各位弟兄姐妹，平安： (Scroll down for English version)
根據最新加州政府於疫情間對敬拜場所的使用條例（7/29），敬拜場所已經可以在符合規定的狀況下開始實體聚會。人數限制為會堂容量的¼ ，最多總數是100人。這代表以此條件回歸的話，我們教會仍會有⅔ 的弟兄姐妹需要繼續透過網路聚會。所以我們來參加實體聚會的弟兄姐妹們需要實名制，以掌控人數。
Greetings, brothers and sisters
We are approaching the 7-month mark since our meetings went online. We praise the Lord for His guidance and protection during this time, allowing our church to keep all ministries going without severe negative impacts. We were able to even come up with new creative ways to serve (special-format baptism, internet mission teams, online meeting hall, etc).
You’ve probably heard about our preparation for reopening over the past month. We made plans, educational videos, signages, formed usher and disinfection teams…. With all these going on, one may ask, “when exactly can we get back to have physical gatherings?”
We’ll need to understand that returning to physical gatherings is going to take gradual steps. It’s not going to be like a switch that turns everything back to where it was. Regardless of when the return day might be, we will need to go through transitions where special arrangements like what we’re rehearsing right now are going to be needed. So all the preparations we are currently doing are necessary, and we’ll keep preparing. But how do we decide on the returning date?
Regarding when to return, we have the following conditions to consider
Comply with the government’s rules and regulations
Do our best to maintain a safe environment for our brothers and sisters
Returning will not negatively affect the current online meetings
1. Comply with the government’s rules and regulations
According to the state government’s latest guidance for places of worship (7/29), churches can hold physical meetings if it can meet certain conditions. That includes up to 1/4 of the building capacity and no more than 100 people total. This means that when we return, 2/3 of our congregation will still need to join online. And we will need to pre-register in order to control the number of attendees.
In addition, the guidance does not allow singing in places of worship. This will be a main deciding factor for us. Because our current online meetings afford us to sing freely at home. If we returned to our building and couldn’t sing, it’s not adding too much value. So we will only return when singing is allowed.
2. Do our best to maintain a safe environment for our brothers and sisters
To ensure the safety and wellbeing of our brothers and sisters, our usher and disinfection teams need to have proper training and practices. Before these are satisfactorily completed, we won’t irresponsibly reopen.
Lately, CDC has confirmed the possibility of airborne transmission of Covid-19 (virus could suspend in mid air for an extended period of time). This increases the risk of indoor gathering. One of the solutions to this is to have worship leading teams who are on the stage to wear masks. This is obviously not a better worship experience compared to meeting from home where you can see each other’s faces. So before the concern is lessened or that we found ways to effectively deal with this, we won’t ruthlessly go back either.
3. Returning will not negatively affect the current online meetings
Worship is Christians’ most important act, we have and will continue to remind everyone, no matter where we join the meeting from, we will display proper attitude. We do not wish that our returning to the building leads to a worse worship experience to the 2/3 of our congregation who are still meeting online. As mentioned above, if we can’t sing when we return, or need to lead behind masks or reflective plexiglasses, these will all be factors for us to consider whether returning makes sense.
Another possible situation is that it becomes extremely tedious to prepare and to maintain a safe return, that it requires a huge workload and manpower, causing very few to be able to worship wholeheartedly. This will also make us think seriously about when and whether to reopen.
What does all these tell us? We will continue to prepare for reopening, and we cordially invite brothers and sisters to join our Sunday service teams. The more people sign up to participate, the less workload each will have to do as we can take turns, making the process more sustainable. In the same time, the church council will continue to carefully assess, plan for a suitable date to return. We will wait for the opportunity to be able to sing in our building. We will get our teams trained and ready. And we will weigh the effects on our online meetings if we return. We will continue to pray and seek God’s wisdom and guidance throughout this process. It is our prayer that whether we return or not, meet online or physically, we will seek to please God, continue to follow Jesus, keep doing what we’re called to do. May God bless us all!
The church council