On June 6th and 7th we will begin offering public, in-person services again for the first time in 12 weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has swept through our world. These have been extraordinary, unprecedented times, but you have risen to the occasion by trusting God and loving your neighbors. You have engaged faithfully and joyfully with online worship to a degree beyond what anyone anticipated. And you have continued to give generously and sacrificially to the mission. On behalf of all the staff, elders, deacons, and leaders of the church, thank you.
We know that there may still be difficult days ahead, and no one knows the future except God, but with the support of government officials and health experts, in conjunction with other sectors of our society, and after much prayer and planning, we believe it is time to move forward with reopening. Our hope is that through gradual phases we will return to a new normal concurrent with the beginning of school in August.
We want to reaffirm that anyone should feel complete freedom to continue online worship with no stigma attached. Sanctuary worship is not to be regarded as more faithful or obedient behavior; in fact, the decision to stay home may be the wise choice for many. Virtual worship will continue indefinitely, but it will not be available until Sunday mornings because the preaching will be recorded at the Saturday night service. If you are 65 and older, you are not forbidden to attend, we just want you to be particularly careful and we want to support your caution until you feel confident about returning. Special care will be taken to provide a safe environment for our children.
Linked below are three documents. The first is an overview of our plan in 3 Phases, with particular details related to Phases Two and Three (June and July). The second document outlines in brief what we are doing to keep you safe while on campus, and what you can do to keep others safe. You can expect to see this graphic displayed throughout the narthex. The third document goes into more details about the precautions that will be taken in children’s ministry. We will constantly be evaluating and assessing the situation and make appropriate changes to any of these plans as circumstances dictate.
Finally, a word about mask wearing. Unfortunately, like too many things, the decision to wear or not wear a mask in public has become politicized and a source of division. Current CDC guidelines encourage the use of a mask when social distancing is not possible, but your decision whether to wear one in worship remains a matter of personal choice that at this time we will not mandate. If you want to wear a mask then please feel free to do so.
If you have any questions or concerns, in a spirit of unity and love, please call the church office (352-746-6200) and one of us will be glad to speak with you. Later in the week we will send out a video that visually illustrates what you can expect if you decide to attend in-person worship. We are optimistically looking forward to what God has in store for Seven Rivers Church in the coming months.