Greetings, Vineyard Marysville!
Hope you’re doing well and in good health! This congregational letter is to share with you where we’ve been, relay our current plan for worship services, and explain the rationale behind it all.
Since May 31st, we’ve been having our in-person worship services with a 2-service format (9:00 and 10:45 AM), while continuing the YouTube live stream for those who were not yet ready to return. As of mid-September, approximately half of our people have returned regularly to live services. Both the worship and preaching have felt anointed from the Holy Spirit, and it has brought us so much joy to connect again with God’s people on Sundays. Masks or no masks, it has been so strengthening to meet with God’s people again every Sunday! I am looking forward to the second influx of people returning to in-person services. In order for that to happen we need to ensure that our church is a safe environment for others who are ready to return.
Our current plan is to continue this 2-service format, with a few revisions:
9:00 AM: Masks Mandatory Service (Wear masks for the entire worship service.) We feel a need to keep the standard extremely high for the first service, even as the numbers go down in Union County. That way, those who are concerned about their health, or the health of other family members, can take in the worship service and feel safe. This will also be the service we continue to provide the YouTube live stream option on our church’s YouTube channel, Vineyard Marysville.
10:45 AM: Restaurant-Style Service (Wear masks until safely seated within family unit.) For this service, we will encourage our people to wear masks while they are coming into the foyer and going out after the service. Then, when they are safely seated within their family units (6 feet away from others), they can take off their masks if they desire. This would be the service for those who are not wearing masks due to medical reasons. Additionally, this will also be the service where we will eventually serve coffee, likely starting again in November.
The following guidelines have been put in place since May 31st and we have been continuing these in the present:
- If you are or anyone in your household has been sick, please stay at home and attend our 9:00 YouTube livestream.
- The general rules of physical distancing are to keep 6 feet of separation between people/households and to make the Sunday morning experience as contactless as possible.
- We now have the rows of chairs spread out approximately 6 feet apart in the sanctuary. We plan to keep 3 empty chairs between each family and household. This will limit the capacity of our auditorium. We plan to have additional seating in the foyer as needed.
- We will greet each one enthusiastically but from a distance – without hugs or handshakes.
- We will continue to encourage online giving for both those who attend in person and online. However, we will have a collection basket in the foyer for those who prefer to give in person.
- We will not pass out paper bulletins. Our Weekly Bulletin will continue to be made available on our website (link to Digital Bulletin) and distributed to the church email list. Please contact us if you’re not on this email list and you want to be included: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We will not have self-serve coffee. So by all means, bring your own coffee. We’re hoping to begin serving coffee during 2nd service, possibly starting this up again sometime in November.
- When we serve communion, we will use single serve communion packs, so multiple people do not come into contact with the same surfaces.
- We will not have our Sunday morning children & youth classes in the lower level until further notice. We will get this started as soon as we have have enough volunteer workers along with having a plan in place to keep everyone safe. We love kids, and value ministry to children and youth!
- The nursery, while not manned at this point in time, will still be available for nursing moms and parents with young children. We will sanitize everything thoroughly after each service.
- The building will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to Sunday morning. We will also have church volunteers clean after each service, sanitizing bathrooms and other critical areas. Additionally, we’re having the entire building thoroughly cleaned and sanitized every Friday by a cleaning service. Contact Erin Wallace, our church admin, if you have any questions about what measures we’re taking and what products we’re using.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the following guidelines. We realize that some people will feel like we’re too cautious and moving too slowly, while others will feel like we’re moving too quickly and not taking enough precautions. We want you to know that a lot of discussion and prayer went into these precautions. It will continue to be evaluated on a week by week basis. We’re trying our best to balance the importance of gathering for worship with concern for public health. Let’s work to honor each other in our differing views and continue to pray for our leaders, church family and community.
We love you,
Conrad & Vicki Esh,
Vineyard Marysville pastors