Please note we are temporarily suspending our in person worship services. Click here to join us online.
Please read through this in preparation for returning to worship with Mercy Hill.
This is the update we gave at a virtual Town Hall Meeting Tuesday evening, June 2nd.
We have received MHC feedback and we are appreciative of all of it. As leaders making this decision, we value your feedback.
- As expected, there was a diversity of thoughts, opinions, and desires expressed in this survey.
- Know that we feel the weight of this responsibility, and the decisions we are making regarding restarting are not due to fear on the one hand or throwing caution to the wind, but we have sought to receive counsel from health and governing authorities, as well as organizations seeking to inform best practices for churches reopening. We have been in prayer seeking wisdom and the Lord's guidance in all of this.
- You may not agree with everything we've decided, and that's okay. Know that we have sought to be as wise as we can while balancing concerns and adhering to safety protocols. We thank you in advance for your prayers and understanding.
After consulting with CDC guidelines, along with State and County guidelines, we have made the decision to restart worship services on June 7th.
- Communities, Schools, Workplaces, & Events
- CDC Document Outlines Guidance for Reopening of Churches
- Tx.Gov checklist for churches
- Brazos County checklist for churches
About 1/2 of those who have given feedback are completely comfortable to start, while another half ranged from slightly hesitant but will likely participate when we reopen to not ready at this time.
- We recognize everyone has a series of thoughts, experiences, obligations & responsibilities that have informed your position on whether to gather in person or to wait.
- This is an opportunity to extend grace, patience, and as much understanding with one another as we can.
- We do not believe you are not more spiritual or righteous if you choose to jump back into gathered worship now or if you choose to stay home for a while longer. We want you to know that we want you to do what you think is best in this moment, and we want to honor each of your choices in this difficult time.
- We want you to know as elders we are choosing two different options ourselves. John is willing to regather at this time, and Dan is choosing to wait a while longer.
Also, we are mindful of the fact that we rent space at the Hilton Garden Inn, so while we are tenants, we are also guests and neighbors. As such we want to be good guests & minimize risks for the hotel as well.
In restarting our services on June 7th, the following decisions have seemed wise:
50% Capacity Max
- This is along the guidelines of the St of Tx regarding public spaces like resturants repoening
- HGI says the capacity of those two rooms is 250. We have filled around 100 seats on several occasions. Usually we have anywhere from 55-85 folks in attendance.
- We are going to put out 50 chairs spaced out 6ft apart, with some grouping for families, friends, and singles as well.
- We've already tested this & have a few videos to show you
- I mispoke in this video. I should have said we have chairs set 6 ft apart, not 5 ft. We have some chairs in groupings for families and friends who have already been around each other.
Face Coverings: We strongly encourage everyone to wear masks or some type of face covering for the sake of and out of love for one another
- Nobody likes wearing masks, but we're not asking you to lead with the question of what your personal preference would be, but to lead with asking How can I best love my neighbor and fellow participant at MHC.
- We know that a person could have the coronavirus but be asymptomatic at the same time. Recently in our community, the Parc retirement center at Traditions had everyone tested, and the majority of those who tested positive were asymptomatic (according to a report from KBTX).
- So wearing a mask is for the protection of one another, and a way of loving each other and showing concern for one another's well being (3 John 1:2, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well").
- I will lead by example and have my mask on before and after the service, and while we sing. I'll only take it off when speaking during the service (I will be leading the service from behind the communion table)
- I will check myself against the symptoms list from the CDC before each service
- We are not mandating masks b/c we know some people genuinely have difficulty breathing with one on (due to allergies, past trauma, etc.). So if you don't have one on, we'll assume the best about your decision.
- We'll have some face masks available if you do not have one.
- We'll adjust the guidelines for wearing masks as guidelines from health authorities are adjusted.
Worship - Singing
There is a concern about inadvertently spreading the virus through aeorosols (respiratory droplets / particles)
A study in the American Review of Respiratory Disease found that the aerosol cloud created by singing leaves nearly six times more particles in the air than normal speech does.
Shortened service and a modified communion (more on that below). We'll aim for a 45-55 minute service being mindful of young ones (since we won't have nursery initally) as well as simply limiting exposure time.
Kevin will be leading us in singing.
- Kevin will check himself against the symptoms list from the CDC before each service
- While he's singing, he will have his mask off. My family and I will have our chairs closest to Kevin, and everyone else will be at least 15ft+ from where he will be leading.
We ask that at least initially, everyone would wear a mask while singing. I realize you may not be able to sing with all you've got, but that's okay for now. If you cannot wear a mask, we would ask that you refrain from singing for the time being, or at least be content with humming along.
Worship - Communion
- Prepackaged communion sets will be placed on the seats
- Please dispose of them on your way out
- We’ll assess our method for communion as we go through these summer months
- Initially, we will not offer nursery. We'll reassess as we go.
- This is based in part on feedback from the survey, and what we deem wise to do as we seek to restart our services.
- We view this as an essential piece to have in place in order to do this. We don't want anyone to be excluded if they choose to wait to regather in person
Also, if you are sick please stay at home and join us online.
Come in through the main entrance with the sliding doors
Please refrain from handshakes and hugs. We know this is hard to do and seems unnatural, but this is a good way to live one another and to help others be more at ease during this time of social distancing.
- We'll email a copy of the worship folder
- No connection cards
- Please bring something for your kids to draw or color with (if they are used to that)
No collection of the offering; instead use mail in or online options
- New ways of giving include the Tithe.ly app and text to give
We'll have hand sanitizer, wipes, and masks available on the entry tables to the ballroom
After the service, we’ll dismiss into the hallway the two sections closest to the side walls first. This will allow more spacing and less congestion. Please be aware of blocking our two exits and allow space for people to come in and out.
While, we are making these plans, we also know that we may have to cancel last minute due to any number of factors, including changes at the hotel, if someone in our family contacts COVID, or circumstances in our community change causing authorities to issue different guidelines.
- If you are at higher risk for severe illness as identified by health authorities at the CDC, please be informed. It is our counsel along with health authorities that you minimize risk and exposure according to these guidelines.
- We are taking steps to make it as safe as possible, but we cannot guarantee anyone's health.
- While the hotel has assured me they will have the place as clean as possible, we are still meeting in a public space.
- If you choose to come, please take as many precautions as you can.
While we are taking these steps, we want to ask for everyone's patience and understanding.
Please feel no pressure to do something you are not ready for. Whether you are among those who are regathering at this moment or you are choosing to wait a while longer, we respect and honor your decision.
In fact, you may be struggling with the decision of what is the right thing for you to do given your circumstances. Please give yourself plenty of grace. We love you and want you to be completely comfortable with your decision and feel no pressure.
We do look forward to the time when we can all gather together again in person as the community of faith known as MHC that Jesus is forming by grace for his mission in this world.
May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus guard your hearts and minds!
John Ferguson, Pastor
Dan Mizer, Elder