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COVID-19 / Coronavirus Response
From Pastor Daniel 5.11.20
Let me begin by thanking you for your flexibility and faithfulness these past two months as we have navigated how to minister, worship, and enjoy fellowship while unable to gather in person. As we have worshiped via Facebook Live, conducted Bible studies over Zoom, and ministered to one another by phone, your commitment to the Lord and to one another has been an encouragement and an inspiration. Thank you, church family.
As previously announced, we will be resuming in-person worship on Sunday, May 17 at 10:45 a.m. However, with COVID-19 still a danger to public health, things are going to look considerably different for a while. Having sought guidance and wisdom from our staff, deacons, the Dallas Baptist Association, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and the joint recommendations of the governor and state attorney general, here are some of the steps we will be taking to ensure that we can worship together safely:
- Until further notice, we will have one blended worship service at 10:45 a.m. each Sunday. Services will also continue to be streamed online via Facebook Live on the South Garland Baptist Church Facebook page.
- Prior to each service the entire building will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
- Ushers will greet members and guests at the front door and escort them to their seats in the sanctuary to ensure social distancing is practiced in the foyer and sanctuary.
- Every other pew will be roped off and unavailable for seating. On usable pews, each individual or family unit will be seated at least six feet from the nearest member of another household.
- The Faithful Believers classroom, the Discovery classroom, and the sanctuary balcony will be opened up as overflow space. Should those spaces be filled, anyone remaining without a seat will be invited to watch the service via Facebook Live in Wall Hall.
- Instead of passing an offering plate, you will be invited to place your offering in a collection basket at the back of the sanctuary before or after the worship service.
- At the conclusion of the worship service, ushers will dismiss the congregation one pew at a time to help maintain social distancing.
- Following the worship service, every pew and touchpoint will be wiped down, and then the sanctuary will be thoroughly cleaned again during the week.
- We will not be offering Sunday School on campus. Classes are encouraged to continue meeting online or to meet off-campus while practicing social distancing.
- Childcare will not be provided.
These are some of the institutional steps being taken to ensure we are worshiping safely. There are also steps you can take at an individual level:
- If you are not feeling well (fever, coughing, shortness of breath, etc.), please stay home and worship with us via Facebook Live.
- If you are in a high-risk group (65 or older, serious medical conditions, etc.), we strongly encourage you to continue worshiping from home via Facebook Live.
- We strongly encourage you to wear a mask when inside the building. If you do not have one, we will have a limited number of cloth masks available.
- Please enter and exit through the front doors of the building (into the foyer) instead of through another part of the building.
We want to give you an opportunity to ask questions and receive clarification about these plans before May 17. Accordingly, I invite you to join me on Monday, May 11, at 8:00 pm for a Facebook Live town hall, where I will explain these plans in further detail and answer any questions you may have. The town hall will be broadcast on the South Garland Baptist Church Facebook page and a link to the broadcast will be e-mailed out when it begins.
We will continue to closely monitor the number of positive COVID-19 cases in our area and will make decisions about Sunday School, Wednesday night activities, and summer events based upon that information as well as guidance from state and local officials. From the beginning of this crisis, we have sought to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, and that will continue to be the case moving forward. Please continue to pray for the staff, deacons, and other leaders of our church as we seek to serve faithfully in this time.
Click here for a printable version of this email.
This afternoon (April 27), Governor Greg Abbott announced that his current executive order mandating Texans shelter in place will expire as scheduled on April 30 and be replaced on May 1 with a new executive order instituting a two-phase reopening of Texas’s economy. This executive order legally supersedes any local orders.
Under both the current executive order and the one which will take effect on May 1, churches are classified as “essential businesses” and are legally allowed to remain open, but encouraged to follow the restrictions placed on businesses in the name of public health and love for our neighbors. In that spirit, South Garland Baptist Church has not had an in-person gathering of any kind since March 15 and church offices have been closed since March 24. We have sought to minister to you and to our community online, by phone, and through other creative avenues which respected social distancing restrictions.
As eager as we are to return to gathering in person, we also need to recognize the reality that Dallas County and the city of Garland have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. In light of this stark reality and out of an abundance of caution, we will be following the direction given last week by Dallas County—even though the governor’s new executive order does not require us to do so—by keeping church offices closed through May 15 and continuing to worship via Facebook Live until May 17 at the earliest.
This decision gives our area more time to continue “flattening the curve” of infection and gives church leadership time to continue preparing for an in-person return. Between now and then, we will be checking in with local churches, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and other trusted friends to determine how best to implement social distancing restrictions when we return.
I am eager to worship, pray, and enjoy fellowship with you in person soon. As that day approaches, there will be announcements coming about what will look different on our first Sunday back, as well as opportunities for you to ask questions and offer feedback. For now, I ask that you pray for the staff, deacons, and other leaders of our church as we continue ministering long distance and prepare for a return to in-person ministry.
God is continuing to shape and mold us in this strange exile. In uncertain times, may we continue to place our trust in Him.
Click here for a printable version of this email.
Last night (March 22) Dallas County issued a shelter-in-place order for all individuals in the county due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, effective at 11:59 m tonight. Among the new restrictions were two which affect South Garland Baptist Church directly:
- “Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconference. Religious institutions must limit in-person staff to ten (10) people or less when preparing for or conducting video or teleconference services, and all individuals must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines including the six foot social distancing.”
- “All businesses operating within Dallas County, except Essential Businesses as defined in below in Section 2, are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the County. For clarity, businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e. working from home). To the greatest extent possible, all Essential Businesses shall comply with the Social Distancing Guidelines attached, including maintaining six foot social distancing for both employees and the general public.”
Regarding the restriction on worship services, our plan for Sunday morning (March 29) remains the same: we will be broadcasting via Facebook Live at 10:45 am, just as we did yesterday, and the recorded video will be available later in the day both on Facebook and the church website. Our plan for Sunday’s service complies with the county’s order, so the order does not change anything in that regard.
However, the order does affect the day-to-day operations of the church. Given that the church is not considered an “Essential Business” as outlined by the county’s order, all church staff will be working from home through April 3 in order to comply with the order and safeguard the health of our neighbors.
Despite this change, the business of the church will carry on, albeit remotely. Prayer requests can be sent to Marcy by e-mail at email@example.com. You can continue giving online through Realm or by mailing a check to the church (the mail will continue to be checked daily). Staff will continue to serve the church and community online—primarily through the church’s Facebook group, which I encourage you to check for daily video Bible studies and announcements—as well as by phone. And most importantly, we will worship together on Sunday morning via Facebook Live. As I said in yesterday’s sermon, church is not cancelled—it is simply being remade.
Please continue to pray, to give, and to serve as best you can during this period when love for our neighbors means staying in our homes. I will continue to update you as things develop and change.
Click here for a printable version of this email.
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