Reopening of Aldersgate! A Letter from Pastor Dr. Barry Scott
June 07, 2020 - 9:00 AM
Dear Aldersgate Family,
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then I know you are eager to once again worship God and fellowship with each other in our beautiful sanctuary. Who would have ever thought that when our Administrative Council decided to suspend gatherings and meetings back in the middle of March it would be three months before restarting including missing some of the most significant special Sundays? The great news is our church is ready to resume Sunday worship and open up our building. Our first full on-site worship service is being planned for Sunday, June 21.
The health and well-being of all who come to Aldersgate have been and will continue to be the primary concern of our leadership. In resuming Sunday worship our intention is to do that as safely as possible. You can rest assured that our building will be cleaned and sanitized when you enter it and will be again after you leave it. Hand sanitizing units and bottles will be easily accessible. We will definitely encourage the practice of good social distancing in the sanctuary with attendees spaced out and seated only in every other pew as directed by the ushers. It will be great to see everyone, but at least for a while we need to make our church a no-touch zone with no handshaking, hugging, or clustering together. We are encouraging the wearing of masks to worship. We are asking that you might consider wearing one even if you are not sure it is necessary to make others feel better for a few Sundays. If you are not wearing a mask, then be especially caution about keeping your distance from others. Masks will be available at the church if you need one.
Our worship service will be shortened and absolutely nothing will be passed from person to person. Unfortunately, we will not be able to have a choir, no congregational singing or speaking in mass, and no observance of the Lord’s Supper until more time has transpired. We are omitting the children’s time in worship, and we will not be having children’s church during worship or providing a nursery. Parents will need to help us in deciding how safe you feel in letting our children be together. On-site Sunday school is not immediately resuming, but if classes can work out ways to meet safely then by all means do so.
Our church doors will be open 20 minutes before the service so you need not touch anything. For security reasons the doors will be locked during the service but opened as you leave. We ask that you find a seat and upon dismissal make your way out of the building and back to your vehicle as quickly as possible. Understand that we are going to err on the side of caution for the first few Sundays and may do some things that are not really necessary, but which may help everyone feel more at ease about gathering. The best course of action is for every person to realize that the threat of sickness still looms over us and use good common sense in coming together.
We know that some people have health and age concerns that might make them hesitant to return to church this soon. By all means please know you have our blessings if you decide to wait longer about returning. Please if you are feeling sick, displaying respiratory issues, possibly having temperature, etc., then we all thank you for staying home that day. At this juncture, it is projected that the church building will not be available for weddings or funerals until the fall. No Sunday afternoon outdoor services are scheduled till the fall. We may not have any events or meetings that include eating at the church the rest of 2020. Teams, committees and groups can begin meeting again after June 21 at their own discretion and maintaining social distancing standards. We may decide that many restrictions can be lifted as the summer months happen so a lot of this is subject to change as needed.
As a way of testing the waters, we are planning on holding outside worship services on June 7 and 14 in the parking lot area outside the kitchen and between the two wings of our church. Chairs will be provided with plenty of room to distance from each other. The worship service will be short. The portico doors will be open to make the bathrooms available. Obviously the ability to have church in an outside setting will be dependent on the weather. To avoid the heat the service will begin at 9 am. The greatest majority of the area where we plan to worship will be in the shade. If there is a good chance of rain in the forecast then all that will be held either Sunday is virtual worship in the sanctuary. I will be sending out an additional email with the final details of these two Sundays later this week.
I know this seems like a lot of do’s and don’ts and I agree with you completely. My thinking is that any little sacrifices we can make initially to encourage as many people to return to church with confidence and without fear, will make all the inconveniences worthwhile. I will be so glad to get back to worshiping with a live congregation on Sundays that I don’t mind doing whatever is necessary to make that possible. Thank you for continuing to realize that we are just as much the church apart from the building as when gathered in it. Virtual worship is great, but it will never replace a worship service filled with brothers and sisters in the Lord alive with the presence of the Spirit.