First Baptist Church’s Five-Stage COVID-19 Response Plan

[This has been approved by the FBC Elders and Moderator, as well as affirmed by the staff on May 5, 2020. The Officers will gather on May 11, 2020 to further discuss and work through unforeseen details.]
 

 

INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW TO THE FBC PLAN

 
This is a stage-driven plan and not a date-driven plan. While targeted dates are a part of this plan, all dates remain fluid and will be basedon the stage of recovery we are in according to our community partnership, unless there is a time when we discern that what is best for our church requires independent decisions apart from these existing partnerships.

 

To accomplish the mission and vision of our church, we will always seek to discern a word from the Lord and submit to God’s directions, whenever and wherever possible, as long as it is within the direction we discern from the Lord, we will seek to partner with our community.  

The elders and leaders of FBC respect and trust the autonomous decision making authority of every born again believer and of those called by God to be parents and grandparents who have responsibility over their families. We request that all your decisions be made through prayer and with a mindset of graciousness and love for your neighbor. With that in mind, we ask you to please remember the words of the Apostle Peter from 1 Peter 5:5-7 (ESV), “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

 

We are called by God to lead you as servant shepherds, not with a heavy-handed or legalistic approach. Our plan is to trust that you are walking in the Spirit unless you publicly demonstrate something other than the fruit of the Spirit in your words or deeds (Galatians 5:22-23). Thank you for partnering with us as we partner with our community in these difficult and confusing days. We are walking by faith, with prudence, for the thriving of our communities to the glory of God.

 

Please join us in prayer as we present to our congregation the FBC Five-Stage COVID-19 Response Plan. The bottom line is that we do not return to anything close to full functioning until FBC’s Stage 5, so please understand that each stage is a small step towards that. This is a plan and it can be modified as we learn more. FBC’s Stage 1 is what we have been doing for 2 months, FBC’s Stages 2 & 3 will see very minor changes with our preference being that you continue to worship from home, FBC’s Stage 4 is a transition and will have more significant changes as people start coming back to regular worship services and ministry opportunities in the building. Please read through this carefully and ask questions as you have them, after you’ve read through the whole plan.

 

Before we go into a lot of details, please know that we understand that the Governor stated Stage 2 would begin on May 4 and that churches can open on May 8. We made the decision to extend FBC’s Stage 1 for one week to ensure all planning, communications, and preparations are of God and are done properly. With that said, nothing changes for this Sunday, May 10. FBC’s Stage 2 will begin with Sunday, May 17. Thank you for trusting us to do this right and true, not rushing anything. We believe this is a good partnership decision as the Governor prefers for churches to continue asking people to watch online in these early transition days because how we respond today will determine how we can move forward in the coming days.

 

We will now look at some general guidelines provided by the state for places of worship.
 
 

 
 

The State Guidelines for Places of Worship:

Quoted from the governor’s guidance to churches:
 
 
  • Ask all individuals who are 65 and above or who have an underlying at-risk health condition to stay home and watch services online.
  • Ensure 6 feet between individuals or family units of the same households during services
  • Space and mark seating, alternating rows when possible
  • Clean between each service and disinfect high-contact surfaces regularly
  • Place hand sanitizers in high-contact locations (e.g. bathroom, entry, exit) and ask staff, members, and guests to sanitize their hands before entering the building
  • Recommend putting on a face covering before entering the building
  • Consider placing signage telling staff, members, and guests to not enter if they are symptomatic or if they have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Implement non-contact greetings
  • Avoid handing out materials
  • Keep cafés, coffee, and other self-service stations closed
  • Establish safe protocols for any communion and collection to avoid contact
  • Dismiss services in a way that supports social distancing
  • Place readily visible signage to remind everyone of best hygiene practices
 
 
The church will uphold these within a reasonable person’s expectations and as they apply to our specific building and situation, appropriate signage will be in front of the entrance, and pertinent, up-to-date info will be posted on our webpage. Again, referencing 1 Peter 5:5-7, we ask all people to humbly submit to the posted signage and the specific guidelines within each of the five stages, regardless of your personal opinion. We are trying to protect a large congregation and the surrounding communities. Please do not limit other people’s freedoms by exercising your freedom in a way that makes them feel unsafe in our church building.
 

For information on the governor’s more complete 5-stage plan, go to

https://www.wthr.com/sites/default/files/2020/05/01/backontrack-in_overview-v7.pdf

 
 
Finally, we have been and will continue to make every effort to have excellent custodial service, both with our own custodian, who is doing an amazing job, and when contracting a professional service when necessary. Please be a positive partner in keeping our building safe and sanitary. How you act, behave, and treat our church building will determine if other people feel safe and secure to join us now and in the future. Thank you!
 

RETURN TO THE GENERAL LOOK PAGE

 

CONTINUE TO STAGE ONE: SEVERE