COVID-19 Updates

Dear Grand Lake Church Family,

As promised, the staff has continued diligently reviewing updates from the Governor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health regarding changes in what is permissible for public gatherings. Although the church has always been (technically) exempt from these orders, the Bishop asks that we follow closely these recommended best practices.  With that said, I’m happy to announce four areas in which we can further re-open church facilities beginning June 14th. These areas are (1) Adult classes on Sunday mornings and throughout the week, including recovery programs, (2) children’s programming on Sunday morning, (3) Junior High and Senior High Youth Group, and (4) the Montezuma campus. Please note, however, that all four of these re-opened areas will have some specific requirements and precautions that are different than before the pandemic.

Pastor Diane has been working closely with all of our adult class leaders and recovery ministry group leaders. Based on these communications, we have put together a schedule for those groups who want to resume meeting in person beginning June 14th. In some cases, the room locations have changed based on group size and room capacities in order to follow proper social distancing requirements. Your group leader will share this info with you. If you have any questions, please contact your group leader. If questions still remain, please contact Pastor Diane. Note: masks and social distancing are still required at this time.

Children’s programming will resume on a limited basis on June 14th. We will follow the Ohio Department of Health Responsible Restart Ohio Youth Day Camp Guidelines for safety (this new order is actually the impetus for pushing to open other areas of the church). Pastor Matt has put together a comprehensive overview of what this re-opening will look like for Children’s Ministries (see attached). I just want to highlight a couple of things for you. First, capacity is limited. The guidelines only allow for nine kids per room. If children’s classes fill up, your kids are always welcome in worship! Second, we highly recommend your children wear masks if attending children’s ministries even though the guidelines do not specifically require this.  Please check out Pastor Matt’s overview for the rest of the guidelines and program requirements.

The Junior High and Senior High Youth Group will begin meeting again on Wednesday nights at the Greenhouse from 7:00 – 8:00PM beginning June 17th. There will be a combination of indoor and outdoor activities, with the focus on being outdoors as much as possible. Masks and social distancing will be required, but the youth have indicated that’s a small price to pay to play nine square again! They will continue to be in worship on Sunday mornings (no Sunday School).

The Montezuma campus will re-open for classes/meetings the week of June 14th.  Worship will be held Sunday evenings at 5:00PM beginning June 21st.  This new time will allow the preaching pastor that week to preach at both locations, St. Paul’s and Montezuma, thus eliminating duplication of work during this difficult and labor-intensive time. Also, in changing things up a bit, we pray this will give the Montezuma campus the opportunity to attract new people not before reached with the more traditional Sunday morning worship time. The Montezuma campus will follow all the same rules as the St. Paul’s campus for worship and small group meetings.

The precautions for worship services remain pretty much the same as right now. For your reference, below is the list of precautions I sent in the previous correspondence updated to reflect the changes to the four areas mentioned above.

  • Every other pew will be blocked off to help ensure social distancing.
  • Congregants will be asked to maintain a 6’ “bubble” around themselves/their families.
  • If the Sanctuary becomes full based on social distancing guidelines, the Fellowship Hall will be used as an overflow location with worship services on the TVs. Sanctuary seating will be first come, first served, so please don’t wait until the last minute to arrive.
  • Everyone in Worship will be required to wear a mask (per the Bishop).
  • Songs will be sung by leaders on the chancel in an effort to avoid spreading the virus through congregational singing (no choir).
  • No paper bulletins or passing the offering plate (offering baskets at the entrance/exit).
  • No ushers or greeters.
  • Use only the two sets of Lobby doors, which will be propped open.
  • No fellowship time with coffee and cookies.
  • The Nursery will be open, but not staffed. If you need to change a diaper, rock your baby, etc., please feel free to use the Nursery.
  • Congregation will be released by row at the end of the service to minimize contact.

I am very much aware that some think this reopening plan is too aggressive while others think it is not aggressive enough.  Simply put, there is no single plan that can be put together that everyone will love. Fortunately, Jesus does not require us to love all the plans in the church. He is pretty clear, however, that we are to love one another regardless of our agreement on those plans. So here is what I ask of you as brothers and sisters in Christ: For those who find this plan too aggressive and are concerned about being exposed to the virus, please continue worshiping on-line, meeting on Zoom, etc.  And for those who find this plan not aggressive enough, please be patient as we re-open slowly, cautiously and safely.

We’re all in this together,
Pastor Mick