Gathering Guidelines

Gathering Guidelines

Watch Video explaining phase 2.5 HERE

Read below for more details:

After 9 weeks, First Baptist Church opened its doors once again for worship. On May 24th, we had our first service since the restrictions for COVID-19 went into place. Despite the service being something none of us have likely ever experienced before, it was a sweet time to gather once again. Our first two weeks of service were under the restrictions of phase 1 for Jackson County. For the month of June we were under the restrictions of Phase 2. Now, as of July 1st, we are officially in Phase 2.5. Therefore, in connection with Jackson County and the Center for Disease Control, we will continue to adhere to a strict protocol in order to ensure that our gathering time on Sunday morning is as safe as it can possibly be.  With that said, here is what you can expect for our gathering in phase 2.5:

First, under county guidelines, we will remain under the restriction of 50% of our sanctuary capacity.  Our sanctuary and balcony hold a maximum capacity of 331 people.  That means we are allowed 165. Whether we could hold that amount of people and social distance is another story. Likely we could hold around 75-80 and still practice safe distancing.

Second, under county guidelines, we are to maintain a social distance of 6 feet from others who are present, excluding family members.  Nothing has changed in this restriction from phase 2 to phase 2.5. Pews will remain taped off to guide you in where you are able to sit. There will be an usher available at the front entrance to help you, if you need it. Just as in phases 1 and 2, every other row will continue to be blocked off.   Once the service is over, we encourage the back rows to dismiss first, on up through to the first row, until everyone has left the sanctuary. As in phases 1 and 2, once you are seated, please remain in your seat, unless there is an urgent reason for you to get up.

Third, under county guidelines for phase 2.5, masks are required.  We encourage you to bring your own, but if you don’t have one with you, one   will be provided for you when you walk in.  We also have hand sanitizer available that we will ask you to use as you walk in the door.  We will not pass an offering plate.  Instead there will be an offering box available in the foyer and plates will be set out for you to drop your offering as you enter or as you exit the sanctuary. 

Fourth, there will still be no nursery.  That means that if you come and you have small children, they will have to stay with you at all times.  We have opened up both of our side balconies for seating, in addition to our side alcoves and back balcony. These areas allow for some “wiggle room” if your family should need it. In phase 2.5 our service will look as normal. There will continue to be no bulletins, greeting time and doors will be propped open so that you don’t have to touch them. 

Fifth, we will have Sunday School. Beginning July 12th, we will have one large, socially distanced Sunday School class. This class will meet in the gym at 9:15am. Various teachers will walk us verse by verse, through the book of Philippians. We will begin with a time of prayer, followed by our study, and dismissed by 10:15am.

Sixth, livestream.  If you are in the vulnerable category, we will continue to livestream our services.  We will not tell you who should come or who shouldn’t, as we will leave that to your judgement.  Nevertheless, we will say that if you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days then please watch our service from our livestream.  If you feel sick or have a fever we would also ask you to stay home and watch our livestream.  We want our gathering to be as safe as possible for all who attend.  If you attend and you are in the vulnerable category, we will do our best to offer you seating in an area that is a little bit more separated.   

As I said in phases 1 and 2, these guidelines are only temporary. I refuse to call what we are doing the “new normal.”  As Christians, personal relationships in a physical context are key to ministering and caring for one another.  In addition, gathering together as one body is what defines us as a church.  Nevertheless, we will practice safety in this interim period and we will work with our government entities to ensure our compliance with their guidelines.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact the church office.