HIGH POINTE PHASED RE-GATHERING PLAN
High Pointe, your elders have missed you. In the words of the apostle Paul, it is right for us to say, we “yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8). The last time High Pointe gathered as a church for a service was March 8, 2020. Since then, we have been scattered throughout the Austin-metro area, meeting in our homes for your safety, for the love of our unbelieving neighbors, and in submission to our governing authorities.
On May 4, 2020, Governor Abbott began his plan to reopen Texas in phases. While some churches began gathering immediately during that first phase, our elders chose to wait until Texas’ second phase to consider gathering again. On Monday, May 18, 2020, Governor Abbott announced that phase two to reopen Texas will move forward as planned. In light of that announcement, the elders are prepared to share our plan for re-gathering in phases.
HP Re-Gathering Phase ONE
March 15, 2020 – May 31, 2020
Phase ONE is our present situation. Two UPDATES: (1) Beginning immediately, those comfortable may meet in small groups for fellowship, discipleship, Life Groups, and Lord’s Day worship provided you follow all the recommended precautions. (2) We will provide one final pre-recorded video for your home worship on Sunday, May 24. Beginning Sunday, May 31, we will resume the livestream of our service at 10:00 am. to encourage you in your home worship.
HP Re-Gathering Phase TWO
June 7, 2020 – July 26, 2020
Phase Two begins our safe, in-person gatherings beginning June 7, 2020. In order to provide a safe environment in which we can worship, we will follow the guidelines provided by our governor, our attorney general, and the Center for Disease Control. We will also need to make certain adaptations. For example, using proper social distancing recommendations, the capacity of our auditorium is 150 persons. With a membership of 500, you can see the difficulties we face.
Consequently, to accommodate as many of you as possible, we will hold two identical services each Sunday during Phase TWO. The first service will take place during our normal 10:00 am worship hour. Our second service will be at 5:00 pm when we would have normally gathered for our evening prayer service. Additionally, we will ask you to register to attend one of our two services so that we can make sure everyone who wants to attend has a seat.
In Phase TWO, our priority will be on gathering as a church on the Lord’s Day. Consequently, Life Groups that desire to begin meeting in-person will need to meet on a night other than Sundays until we can resume our normal schedule. Also note that during Phase TWO we will not offer nursery, children’s ministries, or Life Classes.
HP Re-Gathering Phase THREE
August 2, 2020 –
Our prayer and hope are that by the first Sunday in August, we will be able to return to our normal schedules for our services, nursery, children’s ministries, Life Classes, and Life Groups. Of course, all our plans are tentative. We will trust the Lord, love our neighbors, and honor our governing authorities as the Lord directs.
Your elders have taken much time and prayer to think about how and when to re-gather as a church. Allow me to outline the rationale that we have followed that led to our decision to gather again. The elders sought to be:
- Biblical – Our supreme authority and, therefore, our primary source for decision-making and guidance is the inerrant word of God.
- The church is called to gather together for corporate worship to exalt our Lord and to edify one another (Acts 2:42-47).
- The church needs to gather together for corporate worship for our own good and for God's glory (Hebrews 10:19-25).
- When we gather together, all things must be done in an orderly fashion and for the building up of the church (1 Corinthians 14:26-40).
- Legal – Because the word of God is our supreme authority and because it commands us to submit to our governing authorities, we wanted to honor our governing officials in their direction and guidance during the Covid-19 crisis.
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott has provided guidance to open Texas in a phased and orderly fashion. We will follow those guidelines.
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has provided additional Guidance for Houses of Worship During the Covid-19 Crisis, which we will follow as well.
- Safe – Before we thought about gathering again, we wanted to provide a safe plan that would protect our most vulnerable members and provide the safest environment possible for those ready to gather again. Our guidance for safe gatherings is found in the guidelines provided by the CDC and the Texas AG.
- Social Distancing – the rows of chairs in the auditorium have already been set to meet social distancing requirements. Those who come together may sit next to each other. But those who do not come together should leave two seats between other parties.
- Masks – to effectively reduce the spread of Covid-19, we are asking everyone over the age of 10 to wear a mask. Those serving on the platform may remove their mask while they are serving (making announcements, singing, reading Scripture, praying, preaching), but once seated in the congregation, they should put their mask on again. Please bring your own mask, as it is not possible for us to purchase disposable masks for each service.
- Hand Sanitizers – we ask that all persons entering the auditorium use hand sanitizers to clean their hands upon entering and leaving the building. Hand sanitizers are available in the foyer and the auditorium.
- Cleaning – we have asked a team of volunteers to clean the auditorium as recommended by CDC guidelines after each service.
- Signage – we have placed signage in the foyer to help remind us of the necessary precautions to take while gathering together and out in public.
- Volunteer Training – volunteers will be trained in the appropriate ways to help our members during the service without having to come into personal contact with any members.
- Volunteer Screening – volunteers will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms before the service and given surgical gloves to wear while they serve.
- Vulnerable Members – according to the CDC guidelines those who are 65 years of age and older, along with those with other health complication (especially respiratory issues), are in greater health danger if they contract the coronavirus. Therefore, we ask members in the vulnerable population to remain home until it is safe for them to gather with us again. Those who stay home may watch the livestream of our service at 10:00 am each Sunday.
- Bathrooms – we ask that members try to avoid using the restroom while in the building. However, volunteers will be at each restroom to direct proper social distancing.
- Sensible – we realize that there are many ways of interpreting guidelines and no matter what we may do, it will be a burden on all of us. Consequently, we want to be as safe as possible and follow common sense as much as possible.
- Phased re-gathering plan over weeks and months (Phases 1, 2, 3)
- Two identical services at our normal times of 10:00 am and 5:00 pm (capacity 150 each)
- We will continue the livestream for those who are vulnerable and those who are not ready.
- Those who are not ready to gather in a large group may meet in smaller groups in homes and watch the livestream together.
- There will be NO nursery, Kid’sPointe, AWANA during phases 1 and 2.
- Pew Bibles will NOT be available.
- We will NOT observe the Lord’s Supper during phases 1 and 2.
- We will NOT offer coffee or printed bulletins (at least during phases 1 and 2, maybe longer)
- We will not collect an offering (continue online giving, offering boxes will be available)
- We will provide digital bulletins online.
- We will provide digital guest registration.
- Clear – one of our goals is to communicate regularly and clearly through the various mediums we presently have: Facebook, E-news, Straight to the Heart, Videos, Announcements, Life Groups. If you have any questions, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Patient and Flexible – This is a challenging time for all of us. The elders have been praying and planning and the staff have been preparing for our re-gathering. We will NOT get everything right. Please be patient with us. It will take some time to learn how to gather together during this Covid-19 crisis. And until there is a vaccine, we do not know what the future will hold. But, we do know the Lord who sustains us and directs future. We will trust in him, and we will wait on him, being patient with one another and flexible with all our plans.
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