COVID 19 Action Plan

Dear Church Family,

Greetings from South Texas! 4/5 of our family is in Bay City for Spring Break; James stayed in Sherman to work and care for our dog Rowdy. From 400 miles away, I just participated in a conference call with several of our key lay leadership: Tom Busby, Marsha Kahl, and SueAnn Spencer. With the rise of the new coronavirus, and particularly in light of the recent diagnosis of a family in Frisco, we believed it was time for Grace to make some short term adjustments to Sunday morning. Our hope in making these changes is to mitigate anxiety, slow down the spread of potentially harmful disease, and to do our best to ensure the health and well being of everyone who worships here.

These changes will be effective immediately:
1. Please refrain from physical contact. No shaking hands. Welcome each other with a gesture: wave, nod, even a wink!
2. Everyone should wash their hands several times on Sunday morning. Before leaving home, immediately after entering the church, as you leave. Years ago I adopted a similar practice when visiting at the hospital. Wash and sanitize multiple times per visit. If it helps me stay healthy, that’s ok; but as a pastor, I contact so many people throughout the week. I need to take responsibility for each of those potential interactions.
3. We’re hearing the term “social space” quite a bit. If you are feeling poorly, please stay home. Again, do this for your own self, but also for the well being of others. Likewise, if you want to come to public worship but need to limit exposure, feel free to sit by yourself. We have a beautiful, large worship space. Feel free to explore it! And you will not hurt anyone’s feelings if they reach out their hand to shake and you politely decline. We will make online worship possible via Facebook Live, so if you are unable to worship at church you will be able to join in that way.
4. We also have a ton of Stephen’s Ministers at Grace. So if you are feeling anxious, don’t be afraid to reach out to one of them for some words of encouragement. They are here for you!
5. If you have leftover snacks, please do not share them with the church. We are confident they are delicious, and your thought is appreciated; but we’re not going to leave out food to be shared. We will still have coffee, but it will be brewed in the kitchen and served in vessels for pouring. This will lessen hand to hand contact on the spigot.
6. We will greet each other before and after worship, rather than “passing the peace” during the service. We will still sing our sending song at the end of each service, but not while holding hands. Just extend your arms and open your hands while singing. It’s an ancient gesture of prayer.
7. We will still receive the offering, but not by passing plates. Please leave your gift in the plates before or after worship, Beanpot style, give in advance online , or through bank draft.
8. When we take Holy Communion together, we will not do so by intinction. There will be individual communion servings as you enter the Celebration Center. Clean your hands, leave your offering, grab your serving, partake during the liturgy. You will receive instructions.

It’s very important that each of us follow these guidelines for our life together. It is also vital that these be communicated in a variety of ways. Not everyone has access to email, YouTube, or social media. So let’s expand our ministry, especially to our most vulnerable members. Sunday school classes should regularly check in on anyone who has missed two or more Sundays. We don’t want people to feel isolated or alone. If you see someone shaking hands or serving themselves coffee, they may not have heard of these changes. Please gently remind or inform them.

These are not flippant changes; no one is panicking. We are being good stewards of our relationships to each other and the stranger. Jesus encouraged us to care for one another by clothing the naked,  feeding the hungry, and ministering to the sick. All of these actions help us to do those things.

Thank you for your participation in these changes.
All Grace is Amazing!