Update on Reopening & Regathering
From: Mark Hutton
First, let me say thank you for your warm and gracious welcome. My first month or so with you has been fantastic. Central is truly a wonderful, healthy, Christ-loving church and I’m humbled and grateful to be part of things here for the interim. Thank you for a gracious welcome.
Second, thank you for your patience as I work with Central’s leaders to figure out how to reopen the building and begin regathering safely – amid COVID. We put together a small team to help us implement, tweak, and communicate the plans formulated earlier. Our team has helped us to step into the issue safely, responsibly, and most importantly – prayerfully. Attached and pasted to the end of this note, you should find a letter that outlines the plan that we feel moves us forward.
If the letter or our plan raises questions or concerns for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Members of our team will also be able to answer your questions as well. Please know that as much as we are trying to move forward safely, more than anything else, we want to honor the Lord and serve His people well.
Peace to you –
Monday, October 19, 2020
Dear Central Family,
Central’s leadership and staff have formulated a plan to reopen the building and I’m excited to share this update with you. We have formed a COVID-19 Advisory Team made up of leaders and staff, including myself, Pastor Andy, Elders Kim Turner and Dave Pantzer, Deacon George Kennedy, Staff members Linda Ferree and Jim McClure, and Central leaders and medical experts, Lee Biddison, and John Aucott.
The team met and agreed to reopen the building in phases which will allow us to control the numbers of people in the building so we can contain and trace any exposures. Phase 1 will begin on Sunday, October 25th.
Phase 1 – Staff and Internal Ministry Groups in the Building
Staff has the option of working in the building or remotely, and Central affiliated groups may use the building with approval and in adherence with guidelines approved by the COVID-19 Advisory Team. The Neighborhood Group meeting at the Pavilion each week may now use the building. Central will host a Women’s Retreat on November 14th – both in-person and online. The elders have planned a one-day retreat in the building on November 7th. Women on Wednesday and other ministries may begin using rooms in the building if they desire to do so. Student Ministry will adhere to the plans already in place for the fall. Children’s Ministry will not meet in the building during Phase 1 or 2.
Phase 2 (concurrent with Phase 1) – New Worship Opportunities/Sacred Spaces
At this time, our main Sunday worship service will continue to be available exclusively via live stream on Sundays at 9:30 am. The worship team is also planning to create sacred spaces throughout the week. One example being considered is to open the Worship Center or Sanctuary at various times during the week for an hour or so with a musician playing, allowing time for prayer, and or listening to scripture readings. These Sacred Spaces may allow us to continue small worship gatherings in the event of an uptick in COVID cases.
Phase 3 – Fully Regathering for Sunday Worship
We hope to regather for Sunday morning worship sometime in January 2021. This phased-in plan will give us time and experience with new protocols to make sound decisions, following the advice of the advisory team, about regathering for in-person worship. We will also make every effort to develop hybrid worship – where people can either live-stream the service or attend in person. It is important to maintain the live-stream option for individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 and those who may not be comfortable returning to in person worship. This phased-in plan is necessary to begin to safely gather together in small groups, which will help to keep us in compliance with Baltimore County Department of Health’s request to avoid large gatherings. Most importantly, this plan affords us opportunities to develop new habits to know Jesus and make Him known. Recently, I challenged you to Pause and Pray 3 times a day – at 8:30 am (focused on teachers, students, parents, administrators), 12 noon and 5:00 pm. I am also encouraging you to be prepared for each Sunday’s message by reading the Scripture text during the week. Another way of knowing Jesus and making him known is to carve out sacred spaces in our lives each week, which is something we plan to help facilitate.
If you have any questions, please contact me. I’d be happy to speak with you.