Dear Church Family,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ. We are thankful for the faith, hope, and love you continually demonstrate in steadfast devotion to God, and for your many intentional efforts to stay connected to Christ and church despite the manifold difficulties of the pandemic.

Since our first in-person re-gatherings in June of 2020, two of our guiding principles have been the following.

  • In Christian love, we seek to maintain the physical health of our congregation, especially those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
  • In Christian discernment, we seek to incorporate medical and scientific knowledge as well as spiritual and theological insight in our decision-making process.

In accordance with these principles, as a new school year dawns, we are seeking safe and responsible ways to move forward in worship, discipleship, and mission work at Second Baptist Church. With this in mind, due to the vast spread of the Delta variant and the currently high level of COVID-19 transmission in our local area, we are shifting our mask policy at church for the time being. The new mask policy and the following plans have been reviewed by the lay leaders on our COVID-19 Response Team.

 

NEW MASK POLICY

Beginning Sunday, September 5, face masks will be required for everyone over the age of 2 at all indoor church activities. Outdoor church activities will remain mask-optional.

One of the main reasons for this change is to protect children and other vulnerable persons amid the current surge in COVID-19 cases. Medical science indicates that anyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, can be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19. It further indicates that wearing a mask diminishes the likelihood of transmitting the virus. While a mask offers some protection for the person wearing it, the main reason we wear a mask is to love our neighbors, including children and others who are ineligible for vaccination, by decreasing the probability that we will unwittingly spread contagion to them. Wearing masks also decreases the probability of breakthrough infections, which occur when fully vaccinated individuals contract the virus.

Another reason for this change is that it gives us the best chance to continue worshipping, singing, and studying together in person amid the rising local number of COVID-19 cases which may continue to rise as children attend school in person.

As an alternative, of course, we are very glad for you to worship with us online. We plan to continue livestreaming both of our Sunday morning worship services.

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING PLANS

We have also decided to delay the commencement of our new Wednesday evening program called “Midweek” until a later time. Instead, for now, we are planning a special set of outdoor Wednesday evening activities from September 15 through October 6. We will reassess the situation in early October so we can make any appropriate adjustments at that time.

From September 15 through October 6, our Wednesday evening plans include outdoor dinner and activities for all ages as follows.

 

5:30-6:15: Midweek Meal

  • Meals will be individually packaged.
  • Drive thru pick-up for take-home meals will take place under the porte-cochere.
  • Sanctuary courtyard pick-up will take place for meals to be eaten on campus.
  • Seating will be available at tables in the sanctuary courtyard. You are welcome to bring your own chairs for outdoor dining as well.
  • You must register and pay for Wednesday night meals in advance on our church website. A link to the registration page will be sent in a subsequent email.

 

6:15-7:00: Outdoor Activities

 

Children

  • 6:15-6:45: Wee Praise, for children 2 and under with a caring adult, will take place in the Prayer Garden.
  • 6:15-6:45: Three-year-old and pre-K music and missions will take place in the parking lot by Grace Garden (near where the church buses are parked).
  • 6:15-7:00: Kindergarten through 5th-grade music and missions will take place in the sanctuary courtyard.

 

Students

  • 6:15-7:00: Sixth through twelfth graders will enjoy lawn games in the parking lot beside Spence Hall.

 

Adults

  • 6:15-7:00: Tom Mitchell will host a live version of “Breaking It Down with Pastor Noel” in the designated outdoor eating area.

 

Click here for a campus map showing the locations of the foregoing Wednesday evening activities.

In case of inclement weather (e.g., pouring rain), we will only have the drive thru pick-up of take-home meals under the porte-cochere. All other activities will be canceled.

There are two main reasons we are moving Wednesday evening activities outside for a time. First, we think that to have a large group of people eating together unmasked indoors poses too much transmission risk right now. Moving the meal outdoors will provide a safer environment for eating together in a large group. Second, children’s activities on Wednesday evenings involve singing, and it will be safer for them to sing together outdoors right now.

 

CONCLUSION

We wish the pandemic were over, but unfortunately, it persists. As the situation continues to change, we have to adapt accordingly. Our prayer remains that you will stay connected to Christ and church, whether in person or online or a combination of both.

We do ask that you refrain from attending church activities in person if you have symptoms of COVID-19. We also ask that you quarantine as directed by your physician if you test positive.

Our church has endured many adversities over the past 201 years, and by God’s grace, we will surely see the other side of the present pandemic. In the meantime, we hold you in our hearts in Christian love as we persevere together with steadfast trust in God through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

In Christ,

Your Ministerial Staff