Waverly Place family & friends,
This page includes an introduction and a basic layout of our plans to resume church activities in 3 phases, beginning May 17. There is more to come, and we are still taking precautions, but we are glad to be moving in this direction.
As you know, due to risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been avoiding all church gatherings since March 23, 2020. Recent developments and government announcements have made it clear that “opening up America” includes an interest in churches beginning to gather again.
In light of this, in Christian love and humility, we plan to cautiously resume our church activities in a progressive manner. Following the three-phased approach from the President of the United States, we are outlining our own basic and tentative plans to move over time to a full relaunching of our full church schedule.
PHASE 1: SUNDAY GATHERINGS
All are welcome to gather for church in the sanctuary on May 17, 2020, and each Sunday after that. The services will begin at 10:45am.
Please do not feel obligated to participate if it goes against your conscience on the matter or you believe doing so will expose you or others to undue risks, and do not participate if you think you may be sick.
At this time there will be no Sunday School or childcare provided during the service. We will leave it up to families to care for and shepherd their children during this gathering. There will also be no Sunday Evening Praise & Prayer.
Our Community Groups can gather if they are able to do so in an outdoor environment and can maintain social distancing protocols.
We will also be continuing all Zoom meetings, including our Sunday Evening Zoom Check-in and Women’s Zoom Bible Study. Additionally, we will be introducing a Men’s Zoom Bible Study, which will gather on Thursday evenings at 8:00pm. We will continue to send out invites for each of these closer to the event.
Additionally, when we do gather for our Sunday Morning Corporate Worship, we will take the following precautions:
PRECAUTIONS IN GATHERING
In keeping with state recommendations, we ask church members and attendees to accommodate with the following:
- Personal Responsibility: We believe the risk of contracting COVID-19 by gathering with fellow church members in the sanctuary on the Lord’s Day is low, this is primarily due to the size of our congregation in relation to the size of our facility. However, we know that some of our members are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and more apt to suffer severe symptoms if they do. Please assess your own risks and make a wise decision about participation. For information about risks, testing, and prevention, please visit Virginia Department of Health.
- Parking: Parishioners are encouraged to use the large parking lot on the west side of our property.
- Opening and Entry: The service will begin at 10:45am, but sanctuary doors will be open by 10:00am, and greeters will be stationed at the front sanctuary doors, which will be propped open for ease of use. Of course, hand sanitizer is available near doors and throughout the building.
- Bulletins: Greeters, wearing masks, will distribute bulletins from sanitized and gloved hands.
- Seating: Family units are encouraged to sit at least 6 feet away from others, spreading out across the sanctuary, also utilizing the balcony.
- Offering: Giving boxes will be located at the front of the sanctuary to utilize before or after the service. Individuals and families are still welcome to give online or mail contributions to the church office if either of these methods is preferable.
- Social Distance: Individuals and families are encouraged to fellowship with one another, but social distancing is recommended.
- Children: While we will not have any childcare available, we also request that parents keep children by their side at all times in an attempt to keep proper distance.
- Coffee and Refreshments: We will not be providing any coffee or refreshments during this phase.
- Restrooms: Restrooms are clean and sanitized, and individuals are responsible to wash hands thoroughly after touching any items in restrooms.
- Dismissal and Exit: Parishioners are encouraged to patiently exit the sanctuary, giving room for social distancing as everyone departs.
RATIONALE FOR GATHERING
The federal government is encouraging states who meet “gating criteria” to proceed with a “phased comeback,” specifically following a three-phased plan available online. Per Governor Northam’s recent news briefing, Virginia is on course to meet the listed criteria to begin Phase 1 of the federal plan for opening up communities and businesses next Friday, May 15.
We are glad to hear the Virginia governor’s affirmation that religious services are essential to our lives in our society. Furthermore, it is clear that the governor’s order “does not prohibit people from accessing essential or reopened services… so long as the necessary precautions are maintained.”
Some of those recommended precautions are:
- Encourage all attendees who are 65 and above to stay home.
- Ask all who have an underlying at-risk health condition to stay home.
- Ensure attendees sit with their family unit and use social distancing between each family unit.
Thus, the documents from the White House and the Virginia governor clarify that church gatherings are not in violation of any legal order, as long as they are following proper suggestions.
Because of this, the elders feel freedom to lead our church to gather without any fear of violating orders from the state of Virginia or from the federal government.
A PASTORAL WORD
As we continue to face a global pandemic and a global economic recession, it is vitally important that we (as Christians) remember where our hope is grounded.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
— Psalm 46:1–3
Christians do not follow Christ to avoid suffering and hardship. Scripture teaches us that we will not only suffer the common afflictions of humanity (sickness, oppression, famine, and natural disasters), but it also tells us to expect to suffer at the hands of wicked people for doing what is good in the sight of God (1 Peter 2:20-23).
The author of Hebrews even commends some early Christians for “joyfully accepting the plundering” of their property because they knew they had a “better” and “abiding” possession yet to be revealed (Hebrews 10:34). Christians do not follow Christ to avoid death. Scripture teaches us that every human suffers from the terminal disease of mortality, and every man, woman, boy, and girl will one day leave this world and enter the next one.
The promise of the gospel is not that we will escape death, but that death will not be allowed to have the last word. Jesus is the “resurrection and the life,” and whoever believes in Him “though he dies, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). One day, for all those who trust and follow Christ, their perishable body will put on honor, power, and incorruptibility (1 Corinthians 15:42-43). This is our unconquerable Christian hope! And it is secured by the fact that Christ Himself was resurrected from the dead. He is the “firstfruits” of the resurrection, and at His coming “those who belong to Christ” shall “be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). And, therefore, we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
This truth and many others like it are the substance of what we teach and remind one another when we gather each Sunday. We collectively comfort one another with God’s promises of grace. We thoughtfully edify one another with God’s instructions for belief and for activity. We lovingly confront one another with God’s warnings of discipline. And we heartily encourage one another with personal attestations of God’s faithfulness.
I know many of you have missed and longed for this with increasing aching in your heart. So it is with great joy that we look forward to resuming the weekly gatherings of the Waverly Place Baptist Church, in order that we may glorify God in keeping the Lord’s Day. We look forward to gathering in order that we may once again enjoy the great benefits God intends for us through the regular gathering of covenanted saints in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
— Adam Triplett, Lead Pastor
Lastly, we will continue to update the resources for worshipping at home, which you can find by clicking the button below.