Dear Church Family,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ. We are delighted to share with you an abundance of news that marks an exciting shift for our church moving forward. It is starting to feel like a new day!

Throughout the pandemic, we have sought to continue loving God and loving neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). We have also followed CDC guidance in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. As you may know, the CDC has recently advised that fully vaccinated individuals are generally safe to operate without masks or social distancing while unvaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing masks and social distancing. In view of this new guidance, we have a new set of plans and policies for Second Baptist Church as we move forward in worship, discipleship, and mission work. Our new plans and policies, which have been reviewed by our church’s COVID-19 Response Team, are as follows. The policies go into effect immediately unless otherwise noted below.

WORSHIP SERVICES

Masks: In view of CDC guidance that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks, we plan to have mask-optional worship services. Masks will not be required, but they will be welcome.

Social Distancing: In view of CDC guidance that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to practice social distancing, we will prepare seating areas in our worship services so that congregants can worship with or without social distancing, according to their preference. Pews in the Sanctuary will be marked accordingly (click here for a visual). Chairs in the Well will be arranged accordingly.

Singing: In view of CDC guidance that choral singing is safe for fully vaccinated individuals, we plan to have congregational singing in our worship services. It is a blessing to be singing together again!

Reservations: Reservations for worship services will no longer be necessary.

Entrances: On Sundays May 23 and May 30, two doors will be open: the main entrance facing Gaskins Road and the door beside the Conference Room on the other side of the building. We plan to utilize more doors when in-person adult Sunday School classes resume on Sunday, June 6.

ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL

Date: We plan to re-start in-person adult Sunday School classes on Sunday, June 6, as previously announced. We are still preparing rooms for this purpose.

Masks: Adult Sunday School classes will be mask-optional. Masks will not be required, but they will be welcome.

Social Distancing: The seating arrangement in each room will be determined by leaders and members of the class.

Food/Drink: Food and drink will be permitted.

Reservations: Reservations for Sunday School will not be necessary.

STUDENT MINISTRY SUNDAY SCHOOL

Date: We plan to re-start in-person middle and high school Sunday School classes on Sunday, June 6, as previously announced. We are still preparing rooms for this purpose.

Masks: Students, teachers, and volunteers will be asked to wear masks in the student Sunday School area because some students are not yet eligible for vaccination.

Social Distancing: Seating in student Sunday School classes will include social distancing.

Reservations: Reservations will not be necessary for student ministry Sunday School classes.

CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL AND CHILDCARE

The CDC has not yet updated their guidelines for children. We are awaiting their new guidance. As a result, our current plans still accord with former CDC guidance for drop-in childcare.

Date: We plan to re-start in-person children’s Sunday School classes and childcare on Sunday, July 4, as previously announced. We are still preparing rooms and staff for this purpose.

Masks: Masks will be required in the children’s ministry building for everyone over the age of 2.

Social Distancing: Social distancing will be required in children’s rooms per CDC guidelines.

Reservations: Reservations will be necessary for childcare and children’s Sunday School classes because there will be limited space in each room.

FUNERALS

We plan to allow mask-optional funerals. As in Sunday worship services, both socially distanced seating and standard seating will be available in the sanctuary. Food and drink will be allowed at receptions that follow funerals.

WEDDINGS

We plan to allow mask-optional weddings with both socially distanced seating and standard seating available in the sanctuary. We plan to allow food and drink at wedding receptions.

WEEKDAY BUILDING POLICIES

We plan to have the church office officially re-open sometime in June. There will likely be limited hours to start.

Beginning in June, we plan to allow mask-optional meetings of committees, Bible studies, and other groups at church during the week. Seating arrangements will be at the discretion of the group.

SUNDAY MORNING SCHEDULE

On Sundays May 23 and May 30, the schedule will include The Well at 9:00 a.m. and The Sanctuary Service at 11:30 a.m. Beginning Sunday, June 6, the schedule will be as follows.

9:00 a.m.: The Well

10:00 a.m.: Sunday School

11:00 a.m.: The Sanctuary Service

FINAL WORD

While the pandemic has impacted us all, we are each processing next steps in our own way. As we return to church for various in-person events, some will be comfortable with handshakes or hugs while others will prefer to maintain social distance. Some will continue wearing masks while others will not. We are confident that unvaccinated persons will consider the safety of others in relation to wearing masks and social distancing, and we encourage everyone to approach one another “with all humility and gentleness…making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

Whether you are ready to return to church in person, or whether you plan to continue worshipping online for a while, we are so happy you are part of our community of faith, we thank God for you, and we extend our heartfelt love to you.

The Lord bless you and keep you!

In Christ,

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker and the Ministerial Staff