In light of the upcoming designation of Venango County on 5/29 as 'Green' regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the leadership of 1st Baptist has chosen to resume in-person worship on Sunday, May 31st at our usual time of 10:45 AM. However, the following restrictions and limitations will apply indefinitely:
1. If you have any flu-like symptoms, or are in a high-risk group, stay home and worship with us from there.
We will continue to broadcast our service via Facebook Live each week. It will ease our hearts if our senior saints and others with serious health issues proceed with caution, nobody will think less of your faith if you exercise patience, for patience is a Fruit of the Spirit.
- As much as we encourage people to come to Church, "it's just a cold, I'm still going" is no longer an option.
2. Social Distancing will still apply.
Whether in Clark Hall, the hallways, or the sanctuary itself, it will be the responsibility of each person to maintain social distancing. If for any reason you feel that you cannot maintain social distancing, please refrain from joining us in-person at this time.
- The entrance doors will be propped open to avoid the need for each person to touch them. If the weather is too hot/cold for that, we will have someone at the door to push the automatic door bottom from the inside as each family comes arrives.
- The tables in Clark Hall will be spread out to allow each family to sit by themselves if they choose to partake of a donut and coffee/juice.
- The drinking fountain will be off, if you think you'll need water, bring your own container.
- Wash diligently after using the restrooms.
- Bulletins will be placed at available seats in the sanctuary earlier in the week.
- The offering plate will not be passed, but left at the entrance.
3. The Sanctuary seating will be designated.
We will use the hymnals and pew bibles to mark off sections of the pews that are unavailable. Only the sections without hymnals/bibles placed upon the cushions will be available. As such, we will need to use all 4 sections of the sanctuary (instead of our typical cluster in only one) in order to maintain Social Distancing.
4. Handshakes and hugs will have to wait.
I know that many of you treasure the personal physical contact of hugs and handshakes at church, I certainly enjoy shaking each person's hand after the service ends. These signs of Christian brotherhood and affection will have to wait. How long? The short answer is, we don't know.
- Our time of greeting is one of the best parts of our worship service, for now, we will do so verbally from a distance.
5. Junior Church will operate, primarily for the youngest kids.
In order to keep our numbers in Junior Church low, we will focus, when need be, on the kids below Middle School level. While we value the interaction of our pre-teens with Kari, we cannot have a crowd of youths together.
- The nursery will be available only upon request, it is preferred that infants remain with their parent(s).
- Our normal slate of youth summer activities remain on hold, if/when we are able to schedule them, we will let you know.
6. Bible Study and Prayer Group will resume at a later date.
- These will continue to be held, for now, via Facebook Live.
What resuming in-person worship means:
1. That we're trusting our congregation, and any visitors, to act responsibly.
2. That we're taking one step toward 'normal', but life is still far from that for most of us.
3. That we recognize the value of normalcy, even in modified form, for our hearts and minds in troubled times.
4. That visitors and those who don't normally go to church are welcome. If God has been speaking to you during this pandemic, please heed his voice and seek out God's people to find out why.
What resuming in-person worship does NOT mean:
1. That we don't take the pandemic seriously.
2. That we are acting in defiance of governmental authority. Venango County will be designated 'Green', with most normal activity resuming with precautions. If our county is later returned to 'Yellow' (or 'Red'), our in-person worship will once more be put on hold.
3. That we don't appreciate and trust the lifetime of dedication shown by doctors and medical professionals. We do, and we take their warnings seriously.
4. That God is required to keep us safe, or that the absence or presence of COVID-19 among our congregation or community is in any way a sign of faith (or lack thereof).
5. That our church was ever closed. Worship was never interrupted, Bible Study continued, as did Prayer Group. Circumstances don't define us, our ongoing devotion to the Gospel and the love we show in the name of Jesus Christ are what define us.
6. That members of other congregations should join us this week. If your church is waiting longer, that is where you belong, they're your family; have patience.