Dear Hastings Baptist Church Family,
The first thing we want to say is: YOU ARE MISSED! We pray that you too are missing face-to -face interaction with the body of Christ and continuing to grow in your love for one another. The saying goes “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” should be more of a reality in our hearts and lives as it pertains to our church family.
We praise God that while our world has seen many changes over the past couple of months, God is unchanging. Malachi 3:6 declares, “For I the LORD do not change…” Hebrews 13:8 affirms, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” What a blessing; what reassurance! As the situation surrounding COVID-19 is still extremely fluid, we appreciate your patience and grace as we press forward in serving our Lord and Savior.
Although we have not been able to meet in person, MUCH has been going on “behind the scenes.” We continue to offer the online singing and message; it’s just now prerecorded on Thursday night, edited, and then released for viewing on Sunday morning. Producing nearly daily videos over the past several weeks has greatly increased our presence on Facebook. We formed a Focus Group of medical personnel and church leaders to create a plan for safely reopening HBC. There have been many updates and changes made to the church building.
We have already taken many steps to protect our church family. We continue to seek a balance of honoring God above all, loving and caring for our church family, honoring our government authorities, and maintaining a positive witness for Christ in our community. As we resume in-person gatherings, we recommend the following practices:
- Social distancing: being conscientious of the comfort levels of others, seek to maintain at least 6’ between people not from the same household.
- Personal hygiene: wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into your elbow, don’t touch your face, don’t unnecessarily touch things in public, etc.
- Demonstrate grace: Most importantly of all, demonstrate grace! Please be aware there will be people on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. There will be those who may appear too relaxed with the rules and those who may appear over-cautious and paranoid. Colossians 4:6a says, “Let your speech always be gracious…” Remember, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here are the current steps for reopening HBC’s ministries:
- D-groups are encouraged to begin meeting in person as soon as everyone in the group is comfortable doing so. In the meantime, continue meeting via video or tele conference.
- Men’s Bible study – already met in the auditorium and will continue on Saturdays at 9am.
- Wednesday evening family Prayer Meeting – Wednesday, May 20th at 6:30pm in the auditorium.
- Ladies’ Bible Study – Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00pm
- Sunday Morning Worship will resume on Sunday, May 31st at 10:30. We will continue to post the services online, but they will likely not post until later in the week.
- All ministry volunteers will receive a health screening Sunday morning prior to being allowed to serve. All ministry volunteers are required to stay home if they or any member of their family show symptoms of illness.
- Exterior doors will be propped open or opened by greeters, depending on weather.
- Nursery, 2’s & 3’s, and 4’s & 5’s will be staffed. A designated worker will be located at a central check-in station operating the computer to eliminate cross-contamination. If you would prefer your child(ren) stay with you in the service, that is fine.
- Following current health guidelines, children’s workers will wear gowns and masks. They will also wear gloves when changing diapers, helping in the restroom, or dispensing food.
- With consideration for proper social distancing and being both conscientious of and gracious to the comfort levels of others, masks are not required for service attendees, but masks are encouraged to keep others safe. The church will have extra masks available for those who desire one, but do not have one.
- We will simulcast the worship service to multiple on-campus locations and limit interaction between those spaces. Initially, we will attempt to limit attendance in each location: main auditorium; Family Center and gym; Open Door; and possibly the basement if needed. Please do not open the doors between the main building and the Family Center; instead, those with young children who will utilize the Family Center, please enter through the Room 2 entrance (by the kitchen) or the east end of the gym.
- Family Center – For families with young children who are utilizing childcare.
- Main auditorium – Every other pew is available for seating.
- Open Door – For those seeking less contact and additional social distancing, there is room for up to 8 groupings of 4 people in each group.
- Basement – We will utilize the basement if/when the auditorium, Family Center, and Open Door are near capacity.
- People with visible symptoms of potential illness will also be screened. We recognize allergy symptoms are identical to some symptoms of COVID-19.
- At this time, we do not have a timeframe for resuming the following:
- Gathering Grounds coffee and refreshments
- Sunday School
- Children’s Church
- Following the service, people are encouraged to fellowship outside, weather permitting, practicing safe distancing.
We look forward to worshiping in-person with some of you in the very near future and with the rest of you when you are ready. In the meantime, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
In Christ’s Service and for His Glory,
The Deacon Board of Hastings Baptist Church