A message from Dr. Cooley:
It seems like an eternity since we have had the blessing of joining together for worship. With the governor’s recent actions to open the state up again, we are preparing for the First Baptist family to return to a morning worship experience again. The ministry staff, deacons and I have been busy at work making plans for our church to gather in a way that will insure every worshipper is safe and comfortable.
We are planning to resume morning worship on Sunday morning, May 24th.
I realize this may feel a little early to some of you, and you need to know that we will continue to provide the option to livestream the service for those who feel more comfortable at home. At the same time, many of us are eager to return to a live worship service. We want every member to make the choice for worship that is most comfortable for them.
As we worship, we will observe social distance requirements by being asked to sit on designated pews. We will be making every other pew available for our church family. I know that may mean not sitting on your favorite seat, but following the plan will keep all of us safe and healthy.
We want to ask everyone to sit together as a family, and to keep an appropriate distance between yourself and the next family on your pew.
At least through the month of June, we will provide two morning services for you to attend. Each service will be essentially identical. By providing two services, we are attempting to make sure there is plenty of room for everyone, and that we are providing special consideration to those who most need special attention.
9:00 AM – This service will be especially intended for those who are 65 years old and older, as well as for members who may have physical issues that put them at special risk. We are providing this earlier service for those who would feel more comfortable with a smaller crowd, and would like to keep a greater distance from others.
Please Note: If you live in an assisted living residence and choose to attend worship, you will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon your return.
10:15 AM – This will be a typical service for our church. There will be a few changes made in the order of worship for your safety. We will not be observing fellowship time until it is safe to do so. Also, we will provide a Children’s Message, but children will remain in their seats rather than coming to the front of the sanctuary.
Please Note: We are asking those attending the second service to wait until 10:00 to enter in order to allow those attending the early service to exit safely
This is the commitment we make to prepare the sanctuary for worship before the church family arrives
- We will be sure the sanctuary is clean and disinfected prior to each Sunday.
- We will do everything possible to make our services as touch-less as possible. Entrances to the church and to the sanctuary will be propped open as we come and go into the sanctuary.
- We will continue to have greeters. They will welcome you from an appropriate distance.
- Cloth masks have been provided for those who would like to have one. If you choose one, we request that you carry them home for your personal use, and bring them back for use the following Sunday.
- We encourage the use of face masks, especially as you enter and leave the sanctuary.
- Hand sanitizer will be readily available throughout the building.
When We Enter the Sanctuary
- The floors of the sanctuary will be marked in order to provide social distance guidance.
- Every other pew will be marked as one available for use. Others will be restricted in order to create a social distance space for worship.
- Families will be encouraged to sit together, and appropriate distance between families will be encouraged.
- As you enter, we request that you move to the front of the sanctuary and sit at the nearest available pew. (Note: The roof will not fall if we cannot sit at our usual pew for a few weeks).
- Baskets to receive an offering will be in place as you enter so that we avoid the practice of passing offering plates for a while.
- No bulletins or handouts will be provided until it is considered safe to do so.
- We will continue to extend an invitation, but rather than walking the aisle, we will indicate a decision by an uplifted hand. Those making a decision will be able to talk to the pastor or ministry staff following the service.
Following the Service
- Worshippers will be asked to stand in place until dismissed.
- A staff member will dismiss the congregation by rows, beginning in the balcony, and then from the back of the sanctuary.
- Worshippers will be encouraged to maintain a safe social distance as they leave.
- Rather than standing at the door, the pastor and staff will be available to greet people as they leave by standing on the grounds outside of the sanctuary.
- We encourage members to wait until they are safely clear from the front entrance before they stop to visit with others. That will prevent us from being crowded together on the way out.
I know these are a lot of rules, and I pray the day when we no longer need them will not be far away. In the meantime, I have to be honest – I will obey any rule I have to if that means I can see the faces of our church family again. Our goal is to provide everyone with a meaningful worship experience.
If you have any questions, please contact the church office for help.