UPDATE 9/29 – REMINDERS FOR IN-PERSON WORSHIP STARTING OCT. 4
As I hope you’re all aware of by now, we’re having our first in person worship service this Sunday @10:30. Just a few reminders as we draw closer to Sunday:
- Please RSVP by Thursday so we can have as much time as possible to plan.(Click here to RSVP for 10/4/20 Worship Service)
- Sunday is a communion Sunday. We won’t be allowing food or beverage into the building, EXCEPT, for you bringing your communion food and drink. So, please bring something to eat and drink for our communion time only.
- We will be sending out instructions this week which will detail how you can watch our streaming service, stay on the lookout for those.
- Finally, for those of you who are taking part in the Mark study, we will have a set-up in the fellowship hall which will allow you to join the class together with those who are remaining home on Zoom. Let Peggy or Rodrigo know if you plan on attending the class in person at the church before worship. For those of you who don’t plan on attending in person, just continue as-is using the zoom link at the same time. If you plan on attending in person, we’ll have seats set up, distanced of course, so the in-person can be together with those who are virtual.
If you have any clarifying questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Again, this is uncharted territory for us all so don’t be alarmed if it seems a bit overwhelming. Many churches have successfully gone before us with very similar formats and things have gone well, Praise God!
UPDATE 9/22 – REOPENING FOR IN-PERSON WORSHIP ON TRACK FOR 10/4
As of now, we’re still on schedule to meet in person for worship on 10/4 at our usual 10:30am worship time. Here are a few things you need to know:
- Please RSVP at your earliest convenience so we can have as much time as possible to plan. We expect to have kinks that need to be worked out so the more time the better. In fact, if you’re planning to attend on 10/4, please take a break from reading this, go to the sign up page right now, read the info, and sign up! (Click here to RSVP for10/4/20 Worship Service)
- 10/4 is a communion Sunday. We won’t be allowing food or beverage into the building, EXCEPT, for you bringing your communion food and drink. So, please bring something to eat and drink for our communion time only.
- Finally, for those of you who are taking part in the Mark study on Sunday mornings, we will have a set-up in the fellowship hall which will allow you to join the class together with those who are remaining home on Zoom. Let Peggy or Rodrigo know if you plan on attending the class in person at the church before worship.
If you have any clarifying questions please don’t hesitate to ask! This is uncharted territory for us all so don’t be alarmed if it seems a bit overwhelming. Many churches have successfully gone before us with very similar formats and things have gone well, Praise God!
UPDATE 9/3 – PROGRESS ON REOPENING PLANS!
Council has been meeting every 2 weeks to continue our process of reopening. Here is the latest update:
- We’re excited to faithfully, and responsibly continue in this process. We’ve been keeping in close contact with other churches who have gone before us and learned much from their experience. What we’ve seen is that if we take the precautions seriously, we can meet safely. In all the churches we’ve followed closely (some of them being in “red zones”), who have been meeting since June following the state’s requirements and recommendations (masks, distancing, sanitization, etc), there have been zero cases reported, and therefore zero spread.
- Does this mean there’s zero risk? No. But, with our town and region being in the “white” and “green” zones, we’re in the best possible place to reopen.
- We’re hoping to get all the streaming tech purchased this week and in house next week. At that point we’ll be installing and working through the wrinkles of streaming (Pray for Al and his helpers!!!).
- Lord willing, if all that goes as planned, we’ll have our first worship service, in the church, on the first Sunday of October (10/4)
- To manage our occupancy limitations, and distancing, you will need to pre-register on our website. At this point, I believe we can legally hold between 60-70 people so the number of occupants won’t be the issue. What we need to have in place each Sunday is where all who desire to attend will sit during the service. This is where your RSVP is crucial. We’ll send the link to that sign up when it’s ready.
- On the registration page there will be details about our Sunday morning worship that you’ll need to know. Please read them when they’re available.
- At this point, we are still unable to provide childcare. However, families with young kids are welcome to attend. Hearing some baby cries and child sounds may be music to some over quarantined ears! Make the choice that best suits your family.
- We don’t have a youth CE option right now, but, we’re working on having lessons recorded and posted to our Youtube page in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for details.
- Finally, let’s remember 3 things:
- Everyone is approaching this strange season of life differently based on their life circumstances. Any who desire to worship in person are more than welcome (as space allows!). Any who desire to remain at home and worship with us via live stream, are more than welcome. Let’s be gracious, patient, and loving towards each other.
- Also, try to let go of what you believe to be the ideal worship experience in this season. In these unique days, whether we meet on a stream, or in person, there will be a sense of loss as neither option will be like “the way things used to be.”
- However, if we focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who loves us and gave his life for us, and who lives eternally, we can gather faithfully in worship, BEING The Church.
UPDATE 8/20 – CHURCH REGATHERING PLANS HAVE BEGUN!
Dear Dunstable Church!
I wanted to take a moment to update everyone on our process to gather again.
As you already know, the state has continued it’s opening phases. At this point, we’re allowed to worship at 50% capacity, with masks, and social distancing. With the weather beginning to cool, we’re moving forward in our preparation to gather again.
Among a few other requirements we’re working on, we’re taking steps to obtain and install the necessary hardware to stream our services.
That’ll take a few weeks to get up and running. We’re also working on a way to sign up for worship services on our website.
At this point, assuming the state doesn’t reverse it’s opening phases, we’re aiming to have everything in place and worship together by mid/late September. This time frame is a goal and I’ll continue to update you as we make progress. Let me know if you have any questions.
UPDATE 5/29 – CHURCH LEADERSHIP RESPONSE TO REOPENING OF PLACES OF WORSHIP IN MASSACHUSETTS
Dear Dunstable Church,
Let me begin by both apologizing for the length of this communication and encouraging you to read it in its entirety.
Both Council and Deacon boards met last night to discuss the topic of reopening and we want to keep you all updated on the process moving forward. We’re all in uncharted territory and each church is tasked with discerning the best way forward for them. There is no blueprint that each church can easily replicate and follow, making this process uniquely challenging. We continue to ask for your prayers, patience, and trust as we faithfully navigate the facts before us and seek God’s wisdom as to how best to move forward. It’s important to remember that, though the building has been closed, the church has remained open, and we have continued to be the church. Covid has not stopped God’s work in us or through us.
We acknowledge that there are a variety of opinions on what should be done and how we should move forward. Whether you agree or disagree with what’s been said, or what’s being done, we must not allow this issue to divide us. Regardless of where you stand on reopening, we all stand united in a love for Jesus, one another, and a desire to see Him glorified through this. May that be our perspective each day, binding us together as the Body of Christ in Dunstable.
As you all know, Governor Baker began the process of reopening the state on May 18th in phases. Churches were included in phase one. The state has provided guidelines that must be followed, and recommendations for best practices to maintain the safest environments possible and to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
We’ve reviewed the states requirements and recommendations. We’ve studied in detail what other churches are doing. There truly is a spectrum of possible responses to the challenge of reopening. On one end of the spectrum is the perspective that churches should wait months until reopening and see what happens as the phased process works through its ups and downs. On the other end of the spectrum is the perspective that churches should do everything possible to meet ASAP. The question is where are we going to place ourselves between these two poles?
We don’t believe we are in a rush to meet in person. First, our bathroom project has begun and there’s no water coming to the building. We can’t meet until that’s been re-established. Second, while Zoom has its imperfections, it has provided us a way to pray, sing, and fellowship together, with no masks, in community, even if it is virtually.
Best practices for re-opening churches were reviewed. All were agreed that steps required to accomplish the goal of opening right away would make worship more of a task than a joy. This includes:
- Attendance must be limited to 40% of the building capacity. To ensure that this requirement is met, those planning to attend would have to pre-register in advance of the service
- Social distancing of at least 6 feet must be observed
- Those 65 or older, or those with a pre-existing health condition, are recommended to remain at home, attending via live-stream only
- Masks must be worn by those attending in person
- No singing would be allowed, as singing is one of the highest risk factors for spreading the virus
- No Sunday School or childcare is allowed
There are many other mandates and guidelines, but this gives an idea of the extent of the limitations required. We believe this option to meet ASAP doesn’t improve, but rather worsens, our worship experience.
That said, we also don’t feel the need to declare we won’t meet for many months as some churches have. Using the spectrum analogy, we’re right in the middle. In the next month, we’re improving our church’s streaming capability to accommodate the contingent who will want to continue to worship from home. We may try to stream services from the church, with only me present in the sanctuary once that system is up and running. We are looking into worshiping once a month outdoors, weather permitting. We will create ways to meet together in small groups again. Council and Deacons will meet again next month and reassess the situation. If all the churches that have been open for a month are moving along smoothly and the statewide cases continue to decline, perhaps we’ll begin plans to meet. If churches that began opening run into more challenges than benefits, or the state’s case numbers spike, then we’ll learn from these weeks of observation and patiently wait.
Once again, we cherish your patience, prayers, and trust. But we also value your thoughts. While we can’t make a decision which makes everyone happy, we’d love your feedback. Feel free to email me. Over the next weeks, the Deacons will be reaching out to each of you for your input. Primarily among the feedback we’re asking for is if we were to begin meeting in the next months, would you be willing to attend? Having an understanding of who would attend under the current mandates and guidelines helps us plan potential future options. If things begin to improve rapidly, that may change the requirements and we’ll continue to reassess.
Thank you all for being a faithful part of the Body of Christ in Dunstable. On behalf of Council and the Deacon board, it’s our honor to love, serve, and lead us all through this challenging time.
Love, Grace, and Peace,
Pastor Bobby Ross, Council, and Deacons
UPDATE 5/20 Regarding Governor Baker’s announcement on Monday and the phased plan of reopening the state. As many of you may already know, churches have been allowed to reopen as part of phase 1. This is not a decision we’re taking lightly and there is much we have to consider and have in place before we can open. The church leadership has a scheduled meeting next Thursday where this will be the primary point of discussion. An email communication will be sent on 5/29 to keep you posted on the progress of that discussion and what we hope to have in place before we can open. In the meantime we will continue to gather online for worship Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM on Zoom.
UPDATE 4/16 The Dunstable Church is currently using Zoom to gather online for worship on Sunday morning at 10:30 AM and for prayer on Wednesday night at 8:00 PM. If you would like to join us for either, please email Pastor Bobby at [email protected] to receive information about joining the Zoom meeting.
The worship service is recorded and posted on our YouTube channel at The Dunstable Church YouTube channel.
Also on the YouTube channel you will find recordings of Children’s Moments from the Jesus Storybook Bible and recordings of Krafting with Kelsey, fun and relaxing video demonstrations of crafts you can make from things around your house!
UPDATE 3/23 From Pastor Bobby: I set up an account with free conference call that has all the essential features for meeting up virtually. If anyone wants to “meet with me”, let me know and I’ll send you the video conference call link. If you just want to touch base or pray, or whatever, let me know. We’re only just over a week into this and the days can be getting longer and more difficult as the news continues to deteriorate. You’re not alone. Reach out and we can schedule a time to meet. Click here to email.
UPDATE 3/14 Subscribe to the Dunstable Church YouTube channel for live streaming or recorded messages. Click on the link below and then click on Subscribe. Then click on the little bell icon and select All so that you get notified when there is something on the channel.
After consulting with medical professionals and many of my pastoral peers, it’s with an abundance of care that we have decided to suspend all public gatherings for 2 weeks. This Sunday’s service (3/15), as well as next Sunday’s (3/22) are cancelled. In 2 weeks time, if the situation shows signs of improvement, we’ll make efforts to re-enter our “normal” church life. If in 2 weeks things have worsened, then we’ll be thankful we were ahead of the pack in making this decision and extend our public gathering hiatus as needed. As I’m sure we all are, we’ll be evaluating the situation closely and reassess our next steps on 3/26. At that time, we will reevaluate the status of the outbreak under the guidance of health authorities to see if further suspension is required. I want to make abundantly clear that as far as we know, we have not had any cases within the church. Please notify me if you know otherwise. We are also closing the church building to outside groups for the next 30 days.
What will the next weeks look like? We will continue to be the church! We’re the church gathered, and the church scattered. For now, our “gathering” will look different. We’re working on virtual solutions for Sunday worship. There will be further communication with specifics as we know more but one avenue we’re looking into is a Dunstable Church YouTube page to both live stream and store content. Stay tuned on that. Peggy will continue providing digital media for Sunday School. She too is considering live stream option for the class. Our Wednesday services will more than likely be downloadable content that you can do from your homes to practice the spiritual disciplines. We’re working on virtual social options for you to be able to stay in touch with your church family in groups, remotely. Again, as that becomes available and we know more, we’ll communicate it. If you are accustomed to giving in person, please consider giving your regular offering online (https://dunstablechurch.org/Giving/) so the ministry of the church can continue as planned during this time. We have offered our services to the town as well. If anyone has a need we can help with, we will be contacted.