IMPORTANT NOTE: As of July 17th, HCC will now abide by the county-wide mandate requiring the wearing of masks at all indoor gatherings.
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To members and friends of the Heath Church of Christ. Below is a basic overview of the planned first step to resuming in-person Sunday morning services at HCC.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO VERSION OF THIS SAME ANNOUNCEMENT
To communicate the plan, we’ll focus on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed.
Where We’ve Been
The last ‘normal’ Sunday worship service in the church building was held on March 8th. After that day, events began to unfold that we never could have imagined. The state began limiting gatherings to groups of 100, then 50, then 10. Staying well within the state recommendations at the time, we had an extremely limited worship attendance in the building on March 15, combined with a live-stream broadcast of the service. Beginning March 22nd, all activities in the building were shut down for over 2 months.
It is important to note that even though the building has been closed, the church has never closed. Vital ministry has continued and even thrived during this pandemic. In addition to the weekly Sunday online worship experience, we have seen the advent of Zoom-based small groups, thriving online ministry for children, teens, young adults, and our senior saints including a recent drive-in midweek chapel service. In addition, our church family has been involved in community outreach, including flood clean-up, food distribution, donations to those in need, and community prayer events.
Where We Are
We are most grateful to the leadership and the entire HCC family for rising to the occasion and making the best out of a difficult season. Now the time has come to answer the question, “How do we return to in-person worship?”.
We have come to realize that the return to normal operations in the building is going to be more like ‘climbing up a ramp’ than ‘flipping on a switch’. This notion was recently confirmed by the helpful responses provided in our online survey. Regarding the different opinions about returning to in-person worship, the survey showed that there is really no consensus as to how to proceed.
One minister describes it this way. People tend to fall into one of three categories. Some are ready to return now (let’s get moving), some will be ready to return later (I want to come back, but I’m just not ready yet), and others will be ready to return never (I won’t feel comfortable attending services until a vaccine is developed).
So, after much prayer, research, and input from multiple sources, including several churches, countless articles, and the results of the recent online survey, the staff, and leadership of HCC have agreed on a plan for gradually returning to in-person worship beginning June 7th.
Where We’re Headed
- We seek to resume limited in-person gatherings on Sunday, June 7th. (Sunday morning only)
- We seek to take appropriate steps to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 in the building.
- First, while we can mitigate the risks involved in meeting together, we cannot eliminate them. It appears that the two main factors involved in spreading COVID-19 are time and exposure. The current understanding is this virus is transmitted primarily through aerosols, that is what we breathe or cough out.
If you join a gathering in a room where conversations, and especially singing are present, those aerosols (potentially containing the virus) will be present. It should be noted that singing releases those aerosols a much greater distance than just speaking.
Our services will include speaking and some singing. At the same time, efforts will be made to provide extra airflow in all gathering areas to hopefully reduce exposure time to those aerosols.
- Second, ultimately everyone makes up their own mind; however, if you are in what has been described an ‘at risk’ category, it is strongly recommended that you avoid sitting in larger crowds.
With an understanding of the potential risks involved and considering the varying comfort levels of individuals connected to the HCC family, we will be providing four Sunday morning worship options beginning June 7th.
- Option ONE: Sanctuary **masks now required
- Option TWO: Fireside Room (live video) **masks required
- Option THREE: Parking Lot (live audio on FM 99.1)
- Option FOUR: Internet (Initially pre-recorded, actual live stream by late Summer.)
CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO WALK-THROUGH OF THE BUILDING
The hope is that, with these four options, and with an understanding of the risks involved, everyone can make their own informed decision on how they want to participate in worship on Sundays. No plan is perfect, but this is a good faith effort to reach as many people as possible.
Important Note: The worship option you choose on Sundays is not a reflection of how great or small your Christian faith is. You are not more or less holy, whether you worship in the sanctuary, Fireside room, parking lot, or at home. Even among the leadership, we have made it clear that, if you are not yet comfortable assembling in the building, you’re not required to do so. There is no place in the Body of Christ for spiritual pride.
The Details (What Will Sunday Look Like)
- We will have two Sunday morning worship services
(9:00a and 10:30a).
- The services will be shorter in length, 45 minutes by design.
- The main worship services will be the only program offered.
No café, no children's programs, or adult Bible school
- Activity packets will be available for children who attend with their families.
- Social distancing will be observed. (Masks now required)
Maintain distance, no hugging, no handshaking, etc. In other words, be courteous.
- Initially, we will have limited congregational singing, featured mostly at the end of the services.
- The nursery will be designated as a cry room for parents to take their small children if needed. This room will be cleaned, but not staffed with volunteers.
- The only sections of the building open will be the lobby, main worship area, west bathrooms, Fireside room, and the unstaffed nursery room. (Children's programs begin July 19th)
- All who attend will be able to enter and exit the building without touching the doors.
- All greeters and servers will be asked to wear masks.
- Chairs in the main worship area and Fireside room will be spaced for social distancing. People who attend are asked to ‘social distance’ by family unit.
- Masks are now mandatory for all church gatherings.
- Masks will be mandatory in the Fireside room as it will be set aside for those who feel more comfortable in a ‘masks only’ environment.
- People worshipping in the Fireside room are welcome to enter through the west doorway if you would like to limit your exposure to people.
- Those listening in the parking lot on FM 99.1 are asked to bring their own communion supplies.
- We will not be printing bulletins.
- We will not pass communion or offering trays.
Communion packets can be picked up on tables outside the sanctuary or near the Fireside room.
Offerings can be placed in the offering boxes located on the walls in the sanctuary and Fireside room.
- Hand sanitizer will be distributed throughout the building.
- A great effort will be made to wipe down and clean all appropriate areas, before, between, and after services.
Again, this is a general overview of our first step back in the building. Please stay tuned as we will present more details and service opportunities in the weeks to come.
As this process unfolds, we ask that all connected to HCC...
- Be Prayerful (The staff and leadership are sustained by your prayers. Please pray that God will provide the wisdom needed to properly take the next steps, whatever they may be, at the right time and in the right order.)
- Be Kind (This is a time in our society where tensions are running high. The body of Christ has an excellent opportunity to model kindness in the church and in the community. The best way to show kindness is to offer others the benefit of the doubt.)
- Be Willing (Help will be needed in the coming months as we seek to slowly return to a more typical church schedule. As we communicate areas where help is needed, please don’t hesitate to volunteer.)