Last night, our pastoral staff and Covid Task Force shared the following details with the congregation regarding our regathering in person for worship beginning on May 23. Please read on for a full rundown of details regarding the shape of worship upon our return. If you haven’t yet let us know your intent to come on May 23, please click the box below and do so! This enables us to prepare fully for your return to the church house.

One note about masking: since all of this information was prepared and shared last night, you’ve likely seen today’s CDC update to mask guidelines, which says that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most cases. Our Covid Task Force unanimously agrees that for now, we will proceed with our plans to mask when worshiping together in the church house, including for worship on May 23. Any updates to this plan will be communicated broadly to the congregation.

Basic Covid Safety Principles

  • How we engage with each other — As much as we’d love to hug and kiss all over each other, we will love each other well by masking, distancing, and doing most of our fellowshipping together outside. Before you assume that a fellow worshiper shares your comfort level with proximity after vaccination, please ask before you hug! (And do so outside!)
  • Masks — Everyone will stay masked at all times, except for when an individual is speaking in their worship leadership. Should you forget a mask, one will be provided for you.
  • Vaccinations and our church — We celebrate that all of our pastoral staff is fully vaccinated. Many of our members have shared with us that they’ve been vaccinated, which is wonderful! While we strongly encourage vaccinations, we will not be requiring folks to be vaccinated before attending worship.

What to Expect in the Buildings

  • Cleaning / Sanitizing — All common spaces (like the Sanctuary, the Commons, restrooms, etc.) will be sanitized before you arrive. Hand sanitizer stations are located at each entrance, and Clorox wipes will be available in the restrooms for your use.
  • Airflow — Fans and open exterior doors will assist in airflow throughout worship.
  • Spaces — There will be some spaces in the building that will be closed and locked, helping us to keep our costs low. Water fountains will be closed; a water cooler is available in the narthex and the Commons. All restrooms will be open for your use.

Arriving to the Church House

  • Parking — Church parking is available in the back gravel lot, the WSCEA parking lot, and street spaces along Spruce, Poplar, and Fifth. You may also park in the Journal lot or the gravel lot adjacent to it, but only with a parking permit provided by the church. These will be available for pickup next week. 
  • Entrance doors — You may enter the building from any of the six main exterior doors — two from the back parking lot / breezeway, one on the ground floor from Spruce Street near Kelly Auditorium, two on the Sanctuary level on either side, and the front door — and make your way to the Sanctuary.
  • TimesWorship will begin at 11:00am. (**NOTE: This is a change to allow more time for Bible Study groups to meet and to be less hurried that morning.**) Doors to the Sanctuary will open at 10:45am. Expect the worship service to last approximately 45 minutes.
  • Access — The elevator will be open, and no more than two people or one family unit may be inside at any given time. The exterior ramp will be open too.
  • Signage and greeters — Extra signage will be around to aid you as you move around the space. Greeters will be at the doors to welcome you back!
  • Security — We’re working to secure an off-duty officer to be on-site as we have for years in the past. 
  • Benevolence needs — Should you be approached by someone in the parking lot with financial needs, our process is such that we are not equipped to offer financial help on a Sunday. Folks who are requesting assistance simply need to call the church office during the week, and Nikki Byers (with assistance from the Missions Committee) will respond to their request.
  • Bringing your children — Worship care for our youngest children (infant – preK) will be provided in the nursery; please contact Pastor Amy McClure for details on all the safety precautions and to let her know you’re coming. Elementary-aged children (K-5) are welcome for worship in the Sanctuary.

Entering the Sanctuary & Settling Into Your Seat

  • When you arrive — At each ground floor Sanctuary door entrance, you’ll find a table where you can pick up your worship folder, a mask (in case you forgot one), hand sanitizer, and a Connection Card.
  • Getting to your seat — For these first few weeks, ushers and ministers will help you know where to sit. Available seats will be marked with a white and gold post-it note, and unavailable seats will be roped off. We will be seated every other pew, every other side throughout the Sanctuary. The balcony will be open and set aside for folks who need a bit more room. You may choose to sit together with a few friends. The pastoral staff and choir will also be spaced out in the front of the Sanctuary.
  • Pews and pew racks — All of the materials in and on the pews (pew cushions, hymnals, Bibles, offering envelopes, pencils, Connection cards) have been removed for cleaning purposes.
  • Moving around the room — Feel free to get up and move around as you need, careful to stay masked and distanced.

The Flow of Worship

  • Singing hymns — Hymns will be printed in the worship folder, and we encourage you to sing gently together.
  • Passing the Peace — While we will not encourage each other to move about and shake hands or hug, we will pass the peace with a head nod or with our hands over our heart.
  • Giving our offerings — We will not pass the plate during worship, but Deacons will be standing with the offering plate at the doors for you to share your financial gifts as you leave. We also encourage you to keep giving as is your custom, and you may always give right through our website here at the link
  • Leadership from the choir — The Sanctuary Choir will soon begin rehearsing together, after which they will, over time, lead in worship again.
  • Welcoming new members — When new folks join the church, Pastor Emily will welcome them down front in the way we’re accustomed to doing!
  • Celebrating communion, baptism, and baby dedications — We’re still figuring all of this out! Stay tuned!
  • Welcoming those in our congregation worshiping online — Each week throughout worship, we’ll regularly engage those who are worshiping with us online. Cameras around the room will allow for an experience of in-person worship from home. If you’re one who will continue to worship online, we encourage you to find community with other online worshipers by doing so on Facebook Live on Sundays at 11:00am! Beyond Sunday worship, we will continue to broaden the ways we offer online tools for faith formation, and give thanks for this season that invites us to do just that.

Exiting the Sanctuary

  • Departing — After the benediction, worshipers will be dismissed by sections of the Sanctuary to aid in the flow of people out the door. This is not mandatory! If you need a particular door to be close to the elevator or restroom, or need more time to gather your things, don’t feel rushed, pushed, or stressed.
  • Fellowship in the Breezeway — After worship, all are encouraged to fellowship together in the breezeway (the concrete area between the building and the parking lot). Our pastors will be there and look forward to greeting you there!

And finally…

  • Bring a friend! Is there a neighbor, a family member, a colleague, or friend who you want to experience our church? Invite them to come along!
  • After May 23… give us some feedback! Let us know what worked and what didn’t, where we can make things flow more smoothly, and how we can extend hospitality even more fully for our congregation. 


Thank you for your love of God through First Baptist Church on Fifth!

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