Next Sunday evening, June 21, 2020 at 6:00 is the first time in three months at least some of our congregation will be permitted to gather in-person in the church building for a worship service. In accordance with a plan presented by our elders on June 3rd, the first segment of the church will be invited to gather that evening, then another group added week-by-week until the entire congregation is back.
The elders have designated 5 groups within the congregation as follows:
- Group S [ages 65 and above];
- Group C [ages 45-65];
- Group A [ages 18-45];
- Group B+ [ages 18-45 with children]; and
- Group X [any age with potential health issues]
These groups are invited back for services, one-by-one, beginning with Group “S” next Sunday evening. The following week will include “S” and “C” etc. As the number grows from week to week, the situation will be monitored and adjusted if needed. If there is any flareup of the virus or change in governmental guidelines, the plan can be adjusted. Once all groups are back, the Sunday morning assembly will be resumed, as well as the children’s Bible classes. Some Changes
We will notice some changes when we get back together. There have been some improvements made in the auditorium during this time, including drywalling of the front and rear, and adjustment of the pews. New carpeting in the auditorium is also being installed this week.
But these physical improvements will be accompanied by some less desirable changes. There will be seating restrictions at first, addressing the need to maintain distance. Changes in the order of worship have been made in order to eliminate passing trays for the Lord’s Supper and the contribution. There will be no receiving line with hand shaking, and socializing within the building will be limited. The duration of these changes remains to be seen.
Another change involves our emphasis upon broadcasting the worship services. There will be more concern for timeliness, beginning and ending punctually, and using the time efficiently. There will be reduced oral announcements, especially those which identify members by name. All of us will be reminded that there are multiple viewers watching and listening to the service online, many of whom are not members.
All of these changes will be noticeable, but none of them will be earth-shattering. None of them will be unscriptural or in violation of God’s word. It will be possible to see and understand the rationale, and the careful planning which has gone into these changes. A Challenging yet Exciting Time
This is a challenging yet exciting time for the Central congregation. Challenging, in that, like other congregations, we have had circumstances thrust upon us which we did not request or anticipate. We have had to adjust and make changes as required in order to comply with governmental mandates and to be respectful of one another’s health and safety. Some of these changes have been difficult, and some, thankfully, are temporary.
But it is also an exciting time for the church here. God is looking out for us, and many of the improvements which have been made were being planned or implemented long before this virus arose. The situation has presented us with amazing opportunities, and our circumstances have required us to pick up the pace in some areas. Some of these changes possibly should have been made before. At any rate, they reflect a strong commitment to serve and worship God in the most effective and acceptable manner possible.
It may be challenging to come back together, resuming a normal and faithful routine of attendance. It will require courage, determination and faith. But it will be exciting as we see new possibilities and continued growth going forward.
-By Robert C. Veil, Jr.