COVID-19 UPDATES

CoVid Update: June 13, 2021

Holding Pattern Continues

Worship & More Open for All to Return
As Grace continues to resume ministry activities, on June 13 the Congregation Council approved the following changes for Sunday worship services and more.

NOTE: If COVID-19 cases increase such that the positivity rate goes above 5% in Henderson County, the recommendations for worship, fellowship, gatherings, etc. below will be reviewed by our Reopening Task Force and Council. During this review, all activities may return to online only until it is again safe to regather in person.

Worship
+ Beginning June 20, all people who are comfortable returning are welcome to attend worship in person.
+
Unvaccinated people, children, and youth are welcome to return.
+ Masks are required for all unvaccinated persons - adults and children/youth.
+ Masks continue to be encouraged for all vaccinated persons out of love for neighbor and to support those who must or choose to wear a mask for personal safety.
+ To provide some caring distancing, we will continue to seat people in every other pew until attendance numbers warrant a change.
+ Traditional worship service will be at 9 a.m. This service will continue to be live-streamed.
+ Spanish language service will be at 11:15 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. It will be live-streamed.
+ The Praise Service will resume on July 11 at 11:15 a.m. in the sanctuary. It will not be live-streamed except for the bilingual service on the second Sunday each month.
+ Nursery care during worship services may resume when preparations are made. Adults must be vaccinated. Children who are able, must wear masks.

Holy Communion
+ In June, Communion will be offered June 6 & 20
(1st & 3rd Sundays) for in-person (English & Spanish language services) and drive-up. Drive-up time has been shortened based on experience to 10:30-11 a.m.
+ Beginning July 4, Drive-Up Communion Distribution on first Sundays only,
10:30 - 11 a.m.
+ Beginning in July, Communion will be celebrated every Sunday for the in-person Traditional (9 a.m.), Spanish language (11:15 a.m.), and Praise (11:15 a.m.) services.

Faith Formation (Sunday School)
+
Sunday Faith Formation (Sunday School) time will be 10 a.m. (or following the 9 a.m. worship service) until 11 a.m.
+ Same guidance for wearing of masks as for worship. Masks are required for all unvaccinated persons - adults and children/youth.
+ Masks continue to be encouraged for all vaccinated persons out of love for neighbor and to support those who must or choose to wear a mask for personal safety.
+ Adult classes are welcome to resume gathering whenever they choose. Rooms will be assigned based on the number of people to allow safe spacing. Please secure a room assignment in advance through Greg Dodd. For weekday classes, Zoom will continue to be available by request.
+ Children and youth classes may resume as soon as preparations are made and leadership is organized. All adults working with children must be vaccinated and wear a mask during interactions with children. (We will basically follow guidance for schools and preschools.) Space will be assigned based on numbers to allow safe spacing.

Sunday Fellowship Time: Time frame is Sundays from 10-11a.m.
Fellowship Time may resume inside, in Stull Hall to allow spacing, air flow, and not interfere with preparations for the Spanish language service in Fellowship Hall, when Hospitality & Fellowship Ministry is ready to resume this ministry. (Yes, this means that receptions for memorial services could also resume.)

Oasis Ministry
Assuming that people continue getting vaccinated and the infection rate remains low, Wednesday evening Oasis ministry & programming could resume on Sept. 15, the first Wednesday after Rally Sunday (Sept. 12). Plans will likely be updated as Sept.15 draws near based on CoVid information at that time.

OFFICIALS CONCERNED OVER CORONAVIRUS CLUSTERS AT NC CHURCHES

Religious activities, including worship services, bible studies and youth group meetings, are the third leading source of COVID-19 clusters in North Carolina, The News & Observer reported.

At least 1,180 coronavirus cases in the state are linked to 88 clusters at religious events, and at least 18 people have died.

Meat and poultry processing plants are responsible for the most cases attributable to a cluster, followed by colleges and universities, according to Department of Health and Human Services data.

The state defines a cluster as five or more cases with positive test results or illness onset within a 14-day period.

The recent spread comes as more churches opt to return to in-person services. A federal judge in May said churches should be allowed to gather after several sued the governor.

One of the largest clusters traced to a religious gathering is at United House of Prayer for All People in Mecklenburg County, which has been the source of 121 COVID-19 cases and at least three deaths. The church held convocation events from Oct. 4-11 that attracted up to 1,000 people.

Mecklenburg health officials say 68 COVID-19 cases are connected to the United House of Prayer for All People church in Charlotte NC. Two people have died. The county said it will host a no-cost, drive-thru testing event Thursday and Friday.

Finally, THANK YOU to everyone who shared their time and skills to safely record and assemble the various segments of worship for Reformation Sunday - especially Dave Carver, our Producer/Director for Video & Streaming Ministry, who assembled the service that you viewed as it was streamed.

Pastor Greg

There is no need for reconsideration until that time.

What does this mean?

+ You no longer need to register in advance to attend worship, just come on Sunday morning.
+ “Fully vaccinated” means that you are at least two weeks past receiving all vaccine doses.
+ Sign-in as worshipers arrive continues just in case there is a need for contact tracing. Please arrive early enough to sign-in prior to being seated. For members, wearing your name tag will sign you in for worship.
+ Recognizing that vaccines are not perfect and continuing to care for our neighbor, we encourage worshipers to wear a mask.
+ Ushers will continue to seat people every other pew to maintain some safe distance between worshipers.
+ Worshipers are invited to sing and participate in spoken responses during worship.
+ Worshipers will continue to exit directly outside to the handicapped parking area.
+ Council’s decision applies to the large gathering of worship. 

The Council is thankful for your understanding and continued patience as we strive to balance multiple considerations (none of which are perfect) and show love for our neighbor - especially those who are more vulnerable to the CoVid virus. As the percentage of vaccinated people continues to increase, we look forward to welcoming everyone for worship ... to having live music during worship ... to holding Sunday morning classes for adults & children again ... to sharing in fellowship time. We are much closer to resuming those activities than just a month ago. Your continued patience will help us keep one another safe and healthy as we return to more and more in-person activities in the coming weeks. 

The two most important ways you can support our resumption of worship and desire to continue moving past safety protocols is to 1 -  get your vaccination; 2 - encourage your friends & neighbors to get vaccinated. The more who are vaccinated, the safer you and our entire community will be. 

Thank you for your partnership in keeping one another in our diverse family of faith safe throughout CoVid. 

Terrell West, President & Pastor Greg, Sr. Pastor

Grace continues to offer numerous online faith formation opportunities through Facebook and our YouTube channel. We encourage you to nourish your faith with them during our time of separation.

Planning is underway to continue providing online faith formation opportunities for all ages as well as what in-person ministry opportunities might look like, once we are able to resume in-person events.

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