Dear Church Family,
It seems impossible that eight weeks have passed since we were together last! As we begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of this round of the Corona virus, we are mindful of the greatness of our God. We thank Him for His sustaining grace to us as a congregation. We are generally healthy and well. We bless His Holy Name for His faithfulness to attend to our needs. No one went without. We praise Him for His provision to His church. All of our church bills have been paid. While there are some, in our congregation, who are struggling with employment, we are truly a blessed people and proclaim, “all we have needed His hand has supplied and continues to supply!”
The Governor has extended a great deal of trust in the church to allow ‘worshipping communities’ to begin to gather so soon. My prayer is that his trust is not misplaced. So, to that end, we must adhere to the criteria and protocols established in the “Opening up Idaho” documents. First and foremost, all those considered “at risk” and vulnerable are strongly encouraged to remain at home! We plan to continue to stream our services and will do so indefinitely. Secondly, the Governor’s plan outlines that all individuals must continue to: engage in physical distancing, wear face coverings in public places, stay at home if sick, practice good hand hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, disinfect surfaces and objects regularly.
With these items to consider, and a myriad of others, our Church board met with Pastor Grady and me to formulate our first phase procedures. This will be a lengthy process. There will be no shortcuts to “return to normal” before it is advisable to do so.
The church offices are re -opening this week. Access will be limited to the reception window in the air lock of the front doors. Beginning MAY 31st we will offer onsite Sunday morning worship services at 9 and 11 in the Sanctuary. We are holding two service times because seating will be limited to adhere to the standards set by the Governor’s reopening plan. We will use the gym as overflow, if needed, for both service times, with projection of the service. Please note, we have deliberately put an hour between the services, NOT for fellowship, but to clean up, sanitize as needed, and be prepared for a second group. We trust you understand that there will be limited access to other parts of the building and some areas are closed, including the Library. Our Sunday School, Small groups and all other fellowships will continue ON LINE only.
Additional New Hope “norms” have to be altered to meet the established criteria. We will not provide a Nursery or Children’s Church program. Instead, Pastor Grady will be implementing a children’s segment in each worship service. There will be no Kitchen/Coffee service and the water fountains are off limits. So BYOB (pack it in, pack it out). There will be a restroom monitor, to keep these areas from becoming congested. As much as it pains me to write this next change, we cannot observe “meet and greet” in our usual manner. This is perhaps the most difficult restriction, as we are known for our warm, friendly, loving and inviting atmosphere. It is imperative we change our practice, if we are to remain open during this phase-in plan. For now, it will have to suffice, and be agreed to that we will wave to one another ONLY. This includes meeting and greeting upon arrival and departure. Likewise, Holy Communion and the receiving of Tithes and offerings will also be observed in different ways. I was reminded the other night that ‘different’ is not necessarily bad or good, it’s just different. Smile, take a deep breath! Do you remember the 11th beatitude? Its goes like this - “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.” As time goes on, we will make adjustments, as warranted, according to the ebb and flow of this pandemic, in accordance with the guidelines and criteria set before us. Let’s be good witnesses to our community as we strive to be good citizens. We will update our website and the church phone messages to reflect the revised schedule.
I trust you will be grateful for the opportunities we have to meet for worship, in person and remotely.
Thank you for being who you are – Christlike disciples of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
You are loved by Him and me!