A Plan for Reopening Worship Services on Sunday, May 24:
We are sure many of you are ready to resume worshipping together in New Hope’s sanctuary. Elders David Bennett, Randy Cathcart, Todd Craver, Pastor Josh Huisman, Bob Read, Bill Scott, and David Taylor have been in daily communication with each other throughout the entirety of this quarantine and we are now at a place where we can communicate a reopening plan for New Hope Community Church’s worship service. The reopening plan follows Governor Lee’s Guidelines for Churches Reopening and also takes into consideration the guidance we have received from medical professionals.
In addition, Pastor Josh has been in constant communication with other churches and pastors in the Greater Nashville area to coordinate efforts, both in preparing a checklist of safety procedures for when church facilities start receiving people again, and also finding the best approach to communicate these safety and reopening procedures to their respective congregations. We thank you for your patience in giving us time to develop this communication for the congregation.
As we are now close to reopening, we thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts on Biblical Posture that other churches in our area have communicated with their congregation.
Biblical Posture – There have been plenty of strong opinions about how the coronavirus situation should be handled. There is also a lot of passion where we often think that our particular view is “right” and another particular view is “wrong.” This is very much like the situation described in Romans 14:1-15:8 where the apostle Paul calls such issues “disputable matters.” Paul was talking about such things as to whether Christians could drink wine, observe special religious days, or eat food like pork.
We believe each one of us should be guided by the principles taught in this section of the Bible when it comes to our opinions about what should or should not be done in how New Hope handles COVID-19. Here are some of the key verses:
· Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. (Romans 14:1).
· Each one… should be fully convinced in their own mind. (Romans 14:5).
· For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8).
· You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. (Romans 14:10).
· Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:13).
· We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1).
· Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7).
With these principles in mind, here is New Hope’s Reopening Plan.
New Hope’s Reopening Guidelines for Sunday, May 24
New Hope Community Church will offer one worship service @ 10:00 AM
There is room for around 125 people in the sanctuary.
Once the sanctuary hits 125 people we will use the gallery area as an overflow space.
If the gallery overflow fills up we will move people to the Fellowship Hall where they can view the worship service on the big screen.
- Anyone who is showing ANY signs of sickness is asked to stay home and participate in the Livestream of the Worship Service.
- Anyone who is or has a family member who is immunocompromised is encouraged to stay home for now and participate in the Livestream of the Worship Service.
For Those Attending:
- All entrance doors to the sanctuary will be propped open.
- We ask that people continue to use Online Giving options for tithes and offerings.
- Communion cups will be placed on tables near the entrance of the sanctuary so congregants can take the elements to their seat with them when they walk in.
- Rows will be dismissed one at a time at the conclusion of the worship service.
We Humbly Encourage all Attendees to Follow these Guidelines:
- Bring a face mask to wear – New Hope will have masks available if you do not bring your own.
- Follow social distance guidelines.
- Use the hand sanitizer provided at the sanctuary entrance doors.
- Refrain from physical contact. (ie: handshaking, hugs, etc.)
- Family units should sit together in the pews, leaving six feet of distance between family units and/or individuals.
- Every other pew has been closed off with tape. There are tape markings on the top of each open pew that are spaced 1 foot apart.
- We will have volunteers stationed in the aisles to usher you and your family to an open seat(s).
- Please understand that the place where you normally sit in the sanctuary will most likely not be available. We ask for your flexibility on this.
Connect Groups in June
Connect Groups will remain on Zoom until June. However, starting in June we would like to encourage Connect Groups to begin meeting in person. The elders of New Hope Community Church want to be very clear in communicating that all in-person gatherings are optional. There should be no judgement or pressure placed upon individuals who are NOT yet comfortable meeting in person. Likewise, there should be no judgement or pressure placed upon individuals who ARE ready to resume in person meetings. The decision of whether to have an in person or Zoom group gathering will be left to individual Connect Group Leaders. If your Connect Group Leader decides to meet in person and if, for ANY reason, you do not want to meet this way, your Connect Group will connect you through Zoom with the rest of the group, OR, we will get you into a different group that meets on Zoom. Connect Groups that decide to resume in person gatherings are asked to follow social distancing guidelines and safety precautions set forth by Gov. Lee’s Guidance for Churches resource. (below)
Governor Lee’s Guidance for Churches – If you would like to read Governor Lee’s “Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, A resource for houses of worship planning to gather in-person” (Click HERE). We see these guidelines as a good way to love others and seek to do what we can to stop the virus from passing unwittingly from one member to another, especially those who may be medically compromised.
New Hope Kids – (nursery – 5th Grade) Children and infants will remain with their families when New Hope’s in person worship services resume. There will be no Children’s Ministry programming taking place on Sunday mornings. However, we plan to evaluate this on a weekly basis and will communicate a reopening plan for the Children’s Ministry when we feel it is safe to do so. In the meanwhile, Ms. Lauren is planning on having some Wednesday night outdoor programming in June and July. The Cedar Lake Summer Camp is still on the schedule.
Student Groups – (6th grade – 12th grade) New Hope Students have been thriving with multiple Zoom meetings and game nights each week. In June the students will resume in person gatherings and will follow the safety guidelines that have been outlined above. For the worship service we ask that students sit with their families in the sanctuary. The students summer trip to Gulf Shores is still on the schedule.
New Hope Livestream @ 10:00 AM – The Livestream of New Hope Community Church will continue to be on Facebook Live, YouTube, the New Hope App, and New Hope’s Website each week. Most smart TV’s have a YouTube App available. YouTube’s app has the highest quality sound and HD picture for participating in the worship service.
Please RSVP and let us know if you will be attending the worship service by clicking HERE.
In His Humble Service,
The Elders of New Hope Community Church