Updated: August 6, 2020
In this season of disruption and uncertainty, we hope this note finds you joyfully trusting in our sovereign God. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our culture is continuing to navigate re-entry processes. And we as a church have strategizing toward a return to in-person worship services. We have made every effort to abide by the recommendations and restrictions imposed by our elected leaders as they are seeking to act for the good of the community. We also feel the weight of the Scriptural directives that charge believers to gather regularly for worship. We believe that God has given distinct realms of authority to both the state and the church.
Our governor has acknowledged this tension and has been careful not to overstep her authority as it relates to religious liberty and the separation of church and state. Item sixteen of Governor Whitmer’s recent directive (Executive Order 2020-92)1 reads, Consistent with prior guidance, neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under section 20 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place. No individual is subject to penalty under section 20 of this order for engaging in or traveling to engage in religious worship at a place of religious worship, or for violating section 15(a) of this order.
We realize that many are not comfortable attending an in-person gathering. Certainly those who are sick should not attend. And we encourage those who are older or have underlying health conditions to remain home. We will continue to livestream our services in order to provide biblical teaching and an element of community for our entire church family.
We will also take a number of steps to serve the needs of the congregation, to protect one another and to limit the possible spread of the virus.
- Structuring for physical distancing by offering three Sunday morning worship services (8:30, 9:30, 11:00), creating more space between rows, and providing for overflow seating if necessary in other areas throughout the facility.
- Reducing hand to hand contact by propping doors, forgoing handshakes, closing our coffee station, not passing offering plates, etc.
- Encouraging people to take whatever precautions they deem necessary to protect themselves and others (i.e. face coverings). We are asking all those attending the 8:30 service to wear a face covering for the duration of the service.
- Reducing in-person children’s ministry and Adult Bible Fellowships as it is more difficult to achieve social distancing in these environments. Currently we are offering programming for nursery and preschool ages. In lieu of normal children’s programming, our children’s ministry staff will provide a children’s lesson in each of our worship services.
We as church leaders would certainly covet your prayers as we navigate these complex and emotionally-charged issues. And we would encourage each one to make extra effort to be gracious in communication in order to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The FHBC Elders