Littlestown Chapel and the Coronavirus: An Update from Pastor Scott Morgan

Dear Chapel Family,

 

The Elders and the staff of Littlestown Chapel love you, we church members and attenders love each other, and we – the entire church family – love our neighbors in the community. Therefore, all that we do and say over the next few months as we reopen the Chapel should be done with love. Let all that we say and do in the coming months reflect that attitude of love despite any hardships, disagreements, or unintentional offenses that may occur as we seek to reopen. Jesus commanded his followers to love each other as he has loved us (John 13:34-35).

Littlestown Chapel closed its public, in-person worship services and gatherings at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in early March. The church leadership at that time decided to voluntarily participate with Pennsylvania Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order and limitation of the size of public gatherings. As a religious institution, the Chapel has always been exempted from following the quarantine guidelines. Our decision to cheerfully cooperate with the governor’s directives and temporarily let go of our right to in-person worship has been driven by the following:

  1. Compassion for One Another – Closing our in-person gatherings is a way to love and protect one another in our church family, especially those most at-risk.
  2. Common Sense – Closing our in-person gatherings is also a way to love our neighbors by doing our part as concerned fellow-citizens to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
  3. Christ’s Example – He humbly gave up his rights for our salvation. (Philippians 2:5-8)
  4. Character Development – Shutting the church building has challenged us to trust Jesus more than ever as we have had to adapt to new ways of doing church ministry. We have grown in faith and flexibility in ways we wouldn’t have been able to prior to the quarantine.
  5. Church Staff Needs – The health concerns in several of the church staff families necessitated moving to online worship in place of in-person gatherings.
     

Now that Adams and York Counties have entered the yellow phase of Gov. Wolf’s plan for reopening Pennsylvania, it’s time to consider Littlestown Chapel’s strategy for reopening in-person gatherings. The elders and staff of the Chapel are in complete agreement on the following:

  1. We want everyone who calls the Chapel their home to participate in the corporate life and worship of the church either at home, in a growth group, or in a small group at the church building. Individuals and families should make decisions based on their personal situations without feeling any obligation to participate in behaviors they consider to be higher risk.
     
  2. The weekly worship service will continue to be livestreamed on the internet at 10:30 AM on Sunday mornings and be will available online thereafter.
    1. There will be no live, in-person worship services held in the Chapel building.
    2. There will be livestream worship service watch parties held in growth groups throughout the community and at the church building. (Details are listed below.)
       
  3. Small group gatherings will be the first in-person church activities implemented. Growth groups are encouraged to begin meeting in-person when they understand the risks to their group – specifically, the danger coronavirus poses to the health and age of group participants and the ways to appropriately mitigate the danger. Growth groups are encouraged to meet to watch the worship service together or do some other study. We strongly urge that:
    1. Growth group gatherings be no larger than 25 people.
    2. Proper social distancing is practiced.
    3. Face masks are worn by participants.
       
  4. On Sunday mornings, the church building will be open at 10:30 AM for those who wish to watch the worship service livestream and do not already participate in a growth group. While we cannot guarantee the health and safety of every person entering the building, we are seeking to provide a clean and safe environment for those who choose to come. We will do the following:
    1. All high-touch surfaces will be wiped down with disinfectant before, during, and after the Sunday 10:30 AM livestream services at the church (doorknobs, counter and tabletops, railings, bathroom fixtures, etc.)
    2. Doors will be propped open as people enter and exit the service.
    3. Greeters will wear face masks at all times.
    4. Paper bulletins, pew Bibles, and hymnals will not be available.
    5. Seating will be arranged to maintain appropriate social distancing.
    6. The kitchen will be closed. Serving coffee and refreshments is discouraged. The Keurig coffee machines will not be used.
       
  5. We have determined that three groups of 15-25 people can gather in the building to watch the Sunday livestream: one group the auditorium, another in the Power Source classroom, and a third in the Ignition (teen) room. Each room will show that Sunday’s livestream service. Those Chapel members and friends who choose to worship at the church building must:
    1. Make a reservation for themselves and their family to ensure that there is room available for them. Use this link to place your reservation. Please sign up by 12 noon on Saturday. For now, you will need to sign up each week.
    2. If your growth group is meeting, please attend that gathering.
    3. Wearing a face mask is required at all times inside the church building.
    4. Use hand sanitizer when you enter the building.
    5. Practice social distancing. Families can sit together. Seating will be appropriately spaced apart.
    6. Each room will enter and exit the building by a separate doorway. You can visit with those worshipping in another room outside in the parking lot. Promptly and politely exit the building as soon as the service is over. You are encouraged to socialize with others outside.
    7. If you wish to give your offering, there will be a basket for that purpose in each room.
    8. Wave, smile, and say hello – but refrain from hugging and shaking hands with others.
    9. IF YOU ARE SICK, PLEASE STAY HOME. Those having a fever, cough, or breathing issues, should stay home to watch the livestream service and come back when they are feeling better.
       
  6. Some growth groups met in the church building prior to the stay-at-home guidelines. These may resume meeting at the church building for their growth group gatherings. If they need to meet at a time other than Sunday morning, the group leader will need to make arrangements ahead of time with the church office to ensure that the building is open when they desire to meet.
     
  7. For now, there will be no children’s ministry at the church, including the nursery. Children are welcome to attend the livestream service at church with their families. Provisions are being developed for a modified VBS program in June. The Ignition student ministry will meet at the discretion of Pastor Josh and his adult volunteer leaders. They also will follow the meeting guidelines listed above.
     
  8. The church staff will continue to work from home and meet by video conference.
     
  9. Other groups who meet at the church building during the week (i.e.: Celebrate Recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous) must follow these guidelines:
    1. Group size of 25 people or less.
    2. Face masks worn while inside the building.
    3. Social distancing between participants.
    4. In addition, these groups will need to wipe all high-touch surfaces with disinfectant provided by the church (doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, counter and tabletops, music stands, etc.) BEFORE AND AFTER their meetings.
        

God bless each of you!

Pastor Scott