Dear Trinity family,
As we eagerly anticipate reconvening for public worship this month, we want to communicate important information to you that we believe will be helpful in making this transition as smooth as possible. This involves both preparing our hearts and being aware of some changes to our routine. The information you provided in the recent survey was instrumental in shaping the following plan that our elders have put together. Our goal in the following plan is not only to slow the spread of COVID-19 but also to uphold the value of each family’s autonomy in deciding what level of risk is best for them at any given time.
1. There is a tremendous opportunity before us cloaked in inconvenience. Differing perspectives about how we should function as a church in light of COVID-19 range from strictly cautious to unconcerned – and many in between! This sets all of us up to be vulnerable to our tendency to judge one another. Regardless of what your perspective is on guidelines and precautions for worship gatherings, we all have an opportunity to embrace personal sanctification at a new level. While it’s not easy or enjoyable to struggle with our own hearts, it nonetheless leads to growth. But if we follow the dictates of our own flesh and stand in judgment over someone else’s perspective, it will stifle our own growth and lead to frustration for others. It’s helpful to remember that others can have very good (and biblically principled) reasons for their perspective just as you can for yours.
2. There are two ways that we can significantly err in this process. On the one side, we don’t want to fall into the ditch of carelessness where we fail to take into consideration the needs and concerns of others (Phil 2:3-5). On the other side, we need to avoid the ditch of legalism in which we could easily police and judge others for their inconsistencies. Both dangers can be avoided by being alert and diligent to love one another by regarding each other’s well-being (avoiding carelessness) and extending grace to one another (avoiding judgmentalism). A Christlike attitude refuses to look down on another person merely because he or she has a different perspective and is willing to regard the concerns of others with care.
3. Regarding precautions that we will take at Trinity for public worship: We will give you guidelines, instructions and friendly reminders, but none of us want to have the job of policing others nor do we want that to be the atmosphere at Trinity. When we put on the mind of Christ, giving consideration to the interests of others, we should be able to function in an atmosphere of grace where friendly reminders will suffice.
4. It’s important that we set realistic expectations about any mitigation efforts. We cannot eliminate all risk of contracting COVID-19 at Trinity or anywhere else in society. Precautionary methods have never been meant to eliminate the spread of the virus, but only to slow the spread and not overwhelm our health care system. We will do what we can to take reasonable precautions and communicate those to you. In doing so, we hope you can be equipped to determine whether or not you are comfortable gathering for worship at this time. For some who are in a higher category of risk (depending on health, age, exposure factors regarding those who are more vulnerable or elderly), it may not be wise for you to attend public worship, but we will honor the autonomy of each person and family to make that determination.
5. When we reopen for public worship, we will continue to offer the weekly livestream so that those who are high risk or more cautious about gathering publicly can continue to connect with us online for the time being. We will gladly support you in that decision.
6. If you are sick, or a family member you live with is sick, please stay home until that sickness has sufficiently passed.
7. The following precautions will be implemented for the initial time of reopening. These are not permanent measures and are subject to change as the situation progresses in our area. (If there should be a severe outbreak of COVID-19 in our community, we may need to suspend worship again for a short period of time.) When you are comfortable coming to public worship within these parameters, we welcome you to join us via registration. Please help us implement the following procedures with a servant’s heart:
- If you or someone in your household is ill or has been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home and take advantage of our livestream until restored to full health.
- Our front doors will be propped open for touchless entry/exit during highest traffic times of entering and exiting. Please allow a short lapse of time between families entering the building and also passing through the foyer.
- Sanitize or wash your hands upon entering the building. (We have ordered touchless hand sanitizing stations, but until they arrive we will have hand sanitizer available at the front door or ask you to wash hands with soap and water)
- Please avoid congregating in foyer before and after church and limit bathroom usage to 2 people at a time per bathroom. (The women’s bathroom will have a one-way flow of traffic.)
- We will reduce the capacity of our worship gatherings to allow for families to be seated 6 feet apart.
- Masks are not required but encouraged for those who are vulnerable or would feel more comfortable taking that precaution. If you feel it is best for you to wear a mask due to your own health or the health of others, we encourage and fully support your doing so. (Note: If someone is wearing a mask, please give them friendly space.)
- The church will not provide coffee or snacks on Sunday mornings for this transition time.
- Offerings will be collected in a box in the rear of the sanctuary rather than passing an offering plate.
- Communion trays will not be passed. Indoor Communion instructions will be forthcoming.
- Nursery and children’s church will be temporarily suspended until social distancing measures are relaxed. We recognize this is inconvenient for parents, but we will be gracious and understanding toward children in our services; we don’t expect them to be perfectly quiet. We have removed the shared children’s activity bags for the time being; please feel free to bring quiet activities for your children to occupy themselves with during the service. We will also do our best to trim our service length to make this easier for you.
- After the worship service, please exit the sanctuary from rear to front.
8. Parents, please take the initiative to discuss the temporary “new norm” with your kids and offer parental supervision accordingly. We love our Trinity children! We will need them to stay near their parents and not freely roam about the building in these times.
9. Our goal is to initially give each family an opportunity to get to church twice a month while we are at 25 percent capacity. This will involve the following method:
- Hosting a drive-in service once a month allowing the vast majority of the church to gather.
- Offering in-person worship gatherings the remaining Sundays of the month via registration. In-person gatherings will begin Sunday, June 7. Having groups of people alternate the weeks they come to church rather than having multiple services each Sunday will reduce exposure should there be a COVID-19 outbreak among Trinity families. We will send you an invitation to register according to your family size.
Thanks so much for your patience during this unusual time. While this is a learning curve for all of us, please know that our heart’s desire is to serve our church family to the best of our ability.
Rejoicing in Hope,
Trinity Elder Team