COVID-19 Plan to Re-engage

COVID-19 Plan to Re-engage

Updated May 14, 2020

Thank you for visiting Higher Ground Church, where we hope to point people towards “finding refuge in Christ.”

Given the recent change in the City of Columbia guidelines, we have set in motion a plan to re-engage in fellowship. We hope this plan shows a balanced and faith-filled, responsible approach to returning to in-person worship services at HGC. We continue to ask for your prayers as we move ahead, acknowledging this plan may change as we see the effects of our city reopening during the Covid-19 pandemic. We understand that everyone is coming from different perspectives and circumstances, so if you are uncomfortable returning on May 24th to our in-person worship service, we invite you to continue to join us via Facebook live @HigherGroundChurchMO.

Covid-19 Re-engagement Outline

Guideline Principles, factors considered:

  • The safety of Higher Ground Church members and our community
  • Biblical mandates for fellowship and gatherings
  • Our public witness
  • The prayerful wisdom of the pastors and members
  • The needs and circumstances of our members
  • The latest CDC, State, and Local governmental authority guidelines

IMPORTANT:

  • IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS AT ALL, PLEASE DO NOT COME TO THE BUILDING! HGC RESERVES THE RIGHT TO TURN THOSE AWAY SHOWING ANY SYMPTOMS.
  • TEMPERATURES TAKEN FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALLERGY SYMPTOMS, ETC.
  • TIME DURATIONS ARE APPROXIMATE AND WILL CHANGE ACCORDING TO LOCAL GUIDELINES.

Phase I: PREPARATION 1

(approx. 2 wks)

Volunteer Staff: Reintroduce support staff, group not to exceed City Order limits.

  • Limits for the sanctuary is 25% of fire code (125 people)
  • Practicing social distancing and wearing masks when applicable.
  • Obtain supplies for reopening in two weeks.
  • We will disinfect entrance and sanctuary before and after service.

Congregation: NO IN-PERSON SERVICE

Childcare / Sunday School:

  • Not provided at this time in building
  • 2:00 pm Sunday School lesson via Zoom; please inquire for info.

Youth Group/College Ministry/Community Group:

  • Zoom meetings

Phase II: RETURN TO FELLOWSHIP

(approx. 2 months / starting May 24th)

Volunteer Staff:

  • Wearing masks/bandanas and gloves (MANDATORY)
  • Taking temperatures of those who appear symptomatic (cough or allergies)
  • Hand sanitizer application
  • Holding doors open to prevent members touching them (entrance and sanctuary)
  • Limit for the sanctuary is 25% of fire code (125 people)

Coffee Connection:

  • Not offered

Congregation:

  • “AT RISK MEMBERS” ENCOURAGED NOT TO ATTEND!
  • Wearing masks/bandanas (MANDATORY – for children also over 2 years old)
    • Mask provided for safety to asymptomatic members
      • We encourage you to bring your own masks, but we will have supplies.
    • Use hand sanitizer
    • Minimal touching of surfaces
  • Practicing social distancing
    • Every other row removed
    • Sitting in family units (optional alt: Families in back on blankets and/or pack and plays to provide boundary for children)
  • We will disinfect entrance and sanctuary before and after service.

Pre/Post Service Fellowship:

  • Doors to church will be opened 10 minutes before service starts
    • Members are asked to make their way to their seats
  • Members will be encouraged to step outside of the church to congregate in the parking lot. We feel this is the safest way to interact after church. Social distancing practiced.

Childcare / Sunday School:

  • Not provided at this time in building
    • Sound will be provided in the Fellowship Hall for the parents of children who need to step out.
    • Room for blankets in the back of the room, if helpful for children
    • Please bring your own coloring pages and silent entertainment.
  • 2pm Sunday School lesson via Zoom
    • See bulletin for information

Youth Group/College Ministry/Community Group:

  • Return to in-person/zoom meeting (hybrid)
  • Practicing social distancing

Phase III: FULL FELLOWSHIP RESTORED

(following city officials’ recommendations)

Volunteer staff:

  • Wearing masks/bandanas and gloves (optional)
  • Hand sanitizer application
  • Holding doors open (entrance and sanctuary)
  • Limits for the sanctuary is 25% of fire code (125 people)

Congregation:

  • Practicing social distancing
    • Every other row removed
    • Sitting in family units (optional alt: Families in back on blankets and/or pack and plays to provide boundary for children)
  • Masks provided for safety of asymptomatic members (optional)
    • We encourage you to bring your own masks, but we will have supplies.
    • Use hand sanitizer
    • Minimal touching of surfaces
  • “At Risk” members returning as comfortable (optional alt: broadcast to Fellowship Hall)

Coffee Connection:

  • Individual coffees served
  • Individual snacks served
  • Water bottles

Child Care:

  • Resumes following city official’s guidelines

Sunday School:

  • To resume at the beginning of the school year

Facebook Live:

  • Streaming services continue

Youth Group/College Ministry/Community Group:

  • Return to in-person/zoom meeting (hybrid)
  • Practicing social distancing

Further encouragement

Like Peter, if we take our eyes of Christ in the middle of any storm, it’s easy to sink into anxiety and unrest. I read an exhortation today from a fellow pastor Tom Short saying, “Don’t allow the world and the things it throws at you to rob you of the peace Jesus gives.” He is still good, in control and we can “cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.”

However, it’s incomplete to just say “trust the Lord” because He calls us to be wise and take action that we know is correct and loving for our neighbor. As we think about others first, let’s start by following the guidelines our officials have given us. We have done our best at HGC to remain informed and maintain a balanced view in our responses to the current circumstances around COVID-19.

I can’t stress how important it is to maintain fellowship during stressful times. We weather the storms far better together than in isolation. In particular, join us on Friday evenings for weekly Community Group (Zoom link will be kept updated on that page).

Giving

As the Lord leads, please feel free to give – online, via online banking, by way of the Planning Center app, or by mail.

Social media and the web

In a time of distancing it is easy to get out of a schedule and find yourself being absorbed into online scanning and informational overload, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed. While it is important to stay informed, I want to encourage everyone to unplug, maybe checking in a few times a day on sites that are trusted and reputable. Here are a few that I have been following.

Instead of getting absorbed by cyberspace, spend extended times with the Lord, read a book, go for a walk, draw, sing, exercise, and reach out to those you know who are going to be having a difficult time during this new normal.

In Conclusion

As the situation continues to develop, we are committed to caring for the church’s spiritual needs through online gatherings, phone calls, and other resources. If you find yourself in need or just feeling overwhelmed or lonely, please feel free to give me a call at 573.590.0236. I would love to talk, go for a walk, or pray with you.


Pastor Adam Snell
Higher Ground Church