We are all anxious to gather together again soon. Our desire is to proceed with wisdom, considering the needs of our entire congregation. Resources and consideration have been given to suggestions by Christian Law Association, Family Research Council, Center for Disease Control, National Center for Life and Liberty, other churches, our insurance company, as well as National, State, and County recommendations. Our plan includes the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Our goal is to maintain a good witness to our surrounding community.
I am thankful for the recent announcement from the president that churches are considered essential. We have always believed that. The statement was not a presidential mandate and the entire announcement included his desire that local and state governments would also open our churches. That will continue to be our prayer for the churches across our nation. Our plan is to follow the Lord, keep our members safe, and try to honor our leaders (in that order). When we moved to online services in March it wasn’t because of a required government shutdown, our motivation concerned the safety of our members. We have always had a biblical command to gather (Hebrews 10:25). We have been obeying that command with online services. We also believe that we have a constitutional right to gather and worship God according to the dictates of our heart and belief. As we prepare to open our building and have services we are striving to be as safe, or safer, than any of our local building supply, grocery, or shopping centers. There are several things that will need to take place in order for that to happen, and that is where your assistance and help will come into place.
The building has now been deep cleaned and sanitized, especially everything that can be touched. Sanitization practices will continue to take place between every service. As you enter the building, hand sanitizer will be available and we encourage people to use it. Please do not attend if you have a temperature or any flu like symptoms. It would help if you checked your temperature before leaving home. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, or are exhibiting any symptoms, we ask that you not physically attend a worship service until symptom free for 14 days. Social distancing protocols of six feet will be implemented. We encourage you to continue safety protocols of washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes. We ask for non-contact greetings. Greeters will remain six feet from guests. Ushers will not be holding doors open or shaking hands. Doors on south side will be locked open as people enter and exit when weather permits. Bulletins will not be provided. Announcements will be scrolling on PowerPoint. Bibles and songbooks will not be available in back of pew. Initially, seating will be in family groups utilizing every other pew. We request that cars park in every other parking space.
We will ask everyone to be considerate, respectful and kind of the concerns of others: social distancing, masks, etc… It appears wearing a mask, at least upon entering and exiting the building, is more beneficial to others. If you prefer to wear a mask that is great, but we ask for you to provide and bring it with you. Masks will not be provided at the church. No one will be refused entry for not wearing a mask. We are not qualified to judge the medical need for wearing a mask. Many in our congregation do not feel the need to wear a mask; while many don’t feel safe or comfortable in a crowd without wearing one, or where numerous people are not wearing masks. The scriptures plainly instruct those with freedom in a given matter to practice restraint for the sake of those who don’t have that same freedom (Acts 15:1-33; 16:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8, 9). Further, the teaching of Christ (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31) and His example (Philippians 2:3-8) compels us to place the needs of others before our “rights.” Please be respectful of differing opinions, and above all let’s consider one another’s safety.
Initially, there will be limits on how many may use the bathroom (every other stall and sink) and volunteers wearing mask will be asked to sanitize handles and monitor between services. We encourage you to use your facilities at home before coming to church to minimize on-campus use. We will ask for volunteers to help with ongoing sanitization during services. We need you to contact us now if you will be available, and what times, for this ministry. We will not be passing an offering plate. If you prefer to give at church a box will be placed at the back of the auditorium. Online giving will remain available. Nurseries and child care will not be provided during soft opening.
If you are in a high risk category our Sunday 11:00 a.m. and Wednesday 7:00 p.m. live-stream services will continue, and we strongly encourage you to continue attending our online services. Kansas classifies high-risk individuals as those with underlying medical conditions, including, chronic lung disease, asthma, heart conditions, severe obesity, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or otherwise immuno-compromised.
The state and county phases have continued to change; therefore the following represents the reopening plan of Overland Park Baptist.
Our current plan is to start with two services on June 7th, 2020. There will be no Sunday evening services at the church through June, or online, during the time we are offering multiple morning services. Wednesday Bible studies will continue online and 11:00 a.m. live streaming will continue.
9:30 a.m. – Only for those 60 and older, or those in an at risk category, (with the exception of Pastor and staff). If you feel you have a health risk we would encourage you to return only when you feel safe. No other guests should attend this service.
11:00 a.m. – The rest of the congregation is asked to attend this service. It is okay if your child remains with you in the service. Between each service we will dismiss by rows and families to maintain social distancing. We request that you exit quickly between services to allow time for sanitization and next group to enter the parking lot and building. We ask for no congregating in the foyer and to continue social distancing. We will not yet be offering nursery and preschool ministries. Anyone can attend these services.
After the soft opening we will gradually phase in extra morning services if needed, Children’s Church, teen ministries, and then move to normal scheduled services, Sunday School, children’s ministries and activities as safety protocols permit. Sanitization, safety and social distancing protocols will continue to be maintained as needed. 11:00 a.m. live streaming will continue. After each Sunday we will reevaluate where we are at and how to adjust our services.
Continue to pray.
Call the church if you are willing to assist with sanitization between services and provide specific times (We need this in place before opening). Those assisting with ushering and sanitization will be asked to wear masks because of potential for closer proximity to guest.
Consider the best time for your family to initially attend services. If you are in a high risk category please continue to join and interact with our services online.
We believe this plan provides for the safety of those who are ready to return to worship. Your prayers are appreciated as we continue to navigate through these unusual times. Some things will have to be adjusted as we move forward. “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
Love you all, and long to see you.