After speaking to doctors and pastors from churches in Amarillo (Hillside, Redeemer, Christ Covenant Presbyterian, Evangelical Fellowship, Westview Christian) I have some ideas for a way forward for our church during these crazy times. I am making these recommendations for three reasons. First, our COVID rates in the area are increasing rapidly daily...by the hundreds. Second, our hospitalization rate is over 30%. Third, we have had members get sick with COVID and we have had one member die of COVID. We are in a position of leadership, and it is up to us to make good decisions for the safety of our church. Below are my recommendations in order of priority.
1.) We have purchased and will offer N95 masks for the high-risk group and will have the highly susceptible population meet in the fellowship hall for Sunday Morning Service. (Service is broadcast over the projector in the fellowship hall). We will also maintain social distancing in the entire church, but especially in the fellowship hall. Note: If you plan to worship in the fellowship hall, please come to church at 9:10 AM.
After church begins, the youth will not go through the fellowship hall. Our youth leaders will take the children outside and up to the RAC in order to avoid contact with our highly susceptible population.
2.) We will encourage anyone who plans to attend church in the fellowship hall to wear a mask. The N95 masks should keep our high-risk group safe, but their perception of their own safety is also important). We want to err on the side of caution and pastoral sensibility with our members who have health concerns.
3.) We will continue to have midweek activities at the church (Kids Club, Youth and Adult bible study); however if AISD and/or CISD go to remote learning, then we will make changes for our midweek activities. In that event, we will cancel all activities outside of our worship on Lord's Day (Sunday).
4.) The Lord's Day is our "Alamo". I do not want to stop meeting together unless it is absolutely necessary. There is historical precedent for this both in the early church and throughout church history. The worst-case scenario is that we are forced to go back to Facebook Live only for our Sunday Service. We will do this only if the virus becomes widespread in our church.
We are trying to be responsible with our people, and also worship God in difficult times. The above is a way forward for us to do both...hopefully to the glory of God:
--Pastor Jon Kohler