June 16, 2020
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

As we shared Sunday, our return to in-person worship and small group gatherings has now been approved by the District Superintendent. I am excited to announce we will resume in-person worship this coming Sunday, June 21st at 9:30 am with a casual outdoor service (weather pending) on the front lawn of 308 Laurel Street (the white house behind the church). We will also host another casual outdoor service on June 28th (weather pending) and resume in-person worship indoors on July 5th with the Contemporary Service at 9 am in the Crest Center and the Traditional Service at 11 am in the Sanctuary. Going forward, all services will require an RSVP so that we can comply with social distancing guidelines.

The RSVP system will go live at 7 am on Wednesday, June 17 and will be found on our home page at www.signalcrestumc.org. We will also send an email with the link Wednesday morning. Please note, you will have to register each person that will be attending worship. If you are not able to register online, please call the church office at 423.886.2330 and leave a message. We will be back in touch to register you. If worship fills up, we will start a wait list and do our best to secure you a seat in worship and/or give you preference the following Sunday so that all that wish to attend may be able to do so. The system will close at noon on Friday, June 19th.

While I am overjoyed for us to now be able to resume in-person worship and gatherings, I recognize that some of you will choose not to return for some time. Please know we love and respect the decisions you need to make for yourselves and your families. Signal Crest will continue to offer online worship opportunities during this transition. For Sunday, June 21st we will offer the in-person service on Facebook Live (technology pending) at 9:30 am as well as a pre-recorded service that will be posted on Facebook and Youtube that you can access anytime after 7 am. We will email the link directly on Sunday morning and post it to Facebook.

You will see below that worship will look different but I am encouraged that this is just for a season.  Please know, our desire is for everyone that wants to attend worship to be able to. We ask for understanding with the services initially offered. Our Health and Wellness Taskforce will review the plans and make adjustments if needed. We pray conditions improve around COVID-19 that will allow us to loosen many of the guidelines being put in place.  To stay up to date on our COVID-19 updates, please visit our home page here.

Guidelines established for in-person worship and small group gatherings:

  • If you are sick, please stay home. People who are symptomatic, have a fever, have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or traveled internationally or to a domestic hot spot are requested to stay home.

  • We will be required to cap service attendance to comply with social distancing guidelines. While it is not our intent to exclude someone from worship, please know that due to social distancing, services will have limited seating.  

  • We will utilize an RSVP system for worship. This is necessary not only because of social distancing but to fulfill the tracking requirements from our conference to know those in attendance. The system will open at 7 am on Wednesdays prior to worship and will close at noon on the Fridays prior to worship. The system may be accessed via our homepage at www.signalcrestumc.org. You will RSVP for each person attending.

  • Social distancing will be exercised during worship. Worshipers are required to remain six feet apart from anyone not in their personal household. Ushers and greeters will assist with this practice as you enter the worship space.  

  • Please minimize physical contact. Please greet one another with a smile and a wave, an air high five, or an air hug.

  • Out of love for our neighbors, all worshipers are required to wear face coverings. This practice will help to protect the health of all that attend our services and is done out of love and not fear. We are asking that you bring, and wear, a face mask. (If a person forgets to bring a mask, greeters will make one available.) Those preaching and leading worship will remove face coverings when speaking while maintaining a distance of at least 12 feet from others. When not leading, they will resume wearing their masks.  

  • Cloth face coverings/masks should not be placed on the following:
  • children under the age of two
  • those who have breathing difficulties
  • those unable to remove the mask without assistance 
Therefore, it is recommended the above persons remain home at this time.

  • No touch temperature checks will be taken for indoor worship. Anyone who has a fever of 100.4 will be asked to return home to watch worship online.

  • We will minimize use of common items. No bulletins will be distributed, hymnals and Bibles will be removed from the pews and no coffee or food will be served. Please remember if you brought it with you, take it with you. This will help assist with clean up and sanitation.  

  • In adhering to conference guidelines, Congregational singing will be suspended until further notice.

  • Bus service to Alexian is suspended until further notice.  

  • Childcare will not be available at this time. We ask that children remain with their parents during worship. Efforts will be made to make our worship services child friendly and enriching for all.

  • Please do not linger as you enter and exit the church and worship spaces. This will help with social distancing. The services will be dismissed row by row. 

  • Pastors will remain at the front of the worship space. If you wish to speak or pray with them, please remain in your seat until you can proceed forward safely while practicing social distancing of at least six feet.  

  • Offering plates/baskets will not be passed person to person. A stationary basket will be in place at the entrance and exits for those who wish to place an offering. Online giving means will continue to be available.

  • Only the worship space and restrooms will be available (for indoor services). Outdoor services will not have access to restrooms. To assist with cleaning and sanitation, worshipers will only be able to access the portion of the building associated with the service they are attending. 

Sunday School and Small Groups
  • We will not have in-person Sunday School at church on Sunday mornings. However, we encourage classes to continue meeting virtually.  (If your class is 10 or less, see the following bullet point). If you are not connected in a Sunday School class, but would like to be, please email Rebekah Ducote at rducote@signalcrestumc.org.

  • Adult Sunday School and Small groups will be allowed to meet off of church property. In adherence with conference guidelines, these groups are limited to 10 or less people. More information will be forthcoming to our adult small group leaders and Sunday School classes.  

Youth and Children
  • Youth groups (grades 6-12) will also be allowed to meet off of church property in groups of 10 or less but with guidelines in place. More information will be shared soon from our Director of Youth Ministries, Drew Barton.

  • Exciting online children’s activities will continue. In-person children’s activities are suspended until further notice but we encourage all of our families with children (preschool through 5th grade), to register and attend our fun filled and inspirational virtual Rocky Railway Family Summer Adventure. The fun begins July 6th. To learn more and register, visit here for more information on our children’s ministries, you may contact Rachel Dow at children@signalcrestumc.org.

Other Considerations
  • For the time being, the church facility will remain closed, except for worship. This will ensure that worship spaces remain clean and sanitized.  

  • To ensure our spaces remain sanitized and safe, if you have a key to the church and need to enter, we ask that you please let the church know. You may do so by emailing staff@signalcrestumc.org or leaving a message at 886-2330.  This will ensure spaces entered are cleaned. Please do not enter until you have received confirmation from a staff member.  

With the desire to protect those of us who are most vulnerable, as defined by the state (those over age 65, those with disabilities, those with serious respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, and those who are immune-compromised), we ask that they continue to worship with us, from their homes, via our online services. We also recommend that ANYONE who feels that by attending worship in-person, could jeopardize their health OR the health of another family member, remain at home and continue to participate in services through online streaming.

Brothers and sisters, one thing is certain, we need Jesus! I am excited to continue worship alongside you whether inside the walls of Signal Crest or online. I invite you to be in prayer for Signal Crest as we move forward in resuming in-person worship. Better days are ahead my friends. Even in the hard times, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”.

Rev. Josh Kilbourne