Previous Update from Staff & Elders 12/5/2020
See the information below for details about Sunday services and large and small group gatherings at Freshwater in the coming weeks.
I would imagine you were expecting some form of communication given that Medina County and other counties around us just went “Purple” with the Ohio Health Advisory map. We all know the news that Covid cases are spiking, medical staff is stretched incredibly thin, and hospitals are hitting maximum capacity if not beyond that. In addition, going “Purple” triggered the decision to push schools online.
I’m sure many of you are wondering what Freshwater is going to do. Before I answer that, let me just refresh our guiding principles that we’ve been using during this pandemic. We do want to emphasize the cumulative impact on the emotional and mental health of people now nine months downstream of this pandemic. Depression and anxiety have been increasing and it’s coming into play more than ever.
Fellowship and Worship:
- The biblical mandate is so clear that God calls us to gather to worship Him with His family.
- Physical Health / Safety
- Mental / Emotional Health
- What is the direction our governor and president are leading us? If this doesn’t lead us to disobey the Bible, we are called to follow.
- What is the general perception of the culture in our local communities?
- What are the schools doing?
- How is our witness?
We believe we need to join our community and governor in helping our hospitals and front-line medical workers so we will NOT be gathering on Sunday mornings while we are in “Purple”. It takes away our largest gathering where the risk is the greatest in terms of exposure. As soon as our county goes back to “Red” (usually announced on Thursdays) the immediate Sunday after that announcement we will be gathering in-person to worship. Going “Purple” is at minimum two weeks and then week-to-week after that according to the stats.
We believe that we need to allow for the smaller group contexts to still meet with a serious commitment to social distancing and wearing masks. The smaller groups (15 or less) will help towards the emotional, spiritual, and mental health aspects. So that means Youth Ministry (on Sunday nights) and Children’s Ministry (on Wednesday nights) will adapt to a small group style. Community groups and Bible studies will continue on as long as they meet the criteria.
We have no illusions that we somehow are making THE only “right” decision because there so many churches who are going completely online and so many churches who are still remaining open even in “Purple”. This is the course that we sense God leading us towards. As we make these decisions we are constantly monitoring and evaluating the status of everything and will continue to pivot and change course if necessary.
I would imagine many of you are wondering about Christmas Eve. Our desire is to gather on Christmas Eve. It’s such an important time for Christians to stop and worship our Savior and the day He was born. Plan on some type of gathering happening at Freshwater that night. We are going to be putting that plan together early next week and look forward to communicating it to you all sometime next week.
Did you ever read a novel where you’re somewhere in the middle or a little past halfway into the story and things are getting really bad for the hero and heroine? Everything is closing in on them and there just doesn’t seem to be a way out. It kinda feels like that right now, but folks we need to remember how the story ends for us. We’re the characters in the middle of struggle and a crazy pandemic where it’s getting dark and fearful, but somehow we’re filled with God and strengthened by Him. We get this constant filling of hope, strength, faith, love. Paul, whose story was one of beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, and constant hardship, called all of it “light and momentary” (2 Corinthians 4). Folks, this pandemic is going to hit us hard for the next 5-6 months. Everyone take a deep breath. We can persevere. We can be more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
Just this past week I heard about someone from the church spending the night at Dave and Barb Sharp’s house to help carry the weight of care. I’ve heard stories people in our church being prompted by the Spirit to pray for complete strangers and having those people break down in tears. Freshwater, let’s keep caring for each other and listening to the Spirit as He leads us to care for this world. That’s a story worth living for. It may be dark, but even the dark is not dark to Him. The night is as bright as the day.
FAQs ABOUT REGATHERING INDOORS
- Starting October 11, 2020
- 8:45 am Sunday service no children’s discipleship classes. Seating is limited so pre-registering is required for worship center seating. Doors will open at 8:25am.
- 10:30 am Sunday service with Gen Now Kids’ classes: toddlers through sixth grade. Seating is limited so pre-registering is required for Worship Center seating and Gen Now Kids. Doors will open at 10:10 am.
- There will be a continuing online option available.
- Registration link can be found at thefreshwater.church/rsvp the week before the services.
- When you are in the building, you must wear a mask if you are in kindergarten or older. Exceptions are made for valid medical reasons. Please be respectful of this request.
- A greeter will welcome you at our main entry doors which are numbered 1, 2, and 7. These doors will be propped open to let you know you are able to enter and to provide less surface contact.
- Once you enter you will see socially distanced areas to wait to be seated. If you are bringing children to the second service, you will proceed to the Gen Now Kids check-in area where a Kids’ Connection Team member will assist you. We are asking families who are checking in children to enter door 7.
- There will be no coffee bar.
- Ushers will seat you in households/peer associations
- A household is defined as a group of people who live together. Some examples would be family living together or roommates.
- A peer association is a group of people who spend at least 3 days a week together in close proximity. Some examples of this would be grandparents or dating couples.
- You must arrive together to be seated together.
- A row in front and behind and at least two seats between will separate groups.
- Seating will be available in the worship center and overflow areas depending on your arrival time.
- If people need to leave during the service, they need to move through their household/peers associates or to the least crowded side of the row.
- No bulletins/programs
- We will be singing.
- The service will be an hour or less to allow us to sanitize.
- Offering plates will not be passed. Offerings can be placed in bronze boxes on the wall near the exits. It is recommended that you give online.
About GenNow Kids Ministry (10:30 am service only)
- You must register your children online by age/grade level (toddlers-sixth grade) for them to attend GenNow Kids Ministry. We will be sending out information soon to let you know how to do this.
- Our Kids Connection Team will check in all families at the kiosks.
- We are working on a remote check in from an app on your phone. More information will be coming on how to access this app soon.
- Families should enter through door 7 and go to the waiting area in the Foyer.
- Kids’ temperatures will be taken at check-in and must be under 100.4 degrees.
- Children will be asked to sanitize their hands at check in.
- There will be no nursery.
- No diaper bags allowed. Parents of toddlers need to bring a gallon Ziplock with child’s name on it. It needs to have several diapers and wipes.
- Only one parent is to drop off/pick up their child. No older siblings, please.
- Classrooms will have socially distanced assigned seating using color codes/shapes.
- All children will have their own supply box so that supplies will not be shared.
- No food will be used in the lessons.
- All classroom surfaces will be sanitized each week-including toys.
- Once parents have taken their children to their classes, they will be asked to enter and sit in the righthand section of the Worship Center.
- At the conclusion of the service, parents will be dismissed through the front right door of the worship center to form a line in the hall and foyer to pick up their children. A GenNow Kids Ministry volunteer with assist you from there.
- The building will be sanitized to the best of our abilities prior to opening the doors on Sundays.
- Cleaning of occupied areas and contacted surfaces will happen after both services.
- All areas and surfaces will be appropriately cleaned and sanitized prior to subsequent ministry activities, meetings, and events.
- If you have any questions, please find a Connection Team Member or ask at the new Next Steps desk.
- Based on county conditions we will evaluate holding services from week to week.
- Ushers will dismiss rows wedding style from the rear of the worship center to designated exits.
- Families with children in classes during the second hour will be dismissed to the front right exit.
- Please no gathering after service inside the building. Please exit the building.
If you don’t want to read all the information above, be sure to read the following:
1. Masks are required.
2. Practice social distancing.
3. Register online for services.
4. Grace. Grace. Grace.