During our May 13th Live Stream, Scott Kerr, Senior Pastor, shared the following information about Valley Creek’s plans to regather for in person worship services beginning Sunday, May 24th.
I want to thank you for taking the time listen to our discussion on the first phase of our regathering as a church. I emphasize regathering because the church has never closed. The church has continued to function since quarantine began, and it will always be open. Much of the church has been operating remotely in homes, including your homes, but it has been open. What we are looking forward to is regathering as a people. I also want to emphasize that what we are sharing at this time is the beginning phase of regathering. Things will change as circumstance change, and we cannot at this point say when or how. We are constantly having to be flexible and hope you will as well. We have seen how circumstances can change in an instant, so we have to be ready to adjust at times very quickly to meet ever changing circumstance.
Before I begin to share our plan let me remind you of a passage of scripture that can help guide us from 1 Corinthians 10 where it reads beginning in verse 23, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. By law, we could have regathered last Sunday as a body, but at that point, it would not have been helpful to our congregation. Before we regather, things need to be in place so that we can do our best to protect our church family and guests when they come. We would not have been ready last week. So, we want to operate based on what we believe is helpful, not necessarily lawful. Also, as we move forward we should all have the attitude that we want to seek the good of others not just ourselves. I share tonight with the reality that there are various opinions on gathering as a church family. There are some who feel like we should have never shut our doors while others feel like we should keep our doors shut for a much longer period of time. What we as a church family must do is respect the differing opinions that exist and not consider that your opinion is the only opinion that matters. We will have disagreement, but I pray that we can respect each other and honor one another. We must move forward with the goal of seeking not our own good but the good of our church family and our community as a whole.
With that said, here is our plan for initial regathering:
We will hold initial in-person worship gatherings beginning Sunday May 24th. These gatherings will be limited in size to assure proper social distancing, therefore, registration and assigned seating will be required. You will be able to register for one of our worship services starting tonight by going to our webpage (www.vcbc.org) and on the opening page scroll down and you will see there where to register. We will also be sending information out through our newsletter. We will currently be registering for our normal worship times at both locations. That is 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at our Springfield Road campus and 10:30 a.m. at our S. Wilson Campus. Should we reach capacity at those services we will add additional services to accommodate those who want to attend. If you will be flexible, you should be able to attend an in-person service. After you register we encourage you to continue checking your e-mail as we will send follow-up information to explain the process when you arrive and to communicate to you your seating assignment and suggested parking area.
We will also be continuing our 10:30 a.m. live stream from our Springfield Road campus. This live stream will be continuing indefinitely for those who do not feel comfortable in attending an in-person service or for those who cannot attend for other reasons such as not feeling well or being out of town for work. We intend to make the live stream experience a great worship experience as we move forward so if you make that choice you are not making a bad choice.
As we gather we strongly encourage those who are in a high-risk group to continue to worship with us on-line. You should not feel guilty about doing so and we completely support your decision to be safe worshipping at home. Again, we actually strongly encourage you to stay at home and worship for now if you are in a high risk group.
We also, encourage those who have concerns to stay at home. Like those in the high risk groups you do not need to feel guilty if you are not comfortable being in a group setting at this time. Join us online and continue to worship with us in this way until you are comfortable with the current circumstances. We are confident that day will arrive and hopefully soon.
If you are a person who has a fever, cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, had contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days you should not attend but instead worship with us online. This is a time for anyone feeling ill to take extra precaution. If there is any doubt about your health stay at home and worship online. You may be one who typically pushes through and toughs it out, but this is not the time to do that in a public gathering. Worship at home until you know you are well.
In this initial phase life groups will continue to meet virtually with no on-campus meetings. Until we are confident that groups can meet in more confined places we not have on campus small group meetings. There will also be no nursery, children, special needs, or student activities during services but they will continue to have virtual meetings until deemed safe to meet in person.
For those who attend we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear a face mask that you bring with you. If you do not wear a face mask you will be encouraged not to sing in order to protect others worshipping with you. This is again about caring and loving those around you as there is the possibility that increased droplets in the air from singing increases the risk of spreading the virus. We want people to sing so that is why we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask. I tried it this past Sunday myself to see what it is like and it is possible to worship the Lord wearing a mask.
In the parking lot we will be encouraging you to park leaving a space beside your vehicle to aid in social distancing while entering and exiting your vehicle. There will be signs in the parking lot to remind you of this precaution among others.
- We will also be taking the following steps to ensure the safety of those attending:
- There will be no handshakes or hugging. As much as some will want to do this, for now we must avoid. Wave and greet from a distance will be the normal for now, although congregating before and after services will not be allowed.
- Hand sanitizer in automatic dispensers will be readily available if needed.
- No offering plate will be passed. Members are encouraged to continue to give online but there will be an offering box for worshippers to place their offering in as they enter for worship.
- There will be no printed bulletins, but they will be made available electronically.
- When communion is celebrated, we will use individual packets initially until a better alternative is agreed upon. For now, communion will be done periodically instead of weekly.
- Guests will register via text, and the invitation will also be handled electronically for follow-up.
- Seating will be assigned so family units can sit together with proper social distance from others. Your seating assignment will be communicated in advance so you know where to go upon arrival, though ushers will be present to help seat you.
- Cleaning and sanitizing will be done between services to reduce the risk of the virus being present on surfaces.
- We will encourage all worshippers to use the restroom before coming because we will discourage the use of restrooms at this time. Should there be an emergency, the restrooms will be monitored and cleaned after use.
- Water fountains will not be in use.
- All volunteers and staff will wear face masks except when on stage and undergo temperature and health checks before being allowed to serve.
- Doors will be propped open at entry and exit. Also the front doors will close and be locked when service starts to assure security and safety of those in attendance.
- Upon dismissal ushers will dismiss a row at a time to assure social distancing, and during exiting, there will be multiple exit points to assist in quick exit.
After next Wednesday’s Bible Study, there will be no Wednesday night live stream during June and July. This is in keeping with our normal rhythm as well as to give our staff more time to prepare for the next phases of regathering.
With all this said I want to remind everyone this is the beginning phase of opening. As situations change, we will change with those new circumstances. Also, remember if you are not comfortable with the precautions we are taking, the live stream will continue into the future. You also need to be aware that some things that we are doing in the immediate will be temporary, while some things will stay as a new normal. What we will continue to ask for is patience and understanding as what we are facing is something that most of us have never faced before. So continue to pray for leadership to have wisdom and for us all to have love for each other.