Returning to Worship, Fellowship, and Life TogetherWhere Do We Go from Here?
May 25, 2020 | Joshua Hinson
On Monday evening, May 18th, the session met, discussed, and approved a plan for our continued return to life and fellowship together as a church family. As we attempt to move forward (with the Lord’s help), we wanted to lay out this plan before you so you can know what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.
It seems our state has thus far achieved its goal of not overwhelming needed medical personnel and resources, so we believe we can meet together and worship our God in a responsible way. However, we do want to be careful and considerate towards our neighbors. We ask that you continue to consider and maintain, as much as possible, the recommended distancing between yourself and others. If you are sick, please stay home. If you are of higher/considerable risk, don’t feel that you need to rush back. If you prefer to take extra precautions while at church (mask, gloves) you are free to do so. We think it’s best to allow for personal liberty with regard to the current level of participation and precautions.
To avoid any potential confusion with the state of Florida’s phased reopening plan, what we’re presenting is a linear plan according to the coming months on the calendar. We want to be comprehensive, but give you dates to hang your expectations on instead of listing items topically. So you’ll find the layout according to the months of May, June, July, etc.
Keep in mind that though we have beginning dates, the situation is somewhat fluid and we’re not sure when certain modifications will come to an end. Most of all, remember the recent exhortation we heard from James. We ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” So please pray to that end.
- Following six weeks of suspended worship services due to COVID-19 (Mar 22nd – Apr 26th), morning worship resumed May 3rd at 10:45am with the following qualifications:
- Congregants were asked to maintain the recommended distance from other worshipers.
- Hymnals were placed in every other row of pews.
- Livestream accommodations were made for those who desired to remain at home.
- Close contact was reduced or eliminated (nursery care, sacraments, passing of offering plates)
- Sunday School returns to in-person meetings at the church (previously held over Zoom)
- Sunday Morning Assembly (a hymn, prayer, and brief devotion) will begin at 9:30am in the sanctuary.
- The Adult Sunday School class will meet in the sanctuary following assembly.
- Middle and high school students will meet with the adults for a few weeks.
- The elementary class will resume in its normal location following assembly.
- A livestream or Zoom option (without audio participation) for the adult class will be available through June 7th.
- The Ladies’ Bible study also resumed in May but is currently on break for the summer.
(The state of Florida will likely be in phase three of reopening in early to mid-June):
- Communion Resumes (1st and 3rd Lord’s Days):
- Those who prepare the Lord’s Supper will be asked to wear a mask and gloves.
- Plates will not be passed. The elders will make use of open pews to distribute the elements.
- Those uncomfortable with partaking or with the close proximity of those distributing communion in the pews may exit the sanctuary at this time.
- Nursery care (morning worship only) resumes and will be staffed based on the comfort level of volunteers.
- Regular evening worship (scheduled to begin April 19th but postponed) will begin on June 7th at 5:30pm.
- Livestream will be available.
- Will ask congregants to continue to abide by distancing recommendations.
- Evening worship will not include sacraments, offering, or nursery care at this time.
- Prayer meeting will continue over Zoom on Wednesdays at 6:00pm
- Passing of the offering plate during morning worship resumes.
- Administration of the sacrament of baptism resumes as needed.
- Men’s study resumes (1st and 3rd Saturdays, 7:30am) at Panera Bread or in Ortega fellowship hall (if Panera dining room is unavailable).
- Weekly prayer meeting returns to Sunday evenings (5:00pm) immediately prior to evening worship.
- Fellowship Meals resume on third Lord’s Day of each month.
- Other necessary meetings may resume in-person immediately (Session, Diaconate, etc.) with a virtual option (Zoom/Skype) for those who cannot yet attend.
- Regular pastoral/elder shepherding visits are currently on hold, but Pastor Josh and the elders are available for discipleship, counseling, and other meetings based on urgency and/or your comfort level with physical nearness. These meetings can be in homes, at the church, in public locations, or outdoors if necessary. We don’t want the current circumstances unnecessarily to hinder needed care.
- For some time we’ve discussed reopening community groups in members’ homes for midweek Bible studies, prayer, meals, and fellowship. These groups have helped to foster hospitality and biblical community in the past, and though we look forward to establishing them once again, given the recent circumstances our present focus will mostly be on Lord’s Day worship services and corporate prayer.
- Building and grounds use for weddings or other events will be considered upon request as social events begin to be held again with greater regularity.
Join Us This Lord's Day!
904 389 4043
4406 Longfellow Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32210