July 7 Update from Pastor
Reopening May 24th at 9:30 & 11am
Plan for Reopening First Baptist Heath
God is faithful! As the state of Ohio begins to open back up after the COVID-19 quarantine, we believe it is also time for our church to start the process of reopening. We recognize that there will be a variety of opinions and emotions about restarting worship gatherings. Some may not be ready to return to in-person gatherings for a while longer. Others have been ready for some time. We understand that each family’s situation is different, and everyone should do what they feel is wisest for their family. Just because the church is reopening does not mean that you should be there if it would be unsafe or unwise for you to do so.
Starting on May 24th we will be reopening the church for worship.
We will be offering a 9:30am, and 11am Worship service.
On May 1st, the Stay-at-Home-Order for Ohio was amended. So, we are going to follow the Phase One Federal Guidelines applying strict social distancing at all of our worship gatherings. Chairs will be separated and spread throughout the worship center. Masks and hand sanitizer will be readily available at all entrances. We understand that there’s a variety of opinions about wearing masks. While we are encouraging everyone to wear a mask, we are asking those present to worship together, not judge one another based on their mask-wearing practices. To limit the risk of exposure, we will not be passing out bulletins or passing an offering plate during the service. Boxes will be available near all entrances for you to place you’re offering in.
For those that will be worshipping with us on May 24th, we are asking you to RSVP for these gatherings at FirstBaptistHeath.com/reopen or by calling the church office at (740) 522-5245. We will be limiting these gatherings to 125 people each, so we cannot guarantee you a seat without an RSVP. If both services fill up, we will offer a third service at 5 pm on Sundays. We will also be offering an overflow room in Harman Hall that can also be freely used by anyone who finds that to be a more comfortable space for their family. Entering the worship center will be limited to the front entrance facing 30th street and the main entrance in the back. Ushers will be there to direct you and your family to an appropriate seat.
For those who are not yet ready to join us in person, we are deeply concerned about staying connected with you and working hard to minister to your family effectively. So to help accomplish that goal, we are launching an “Online Campus”. The purpose of the Online Campus is to provide a place for you to stay connected to our church family and still be able to be an active part of the faith community. The Online-Campus is far more than a Livestream, we will be working hard to provide pastoral care, online bible studies, online fellowship, and groups for all members of the Online Campus.
If you wish to be a part of the online campus, please sign up at FirstBaptistHeath.com/reopen
Due to the state restrictions, we are not able to offer any FBC Kids ministries at this time. As we are able to provide kids ministries safely we will begin by providing childcare for children four and under, hopefully within a few weeks after reopening. We do welcome families and children of all ages to join us for worship in the worship center. At this point, we are not concerned about children being loud or crying babies during worship; we are just excited to be able to be together as a faith family! We will also not be offering Connect Groups on Sunday morning during this initial phase. As we progress we hope to be able to start back our normal connect groups soon.
1. “What are the cleaning policies? “
Cleaning and sanitizing highly touched surfaces is our highest priority at this time. We have upgraded our cleaning equipment so that we can clean better and faster, including equipment that will allow us to sanitize surfaces, including children’s areas, in the time between worship services.
2. “I thought we couldn’t get more than ten people together in Phase One… aren’t we still under a stay at home order?
The ten-person limit applies to social gatherings and not to church services. The Governor has made it clear from the beginning that churches are exempt from the stay at home order. In an effort to be a good neighbor to our community, we have voluntarily abided by the state’s orders.
3. “Why don’t we wait for the Governor’s office to approve worship services?”
Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention have spoken with the governor’s office and have informed us that the governor’s position is that because he did not close churches, he will also not be reopening churches. It will be up to the churches to decide when it is best for them to return to worship.
4. “How will social distancing be practiced and maintained?”
First, we are blessed with a very large worship center that can seat 800 people. So 125 people in the room will allow for a lot of space to move around and maintain 6 feet from others. We will also be clustering chairs together so that families can be together but also maintain a safe distance from others.
5. “Why are we opening now?”
The state of Ohio started the process of reopening on May 1st. We felt that we needed to give some time for businesses and shops to open and operate before we were ready to open the church. We believe that 24 days is sufficient enough time and that it is now appropriate for us to open. The church is a place of hope and encouragement in our community, to be closed while people are suffering from loneliness, depression, and are searching for eternal answers does not seem to be a wise choice. We certainly want to minimize the risk of spreading the virus, but we also want to be there to minister to and love our church family and community.