RSVP weekly each Monday beginning at noon for the following Sunday.
Worship Times: 8:30 am & 11 am. The 8:30 service will be livestreamed here: Sunday Worship
WHAT TO EXPECT ABOUT RESTARTING CORPORATE WORSHIP FAQ
Beginning August 9, we will resume offering multiple in-person worship services in our Sanctuary. We are planning to have two (2) services – 8:30 am & 11 am. In-person attendance will be limited to allow for appropriate spacing, but we will be livestreaming the 8:30 am service which will be available as a recorded service around 10:30 am for those who do not attend in person.
1. Is everyone welcome to come?
Yes, BUT everyone should exercise his or her judgment about the wisdom of attending. We especially advise immunocompromised congregants and older individuals to consider staying home and participating in the service remotely until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.
2. How many will be allowed per service and how do we know which service to attend?
We have an online registration system (see the button above) by which we ask each family or single adult to register for the service they desire. Each service is limited to 160 registered seats to be allotted on a first-come, first serve basis.
3. Where should we enter Main Street and where do we go from that entrance?
Please arrive early. The logistics of getting everyone seated appropriately may take an extra minute or two beyond the usual. Please use the main entrance (by the circle drive) and the east entrance (by the Administration Building) only. The Barn parking lot and the west entrances will be closed. The greeters will be opening and closing all entrance doors to Main Street, and as you enter, please walk directly to the Sanctuary. Masks and hand sanitizers will be available at each entrance, and everyone is strongly encouraged to use them upon entering. Additional hand sanitizers are available at the entrance of the Sanctuary and by each restroom. As you walk to the Sanctuary, please endeavor to maintain the social distancing standard of six (6) feet between family groups. No refreshments will be available, except for a limited supply of small water bottles.
4. Will the restrooms be available?
Yes. All restrooms on Main Street as well as in the Administration Building will be available. Each restroom will have a “host” stationed near them to regulate how many are in the restroom at a time. Any number from the same family may use a restroom at the same time. Otherwise, no more than 2 should use a restroom at the same time. Again, hand sanitizers are by each restroom exit.
5. How will we be seated in the Sanctuary?
When you arrive at the Sanctuary doors, wait for an usher to ask you how many seats you need. That usher will signal to a team of floor ushers the number of seats you need and one of the floor ushers will invite you to his area. Walk to that floor usher and he will guide you to which seats you are to use. The floor ushers will have the responsibility of appropriately spacing everyone.
6. What about masks during the worship service?
We request that everyone who is able to please wear a mask. Our staff will model this. For example, when a pastor is not leading an element of the worship service, he will have his mask on. Extra masks will be available at each entrance if needed.
7. When the worship service has ended, how should we leave the Sanctuary?
Using the same method as our communion service, wait for a floor usher to designate your row to leave. The Sanctuary will be emptied starting with the rear rows, moving to the front. We strongly encourage the use of masks during your exit from the Sanctuary until you are outside. While everyone is leaving the Sanctuary, a cleaning crew will begin the sanitizing process for the next service.
8. Besides refreshments, what else has been discontinued for now?
As part of our overall safety protocols, the following will not be available: childcare, nursery services, bulletins, Bibles, pens, and offering plates. In lieu of using offering plates, we will have offering boxes located by the doors of the Sanctuary.
9. What if one of my children needs to leave?
We are relying on parents to determine if their young children are ready to sit through a full worship service. Since no childcare is available, children and youth must remain with their parents for the duration of the worship service. If a child needs to leave, that child should be escorted by a parent. The monitor in the fireplace room (by the main entrance) will be active, and if the parent does not want to return to the Sanctuary, they may sit and watch the service in that area. The playground is closed and not available.
LETTER FROM THE SESSION REGARDING RESUMING IN-PERSON WORSHIP
To the CEPC Family,
We, the Session of CEPC, with important help from key staff members, have spent much time in prayer and discussion considering how and when our church family should begin to re-engage in gathered corporate worship services, and we have developed the description we are presenting here to inform you of the current state of our thinking.
As we all know, various levels of government have published guidelines for “re-opening” our economy. However, those guidelines are not entirely consistent, and they orient more to business considerations rather than to churches’ operations. And that is significant, because we all know that among the many diverse segments of our society, the church is unique. We have a unique calling, a unique mission and a uniquely biblical source of truth. So your Session has submitted itself in its thinking on “re-opening” on our source of truth, the inerrant Word of God, the Scriptures. In that submission, we have noted especially the dual mandates of the two tablets of the Law: (1) how we relate to God (Ex. 20:2-11) and (2) how we relate to each other (Ex. 20:12-17). Within the first we have focused on how we worship, and within the second we have focused on how we care for each other – seeking in both the wisdom and discernment available only from above (Rom. 12:2). That has been the framework of our thinking.
We visualize embarking on an evolving 4 phase process, always subject to modification as we move into and through it with careful attention to what we learn as we go.
As we see it, we are currently in Phase 1 – worshiping through recorded services while separated physically from one another and suspending other of our ministry activities such as Sunday School and City Group gatherings. Phase 2 will involve moving to multiple worship services with limited attendance and with livestreaming of each service. Details of the health protective measures that will apply in Phase 2 are set out in the “What to Expect FAQ”. The precise contours of the 3rd and 4th Phases will be defined as we learn our way through Phase 2 and see more clearly when and how to move into those next phases.
We anticipate moving into Phase 2 on Sunday, June 7, although, depending on how circumstances may change, that date could be deferred. We are planning to schedule worship services at 8:30 and 11:00 am and at 5:00 pm, and, depending on how well those three services accommodate those who wish to gather for worship, we may schedule a fourth service at an hour yet to be decided.
What will Worship in Phase 2 look like?
An online registration system has been developed by which we will ask congregants who are comfortable participating in gathered worship in Phase 2 to reserve a spot at one of the scheduled services. The process for this registration will be communicated in the coming weeks. There will be a maximum number of people in the building for each service. This maximum number will be relatively low at the outset and hopefully will increase throughout the summer if it can be done within safety recommendations.
Some things beyond social distancing in our entering and exiting and in seating arrangements will need to change for us to be able to worship in person (e.g. not celebrating Communion until one of the later phases, not passing offering plates, not conducting children’s ministry, etc.), but some things will not change (praying, preaching and singing in worship, etc.). Every effort will be made to cultivate a reverential atmosphere, but the adjustments being made may cause some to miss our more accustomed sense of familial gathering.
Who should come?
Only those who are healthy and are comfortable with attending in-person corporate worship should consider coming during Phase 2. To be clear, we intend to continue livestreaming at least until this season passes.
Please stay at home if you or a member of your household is symptomatic, has a fever, has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or has traveled internationally or to what they perceive was a domestic hot spot in the prior two weeks.
Our immunocompromised congregants and older individuals should consider worshiping from home. We would also ask families with small children to consider carefully whether they should attend with the social distancing guidelines in place.
In addition, we understand that some will not feel comfortable joining in-person corporate worship services at this time. That is understandable and we don't want to infringe anyone’s conscience. These are unique times. It should be noted that some of the elders may not be attending these early phase services. This is not because they view worship as less important, but because in their estimation it will not be safest for them to attend. Freedom of conscience and extending grace towards others is especially important to uphold and pursue in our current circumstances.
What are the expectations for those in attendance?
We will expect those attending to cooperate with the measures detailed in our “Guiding Principles” and in the “What to Expect FAQ”, which will include keeping a six foot distance between households, washing hands, and, for those who are able, being strongly encouraged to wear a mask or cloth face covering.
No Sunday school, childcare, or nursery will be provided during this time. We will also not have coffee, snacks, bulletins, offering plates, or Bibles and hymnals available. Boxes will be placed near the exits to receive tithes and offerings.
We will refrain for the time being from observing the Sacraments, the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, but we will plan to sing together.
Even while taking precautions, we recognize there is only so much control we will have or desire to exercise over individual behavior in the building. We are providing direction, and church officers and staff will strive to be examples of safe interactions within the building, but those who attend in-person services will need to be comfortable with possible uncertainties.
The life of the church
Corporate worship is central in the life of the church, and we are making it our priority. We treasure the other ministries of our church and remain hopeful that the summer months will bring more safety and clarity in terms of gathering in groups and reactivating other CEPC ministries.
Finally, we also strongly urge you to give the judgment of charity when it comes to all matters related to COVID-19 and “re-opening”. Let us think the best of our brothers and sisters, especially those who decide differently on when it is right to resume attending in-person worship. We all desire to give glory to Christ and love our neighbor, remembering the two tablets of the Law.
Furthermore, we are united by the same Lord, faith, and baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Let us keep loving each other well. As our Lord said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Let us continue to shine His light before the world.
- Glorify the Lord and Honor His Word (Exod 20:3; Deut 6:5; John 14:15; 1 Cor. 10:31; Exod 19:5; Rev 14:12)
- Love our neighbors (Matt 22:39; Phil 2:3; James 2:8)
- Uphold the importance of gathered corporate worship (Heb 10:25; Acts 2:42-27; Col 3:16; Ps. 122:1)
- Honor and seek to cooperate with government recommendations (Rom 12:18; 13:1-7; Jer 29:7; John 13:35; 1 Peter 2:17)
- Respect the conscience of brothers and sisters (1 Tim 1:5; Rom 14:5, 13; James 4:17)
- Humility as we continue to reflect and gauge whether to adjust approaches over time. (James 4:13-15)
With love and much prayer,
Richard Harris, Chip Mealy, Travis Graham, Aaron Greene, Tom Harrison, Mel Jodeit, Keith Pendergrass, Corbin Porter, Bob Price, Brian Rose, David Schwab, Jason Walker, Craig Whitlock, Ken Wynne