Sat, Jul 4, 2020 – Current In-Person Strategy
Scott’s Thoughts Update – Sat, Jul 4, 2020
Hello friends! Scott here with an important “Scott’s Thoughts” update. I wanted to provide some preamble to the following Elders Update.
- Oops, Mail’s Not Gonna Arrive In Time – During COVID-19, because we’ve had to change strategies so often, occasionally multiples time per week, and even on a Friday, etc., we’ve been sending these Elders Update letters on Thursdays so most of our folks will receive it on Friday or Saturday with timely information. This has worked quite well till this one because, oh yeah, it’s July 4th weekend, and there’s no mail service on Saturday, so many will receive it too late. So, we’re sending an email, group text message, and posting it online at fccgreene.org/st (where I do some occasional blogging and writing.) So, our apologies for the mess-up.
- Seriousness Of Doing Better At In-Person Gatherings – The first few weeks of our rephasing toward worship gatherings have gone well, but… with the recent hopefully temporary uptick in COVID-19 cases, we need to do better at being careful to abide by our precautionary measures, not just to do our best to prevent infection, but also because it will help ensure those who are unsure of coming to church that we on Team FCC are being careful to create an environment that accounts well for their safety. So, please pay attention to our 5 Safety Steps outlined below in the Elders Update. They will be posted on the doors and our Guest Team and Campus Pastors will provide what we like to call “friendly reminders” of our 5 Safety Steps.
- We’re All Doing Our Best, So Relax, Pray, And Extend Grace – Church staff across the nation have been sharing in-house memes (in Facebook groups of thousands of staffers) of what it feels like to try to lead right now and I came across one that is especially accurate.
- 3 Weeks Ago…
- Church Member #1: “Pastor, why in the world are you reopening church services so soon?”
- Church Member #2: “Pastor, why in the world did you ever shut down church services in the first place?”
- 2 Weeks Ago…
- Church Member #1: “Pastor, why haven’t you been more supportive about the struggle of minorities?”
- Church Member #2: “Pastor, why haven’t you been more supportive of the police?”
- 1 Week Ago…
- Church Member #1: “Require masks! Pastor, clearly you don’t care about human lives.”
- Church Member #2: “Require masks? Pastor, clearly you don’t care about human liberty.”
- Me, Today… “Lord, are you sure you don’t want me to sell cars for a living?”
- 3 Weeks Ago…
It feels like a no-win situation no matter what we do, say, don’t do, or don’t say.
So, I want you to know that, just like you, we’re doing our best with a constant flow of information–all mediated from an angle, not as clear as needed, and constantly changing–to respond wisely to relatively unprecedented circumstances. We will not meet your expectations well enough, so please disabuse yourself of the idea that such expectations are warranted, for us as a church, for yourself and your family, and for your local medical professionals, civil officials, and law enforcement.
So on July 4th, when we’re supposed to be celebrating our freedoms but the past few months have felt like a civil war of politicized ideologies, let us all, please, as a church body with a higher call to bow the knee to Jesus as King, take a moment to…
- realize we’re all doing our best in less-than-ideal circumstances with less-than-clear information,
- relax with the constant need to unhelpfully politicize everything everybody says,
- pray for one another, and
- extend some badly needed grace.
I love you, FCC, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life than serving alongside you.
(And, btw, if I go into car sales, I’m gonna need a bunch of you to start buying your cars from me, ok? I promise to not hide any of those fees they always get you on.)
Friends of First Christian Church!
It’s been really wonderful the last two weeks to see so many of your faces, both veterans and brand new FCCers! Our first two weeks of being together to worship the Lord were great and went really well, (almost too well… keep reading… ), but it’s time to take another step toward the new post-COVID normal. Here are our plans to balance the priorities of both ongoing safety and digital/online accessibility so we can open carefully, provide more seating capacity (which we’ve seriously needed in 6 of 8 services the last 2 weeks!), and stay online for those not yet ready to return.1
Sun, July 5 – You need to pay attention to the first bullet point because it changes radically next week!
- In-Person: 9:20a & 10:40a at Afton and Greeneville. Online: Sat 7p, Sun 8a, 9:20a, 10:40a, 7p at fccgreene.org.
- Goal is to continue limiting seating to 50% capacity at every service (which we’ve been doing successfully now for a month.)
- Services will be 45 minutes, with 2 congregational songs (during which we want those sitting to wear masks) and a close-to-normal-length sermon, no passing out of bulletins or communion (which is pre-packaged and handed to you beforehand.)
- Kids Min is open for all ages. (We’ve had plenty of room for kiddos in our spaces, but feel free to keep ’em with you!)
- Please: (1) Sanitize hands and maintain distance. (2) Wear a “Comfort Level” sticker. (3) No lobby lingering–stay outside as much as possible. (4) Keep 2 seats between each group. (5) Wear a mask for singing and serving (for Sun, Jul 5 & 12).
- Cleaning – We’ll be doing the new normal of extra cleaning and disinfecting, no to passing and bulletins, and yes to pre-packaged communion and sanitizer on your way in and out.
- If you have a serious case of Church Rephasing Awkwardness (CRA) or actual physical symptoms, or if you are 60 or older and/or immunocompromised, feel free to watch from home. For medical advice, consult your actual doctor. For DVDs, call us.
Sun, July 12 – You need to pay attention to the first bullet point below because it has changed radically from last week!
- In-Person: 9a, 10a, and 11a, at Afton and Greeneville. Online: Sat 7p, Sun 9a, 10a, 11a, 7p at fccgreene.org.
- Everything else will remain the same as above for this Sun, Jul 12.
- Doing 3 services enables us to provide more safe seating capacity. We will manage ongoing questions of safety and capacity as we go, letting you know of any changes beyond the 12th will be made clear in an upcoming Elders Update Letter (available at fccgreene.org/eldersletter or on our new mobile app under the “Pulse” tab.)
Please be praying for our medical and political leaders, local and federal, to make wise decisions, as well as for our church, that we would extend Christ-like grace to one another, so that, whether you’re pro or con this or that, our attitudes with one another and our response as a church would glorify God and proclaim Christ as preeminent over all creation!
The Elders of First Christian Church of Greeneville, TN — Chuck Bowlin, Mark Liebert, Bill Richards, Mike Schubert, Scott Wakefield
1During COVID-19, we have been closely monitoring national and local data and information from politicians, medical experts, and other churches in order to take a middle-of-the- 1 road approach that does our best to account for constantly changing information. We are aware of recent rising cases of COVID-19 but believe the confluence of the following factors is a cumulative case for why it is not only safe but good for us to begin to phase back into gathering while continuing necessary safety precautions: (a) testing has almost tripled in last 2 months, (b) active cases generally milder and asymptomatic, (c) nationwide, active cases recovering quicker and with fewer symptoms, (d) treatment is better, (e) avg age of cases down 20 yrs to lower than 40 in multiple states, (f) increasing evidence of antibodies already found in enough of general population in multiple states to show trend toward immunity), (g) locally, hospitalization remains much lower than expected relative to increase in cases, (h) local and regional hospitals have plenty of capacity, (i) deaths trending downward overall despite uptick in cases (even 3-4 weeks after opening of economy, crowding with protests, and vacationing across communities/states), (j) according to state data, in Greene County, from the 33 new cases since Jun 16 there has been 1 new hospitalization, and from the 45 new cases since Apr 28 there have been 2 hospitalizations, (i.e., 2 total hospitalizations in Greene County during the last 2 months), (k) chance of infection of, serious complications for, and infection from children are quite low, (l) and social distancing and lockdown have many negative societal ramifications because typical pre-COVID means of economic production, medical procedures, and religious and societal norms and practices literally keep people alive (e.g., more teens have died from suicide during COVID than from COVID, links between economic depression and increased abuse, fatality, etc.)