NOTICE TO THE CONGREGATION OF NEW HOPE CHURCH
Greetings to New Hope OPC in Hanford, California!
We serve a gracious and living God and are thankful to him for sustaining His church during this COVID- 19 pandemic.
We are joyfully looking forward to transitioning into resuming corporate worship and plan to begin that transition on Sunday, June 14.
In advance of that date there are a number of things your Session would like to communicate to you in an effort to make this, Lord willing, a safe, smooth & successful transition and so you can be aware of what to expect for the near future.
We plan to regularly review & reevaluate these expectations and make adjustments when appropriate.
We welcome your input as we seek to make wise, careful, thoughtful decisions on if there are better ways to do certain things (Thank you to many of you who have provided insight & ideas already!!)
Our hope is we can take gradual steps and return to the manner in which we have traditionally worshiped.
We will strive to continue to seek a Biblical, Christlike balance between the two extremes of overreaction (fearful, extreme isolation) and under reaction (foolish, prideful immediate integration).
We are taking these measures in an attempt to ensure that the majority of congregation members are comfortable attending worship. If despite these measures, after prayerful consideration, you decide that it would be unwise to attend due to concerns of health or conscience, good on ya.
GUIDING PRINCIPLE - SCRIPTURE
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. –Philippians 2:3-4
Within our congregation, we likely have many perspectives, thoughts, feelings, theories, etc. (ranging from fear to denial) about the coronavirus.
Your Session would ask that you would keep the text above in mind as we move forward in this transition back to in-person worship in both what we say & how we act.
- Your session would ask that each member pray daily for discernment to recognize if he/she has been significantly exposed to the coronavirus and if so, to disqualify themselves from in-person worship for 14 days.
SERVICE PLACES & TIMES
- Morning Service
- Initially, we will begin by holding only ONE in-person service, at 11:00 a.m.
- For those not attending this service in-person, we will endeavor to upload the morning sermon to the church website immediately after the service (Sermons are available here)
- Evening Service
- For evening service we plan to pre-record the evening service for use with the digital bulletin as we have done over the past few months. (Available here)
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND NURSERY
- We will not be conducting any Sunday schools, for now, nor will we be providing nursery care at this time.
Your session would request that you wear a mask if attending the service.
We acknowledge there is debate about the efficacy of mask wearing please but would ask that everyone “mask up” in light of our guiding principle-Scripture.
We are concerned about someone choosing not to wear a mask potentially hindering another member from attending the service.
So, please, wear a mask. If you do not have a mask we will have some available at the church.
If for some reason you are unwilling to wear a mask, please elect to remain at home until you are willing to do so, or there is no longer that requirement.
The general guidance is to endeavor, at all times, to remain 6 feet from others that are not within your immediate family/household. Because, by God’s grace, we have a friendly and loving church, some will likely be tempted to hug, shake hands, etc. We would ask that we all keep each other accountable in honoring the 6 foot guidance.
- We will be utilizing only the front door to enter the church.
- The back door will be unlocked to comply with fire code but we would ask that no one use this door except in an emergency.
- BEFORE CHURCH FELLOWSHIP
- Please keep proper social distance when greeting & conversing with others.
- Choose an area to sit that is 6 feet or more from your closest “neighbor”
- Only members of the same family/household should be sitting within the social distance “bubble”
- We will not be printing & distributing bulletins.
- Bulletin information will be available digitally & will be projected on the big screen when appropriate.
- SINGING & RECITATION
- The current guidance from the medical community is that this virus is, most likely, transferred through airborne droplets. Accordingly, we are endeavoring to limit the activity that could potentially contribute to transmission.
- Any singing and/or recitation should be done with masks on.
- At this point, no hymnals will be distributed. Instead we will have the words to any songs we sing on the big screen.
- Bethel Curtis will be the designated piano player. We ask that no one else touch the piano
- EXIT & FELLOWSHIP
- At the conclusion of the service to avoid the temptation of gathering in groups within the church building, please exit the building.
- If you would like to fellowship with others outside we ask that you continue to be conscious of keeping a healthy distance. This is especially important, as our behavior will be “on display” for any public that passes by and we want to set an example that is God honoring.
TITHES & OFFERINGS
- As is our practice, we will have the collection box in the back of the sanctuary. Only one person will set up the collection box and this same individual will be taking sanitization measures before, during and after handling the box. You are still able to give as you have in the past few months by using online service or mailing checks.
- As the restroom is a confined space, please endeavor to limit the number of people in the restroom at one time (ideally, it is one at a time).
- After using the restroom, please wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. You can use humming a verse & chorus of “Jesus Loves Me” as a “timer.”
- Prior to the service, we will sanitize all high touch surfaces in the building (light switches, door handles, bathroom surfaces, pews, microphones, etc.)
- After the service, we will repeat the sanitation process.
We are aware that this transition time will be somewhat different from a normal worship so if, throughout this time, you have any questions or concerns about meeting together, please feel free to reach out to one of the Elders or contact session here.