Dear church family,
Once again, thank you for so many ways that you are being the body of Christ for each other, and being a light to the world. We continue to hear about phone calls, visits, Gospel opportunities, small group meetings, and so many other ways that you are loving and serving. I personally am so blessed to be a part of Cary Alliance. We are the Church, and Jesus is Lord of the Church!
Lots of good and important things to talk about here! Please take the time to read thoughtfully and prayerfully.
We’re still getting responses to the survey, and what we’ve received so far has been very helpful. Thank you. Most everyone is doing well by God’s grace. At the same time, distancing has been difficult and isolation is taking its toll. For some, the emotional and spiritual effects of isolation outweigh any risks of gathering, and about 40% of respondents say that they will return to in-person worship services, which we are planning to start on July 26th.
This means that it’ll be a while until the majority of our church family is ready to gather, and in the meantime, we’ve got more learning to do about being the church. We’re sad that some have been overlooked in our phone calls and contacts. Please forgive us. We’ll be taking a closer look at what pastoral care, discipleship and outreach look like in our new reality. More on that later, and please pray for wisdom in these matters. If you would like to talk about this more, or just feel like it’s been too long since you’ve talked with someone, please reach out to any of the pastors or Elders.
We continue to improve the quality of our online presence. At the same time, we’ve spent many weeks in research, prayer, and planning in order to start in-person services on the 26th. We don’t imagine that our plans are perfect, and we’ve taken to heart the concerns and suggestions expressed by everyone on so many sides of these questions. Below is our best plan at this point, depending on God’s grace, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and your patience and love.
The overall spirit that we wish to communicate is that the church is one body, consisting of many different people, who have different perspectives. In these matters, the apostle Paul urges each one of us to do what we are convinced is right, while loving and respecting those who take a different approach (Romans 14 and 15). Practically, in regard to in-person or on-line worship, that means making the decision that is best for you, doing what you can to show deference to others, and always following the law of love.
So, let’s get to the details. Given the responses we’ve received, we believe everyone who wishes to gather can be accommodated in two services of 75-100 people each, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We encourage anyone in a higher-risk group who still wants to attend to sign up for the earlier service. In order to avoid confusion on that morning, we humbly, but strongly ask everyone to register. You can look for sign-ups online at www.caryalliance.org, starting Monday morning at 9. Those without Internet access can call the church office. If one service fills up, please sign up for the other. If we find that we’ve underestimated, please forgive us – we’ll plan for larger services or add a third. More information is available on-line and attached to this bulletin.
The worship service will be about an hour, with families worshiping together. Pastor Cameron will have materials available for you to print out at home, but we’ll also provide some packets here for those who forget. In gathering for worship, here are our guidelines:
Follow healthy practices:
- The best way to keep everyone healthy is if only healthy people come to church! We’re asking everyone to take your temperature and evaluate your health on Sunday morning. If in the last 72 hours you had a fever, respiratory symptoms, chills or other symptoms of COVID-19, please worship at home. And let us know so we can pray for you!
- Despite our precautions, apparently it’s still possible to be contagious without being symptomatic. The best way to protect others in this case is simply to wear a mask. This is a requirement for the whole time you’re here, unless you have a medical exception. If you forgot your mask, ushers will have them at the door.
- As mama always said, wash your hands frequently, especially after touching common surfaces. Hand sanitizer will be available in the hall as you enter church.
Observe social distancing:
- We’re all looking forward to seeing each other! Since studies show that very little transmission happens in the great outdoors, for now we’re going to limit fellowship to outside the building, before and after the service, asking groups to maintain the recommended 6’ distance.
- It’s going to be so hard not to throw our arms around someone, but not everyone is comfortable with physical contact. Please greet each other with friendly waving and “air hugs”, but without handshakes and hugs. And asking if it’s OK actually creates pressure, which we want to avoid.
- We’ll have one-way traffic as much as possible. Before the start of the service please enter through the east (covered) door. If you need to go back outside, use one of the other exits. After the service, exit through the MPR side doors or other church exits.
- Chairs in the MPR will be set up in groups of 2-4, distanced from each other. You are welcome to pull chairs together if the group you came with is larger than 4, just please observe at least a 6’ radius between groups.
We’ll try to keep things clean and fresh:
- Church doors will be open to allow for air flow, including the back doors of the MPR. The MPR exit doors will be open between services.
- We’ll have a cleaning crew to sanitize common surfaces in between services.
- Used chairs will be put up between services, and clean chairs put out for the next group.
We exist to love Jesus and reach people! Our greatest witness is the love we show for one another and the unity that we enjoy with each other in the Lord. Thank you so much for your consistent testimony in this regard. To Him be the glory!
Cary Alliance Church