Weekly Update - May 28
We Are Regathering!
Before addressing the details of our regathering, we want to thank all of you who filled out the survey we sent out a week ago. It was very helpful in gaining a snapshot on how our members are thinking through regathering. We apologize if any of you did not receive it; please contact our office if you did not.
Fifty-five percent of our members filled out the survey and 85% of you expressed that you are ready to come back at the first available opportunity. Our oldest members were some of the most eager to return according to the age breakdown of the survey!
Another helpful insight from the survey is that 75% of those taking the survey desired to see some and will be taking some precautions as they return. Most who filled out the survey desired to avoid physical contact (shaking hands and hugging) and maintain the recommended physical distancing from governing entities. What was also clear in the survey is that only 25% of our members had no inhibitions or did not intend to take any specific precautions.
Sixty-four percent of the parents with children under 18 at home who took the survey indicated that they were ready to see their children back in their regular classes as we look to regather.
While we don’t want to make our most important decisions based purely upon a survey, the survey provided insight into how most of our members are thinking about regathering.
As we have given considerable thought to regathering as a church, we have sought to uphold a number of important priorities. The first of which is how do we communicate the best idea of what the church is, even if we cannot accomplish all of what we desire. In other words, our goal is not to merely provide an individualized in-person worship experience, but to get as close to a full congregational body-life opportunity as we can.
We recognized that in order to realize this goal, we would likely need to wait until our county moved into Phase 2 of their recovery plan. As stated in last week’s update, we were anticipating the county’s official announcement about enacting Phase 2, with a date and increased facility usage allowance. Under Phase 1, we did not believe we could accommodate our goal of having the vast majority of our congregation worshiping together as a church.
Last Friday, May 22, the county officially announced a first possible date for the beginning of Phase 2. It was not May 25 as we had hoped, which would have given us capacity for the church to gather. Instead, they announced that Phase 2, pending any significant progression of the disease in our area, would begin on June 1.
With that, the elders of Summit Woods are happy to announce that we are planning to regather on Sunday, June 7, 10:30 am for a full and as-close-to-normal-as-we-can-get worship gathering.
What Is Involved?
With the new building usage allowances under phase 2, SWBC can accommodate the full number of our average attendance within one service – our normal service.
Phase 2 means we can avoid asking people to choose a time slot and asking staff to manage when members can attend on a Sunday. We will have no sign-ups to gather as a church.
We are planning to participate in as normal a Sunday gathering as we are able. We will sing our hearts out to God and one another altogether, pray altogether, hear the Bible read altogether, commune with God as the word is taught altogether, publicly remember the Lord and demonstrate who we are as His body in taking the Lord’s Supper altogether (in a safe manner), and commune with each other in fellowship over the word altogether.
Because we are in the process of enhancing our audio/video capabilities, for the foreseeable future, we will also aim to livestream the 10:30 am service and continue to offer video (captioned capable) and audio of each week’s sermon online.
As Phase 2 begins on June 1, Summit Woods will resume our gathering for corporate worship together on June 7, 10:30 am.
While we will not begin by offering the full slate of children’s ministry during our worship gathering, we will be providing childcare for those ages 0-2 years. When you enter through the main entry, you will find members ready to assist with childcare in a way that avoids crowded hallways and waiting in bunched-up lines.
We are also looking to designate specific rooms for parents to take kids out of the service if they need to for any reason. Each of these rooms should have audio capability to continue to hear all that is happening in the sanctuary during the service.
If our county slows down or re-issues a different and/or extended date for the Phase 2 recovery other than June 7, we still plan to meet. We have developed plans that would be less than ideal, but allow a modified gathering to take place until Phase 2 becomes official. In any effect, we plan to begin meeting weekly again on June 7.
What Will Be Different?
We can’t live out Christianity effectively without socially engaging one another. But we do want to honor the guidance that calls for us to adhere to publicized physical distancing protocols.
Some pews in the sanctuary will be taped off for non-use. We simply ask that singles maintain the six foot (about 2 arm-lengths) distance from others while in conversation or seating. Families may sit together but should ensure that the six foot distance is left between them and another family or individual. We trust you to wisely, maturely, and eagerly maintain this standard throughout your time at church.
When the sanctuary reaches its capacity, we will use our fellowship hall for additional overflow seating. The seating will be appropriately spaced and cleaned and we are aiming to have a video and audio feed of the service on the large screen. We are also taking steps to outfit the Foyer with new video streaming of all that happens in the sanctuary. Audio should be provided throughout almost all of our facility, so that no matter where you may be during the service, you will be able to hear the content from the sanctuary.
We have been more than encouraged with the faithful financial support of our ministry together. Many have been using our new online giving capability through our website. Others come by and drop off their offering in the locked offering box just outside the office. Many continue to mail in gifts. You can continue to use any of these means for your giving. In addition, ushers will be standing with offering plates outside the sanctuary doors if you wish to drop your offering off as you leave the service. We will not be passing offering plates during the service.
Because of the physical distancing limitations, we are unable to adequately manage the flow of people and ensure the necessary cleaning protocols between our 9:00 am and our 10:30 am meeting times. With that, we are suspending our 9:00 am Equipping Classes for the summer session and will reassess how we can restart them beginning in September.
Honoring One Another
As we regather, we recognize that our varied congregation has a variety of convictions about issues related to physical distancing, handshakes, hugs, wearing or not wearing a mask, etc. Our gathering on June 7 should show a clear distinction between the condescending attitudes we are seeing from some in our culture. Our desire is to actually apply Philippians 2:3-11 to these issues and prefer one another above our selves. Many of these issues are similar to those described in Romans 14:13-23.
A significant number of people have indicated that they intend to wear a mask to the service. Hand sanitizer will be readily available. We encourage each other to avoid physical greetings without first asking and respecting another’s preference. Our campus should be a judgment free zone on matters like these. The glory of Christ, not our personal preferences, should be our singular emphasis when we gather.
We are excited and eagerly planning and anticipating your return to weekly congregational worship at Summit Woods. We encourage you to invite others to come. On June 7, our doors will be open and our gathered praise to our glorious God will be exuberantly expressed. We can’t wait to worship him with each of you.