May 12 Update

Last week the Governor announced that we may enter Phase 1 of re-opening the state on Friday, May 15th.    According to the Governor, Phase 1 could last, “Two to four weeks or longer.”   It was further announced that during Phase 1 churches may resume in person worship services of up to 50% capacity.   Once that announcement was made our team met to prayerfully evaluate when we could safely reopen Bethel to in-person services.   After much debate, thought and prayer, we have decided to continue to worship virtually during Phase 1.   Stated another way, we will not offer in-person worship services during Phase 1.  

We did not come to this decision lightly and we considered a number of issues.  In wrestling with these issues let me clearly state that our main concern was to make decisions with your health and safety in mind.  Beyond that, let me give you just a couple of issues that impacted our decision:

  • If we reopen at 50% how do we decide who attends and who doesn’t? This led us down the road of looking at offering multiple worship services, which is feasible, but additional services would require additional volunteers.
  • Speaking of volunteers, would our ushers, tellers, music groups and other volunteers feel pressure to attend if we began offering in-person services?
  • What about our children’s ministry? We don’t believe we can offer a nursery or a children’s program and be able to keep children socially distanced. 
  • What about Sunday School? We don’t believe we can offer Sunday School in an environment that would allow adequate social distancing.
  • Lastly, a number of you reached out to us to let us know you’re not ready to begin attending just yet. We understand, respect and thank you for your thoughts. 

These were just a few of the many issues we considered.  During the meeting someone made an important observation:   If we offered an in-person service will it feel like a Bethel worship service?   Part of what makes Bethel special is our love for each other and connectedness to each other.   If we’re at half capacity, sitting six feet apart with masks on, will that feel like worship?   Certainly, we can worship that way and we may need to worship that way in the near future, but for now, we’re being led to take a wait and see approach.   Let’s get through Phase 1 and see what Phase 2 looks like. 

In the meantime, our team will continue to follow CDC and Government guidelines and will keep you informed in the process.   Please pray for us.   We are praying for you.   We’re praying for a cure for Covid-19.   We’re also thankful for all that God is doing through you during this time.   I continue to thank you for your giving and support of Bethel.   We are grateful.  

Finally, as I’ve said all along, I continue to believe that we’re going to come through this pandemic stronger as a church and we don’t have to fear an unknown future with a known God.   May God bless you and if you have questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.   I love and miss you all.   In Christ….Todd