What a blessing it has been to see many of you in person as you have returned to the Sanctuary for worship. And for those of you who haven’t been able to come back, I am so grateful you have been joining us online. I am so thankful we have had the capabilities of reaching you via our livestream. It’s always a joy to hear from so many of you who are on the other side of the screen, even though I’ve not been able to literally “see you” in person since March. While we are far from where we were (as it relates to attendance) prior to Covid-19, I can tell you that we have been able to see this disruption as an new opportunity for ministry that will not move us into a “new normal” but a “new reality” (words from Thom Rainer).
With that in mind, we find ourselves wanting to be on the forefront of establishing that new reality rather than having someone do it for us. That means that the way we used to do things will not necessarily be the way we do things from now on. Now don’t get nervous. It just means we want to be very intentional about ministering to those within the Asbury family, as well as be more active in reaching our neighborhood and beyond with the love of Jesus in ways that were not so effective in the past.
As we move into September, we desire to move into the next phase of reopening the Church facilities for ministry. Both the Church Board and the Leadership Team have met and agree that we would like to begin to provide space for classes, life groups and other gatherings for adults, youth and children. So, in keeping with the opening of the schools, our desire is to begin opening up the Church classrooms September 13th -- the Sunday after Labor Day. And while it will not mean that all classes will be meeting at the same time, we will do our best to accommodate the needs of our Church family. It also will mean that persons are to adhere to the safety guidelines that are currently in place here at Asbury Church. Our safety guidelines can be found on the front page of our web site (www.AsburyChurch.org).
We are asking that Sunday school teachers, life group leaders, Bible study leaders or any other group leaders be responsible to schedule a time and room location (even meeting outdoors) for your group by contacting Mary Jo in the Church Office at 942-1491 or Maryjo.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be able to share the number of persons you believe will attend so she can schedule a room to fit your need. This does not have to be on Sunday morning between services. This can be at any time during the week as long as it does not interfere with another scheduled class. Each leader will need to be responsible to see that the safety guidelines are followed within your own class. That includes social distancing, the encouragement to wear masks where social distancing is not feasible, and staying home if feeling ill, having fever, etc. The 3 Ws are helpful – wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear a mask when unable to social distance.
A time for the children will be offered during the 10:30am worship service and will meet in the Gymnasium following the Children’s Sermon. The Youth Room (D104) will also be available for our youth on Sunday mornings and evenings. Unfortunately for now, we are unable to offer children’s Sunday school or a nursery but hope to offer that as soon as we are able. (Please stay tuned for information regarding Children’s Ministry on Wednesday evenings).
Once again I remind you that this is a very fluid approach to resuming our gatherings here in the Church facilities. Things could change at any moment as you well know, but our desire is not to “forsake the gathering of the assembly”, keeping in mind our attention to keeping you safe. Just so you know, there are hand sanitizing stations at the main entrances and positioned throughout the Church. The Sanctuary, door handles, door knobs, counters, etc. are sanitized before and after each service. Masks are highly encouraged when social distancing cannot take place, however they are not mandated. We just ask that you respect one another as it relates to masks. The pews are roped off every other pew so social distancing is working well in the Sanctuary. Bottom line – we are doing all we can to keep you safe, but as you know, any sickness or virus can occur at any given time. And as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a risk just getting out of bed in the morning, independent of the presence of a virus.
As the Church, we are called to be strong and courageous, to stand on the front lines and to care and be attentive to people in times of trouble. We can’t do that if we cower and hide under a rock. That’s exactly what the devil wants. And yes, we will be careful, responsible, and use common sense. I will assure you of that. Please hear me – I respect whatever decision you make as it pertains to returning or staying home. I am the shepherd of a lot of sheep and my goal is to care for each one of you, in person, or on the other side of the screen.
Below is an outreach event we are scheduling for September 11th, the Friday before resuming some semblance of meeting again in classes. We will be offering watermelon, some ice cream, and live music to our neighborhood as an opportunity to just have some fun and hopefully to meet some new folks. If you would like to help us out by serving, please give us a shout. It will be a fun evening, and dare I say, it’s time for some fun!
Blessings to you all!
Pastor Rick Just