June 8, 2020
I cannot tell you how eager I am to be together again, in-person, for our weekly, worship services - and we believe that time is drawing near! This past weekend, Gov Baker confirmed that MA will be progressing into Phase 2 of the state’s phased reopening. Phase 2 includes the opening of restaurants for outdoor dining, the opening of retail stores with reduced capacity, the use of community playgrounds and pools, the return of preventive medical services, the use of childcare services, and the resumption of youth day-camps and youth sporting activities.
Although MCC was permitted to begin in-person gathering weeks ago as part of Phase 1, we thought it best to gather additional data and delay our physical ReGathering. I am grateful for the technology that has assisted us to this point. I am grateful for the recent, steady reduction in new, MA COVID-19 cases (seven day average down 82% since early May). And I am so very grateful for you, MCC family! You have been OUTSTANDING with your patience, your commitment to staying engaged with God and his people, your financial support of our ongoing ministry… I’m deeply thankful to call you my brothers and sisters in Christ.
So here’s our plan: beginning Father’s Day, June 21st, (rain date June 28th) MCC will begin offering outdoor worship gatherings each Sunday morning at 9am through the summer months. For our at-risk population, as well as those unable or uncomfortable attending an outdoor gathering, we will continue at 9am and 10:45am to broadcast a livestream (pre-recorded a couple days in advance).
- Open Air Gathering in the Parking Lot: For our first three weeks (June 21, June 28, and July 5) our services will be held only in the case of good weather. These gatherings will be open-air on the new parking lot - bring your own camping chair.
- Tent Gathering on the Front Lawn: Beginning July 12, as the summer sun climbs higher, we’ll move to a high roofed, pole tent on the front lawn. Some of of the tent sides will remain open; this allows both airflow as well as folks who prefer to distance more than 6 feet to still participate from outside the tent. These “under the big top” tent services, from July 12th to the end of summer, will be held rain or shine. Again, bring your own camping chair.
- Teaching Time: Sunday sermons will be reduced length outdoors (roughly 20-25mins) to accommodate the company of smaller children.
- Restroom Use: Our main facility restrooms will be open for use. Children 5th grade and under will need to be accompanied by a guardian because of the largely empty building; Fellowship Hall bathrooms will be designated for children’s use only.
- Face-mask Expectations: Facemasks are required outdoors anytime you cannot socially distance approx 6 feet or more. We will take our direction from Gov Baker’s “Order 31” and MA Safety Standards for Places of Worship. “Any person over age two who is in a place open to the public in the Commonwealth, whether indoor or outdoor, and is unable to or does not maintain a distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering.” These guidelines go on to clarify that facemasks for ages 2-5yr are optional. In addition, “a person who declines to wear a face covering or mask because of a medical or disabling condition shall not be required to produce documentation verifying the condition.”
- MCC Kids: No Sunday morning KiC AM programming will be available for now. However, we will provide Sunday morning activity bags for little ones. Lori and our children’s leadership team are also hard at work developing some fun outdoor events for later this summer, in lieu of normal Vacation Bible School (VBS).
- MCC Youth: As state-wide day-camps and youth sporting activities now resume, Adam and our youth ministry team will soon begin to conduct outdoor, in-person gatherings and activities.
- Community Groups: We encourage Community Groups to begin outdoor, in-person gatherings at their convenience. We encourage the continued use of Zoom (laptop on a lawn chair?) for our at-risk population as well as those unable or uncomfortable attending an outdoor gathering.
Church, as we move ahead with our ReGathering plans, we recognize there may be all manner of thoughts and opinions; we are prepared for that. And we remain "a community of grace." In the days ahead we will each make extra effort to assume the best, avoid the assigning of motives, and always speak with grace. If someone takes a different viewpoint from you on physically gathering vs staying at home, that is okay. “Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind…” (Romans 14:5) For our part, our church family is going to be careful to honor our government’s stipulations, leave room for personal liberty, and lean toward sacrificial love for one another and our community.
So here we go - bring your own lawn-chair, June 21st outdoors, Lord willing. Pray for sunshine, low humidity, open hearts, and a tremendous work of God in the weeks ahead.
– Pastor Travis