are not allowed to do any other organized fellowship outside of the actual service.

     Thank you for bearing with this rather long letter. I can assure you that we have thought about all of this and it is truly a labor of love to communicate this to you. We believe this is the best we can do with the restrictions at this time. Not only do we want to show care for each other but we also want to be a good witness to those around us who are watching. Maybe the neighbors around the church might not only see the gospel in how we love one another (John 13:35) but maybe they will even hear the gospel from us. Wouldn’t that be something. If you have any questions or concerns please talk to one of the deacons or the pastor.

     We love you and are thankful for you!

Isaac Rattin

Mike Coburn

Dave Langevin

Alex Neidhardt