UPDATE: As of November 20th, masks are REQUIRED while in the building. please practice SOCIAL DISTANCING (6 ft apart) at all times. We believe mutual care is necessary as we gather together. -Romans 14:1-23
(Consistent with the KCMO Order, masks for minors ages 5 and older are REQUIRED.)
RESUMING CORPORATE WORSHIP AT GEPC
LETTER FROM THE SESSION REGARDING RESUMING IN-PERSON WORSHIP
Beginning June 14, we will be offering in-person worship services in our Sanctuary and Ministry Center. Attendance will be limited to allow for appropriate spacing, but we will continue to livestream both services at 8:30 and (starting June 14) back at our regular 11:00 time.
With important help from members of our church with legal, medical, logistical and leadership input, the Session and ministry teams have spent much time in prayer and discussion considering how and when our church family should begin to re-engage in gathered corporate worship services and we have developed the description we are presenting here to inform you of the current state of our thinking.
As we all know, various levels of government have published guidelines for “re-opening” our economy. However, those guidelines are not entirely consistent, and they orient more to business considerations rather than to churches’ operations. This is significant, because we all know that among the many diverse segments of our society, the church is unique. We have a unique calling, a unique mission and a uniquely biblical source of truth. Your Session has submitted itself in its thinking on “re-opening” to our source of truth, the inerrant Word of God, the Scriptures. In that submission, we have especially noted the greatest commandments of loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Within the first commandment we have focused on how we worship, and within the second we have focused on how we care for each other – seeking in both the wisdom and discernment available only from above (Rom. 12:2). This has been the framework of our thinking.
What are the Expectations for Those in Attendance?
We will expect those attending to cooperate with the measures detailed in our “What to Expect FAQ”, which will include keeping a six foot distance between households, washing hands, and, for those who are able, being strongly encouraged to wear a mask or cloth face covering.
Even while taking precautions, we recognize there is only so much control we will have or desire to exercise over individual behavior in the building. We are providing direction, and church officers and staff will strive to be examples of safe interactions within the building; however those who attend in-person services will need to be comfortable with possible uncertainties.
The Life of the Church
Corporate worship is central in the life of the church, and we are making it our priority. We treasure the other ministries of our church and remain hopeful that the summer months will bring more safety and clarity in terms of gathering in groups and reactivating other Gashland ministries.
Finally, we also strongly urge you to give the judgment of charity when it comes to all matters related to COVID-19 and “re-opening”. Let us think the best of our brothers and sisters, especially those who decide differently on when it is right to resume attending in-person worship. We all desire to give glory to Christ and love our neighbor, remembering the greatest commandments.
Finally, we are united by the same Lord, faith, and baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Let us keep loving each other well. As our Lord said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Let us continue to shine His light before the world.
- Glorify the Lord and Honor His Word (Exod 20:3; Deut 6:5; John 14:15; 1 Cor. 10:31; Exod 19:5; Rev 14:12)
- Love our neighbors (Matt 22:39; Phil 2:3; James 2:8)
- Uphold the importance of gathered corporate worship (Heb 10:25; Acts 2:42-27; Col 3:16; Ps. 122:1)
- Honor and seek to cooperate with government recommendations (Rom 12:18; 13:1-7; Jer 29:7; John 13:35; 1 Peter 2:17)
- Respect the conscience of brothers and sisters (1 Tim 1:5; Rom 14:5, 13; James 4:17)
- Humility as we continue to reflect and gauge whether to adjust approaches over time. (James 4:13-15)
With love and much prayer,
What follows is a “What to Expect FAQ” that should provide more information about our services.
WHAT TO EXPECT – FAQ
Beginning June 14, GEPC will resume offering in-person worship services in our Sanctuary (8:30 a.m.) and our Ministry Center (11:00 a.m.). In-person attendance will initially be limited to allow for appropriate physical distancing. We honor and respect those who decide to remain at home and will continue to offer both services virtually on-line going forward. Virtual services and times may be found at https://www.gashland.org/live/.
1. Is everyone welcome to come?
Yes, BUT everyone should exercise his or her judgment about the wisdom of attending. We especially advise immunocompromised congregants and older individuals to consider how best to participate in the service until the threat of COVID-19 subsides. We also ask if you recently have had fever, chills, shortness of breath, cough, come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or you yourself tested positive or just not feeling well, to stay home until the symptoms subside.
2. How many will be allowed per service and how do we know which service to attend?
We have developed an online registration system by which we ask each family or single adult to register for the service they desire. Seating will be limited in both services to comply with local orders and allowing for appropriate physical distancing while worshiping. We will have an allowance in our attendance numbers for visitors with a desire to turn no one away.
3. What are the service times?
Please note the revised times. Service times will be 8:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary and 11:00 a.m. in the MinistryCenter. This allows for technological transitions to move between services and position us for re-opening Sunday school in future weeks.
4. Will services still be available virtually?
YES, services will continue to be available virtually. Click on this link to find the service you wish to attend: https://www.gashland.org/live/.
5. Where should we enter?
Please arrive early. To accommodate those worshiping virtually, services will begin promptly at their scheduled times. The logistics of getting everyone seated appropriately may take an extra minute or two beyond the usual. For the 8:30 service, please use either the main entrance on the lobby level or the north exterior entrance upstairs to the Sanctuary. For the 11:00 service, use either the lower main doors on the south end of the church building or the doors from the patio. The greeters will be opening and closing all entrance doors as you enter and leave worship. Masks, hand sanitizers and wipes will be available at each entrance, and everyone is strongly encouraged to use them upon entering. As you walk to your seat, please endeavor to maintain the social distancing standard of six (6) feet between family groups. No coffee or refreshments will be available at this time.
6. Will the restrooms be available?
Yes. For the 8:30 service, the restrooms located in the Fellowship Hall or outside of the Sanctuary will be available. For the 11:00 service, the downstairs restrooms will be available.
7. How will we be seated?
When you arrive a FirsTeam member will ask you how many seats you need and guide you to which seats you are to use. FirsTeam members will have the responsibility of appropriately spacing everyone and moving chairs if necessary. Bulletins will be placed in the Sanctuary pews or in the Ministry Center seats for you. If a Sermon Search is needed please notify one of the FirsTeam members and they will get one for you.
8. What will worship look like during this season?
Some things beyond social distancing in our entering and exiting and in seating arrangements will need to change for us to be able to worship in person (e.g. not passing offering plates, not conducting children’s ministry, considerations regarding how we sing, etc.), but some things will not change (praying, preaching and worship, etc.). Every effort will be made to cultivate a reverential atmosphere, but the adjustments being made may cause some to miss our more accustomed sense of worship.
9. What about masks during the worship service?
Masks are required for entry, common areas, and during worship services. They are also required whenever appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained. We believe mutual care is necessary as we gather together. Consistent with the KCMO Order, masks for minors are strongly recommended. The Property Team has worked very carefully to ensure fresh air is being filtered and removed continuously. If someone begins to cough repeatedly, a FirsTeam member will provide that person with a mask if needed and/or ask them to step outside until the coughing has subsided.
10. Will singing be permitted?
YES, singing will be permitted at both services but masks will be required during this part of worship. If you choose not to wear a mask we request you do not sing out loud as a courtesy to others.
11. Will Communion be served?
Communion will be the first Sunday of each month for those in attendance and virtually.
12. When the worship service has ended, how should we leave the Sanctuary?
A FirsTeam member will dismiss by row starting with the rear rows, moving to the front. We strongly encourage the use of masks and maintain the appropriate physical distancing during your exit until you are outside.
13. Besides coffee/refreshments, what else has been discontinued for now?
All other ministries are being offered at this time. See more details below
14. When can Sunday School/Ministry Teams/Bible Study groups meet in person?
Sunday School classes are being offered (with appropriate social distancing and required masks) at 9:45 am each Sunday. Four (4) classes are being offered.
The Men’s Class – Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood
Teacher: Chris Taylor
*The Men’s Class is a fellowship of men devoted to praying for one another and journeying together as we strive to live out biblically based authentic manhood.
The Book of Job
Teacher: Peter Marshall & Matt Martinie
Room: Fellowship Hall
Teacher: Mark Lancaster
Teachers: Scotty & Liz Blakley
Room: Amos house, just east of the parking lot on 81st St
15. Are Children’s and Little Lambs Ministries being offered?
Yes, both ministries are now being offered during the 11:00 am service. Space is limited on a sign-up basis. Please see our Sunday Registration link to sign up or contact Rachael Adams, Director of Children’s Ministry, for more. information. The Mother’s Room and other areas are also available to take your child while still listening to the worship service. A FirsTeam member will help direct you.
16. What processes are in place should a member/staff test positive for COVID-19?
If a member/staff tests negative: a) GEPC will notify other staff/member(s) who may have been in direct contact with the individual that the test was negative and to monitor their own symptoms for a few days; b) the member/staff will be asked to not come to church until they have been free of symptoms for 72 hours.
If a member/staff tests positive: a) GEPC will report the case to the Health Department; b) positive-tested member/staff must be quarantined for 14 days from GEPC (or if tested again have a negative result); c) notify individuals who had contact with positive-tested member/staff, we are recommending they monitor their symptoms and encourage to be tested as well;
d) prohibit any member/staff for 7 days (from last known contact date) who had direct contact with a positive-tested member/staff from being at GEPC campus.