Greetings Community Family,
We want to share some important information about the coming back plan for Community.
There is something special that happens when the body of Christ is physically together. There is a power, a strength, a connection that comes when disciples of Christ gather together physically. We have been missing that and we know you have been missing that as well.
However, during this Covid season, coming back together is not as simple as just sharing a date and opening the doors wide. There are new precautions that must be followed given by the medical community and specifically by our Conference Office. Those precautions include the wearing of face masks by all people when inside the buildings here at church. It includes the practicing of social distancing at all times – whether we are in our meeting spaces or traveling down the hallways or our elevator. It means we still refrain from our common greetings of handshakes and hugs and instead use words and a wave, or the traditional bow of reverence.
For us here, with a church our size, those precautions will at times encompass group sizes that number hundreds and hundreds of people. And those hundreds and hundreds of people are our family and people we love. People that have varying health situations, preferences, and degrees of vulnerability. Any plan we introduce for coming back together has to take each and every one of those aspects into consideration. We want you to be safe when you are here, and we want you to trust that all the members of your church family take these precautions seriously and will abide by them so that safety and love of one another can be felt throughout the body.
So based upon a recommendation from our Coming Back Team that includes lay leaders, representatives from all services, ministry areas, staff members, and the pastors, and with the blessing of our Connect Pillar, we have a plan to share with you. As a way to begin to claim that connection again and to make sure we are ready, we are starting small. On July 12th we will begin opening up the campus for church related in-person small groups. This will include previously established ministry groups, discipleship groups and any other small sized groups that want to form and come to campus and meet masked face to masked face. If your group wants to take advantage of this opportunity, appoint a contact person or leader and have them call the church office. We want to make sure we do not have all the groups here at the same time, we want to make sure have a room that will hold your group and allow you to socially distant during your time, so that everyone can remain safe. We will also go over the steps that will need to be followed while you are here, so we are all on the same page and safe.
For those that want that connection and are just not ready to be face to face yet, and we know that are many of you that feel that way, on July 12th we are also launching Zoom Church. Basically, instead of watching the Live Stream on your own, we will resource and train a leader to gather a group and watch the service via zoom together. The wonderful thing about Zoom is after the service you can stay connected and chat with each other about the service and how God spoke to you through it. If that is something you would like to be a part of, call a group of friends, decide on a day and time – it does not have to be Sunday Morning since all of our services are recorded – and then let the church office know. If that day and time are free then we will get you the information you need to sign on to our church Zoom account, provide any training you need, and you and your group can start meeting. The great thing about Zoom church is that it is incredibly flexible. A group can share leadership and meet whenever is convenient for the group. So if this is for you, then start calling your friends and get on the church Zoom calendar soon so you can get the date you want.
We are also working on a few other ways to help us engage in the practices we miss and see each other on campus so make sure you are signed up for our church wide email chain and stay tuned to our webpage and social media for the latest info.
Now if these small group meetings go well, we do not experience a bout of community spread of the virus, then we can move to in-person worship in a matter of weeks later versus months later. We are watching the numbers statewide climb at a record pace. We are also watching the numbers in the zip codes that surround Fruitland Park and those are climbing every day as well by double digits. This has recently resulted in the Florida Department of Health putting out an advisory that group limits not exceed 50 people. So just as small groups have precautions to follow, an in-person worship service with more people will have even more precautions. Including reserving a seat for worship to control capacity, no passing of common elements, no passing of the peace, and no congregational singing to name the big ones. With a group that size, we must be certain we are ready and we can be safe, so we will start small.
In the meantime, we will continue to offer on-line worship, bible studies, and devotions each and every week. We will continue to have a way for folks to call in and listen to the 11am Sunday service each week, we will continue to monitor this situation and make the best decisions we can based upon the medical advice and directives given by our Conference Office. This situation is very fluid and has and will continue to change rapidly.
We are grateful for how you have supported the church through this time, and ask that you continue to do so, so our ministries can continue, our mission can carry on, and we work towards that day when we will gather together.
Please continue to look out for each other, stay connected with the church, and know that we love you all!
Pastors Debbie, Daryl, and CJ
This is your community, United!