Pastor Paul’s Ponderings
May 27, 2020
Happy Wednesday New Hope!
As we prepare to return to in person worship this Sunday, I want to share some things that are on my heart and mind. This is a situation that we have never dealt with before and all of us are learning and making decisions based upon a widely varying array of information. Some of that information comes from people who are educated and trained in the field of medicine and disease and some is simply the opinions of people who may or may not have any real knowledge. Even among health professionals there is not complete agreement about all the issues related to the COVID-19 virus and the best way to deal with it. This makes it difficult to develop a plan for returning to in person worship that everyone will agree with. The Session of New Hope, which is the pastor and elders, has given this much prayer and consideration and believe that the right approach is to follow the recommended guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control. We believe that it is absolutley essential that we do everything we can to make our worship the safest we possibley can. We are taking these precautions, not because of a lack of faith, but rather because our faith leads us to use the wisdom God has given to insure the well-being of those who call New Hope their church home and those who may choose to visit us for worship. Our hope is that everyone will understand and support these guidelines even if they may not agree that they are needed. In this, as in all things, we are called to unity. An email was sent earlier this week with the guidelines and they are also posted on the church website, www.newhopecpchurch.com. Please be sure you have read them and are prepared to follow them if you plan to come to worship in person. I want to emphasize two things. First, if you are not yet comfortable being in a large group setting we understand and support your decision to remain at home. That is why we will continue to provide a recorded service. Beginning this Sunday the plan is to record the in person service which will then be posted on the YouTube channel as soon as possible after the service concludes. Second, if you have any sypmtoms whatsoever of being sick, even if it is just a cold, please do not come to in person worship. We will welcome you when you are well.
As I am preparing for this new situation we find ourselves in, I am discovering that it requires me to remind myself of the primary purpose of believers gathering together for worship which is to glorify God. Worship is about giving praise to God – not having my needs met. Worship is about thanking God for all God’s gifts to me – not having my personal agenda fulfilled. Worship is about God – not me. So as we prepare to gather together again I believe it will be helpful for each of us not to focus on the things we cannot do, for now, but rather to focus on what our worship is supposed to be about to begin with – God. As we gather this Sunday in our place of gathered worship here at New Hope, may we remember that we are doing so to demonstrate the unity of our faith in our loving and mercicul God. We will wait with great eagerness and anticipation to the day we can hug each other and greet each other with the kiss of Christ!
Also, we need four people each Sunday who will committ to being here at 9:00 a.m. to help in preparing everything for worship and remaining after the service is over to assist in what needs to be done to close up. You will be setting up the necessary items for meeting the established guidelines, welcoming people to New Hope and taking their temperature before they enter, assisting people in understanding and following the guidelines before, during and after the service, and doing some sanitizing of common surfaces after everyone has left. If you are willing to commit to this, please text (615-429-4331) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me your name and the Sunday or Sundays you are willing to serve through the end of July. I will set up a schedule and then send that to all volunteers.
I look forward to seeing those who come out for worship this Sunday. For those who are not ready to join us just yet know that we are aware of your love and know that you join us in Spirit.
Grace and peace,
Hello New Hope!
Here are the guidelines established by the Session for our return to in person worship on May 31.First and foremost, if you are sick, even if it is just a cold, please stay at home. We love you and want to see you, but we do not want to risk anyone becoming sick. Get well and join us when you are.
We understand if you are not yet comfortable being in a group of people. You need to return to gathered worship when you are ready. In the meantime, we will continue to provide a recorded service for you to participate in at home.
If you choose to join us for our gathered service, please follow the following guidelines and show respect for them and those who have established them even if you may disagree.
1) Please wear a mask (unless you have breathing issues) while you are in the building or in close proximity to others. If you do not have a mask there will be some which have been sanitized available just outside the main entrance. These are cloth masks and are for you to keep. Remember to wash them often and to bring them with you each Sunday until further notice.
2) Your temperature will be taken (with an external scanning thermometer which will be sanitized after each use) as you enter the building. If your temperature is over 100 you will be asked not to attend the service.
3) Hand sanitizer will be available at the main entrance (which will be where everyone needs to enter). Please use this as you enter unless you are allergic. You are also encouraged to use it as you leave.
4) Please follow the social distancing guidelines of remaining at least 6 (six) feet away from others at all times. As much as we all want to hug and shake hands it is important to avoid this contact for now out of concern for one another.
5) Please maintain the 6 (six) foot distance rule when you are seated in the sanctuary (immediate family may sit together).
6) Please do not use the kitchen or office building until further notice so that we can limit the areas that need careful cleaning each week.
7) Do not wear gloves of any kind as this will only serve to transfer any germs. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer is the best option.
8) Please do not use the Bibles or Hymnals that are in the pews. The handling of these would require us to clean all of them each week. The words for all songs and readings will be on the screens. (The only exception for this is for the choir and musicians who will be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their own books and music.)
We will be following a few other measures to help insure the safest possible environment for everyone. Offering plates will not be passed, they will be placed at the center entrance to the sanctuary and you may leave your offering there as you enter or exit. We will not be taking communion until further notice to avoid the passing of the containers for the bread and juice. We will leave the doors at the main entrance to the Welcome Area (narthex) as well as the doors to the sanctuary propped open to avoid the possibility of contamination. There will be no food or drinks served until further notice. Extra care will be given in the weekly cleaning to insure the safest environment possible for everyone.
While we may not all agree on the necessity of these guidelines, it is the belief of the Session that these are in the best interest of our New Hope family and any visitors we may have. We will continue to monitor the latest developments and recommendations of healthcare professionals and make any changes we believe are appropriate. We will keep you updated with any changes that are made.
Grace and peace,