Dear Northway Church,
Perhaps you’ve heard the news already that we are reopening for worship on Sunday, June 14. There will be only one worship service at 10:30AM and no other on-campus programming that morning. This decision was made after much prayer, discussion, and seeking advice from a number of individuals in the medical community.
We believe it is necessary to reopen and begin moving toward whatever our new normal will be. The Bible encourages us to gather for worship together, and with good reason: we need it! Our relationship with God is strengthened through times of worshipping alongside our community of faith. We grow spiritually through worship, and our inability to meet has been a barrier to spiritual growth. We have greatly missed our times of gathering together, encouraging one another, and enjoying the presence of God. I’m tremendously excited to be meeting with my Northway family again!
However, this is our first step. We are intentionally moving slowly and methodically in this process. While we all want to gather, we need to do so in a manner that protects the safety of our church and our community. You may have read the reports of the virus spreading at churches that began meeting for worship too early and without the proper protocols in place. We want to do everything we can do keep you and your family safe. I hope some of you read the following information about our plans and believe that we are being overly cautious. That is intentional. We very much want to err on the side of safety.
For Sunday, June 14, here is what we are asking of everyone who attends. These requirements will change as more information becomes available and (prayerfully) the number of cases begins to decline. However, for this Sunday, June 14, this is what we need from those who plan to worship with us in person:
- We will ask all who wish to attend worship to register online. Registration for worship will open on Monday morning, June 8, at 8AM. Click here or go to the home page and you will see a link to register. You will be asked to give your name and the number of individuals in your family who will attend with you. We were strongly advised to do this for a couple of reasons:
1. We will have a limited number of spaces available, and this online registration will allow us to meet with the proper social-distancing protocols in place. If our worship center fills, we will open registration for our overflow room. If that fills, we will open registration for our student worship area.
2. If there happens to be anyone who attends worship and they later test positive for COVID-19, having everyone register will give us the ability to contact individuals and families and make them aware that they were in an area with someone who tested positive, and that they should be tested as well.
Those who register will receive a email with a confirmation ticket and will be asked to show this at the door when you arrive for worship. You may either print this ticket out or simply show it on your phone.
- All who attend the service will be required to wear a mask. If they do not have one, we will provide one for them when they arrive. We are asking everyone to abide by this rule. I personally cannot stand wearing a mask, but will do so except when I am preaching.
- Upon entering the building, you will have your temperature taken via a non-contact thermometer by one of our volunteers. If you have a fever, you will be asked to return home.
- All who attend will be asked to keep an appropriate amount of distance between them and any other non-family members. Members of the same household are welcome to sit next to one another in worship. We will have roughly half of our seats removed in each venue to help with this.
- There will be no childcare, Next-Gen programming, or Connection Classes meeting on campus. We will meet for worship only.
- Over these last several weeks, we have made a number of changes to our facility. Our bathrooms now all have touch-less fixtures (toilets, sinks, and paper towel dispensers); we have hand sanitizer stations throughout the building; we now have offering boxes (rather than passing offering plates); we have thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the building; all communication cards, pens, and offering envelopes have been removed. As well, we will not be giving bulletins as you enter worship. Instead, you will be directed to our website for information about events and programming.
- We will continue to offer online worship on both Facebook Live and on Vimeo (although Vimeo will not be available until Monday morning since this will actually be a live service).
Who should continue to participate in worship through our online platform?
- Those who are over 65 or have health issues.
- Those with small children. Since we do not have childcare or children’s programming, we are encouraging you to stay home and worship. Preschoolers do not know how to socially distance and will likely be bored in the service. I realize this affects a number of families in our church (including my own, who will be at home watching on Facebook Live). Again, our hope and prayer is that soon we will be able to return to our normal schedule and programming.
- Those who are uncomfortable with the requirements we have in place. If you believe we haven’t gone far enough or if you are unwilling to follow what we are asking, please continue to worship with us online.
Again, I want you to know how much our staff and Lead Ministry Team has discussed and prayed through the issue of when and how to open. We need everyone to be unified and willing to cooperate during this time. This has been a difficult season for all of us, and more than ever we need to support, pray for, and encourage one another. I’m very confident our Northway family will do exactly that.
Finally, let me again emphasize that we are evaluating this situation each week. As the situation in our community changes, our plans will change as well. My hope and prayer is that we will slowly begin to relax these requirements and return to a more normal schedule soon.
I love you all, miss you so much, and I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!