Tentative Plans for Corporate Regathering Beginning June 7th
From Sam Storms, Lead Pastor of Preaching & Vision
What a strange and challenging time this is! Oh, how much I have missed seeing all of you gathered as a spiritual family! Sunday, June 7, will truly be a joyous reunion. But we also recognize that we will need to alter some of the ways we interact during our corporate gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time that we assemble once again, we will strive to make Bridgeway a safe and healthy place for all our people, especially the more vulnerable. There are many differing opinions on what should and should not be done, so I’m asking all of us to acknowledge that we are a diverse spiritual family that is committed to honoring and loving one another, even when we may disagree on how to proceed.
Here is our tentative plan in moving forward. I want to emphasize the word “tentative” here. A decrease in the prevalence of Covid-19, together with changes in the government’s recommended guidelines, could lead us to make substantial changes to this plan. The same may be said if there is an increase. But as of now, here is our hope for our Sunday gatherings.
1) SERVICE TIMES AND LENGTH
We will continue to hold two services at 9:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Service length will be shortened from 90 minutes to 75 minutes. The shortened length of the services is only temporary. Once conditions are improved, we will return to each service being 1 ½ hours in length. The shortened service will give us more time between services (one hour) to thoroughly cleanse and disinfect the building in preparation for the second service. It will also be more accommodating to families with young children attending the service with them.
2) FAMILIES WITH SMALL CHILDREN
All children are invited to join their families in the auditorium for the regular service There will be no Bridgeway Kids classes (birth – 6th Grade) during the month of June. We hope to once again provide our regular BW Kids classes beginning in July. It simply isn’t possible at this early stage to ensure the best practices to accommodate our children safely in classrooms. We will also use this time to prepare our volunteers to ensure that our classes are properly staffed. Our Bridgeway Kids team will provide family worship bags at the entrance as a gift to each household that will include age-appropriate activities and other items to keep our children engaged during the service. Two nursing mothers’ rooms will be available for families that need to step out of the auditorium. We will do the best we can to limit the number who make use of these somewhat small spaces at any one time.
3) LIVESTREAM AVAILABLE
We will live stream both services (including announcements, worship, preaching) beginning 10 minutes prior to the start times on YouTube. It will then be immediately available to replay at any time afterward. This is in recognition of the fact that many will likely stay home until they feel safer in venturing out into crowds. If needed, we can extend the live stream into July (and perhaps beyond), but this will not be a permanent practice. Of course, we will continue to provide a video and audio of the entire Sunday service on our website by the Monday following.
4) COMMUNION & PRAYER MINISTRY
At least for the month of June, and perhaps longer, we will serve communion by means of self-contained packets of juice and bread. Out of consideration for those who desire to receive personal prayer, we will provide masks for our prayer ministry volunteers, and will discourage the laying on of hands. We hope to return to our normal practices as soon as possible.
5) SOCIAL DISTANCED SEATING
We will make available two special sections in the auditorium with a reduced number of available seats for those who feel more at ease maintaining some measure of social distancing. It will be the far southeast section and the section next to it (east side of auditorium). Every other row will be removed. We also encourage that households sit together, if possible.
6) SHARE LOVE NOT GERMS
We will do our best to maintain high levels of cleanliness throughout the building, with plentiful supplies of hand sanitizer. The staff and our volunteers will make generous use of disinfectant wipes to keep surfaces and other objects as clean as possible. We will modify the way we greet people when they arrive, avoiding all physical contact while trying to be as hospitable and welcoming as possible.
We encourage everyone to continue to observe recommended wellness guidelines: wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, don’t touch your face, etc. We suggest that you avoid physical contact like handshakes and hugs and not congregate in close proximity with others either in the Lobby or in the Auditorium. People are free either to wear masks or not to wear masks. No one will be judged or made to feel bad for the choice they make. Let us strive to honor one another in the body of Christ.
7) FOOD & DRINK
We will not be providing coffee or snacks for at least the first two weeks in June. This may well extend farther into the future, depending on the Covid-19 conditions in our city. People are free to bring in their own coffee. We will close access to the water fountains but will provide water bottles in the Lobby.
8) STAYING HOME
We also urge you to stay home if you are symptomatic or if your immune system is susceptible to infection or if because of age or other factors you are especially vulnerable. It’s important to remember that once you enter the building you are breathing the same air as everyone else. If this is of concern to you, we recommend that you stay home and avail yourself of the service Livestream.
9) FUTURE EVENTS
We will bring you additional information in the days ahead regarding other events and ministries at Bridgeway. Check the website often. Student Ministry will move to Wednesday nights beginning June 10. Prayer and prophetic training classes and other gatherings are being evaluated. Our focus, though, at least for the foreseeable future, is on our Sunday morning corporate assembly and our community group meetings.
10) START TIME
I want to emphasize one more thing. Since we are shortening the service by 15 minutes and there are no children’s classes, we strongly request that you do everything possible to arrive on time, even a few minutes early if possible. We will be largely reducing the time given to announcements, mission spotlights, and testimonies, in order that we may devote the bulk of our time together to the preaching of God’s Word, worship, and prayer ministry.
We will continue to post updates here as needed, check back often.