As I write this, we are looking forward to reopening and meeting together in person, inside our building, for the first time since March. If you ever told me I would write that to our church family in May of the year, I would never have believed it. But that’s the case and I’m excited to see you soon.
Looking forward, however, I know many of our church family deal with some challenges that make reopening less exciting. You or someone close to you may struggle with health concerns that makes people vulnerable to exposure from the Coronavirus. That’s why our deacons and I got together to discuss plans for reopening High Peak Baptist Church in a responsible way that keeps in minds the health needs and concerns of everyone in our church family. I want to share those plans in this letter. We have done our best to think of everything, but we’re far from perfect so be patient with us.
Know that our janitors are going to make sure the building is cleaned and sanitized well before and after services. We will have sanitizer all throughout the building. Consider the following plans from our deacons and pastor as we look at reopening this week:
- Entering and Exiting the Facility – We’ve all seen the signs in the grocery stores asking us to adhere to “one-way” aisles in the store. We’re going to do the same. When you enter the building please user front door facing High Peak Road and enter through the right-hand side of the three doors. It will be propped open, so you don’t have to touch door handles. As you exit the building please use the left-hand doors on the front of the building or the doors on the back in our fellowship hall. Please do not enter through the fellowship hall doors or the youth room doors. These will stay locked. You can exit through them but not get back in.
- Use Sanitizer Often – Upon leaving the bathrooms or anytime you touch a doorknob, please use hand sanitizer for your own protection. We will place some in key traffic areas and will keep as many doors propped open as possible.
- Avoid Handshakes, Hugs or Other Physical Contact – Just because you feel comfortable doing these things, doesn’t mean everyone does. So, for a while, we ask that you avoid them for the peace of mind of all attendees.
- Offering Collection – We won’t collect an offering to avoid passing plates. Collection plates will be placed on the front altar table and we ask that you leave your offering there before or after the worship service.
- Social Distancing & Traffic Flow – Do your best to enter and immediately be seated in the sanctuary. We know that you will want to mingle and talk. Consider doing this outside before or after the service is over and stay 6 feet apart. When you move through our sanctuary use a counterclockwise flow. Move forward using the right-side aisles as you look at the pulpit. Use the left-hand side for moving towards the back of the room. This will help us maintain social distancing.
- Bathrooms – Of course the bathrooms are open, but please avoid using them unless you must. Also be careful to maintain distance and wash hands and/or sanitize after you exit.
- Face Masks – The use of face masks is optional. If we maintain social distancing, this should not be a concern.
No one likes having to worry about any of these things, but we do so to show love and consideration for our church family. We hope that some time in the next year we’ll be able to gather at the altar in close quarters and pray for someone. We look forward to greeting each other with a hug or hearty handshake. However, until then your health is our number 2 priority second only to honoring our Savior in worship.
We will only start meetings with Sunday morning worship at 11:00 a.m. and Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m., during which I will continue to teach the Sunday School lessons. We want to have Sunday school classes and youth and children’s groups but believe it’s best to wait a little while longer. We also are not holding Sunday evening services to limit the number of times people encounter one another.
Remember, that we will continue to stream our services on Facebook live. We had a lot of trouble with this during the outdoor drive-in worship services. I’m sorry for that. However, the equipment used indoors is more reliable so it will improve going forward. If you don’t feel comfortable attending services yet, then please watch online at www.facebook.com/highpeakchurch at 11 a.m. on Sundays and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
We are a church family and many of these issues can potentially cause conflict because people have strong feelings. Let us love one another and consider the feelings people have ahead of our own.
Remember what 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a says.
4- Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5- is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6- Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7- It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8- Love never ends.
The Coronavirus will end, and we will be here on the other side, if Jesus should delay his return. As your pastor, I love you and our deacons love you. We want the best for everyone, and we hope these guidelines will ensure that is possible. We may have missed something, but we ask that you bring those concerns to us first. We want to be responsive to your needs.
With much love and anticipation,
Your Pastor, Dr. Kevin Purcell