Dear First Baptist on Fifth family,
In these days where news of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is dominating our shared spaces for information, I wanted you to know the precautionary measures your church is taking so that our common gathering and worshiping life together can be both vibrant and vigilant in this unique season. These adaptations and shifts primarily affect worship and our building, and emerge upon close monitoring of the websites for the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS), and prayerful discussion over several days between our church staff and Deacon officers. We know that information is coming at you rapidly, even yesterday as Governor Cooper declared a State of Emergency for North Carolina to increase response effectiveness and access to resources. With that in mind, we covenant to remain in close contact with each other and with you as the days unfold and potentially cause plans to change.
As you prepare for your next visit to the church house, please note the following shifts:
Shifts in Worship
- Ushers will regularly apply hand sanitizer before handing out worship folders upon your entrance into the Sanctuary. In the same manner of preparation, children’s worship bags will be pre-stuffed and ready for your pickup; Worship Wagons will be suspended for the time being.
- As we practiced this past Sunday, we will continue inviting worshipers to press their hands to their hearts and acknowledge one another with eye contact and a grateful head nod during the passing of the peace. We welcome you to apply this same practice to ministers at the doors upon leaving.
- We will continue celebrating communion on the first Sunday of each month. As ability allows, worshipers will move to the front of the room and approach communion stations with hands cupped. Deacons and staff serving communion will have sanitized and gloved hands to offer to you an individually-wrapped communion set containing a communion wafer and prefilled cup. You will then return to your seat, and servers will take communion to those in the congregation with mobility challenges. We then will partake of the elements at the same time.
- The practice of giving our offering of financial gifts to God in response to God’s generous gifts to us will take place upon the conclusion of worship as worshipers exit the Sanctuary. Offering plates will be held by Deacons and ushers at each door for your use on Sundays. For the large number of you who give your tithes and offerings online via the website, billpay through your bank, or bank draft, thank you for continuing that practice! (If you would like to set up a recurring contribution online, you can do so here!)
- If you are sick or concerned about the risk of gathering, we encourage you to worship with First on Fifth via livestream on our website here.
Around the Building
- We have four portable hand sanitizer stations that have been placed at each entrance to the Sanctuary for your use. Wall-mounted stations are located around the building. (And yes, we are well-stocked on extra sanitizer!)
- Our cleaning crew will be giving extra attention to cleaning high-touch surfaces around the building. Extra Lysol and Clorox wipes are in each small group gathering space in the building for your use.
Pastoral Care and Missions
- Ministers and Deacons are paying close attention to the CDC guidelines and local practices about visits to hospitals and facilities during this season of viruses and flu. In order to prioritize the safety of those who are ill or medically-fragile, we anticipate an increase in phone calls and handwritten notes within our church family.
- We are in close contact with our local missions partners who extend daily resources of food, shelter, and clothing to those in our community who need them, particularly asking how we could be helpful in a situation where increased resources are needed.
In the coming days, we’ll stay in close contact with you. Please do email any of our staff or call the church office if you have questions, concerns, or fears that you need to talk through; you can reply to this email to reach Pastor Emily. Remember too our Butner Fund for counseling assistance which is there for you should you need it.
We are taking these measures, because we are the church. The ekklesia. The dynamic gathering of the body of Christ in all her many forms. A “community in the heart of the city called by Jesus to practice bold love of God and neighbor and boundless compassion for all people.”
Our gathering may shift and change in these uncertain times, and our practices may adapt to new needs and norms. But the God who gathers us in and together now is the God who abides with this world so loved forever, even, especially, amidst the swirling storms. And if we’re listening, we’ll hear holy echoes rippling across space and time…
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
Do not fear!
Peace. Be still.
You are mine.
Grace + peace,
Gary Stiffler, Chair, Deacons
Roper Halverson, Vice Chair, Deacons
Matt Steen, Secretary, Deacons
Nikki Byers, Interim Minister for Missions
Brent Greene, Interim Minister for Discipleship
Jake Hill, Music Associate / Organist
Amy McClure, Associate Pastor for Children, Senior Adults, Pastoral Care
Emily Hull McGee, Pastor
David Williamson, Associate Pastor for Worship, Arts, Administration