Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Back to Campus Announcement

      We are happy to share the decision about returning to campus for worship!

     While we are thankful that the RGV is on a downtrend from its summer peak in number of COVID-19 cases and that the hospitals are no longer overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, we acknowledge that the number of COVID-19 related cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Hidalgo County are still significant. We also acknowledge that the pandemic has not ended and will most likely not subside until sometime in 2021. Thus,

  1. We encourage people who are physically vulnerable and/or immunocompromised to continue participating remotely (we plan to continue live streaming and offering groups via zoom);
  2. We respectfully ask those who have flu-like symptoms, or currently have COVID-19, or have had recent contact with someone who has COVID-19 refrain from coming to campus until they have completed the recommended quarantine time; and
  3. Those who choose to participate in person on campus must exercise caution and observe safety protocols in order to protect themselves and others.

     The overarching principle is love for one another (John 13:35).

     As long as the following criteria remains,

  1. A rolling average of last 7 days less than 1,250 new COVID-19 cases for a minimum of 5 of the last 7 days, and
  2. The number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations are less than 250 for a minimum of 5 consecutive days,
     Our pastoral staff with the counsel of our advisory team and deacon body has decided that,

  1. Home fellowships be allowed to meet in person beginning October 1st or any time thereafter while maintaining safety protocols.  Home fellowships meeting in person are encouraged to consider providing a “zoom” option (hybrid meetings).
  2. ABFs be allowed to meet either in a home or on campus beginning October 1st or any time thereafter while maintaining safety protocols.  ABFs who wish to meet on campus must do so at a time other than while Sunday worship services are taking place and must calendar their meeting time through the church office.  Also encouraged to provide hybrid option.  No child care available.
  3. Sunday Worship Services will offer in-person option beginning October 18 following the protocols listed below for our 9:30 AM, 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM services.  Overflow capacity will be offered in the Student Center via link from the worship center to the LED screen (overflow will be available at 11:00 AM and at 12:30 PM).  Live streaming will continue to be offered.
     For the time being all other ministries will continue virtually until further notice.

     We are excited about this development and we ask you to join us in prayer so that He will be glorified and the church will grow strong in spirit and mission.

     The following protocols and principles will guide us for our worship services starting on October 18:
  1. All ages welcome as long as no flu-like symptoms, no recent contact with someone infected and feel confident regarding risk to self
  2. Vulnerable and or immunocompromised populations are encouraged to participate remotely
  3. Livestream will continue to be provided for all three services
  4. Follow social distance, hygiene and mitigation protocols
  5. Every other row of pews will be closed (student center chairs will be placed appropriately)
  6. Families worship together (no child care; no classes for students)
  7. Families/individuals keep at least 6 feet distance from non-family
  8. Use of masks upon entering and exiting the building including children age three (3) and older
  9. Calculated capacity in worship center due to social distancing: 200
  10. Sanitized campus before and after each worship service
  11. Orientation for all staff and volunteers regarding protocols
  12. Greeters/ushers wear masks
  13. Dedicated entrances and exits with traffic flow marked (handicap and mobility-challenged individuals are exempt from this)
  14. Hand sanitizer will be available at various entrances
  15. No printed bulletins will be available
  16. No greeting time
  17. No passing of the plate. Offering boxes are available at all entrances.  E-giving will also continue to be available as well as using the USPS to mail tithes and offerings.
  18. Café not opened on Sunday during worship services
  19. No connecting point on Sunday before, during or after worship services
  20. Additional custodial staff and volunteers disinfecting areas according to traffic
  21. We will strive to protect staff, worship team, volunteers and media team need to be protected as they serve in multiple services
  22. All ministries meeting in person are encouraged to provide hybrid option for those who wish to participate remotely.
  23. A poster of symptoms will be placed at entrance to assist in self-screening. 
  24. We will be welcoming, joyful, expectant, prayerful and dependent on the Holy Spirit.

     Although we do not wish to close the campus again if the number of cases exceed a rolling average of 1,750 cases for more than 4 of the last 7 days, we will need to consider doing so for the well-being of everyone.

     We look forward to what God has in store for us in the days ahead both digitally and in-person!

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