COVID-19 - Reopening - Stage One

Dear GBC Family,

I write to you today to share some great news! The Official Board has completed preparations to re-gather in our church for Sunday worship services beginning this Sunday, May 24, 2020. I am so thankful for their diligence and hard work, and many others who have contributed like our AV Team and our trained health-care professionals. Our desire has always been to gather as soon as possible, but we also wanted to be appropriately careful and implement reasonable efforts to prevent the spread of infection among our congregation.

We are aware that our high-risk groups are still being advised to stay home as much as possible. For others there may still be fear, anxiety or concern about assembling. Please know you will be missed, loved and prayed for regardless of where you are on Sunday morning. We will continue providing a live-stream option for those who choose to remain at home.

The Board has decided to start ‘simple’ with no morning classes or childcare options for now. The Nursery will only be open for use by parents of infants. We will include a brief children’s Bible story in the service and accompanying materials that will be emailed with the bulletin for home use. Copies of the materials will also be available in the foyer for those attending at GBC.

There are, of course, a number of new protocols that will be in place in accordance with Stage One guidelines of Gov. Hogan’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery. Regardless of our opinions of the current situation, Romans 13:1-7 is clear that we are to be subject, whether by honor or fear, to our governing authorities. Furthermore, as the body of Christ, we are to pursue the spirit of Christian love and unity as expressed in Philippians 2:4 & Ephesians 4:1-3.

These new procedures will be broken up into 3 categories: before, during and after service. Please read through the details carefully and contact a Board member with your questions or concerns.

Before Service

Face-coverings (as defined in executive order #20-04-15-01) will be required inside our building. Please bring your own ‘mask,’ as we are not able to supply them for all attenders. As you enter the building, you will be reminded to be sure they cover your nose and mouth.

Temperature screening will be required as you enter the building. At each entrance, one of GBC’s trained health-care professionals will scan your forehead with a non-contact infrared thermometer. They will report the result to you immediately. Anyone whose temperature is above 99.9 will be asked to return to their home and watch the live stream.

We ask that all attenders practice physical distancing as much as possible while inside the building. The advisory given to use by the state of Maryland is for seven (7) feet. To that end, we are asking folks to stay to the right as you traverse hallways and the foyer. We realize that there will be instances when this is not possible, but ask that you do your best at all times.

There will be a great temptation to stop in the foyer to catch up with your GBC friends before service. We ask that you refrain from doing so until after church, as this will create a ‘bottleneck’ in our foyer and hallways preventing others from maintaining the appropriate distance.

During Service

Sanctuary seating has been modified to comply with the current health advisory. We have closed every other pew using blue tape, and marked the open pew seats with a ‘physical distance’ gap in the middle. A maximum of two family units per pew will be allowed with each at opposite ends. Our ushers will be available to help you find an open seat should you have difficulty navigating this arrangement.

Churches in MD have been asked to refrain from congregational singing as this produces six (6) times the number of droplets from a person’s mouth compared to when they are speaking. We will continue to include special music with well-known songs, performed live on stage. This will be difficult for many of you, but it will give you a chance to put into practice what is perhaps the least emphasized portions of Ephesians 5:19… “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

There will be no offering/offertory during the service, since passing plates can pass germs. There is a locked box built into our Welcome Center and a sign identifying the slot in which you can drop your offerings. You are also free to continue using USPS or online giving if you desire.

You may also notice additional audio/video equipment on and around the stage. This is for the purpose of our live-stream option for folks at home. Please know that we are all getting used to this feature and there may be some technical difficulties during service that affect even those who are gathered at the church.

After Service

We realize there is a great desire to converse, face to face, with those whom you have not seen in many weeks. But, as we conclude the service, you will be asked to exit the building promptly where you can fellowship freely… even without your mask, if you so choose. Again, you will be asked to refrain from stopping for conversation inside the building.

These are unusual times with unusual requirements. As your church leaders, we ask that you would cheerfully support these efforts to please the Lord in how we respect our governing authorities and how we love our ‘neighbor.’

Lord willing, these days will be behind us soon and we can look back with wonder as we consider these efforts to prevent the spread of this deadly coronavirus.

Looking forward to reuniting in fellowship with great anticipation,

Pastor Greg