UPDATE // July 17, 2020
Dear ESPC family,
At this point, you have probably heard about the governor’s order requiring masks in public areas through the state of Alabama. While we as a church are not required to follow this mask order, the Session has determined that, given the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in our area, it would be prudent for us to make some adjustments to the way that we are currently conducting on-campus worship. The ESPC Session strongly recommends wearing masks when worshipping on campus and will implement the following guidelines for our on-campus worship services:
- Masks are encouraged but optional for those worshipping in the FLC/gym during both services
- Masks are required for those worshipping in the overflow room (room 8 in the main building) during both services
- Masks are encouraged but optional for those worshipping in the sanctuary during the 8:15 am service
- Masks are required for those worshipping in the sanctuary during the 11:00 am service
Also, the Session strongly recommends students wear masks to youth meetings and events as well to comply with the current recommendations by the state of Alabama.We recognize that there are some of you with pre-existing conditions that may put you at higher risk should you be exposed to COVID-19. If so, we would certainly understand if you choose to worship via our Livestream at home at this time. We also recognize that there are some of you who may choose not to wear a mask, for reasons of health or conscience. If so, we simply ask that you please sit in one of the designated areas where masks are encouraged, but not required. Please note that the above changes are not made out of fear, nor are they meant to cause you to fear, as the Bible teaches us that God is in complete control of all that happens to us, and that he works all things for the good of those who love him. At the same time, though, the Bible does also teach us the importance of prudence in foreseeing potential problems and taking wise action in response (Proverbs 22:3). It is in this latter spirit that these changes are being made—to take prudent action now to enable us to continue to prioritize the worship of God on-campus over the coming weeks.
Please continue to abide by the Phase 2 guidelines that have been established for on-campus worship:
- Observing social distancing before and after worship by visiting outside (rather than in the Sanctuary or Narthex)
- Maintaining a distance of 3 seats between families unless you have discussed sitting together with them
- Dismissing by rows after the service
You are encouraged to contact your shepherding elder or the church office if you have questions on concerns.
UPDATE // July 1, 2020
Dear ESPC Family,
We are continuing to navigate the COVID-19 situation in our own area. We are still conducting worship services at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We ask that you pray and make a wise decision about whether or not to worship with us. God has graciously protected our church family over these past months from the COVID-19 virus. Because of His protection, it is easy for us to think ‘business as usual’ when worshipping on campus. As we think of practical ways we can serve one another, please remember we are still worshipping with Phase 2 guidelines:
Phase II includes offering a nursery for attendees. Our plan is to stagger the use of rooms so your child will have a clean room and fresh toys. If you plan for your child to attend the nursery, please contact Anna (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Penny (@email@example.com). Please include a snack (peanut-free) and a labeled cup for your child. During this time, our volunteer base may be limited, so please be aware that parents may be asked to serve in the nursery more than once a quarter.
Beginning July 12th, for the first service (8:30 a.m.) only, we will be providing Children’s church for children ages PreK/K5 during the sermon time.
UPDATE // May 13, 2020
Dear ESPC Family,
As we continue to navigate this current COVID-19 situation, one of the questions I am frequently asked is, “When will we be able to worship on campus again?” For a Pastor, this is an encouraging question to hear!
This question has also been on the hearts of ESPC’s leadership. With that in mind, the Session has approved the ESPC Worship Committee’s recommendation to resume a measured and phased plan for on-campus worship beginning this Sunday, May 17.
Below are some of the details of Phase 1:
- We will have two worship services: our traditional service at 8:30 a.m. and our blended service at 11:00 a.m. Both the services will be live-streamed on our church website and Facebook for those who are not on campus.
- We will offer on-campus worship in multiple places on campus including the ESPC sanctuary, our overflow room (Room 8) and the FLC gym with the services simulcast from the sanctuary.
- We will abide by the social distancing recommendations issued by the State of Alabama:
- You may wear a face mask if you prefer. (Greeters and Ushers will be wearing face masks)
- Those with underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy are encouraged to continue worshipping online
- Those 65 or older are encouraged to continue worshipping online or in the sanctuary
- There will be no Sunday School, nursery, or Children’s Church
- Greeters and Ushers will assist and direct the flow of entering and exiting the worship spaces. The plan is to dismiss by rows following worship to allow for physical distancing.
- We will have no coffee or refreshments, nor will we be passing things in worship such as the offering plate. You will have the opportunity to give as you leave worship.
We ask that you remain at home if you or anyone you live with can answer “yes” to any of the following questions:
- Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
- Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
- Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
- Have you experienced new loss of taste or smell?
- Have you experienced vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
Here are some precautions that we are asking you to take when considering on-campus worship:
- Anyone who is not comfortable gathering with groups of any size is asked to continue to join via Livestream
- We are reserving the sanctuary for our vulnerable population. For those who consider themselves less vulnerable, please worship in the FLC gym
- We ask that you arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before the service
- We will have hand sanitizer available
- Please be mindful of what you touch
- Due to no children’s activities or nursery, please make sure that your children stay with you at all times
- We ask that you and your family stay 6 feet apart from others attending the worship gathering
- We ask that you keep two chairs separating you and your family from others
- Please wash your hands before and after using the restrooms
- When the service ends, please exit the facilities completely to allow our cleaning team to begin cleaning the facility. We will be cleaning the facilities as best as possible after each service. This will take many volunteers! If you’re interested in being a part of the cleaning team, please contact Chris Hinton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me add that no congregant should feel pressured to come to the worship services if they are uncomfortable worshipping on campus at this time. Please pray and evaluate your own personal situation. Our ESPC leadership encourages you to seek God and His wisdom. You won’t be “looked down on” for continuing to worship with your church family at home.
One final thought…
The Old Testament book of Ezra tells the story of the Israelites rebuilding the glorious temple of Solomon. When the builders laid the foundation, the priests came forward along with the musicians to praise and give thanks to God. Ezra tells us that many of the priests and others who had seen the original temple wept because the second temple didn’t compare with the first. That may well be our experience this Sunday. For those worshipping on campus, please don’t expect worship to be “how it was” before we suspended on-campus services. It will be different. Yet, as has been true in these past weeks, it will still be the case that we will be meeting with the true and living God this Sunday. As always, He is the focus of our worship.
Please contact Jason Henderly, Chairman of our Worship Committee (email@example.com) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or the church office at (251) 928-0977 if you have questions or need further information.
As always, I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday!