Dear members and friends of Bethel,
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, much of Ohio has re-opened or will be re-opening soon. This begs the question about Bethel. Bethel has been closed, though we have not locked our doors. Originally, we shared that those who are socially isolated or without internet can attend the church, but we did require masks. Then, I followed that with another message discouraging attendance. As human beings we do have an inherent need to be around people (Genesis 2:18). That need still exists. As Christians we also have a need for fellowship. The Bible does talk highly of the importance of fellowship, or community. Gathering as a body of believers is very important to the life of the church (Proverbs 27:7; Ecclesiastes 4:12; 1 John 1:7; Acts 2:42; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12). As stated, fellowship is very important to people in general. It is very important to be able to interact with other people. Staying alone and not getting out of the house can lead to a higher risk of depression and anxiety. Over the last few weeks, I have noticed more people attending worship probably because they need to be around other people and need the fellowship of believers.
Our elders have met and prayed about this and we will officially open the church on Sunday, May 31. However, we will have TWO options. People can still stay home and have the virtual option. It will continue to be on video the same as it has been. This will be a personal decision we ask everyone to make. We will have the following expectations (some of these you may have seen before) for those that attend:
- We will limit the sanctuary to less than fifty percent of its capacity.
- Please go directly to your seat, no congregating inside.
- We expect people to maintain social distancing at all times. No hugging, shaking hands, etc.
- We will have 6 feet marked on the pews and on the floor and if you are not related maintain 6 feet of distance.
- We HIGHLY RECOMMEND MASKS at least when entering and exiting the sanctuary. We would appreciate it if you wear a mask when entering and exiting (health issues exempted).
- Sunday School classes will be decided by each teacher. If you do not hear from your Sunday School teacher and you are interested in the class resuming please reach out to him/her or contact the church.
- The mid-week adult Bible study will resume in the church on Wednesday, June 3, but will also be on Facebook Live.
- No children’s activities at this time.
- If you are sick stay home and DO NOT feel guilty. If you come to church and you are showing signs of sickness, we may ask you to leave.
- If you have a compromised immune system stay home and DO NOT feel guilty. Actually, we encourage you to stay home.
- We want to emphasize this strongly: If your immune system is compromised in any way please stay home.
- Your immune system could be compromised if you: are elderly, are diabetic, are going through cancer treatment, have a respiratory issues, are sick in another way.
- If you are a caregiver of a person with a compromised immune system stay home.
- If you do not feel comfortable coming to church because of the concern of COVID-19 stay home.
- During this time, no one should feel compelled to come to our church gathering.
- Our leadership should not feel compelled to attend the church gathering.
- Bottom line, we would like you to seek the Lord’s leading about whether or not you should attend the worship service. Use your reasoning ability. Talk to your doctor. Seek guidance from others. We respect your decision.
As of this writing that is our plan.
Let’s us remember that we have nothing to fear. Our God is in control and let’s remain in prayer as that is most important (Philippians 4:6-7).
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea…
Bethel Friends elders