On June 7th, the leadership of MHC made the joyful and cautious decision to resume our public Sunday gathering. As a smaller congregation this is something that we think we can handle in a responsible way. Gathering for worship is the norm for followers of Jesus. After 3 months apart this was our top priority for our church (Psalm 122:1; Hebrews 10:23-25). We recognize that several people, especially guests, may be nervous about attending a worship service at MHC. We’ve written this to give you a glimpse into what our service looks like and what you can expect in regards to safety.
Arrival: You’ll be greeted by a door-holder who is masked. Upon entrance, hand sanitizer will be provided. We’d ask that you keep your mask on until you sit down. We have plenty of space, including a balcony for those who are seeking to be extra cautious. Once properly social distanced, either as a family unit or an individual, you are welcome to remove your mask. We’d simply ask that you be cautious and respectful of those around you. Use common sense, and let the rule of love – for others, not yourself – be your guiding principle.
Service: During this season, we are abbreviating our worship service to one hour. This means less singing and a slightly shorter sermon. Following CDC guidelines, we’d encourage all participants to wear a mask while singing. We’d also ask attendees to secure their mask during our time of coming forward to receive the elements of communion.
Here’s a sample of our liturgy:
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship
Reading of Scripture
Communion // Song #3
Departure: After the benediction, attendees are asked to leave the building and gather outside for a time of connecting with one another in conversation. We find that the outside gives us space to spread out in a way that is relaxed and safe. Use proper caution regarding distancing and face masks, please.
Additional Questions You Might Have…
How clean is the meeting space? Every Saturday evening, we have a team do a deep clean of our entire meeting space, including bathrooms and family room. After the Sunday service, surfaces are wiped down and remain almost entirely untouched until the following Sunday.
What about the children? At this time, we are not offering standard children’s ministry and infant care. The kids are welcome to gather with us! We actually think this is a great opportunity to help kids sit through the service and understand more of what’s happening. We’re not worried about any potential distractions. We have plenty already! We’ll do the best we can to roll with whatever happens.
Do you offer anything for children? We do have a family room available if mom or dad wants to remove their kids from the service. Two parent households can get creative perhaps by taking turns watching the kids on different weeks. Better known members might even volunteer to give a mother a break so she can focus on the sermon. We also have activity bags for children to help them be quietly occupied during the service. These bags include crayons, pictures for coloring, activity sheets, and small crafts.
Where do I put my offering? To reduce the transmission of germs, we are not passing the plate at this time. We have an offering box available for you to slip your financial gift into on your way in or out of the meeting space.
What if I am immune-compromised or live with someone who is? Praise God that your righteousness before Him doesn’t depend on your perfect church attendance! “For you are saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). We understand your situation, and would encourage you to prayerfully consider what the best response might be. Ask us for input – there are likely creative solutions that free you from making this an “all or nothing” scenario. If you can’t attend, we will post sermon audio to our website immediately after the service. We’d also encouraged to reach out to our leadership and other members to let us know any ways we can particularly be caring for you during this season.
What happens if I test positive for Covid-19? Please immediately contact one of the pastors or our general church email (MHCBristol@gmail.com) to notify us. We will contact whoever was in attendance at the morning service, and observe the proper protocol without disclosing private information. We will certainly pray for you, and offer any assistance we can to help support you as well.
We hope this post was helpful for you and might encourage you to come gather with us as we take all the proper precautions we can. Church is essential! In a time where people are hurting and looking for answers, we are here to help bear one another’s burdens and point each other to God’s Answer – Jesus Christ!