Several years ago, the elders asked Bob to take some time to do some reading every year in preparation for sermon series. We all know he loves to read and that he reads books at the same pace that some of us read the headlines. Anyway, he is away reading for a few weeks, so today's blog is focused one some of the details that are affected by COVID. In case you haven't heard of COVID, it affects everything, including most of our church ministries and functions. So in my usual mailbag way, here is the information you want to know even if you didn't realize it yet!
I heard we had an outdoor live stream last week, is that true? Why didn't you tell us about it?
A couple of weeks ago, one of our elders brought up the idea of trying to connect with those who haven't been to church in months. He felt like we could do more than just provide a live stream for viewing at home. So we sent out a survey, got some feedback, and decided to host an outdoor viewing of the live stream. The first one was Sunday, and it took place on the grassy area outside of the kid's ministry area. You are welcome to attend this week. Just bring your own chair and plan to wear a mask the whole time. However, please don't use the outdoor area if you are fine with being indoors. The space is limited. If you have any questions about this, contact Jon Clarke, who has volunteered to host the outdoor viewing.
Speaking of the survey, one of the questions mentioned an indoor viewing of the live stream in a separate location with mandatory masks. Is that happening?
Right now, the answer is no. However, when it gets colder, we may move the outside group inside to somewhere in the back of the building. For now, we will keep this idea on the table and let you know when it happens.
The governor issued Executive Order 2020-183 last week, which had several parts. Do any of those affect the church?
We are grateful that in Michigan, we have had the exemption to meet for worship opportunities in the building for quite some time now. However, as a church, we have not been allowing birthday parties, showers, and other gatherings that did not have a worship aspect to it. With Friday's order allowing up to 20 people per 1000 square feet of space, we are now allowed to host such events in a variety of rooms such as the gym (98 people), Fellowship Hall (45), Gathering Space (77), or rooms 280-282 (54). If you would like to set up a gathering, please contact the office for details. Masks are required.
What about food? You can't have a party (or ABF) without food!
Food continues to be an area that we are trying to manage wisely. The CDC says that buffet or family style meals should be avoided. That's why we have asked ABFs not to do snacks but allowed the café to be open. The café serves snacks while ABFs typically use a buffet style. This Sunday, there is a missions lunch (some spots are still available...sign-up here). That lunch is allowed because the food is being served. If your ABF would like to serve snacks, they can go right ahead. In addition, we are planning to host a men's breakfast in November. The breakfast will be in the gym and the food will be served. This will mean slower lines, but it means increased safety and a great opportunity to practice patience, recognizing that not everyone agrees with how COVID should be handled!
When do regular ABFs start again?
If there has been one ministry that has taken a COVID beat down, it has been the ABFs. Back in March, ABFs got cancelled. Then we tried them on Zoom, followed by strange times due to our two-service setup before getting shut down again for the four Sundays of combined ABF on discipleship! Now they are back, and we are glad for that. So, Truth in Action, Harvesters, Edge, On Belay, Open Door, Two28, Koinonia, Bereans, Crossroads, and Grafted In - welcome back! Same to our Sunday student ministries! And to any of you who are not part of an ABF, plan to pick one and join us from 9-10am this Sunday.
Last but not least, how has the overflow seating in the gym been working? Has anyone been using it during the church service?
Yes, and thanks for asking. Really, thank you to those who have made good use of it. If you haven't heard, we have been asking people to use the gym once every five Sundays to create extra space in the Worship Center, and it has been working well. Last Sunday, 50 people, who would normally use the Worship Center, used the gym instead, increasing the availability for more physically distanced seating in the Worship Center. So thank you to those who have used the gym! Last names that begin with K through M people are up this Sunday - that's me!