A Letter From Pastor Andy
Dear SBFN Family,
Let me first share with you very warm gratitude from myself, the SBFN staff, and the SBFN church board for your faithfulness during this unusual time. We have heard from so many of you about your prayers for us and for one another. We have heard great stories of people reaching out to our SBFN family and others with the love of Christ. Many of you have worked on projects around the building maintaining it for when we reopen. You have been faithful to God through your tithes and offerings which have helped us to continue to be faithful by funding our denomination’s mission budget supporting missionaries around the world, paying our budgets and bills on time, paying our staff, and maintaining our local ministry and outreach as best we can. THANK YOU!
It is my joy to share with you the good news that SBFN will be opening its doors for Sunday morning worship gatherings this coming Sunday, May 31 st —Pentecost Sunday: the day during which we commemorate and celebrate the Holy Spirit being poured out upon Christians as they were gathered together in prayer in one place (Acts 2:1-4). We are very excited to be able to worship together in-person with you, our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ, once again. The service (NO Sunday School) will begin at 10:15 a.m. and doors will open 15 minutes prior.
It has been a long journey to this point. Many people have suffered and are suffering as a result of the Covid-19 disease. We believe that now more than ever people need to hear and experience the Truth and Hope of the Gospel which gives us hope and confidence in our future with Christ, come what may. Through all of the challenges, a strong confidence in God’s providence has permeated my spirit and the spirits of many of you to whom I’ve spoken personally. As many of you heard me share in my sermon online a couple of weeks ago, Psalm 46 has been a great encouragement to me:
The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress . . .
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:6-7, 10
To be brief, the following pages contain our process and requirements for reopening for in-person worship gatherings. After consultation with the Nazarene district leadership, the SBFN pastoral staff, the SBFN church board, and in conjunction with the guidelines offered by the State of Indiana’s “Back on Track Indiana” program as well as Brotherhood Mutual, our insurance provider, the SBFN church board has made a unanimous decision to begin holding worship gatherings at the church building again beginning on May 31 st.
I kindly ask that you would take a few minutes to carefully read the guidelines on the following pages. We would love very much if you would be able to join us in-person for worship, but we recognize that many of you may still feel safer, even after reading the guidelines, and choose to stay home. We strongly encourage you to do what you feel safest doing. We also recognize that we cannot possibly protect every sing person from potential sickness, regardless of all of the safety measures we take. Although we are doing our best to be safe, we need you to recognize and take personal responsibility for your the level of risk that you are willing to assume.
So, if after reading the following pages, you do not feel like you are ready to join together in-person at this time, we very much respect and encourage that decision and look forward to a time in the future when the hope of worshiping together in-person will become a reality.
This annoucement and these guidelines, in addition to being sent by mail, will also be made by e-mail, text, and on SBFN’s Facebook page. If you know someone who will not be reached by ANY of these means, please feel free to pass along this information to them.
Again, I am joyfully looking forward to seeing each of you again in-person in the near future for we are part of one Body (Ephesians 4:4). As the writer to the Hebrews encourages us, “let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (10:25). I’ll see you soon!
Following Jesus with you,
Pastor Andy Lauer
Guidelines for Reopening Worship Gatherings
Things to Know Ahead of Time:
- We cannot anticipate and/or mitigate every possibility—too many variables and unknowns.
- We are doing our best to practice safe guidelines according to our State and Local guidance.
- We encourage you to realize that no amount of caution and mitigation is infallable. There is always the real possiblity that apart from zero-contact isolation, someone could become sick.
- You should make the best choice for you—you assume any risk or liability for attending.
- In-person gatherings are not mandatory; they are a choice
- Some form of the service will be available online if you choose not to participate in-person
- Guidelines will be posted at the church as they have been included here. You will be agreeing to participate according to those guidelines should you choose to attend.
- The wearing of masks and/or gloves will be optional. They will NOT be required.
- If you are of an older age (Indiana suggests 65+) or have a health condition that puts you more at risk, please strongly consider joining us online for the time being instead of in-person.
- If you are exhibiting any symptoms of sickness, please stay home.
- Services will begin at 10:15 a.m. There will be NO Sunday morning Sunday School, ABFs, Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministries, or Nursery until further notice. (Youth Ministries may have other events outside of Sunday morning. A parent-signed release form may be required for youth event participation.)
- Parents will be solely responsible to monitor their own children while at the church building.
IMPORTANT—Before You Continue Reading:
- If you do NOT wish to abide by any of the following guidelines or are concerned about anything mentioned above, we encourage you simply to participate from home rather than joining us in person until the guidelines change or you feel more comfortable with them.
- Please follow ALL guidance by staff, ushers, or members of our CERT Team. They are here to help ensure that everything happens smoothly and safely.
Things to Know When You Arrive:
- Park in the rear of the building. Side doors will NOT be unlocked.
- Doors to the building will be unlocked 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the worship service.
- Enter by rear doors, using the right-most set of doors.
- Please practice safe physical distancing the entire time you are at the church building.
- Please wash your hands or utilize hand sanitizer immediately upon entering the building.
- After doing so, please proceed directly to the sanctuary and enter through the doors at the back of the sanctuary.
- Please look for signs on the pews that indicate the following: “Individual/Couple” or “Family Seating 3+” and sit in those specific spots while maintaining a safe physical distance from others (6+ feet).
- If you need them, restrooms will be open. Please practice safe distancing and use common sense.
- Food and drinks will not be available before or during the service.
Things to Know During Worship:
- Maintain proper distance at all times.
- Do not move from your location after sitting down except to use the restroom or leave.
- Please do not give hand shakes or hugs to those outside of your family.
- Please recognize that we will be singing during this time: Singing = more breath in air.
- Masks are optional; they are NOT required.
- Tithes and offerings will be collected via locked boxes on the walls by rear sanctuary doors.
- At the end of our time together, you will be dismissed by rows, beginning from the back of the sanctuary. Please maintain appropriate distance as you leave.
- Please do NOT stop and talk in the sanctuary or the lobby.
- Exit by using the right-most set of doors to the parking lot.
- If you wish to fellowship, and we hope you do, we encourage you to fellowship outside in the parking lot as long as you want while maintaining safe distances.
Things to Know for the Future:
- All publically-used areas will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between services.
- We will continue to follow these guidelines as long as recommended and as long as the board decides they are necessary.