Please read through this in preparation for returning to worship with Mercy Hill. 

***NOTE: In line with the Governor Greg Abbott's executive order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in public spaces, the leadership of Mercy Hill Church is requiring all participants 10 years of age and older to wear a face covering while attending our worship service. This is also the policy of the Hilton Garden Inn. 

 

Please review and be aware of these protocols we put in place when we initially regathered in June. A few updates have been added. 

After consulting with CDC guidelines, along with State and County guidelines, we have made the decision to restart worship services.

We recognize that while some are completely comfortable to gather in person for worship, others are hesitant to do so and will choose to participate online. 

  1. 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.
  2. This is an opportunity to extend grace, patience, and as much understanding with one another as we can.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, the following decisions have seemed wise:

  • 50% Capacity Max

    • This is along the guidelines of the St of Tx regarding public spaces 
    • 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: In line with the Governor Greg Abbott's executive order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in public spaces, the leadership of Mercy Hill Church is requiring all participants 10 years of age and older to wear a face covering while attending our worship service at the Hilton Garden Inn. 

    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").
    • Pastor John will wear a mask at the service. He will only take it off when leading during the service (I will be leading the service from behind the communion table--a safe space from the closest participants).
    • We'll have some face masks available if you do not have one.
  • Worship - Singing
    • There is a concern about inadvertently spreading the virus through aeorosols (respiratory droplets / particles)

      Is Congregational Singing Dangerous?

      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 service of an hour being mindful of young ones (since we won't have nursery initally) as well as simply for limiting exposure time.

    • Kevin will be leading us in singing.

      • While he's singing, he will have his mask off. Pastor John will be sitting closest to Kevin, and everyone else will be at least 20ft+ from where he will be leading.
    • These are the only exceptions to face coverings allowed before, during, and after the service. Thank you in advance for being willing to comply and honor the Governor's mandate as we seeks best practices through this pandemic. 

  • Worship - Communion

    • Prepackaged communion sets will be placed on the seats
    • Please dispose of them on your way out
  • Nursery

    • 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.
  • Livestream

    • 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.
    • To access the livestream, please visit our blog on for the Youtube link.
  • Other Misc

    • 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.

    • No handouts

      • 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

    • 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.

  • High-Risk Categories

    • 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.
  • Conclusion

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