Given the reduction this week by Tarrant County health officials of the COVID-19 risk level and increasing access to full vaccination, the Leadership Team is pleased to share that the time has finally arrived to begin a phased reentry to INDOOR in-person activities beginning April 18. For those not ready or able to return to in-person activites, please know that Martin will be offering all worship and small group activities in a hybrid model from now on. In-person activities will still be accessible on Facebook or ZOOM. We've always believed that nothing separates us from the love of God; this year has taught us that nothing need separate us from worship, study, and fellowship with one another either.
You will be receiving more information in the coming week with exact details and registration links, but on this Easter weekend, I want to share with you the basics of what to expect as you anticipate the joy resurrection in its many forms.
April 18 - We will begin by having our 8:30 service in the sanctuary. Those who wish to attend in-person will be able to register online beginning Monday, April 12. It will be a hybrid service: in-person and streamed on Facebook. The 11:00 service will be streamed on Facebook only, and Sunday school classes will remain on ZOOM only.
April 25 - Both the 8:30 and 11:00 services will by hybrid services, offered both in the sanctuary and streamed live on Facebook. Registration will begin on Monday, April 19. Adult Sunday school classes may return to meeting in-person while also connecting via ZOOM with those not present. In order to accommodate social distancing, 50% maximum room capacity per recommendation of the CDC, and the restoration work that is ongoing in the Vastine Building, in most cases room assignments have had to change.
Apple Corps - Apple Corps classroom (B8)
Branches - C19
Genesis - Downstairs Chapel
IConnect - C17
Journey - C24
New Beginnings - B9
New Fellowship - B1
The Way - B7 (B5 if needed)
Youth - Upstairs Chapel
Until we can restore the Vastine Building, for now Children's Sunday School will remain connected on ZOOM, and we ask our adult classes for understanding as the rooms they will use have yet to be restored either. Insurance adjustors are understandably inundated by claims following the winter storm, but we are ready to move forward immediately as soon as our adjustor signs off on the estimated scope of work.
From April 25 on, both the 8:30 and 11:00 services and the adult and youth Sunday school classes will function as hybrid events. We are planning a training meeting via ZOOM prior to the 25th for any small group leader who would like guidance about the various ways to use ZOOM while meeting in-person to include those who cannot be physically present for any reason.
Pastor Faiana is meeting with the leadership of the Tongan-speaking portion of our congregation about whether adjustments will be made the timeline for our 2:00 service. More information on that will be forthcoming.
Beginning Monday, April 26, our mission and outreach programs will have access to indoor work spaces. This includes Beacon House and the Community Pantry. Doug and Deanna will work with Beacon House, Community Pantry, Quilters, Backpack Ministry, and others about space and safety protocols. Beacon House and Community Pantry will reopen when the volunteer staff are ready.
Other weekly or monthly small groups will not be scheduled in-person yet. We want to phase back in while meeting Best Practices or santizing and cleaning public spaces and without overburdening Fransisco and Luis or bankrupting the church in contracted cleaning services! Bathrooms must be cleaned hourly, all high-contact surfaces wiped down, and a disinfecting aeorsole machine used between and after all gatherings. We will get there, I promise. JOY, men's and women's bible studies, the Tueday classes, Wednesday study, Thursday Tongan prayer meeting, and all the myriad of other activities and groups will resume in-person sooner rather than later, just not quite yet.
WHAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW
Your pastors and staff are arguably the most excited of anyone! We miss you and can't wait to see you!! It's been a long year and the pandemic is not yet over, so in order to keep each other safe there some things that we will need to do differently, at least for a while. Some may seem silly or unnecessary to you, but please know that they are all important and based on science and data driven guidelines.
- In accordance with recommended CDC guidelines, attendance for each in-person service will be limited to 150.
- Registration will be required. If you arrive at a service without registering, you will have to wait to enter until just before the service begins to see if there are still slots available once those who registered have arrived.
- Masks worn properly covering the mouth and nose will be required at all times for all people attending any gathering at the church, regardless of vaccination status. Children under 24 months old are exempt, and the worship leader at a socially-distanced microphone may remove his/her mask so as not to be heard muffled. For those who remain concerned, by April 18 all worship leaders who might be briefly unmasked while speaking will be fully vaccinated.
- Every other pew will be available downstairs and in the balcony. People who have been fully vaccinated are welcome to sit with friends from other fully vaccinated households. If you have not been fully vaccinated, please maintain the full six foot social distance from others.
- If you are physically able to make your way to a balcony seat, please consider doing so to allow those who cannot navigate the stairs to have the opportunity to sit downstairs.
- In lieu of paper bulletins and hymnnals, the order of service and announcement information will be on the screens and available electronically on your phone. Offering boxes will be at the entrance to the sanctuary.
- For the time being there will be no coffee service offered or food (including in Sunday school classes). You are welcome to bring a beverage to class with you and pull your mask down as you need to take a sip.
- We will not yet be offering nursery.
- We WILL be offering a shared experience of face-to-face community gathering to praise God, learn from and with one another, and share the joys and challenges of life.
In this season of resurrection and new life, it is truly life anew that is being offered to us. Things will still feel a bit different, but I cannot wait to experience it all with you!
May the joy of Easter, the promise of new life, and the love of the Risen Christ enfold, sustain and renew you - this day and always!
Blessed to be your pastor!
aka "The Vicar"