This week we’ve all watched as the cases of COVID-19 have risen. As a result, we will be returning back to a “redo” of some of our earlier phases. Beginning July 5, we will return to only having corporate worship services at 8:15am and 10:45am in the Family Life Center (hereinafter FLC) following appropriate social distancing guidelines.
While we cherish our in-person gatherings, we’ve observed other congregations that have needed to cancel everything due to an outbreak within their congregation. So to protect our people and to prevent a wide scale outbreak, at this time, we believe this to be the wisest move.
As we move back into more diligent social distancing, here are our recommended guidelines.
We ask individuals to maintain a 6 feet distance from any non-household members.
We strongly recommend all individuals in the congregation to wear a face mask when enter, exiting, and when in close proximity to others.
We will arrange the building and service to be as “touchless” as possible in an effort to reduce germ spread through surface contact. You will see this practice implemented as doors will be propped open, common use books and Bibles will not be present, and as we worship through giving we will not pass an offering plate.
Between services, we will disinfect appropriate surfaces and clean/sanitize restrooms.
To be clear, as for now, the only gathering we will have at Galilee Baptist Church will be our Sunday Morning corporate worship services. We will continue posting our services on Facebook, YouTube, and galileebc.com. Additionally, the service will be recorded and DVDs made available to those without internet.
Consider the a few lines from Pastor Brian’s message to our youth, “There are many differing responses and opinions on how to handle this pandemic, but clearly we should obey Scripture and count others as more significant than ourselves and look out for their best interests (Philippians 2:3-4).…Lastly, please be in prayer as we strive to function in unity as the body of Christ during these odd times.”
The Leadership of Galilee Baptist Church
Phase 3- Restarting (6/18/2020)
As we’ve prayerfully weighed all the data, we’ve come to the conclusion it’s time to restart some of our small group Bible studies. We previously (see Phase 2 announcement below) laid out the principles we would use in determining the merits and risks associated with each group restarting and present the following as our recommendation.
June 21- All Youth Related Activities
Reasoning: In considering the CDC data, throughout the life of the virus, those in this demographic were least effected. As of the last data set from 6/6/20, there were 0 deaths in the US for that week in the age group of 0–24 years of age.
Specifics: Due to having youth camp during the week of June 22–25, Sunday School and Sunday night services won’t resume until July 5.
June 21- Select Adult Sunday School Classes and Bible Studies
Reasoning: As cited in the Phase 2 announcement below, while adults contract the virus at a higher rate than other demographics, the severity of the virus related to hospitalization and death is minimal.
Specifics: Each adult teacher was contacted to gauge his or her comfort in resuming, his or her thoughts on appropriate space, and when he or she wanted class to resume. As a result, believe the following classes and start dates are within the boundaries of what we would consider to be wise and safe.
Women 1/ Teacher: Vergie Brashier
Men 1/ Teacher: Mike Talley
Men 2/ Teacher: Doug Cornelius
Doctrine Matters/ Teacher: Jay Sullivan
Women 2/ Teacher: Mary Jane Fabre
Adult Co-ed/ Teacher: David Kennedy
College & Career/ Teacher: Bruce Sarrazin
Sr Adult Women/ Teacher: Dona White
Family Matters/ Teacher: Billy Foster
Additionally, other adult Bible studies will be announced as they are approved to be scheduled.
July 5- Nursery, Children’s Sunday School Classes, Children’s Church, and Bible Studies
Reasoning: Of the 1.8 million reported cases, less than 5% were recorded in those 0–17 years of age. Furthermore, as of the last data set reported 6/6/2020, in the demographic range of 0–14 years, only 21 deaths total for the entire COVID-19 crises have been reported to be in any way related to COVID-19. (Though written in April, this CDC report provides a more technical explanation). While the loss of these children is no trite matter, we believe the risk to be minimal when considering the information at our disposal.
Specifics: We are currently working on developing a robust plan for safety, contacting our volunteers, and preparing the space to resume all children’s related activity July 5.
Additionally, we want to reassure you that we are working as best we can to provide a clean and safe environment. Nonetheless, we can never guarantee a sterile environment so we ask you to use your best judgment in when you return. If you have preexisting conditions, if you aren’t feeling well, or if you are regularly around those who may fall into these categories, we understand you staying home and you will be missed.
Lastly we will continue to meet for corporate worship services at 8:15am and 10:45am in the Family Life Center with appropriate social distancing guidelines; if you can’t make it, the second service will be recorded and/or streamed each Sunday and we invite you to join us in that way.
Pastoral Request from Bro. Andrew
Finally, I want to invite you to join me in the Sanctuary the next several weeks, beginning June 27, 2020, on Saturday at 6pm for a time of prayer.
The Leadership of Galilee Baptist Church
Phase 2 Readjusting (6/4/2020)
About 3 weeks ago, we announced our plan to regather. Today, we want to present further plans. Much of what we are doing will remain the same.
We will continue to meet for corporate worship services at 8:15am and 10:45am in the Family Life Center (hereinafter FLC) with appropriate social distancing guidelines.
However, we recommend two modifications.
Face mask Modification- Beginning June 7, we only request you wear a face covering as you enter and exit.
Small Group Modification- Beginning June 21, we will resume some small groups gatherings, on a case by case basis.
Along with these recommendations, we know you still have questions so let us try to answer the questions you may have.
Why are we still going to meet in FLC? Although the state recommendation of 50% occupancy in Phase 2 takes effect June 5, social distancing measures are still recommended by health officials. Effectively, changing the occupancy does nothing for us.
Why are we changing our policy on face masks? This is a question which brought about much prayer and consideration. While the state still recommends wearing face masks at all times when in public, we looked as several factors.
Distance- The CDC states, “Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult.” Though the CDC does not state the converse, we believe we are adequately social distanced, striving to consistently provide a minimum of 6 feet between groups.
Conflicting Guidance- While the state officials and the CDC recommend wearing masks, the World Health Organization states, “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.” Furthermore, as Louisiana proceeds to Phase 2, establishments where face masks are unreasonable, such as bars and restaurants will be welcoming patrons with social distancing guidelines in place. (It’s unreasonable to assume someone will wear a mask while eating or drinking).
Pragmatism- While we strive to be good citizens, we recognize one of the functions of congregational singing is to encourage one another. Wearing masks inhibits our ability to fulfill the function as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Ultimately, we believe we can be safe while loosening our recommendation on masks. Nonetheless, we do as that when not appropriately distanced, you please continue wearing a face covering.
What small groups will be able to meet starting June 21? That will be decided on a case by case basis by church leaders. However, three principles will aid the decision.
Demographic- When looking statistically at those effected by the virus, we clearly see that some demographics are more drastically effected than others. For instance, while the CDC’s data indicates the overwhelming of positive tests fall within the 18–64 years of age range, it also indicates the vast majority of deaths fall within those 65 years of age and older, with the more senior most susceptible.
Space- Regardless of demographic, we still will observe practices to ensure appropriate social distancing measures.
Safety- Ultimately, any decision will come down to what we believe will keep our members safe.
While we can’t restart all our small group gatherings, we desire to provide this opportunity because we believe these small groups are important to a person’s spiritual well-being.
Pastoral Consideration from Bro Andrew
Finally, in this challenging time for our nation, I want to ask you to join us in prayer, with Ps 62 being our prayer. I pray God will revive our hearts so that God alone is who our soul desires. I pray that we can have confidence and peace because we know the LORD who is our rock, our salvation, and our fortress. I pray we will trust Him at all times and that we will pour out our hearts to Him. My brothers and sisters, may we look back at this time when the LORD started a revival that changed the course of our lives, of our community, of our state, of our nation, and of our world.
The Leadership of Galilee Baptist Church
Phase 1 Reopening (5/13/2020)
It has now been two months since we last gathered in person. Today, we are excited to announce our plan to resume corporate worship services at 8:15am and 10:45am in the Family Life Center (hereinafter FLC) beginning May 24 following appropriate social distancing guidelines.
Why the FLC? The prints of the FLC list capacity at 616 people. The state recommendation of 25% capacity would limit maximum occupancy to 154 people per service.
Why May 24? This date gives time to make necessary contacts with the church about the soft reopening in order to inquire which service will be attended so that we can stay within the 154 per service maximum. In order to gather this information, members and attendees will be asked to fill out a survey online (see below) to designate service preference. For those not online, the Deacons, Elders/Elder Candidates, Office Staff, and Other Church Leaders will contact attendees to inquire about a service preference. UPDATE 6/4/2020: Since we have resumed, the registering is currently not needed.
What social distancing guidelines and sanitizing practices will be in place? Succinctly stated
1. We ask individuals to maintain a 6 feet distance from any non-household members.
2. We strongly recommend all individuals in the congregation to wear a face mask.
3. We will arrange the building and service to be as “touchless” as possible in an effort to reduce germ spread through surface contact. You will see this practice implemented as doors will be propped open, common use books and Bibles will not be present, and as we worship through giving we will not pass an offering plate.
4. Between services, we will disinfect appropriate surfaces and clean/sanitize restrooms.
What about childcare and children’s church? For the present time, for the safety of our families and workers, both will be cancelled until further notice.
What about those not comfortable with getting out? We will begin streaming the entire service online on Facebook, YouTube, and galileebc.com. Additionally, the service will be recorded and DVDs made available to those without internet. (We are upgrading our CCLI license to do this ethically and legally)
What about other activities? For the present, all other activities will remain cancelled or postponed until further notice. However, as time progresses, upcoming activities will be evaluated on a case by case basis as to what would be in the best interest of our member’s health, both physical and spiritual.
Two passages should drive our response to how we proceed.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to
love one another. (John 13:34)
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:4)
As we resume gathering, we are making a plea to our church family that we demonstrate godly forbearance and love toward one another as we begin a process of returning to corporate worship on our campus.
We know that within our church, our opinions will for sure vary, but what cannot vary is our love and devotion to Christ, the Gospel, and one another.
To be sure, we realize that while we recommend the CDC guidance of wearing a mask, some will be persuaded not. And while we request attendees maintain appropriate social distancing and refrain from handshakes and hugs, some will be inclined to shake hands and give hugs.
Hear Scripture's plea: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:12–14).
In obedience to God’s Word, we ask that each of us consider others conviction as more important than our own. We ask that we not put others in situations where awkwardness and hurt feelings may arise. Ultimately we ask that we each extend grace, forgiveness, and forbearance to those who have a different response than we.
The Leadership of Galilee Baptist Church