June 5, 2020
Dear Ebenezer Church Family,
The last several months have been very difficult on all of us, and yet we continue to find our hope and trust in the Lord. We are thankful for our Livestream capabilities, and we hope that you were able to continue to worship and flourish during this trial. To this point, we have felt it to be prudent to submit to the governor’s closure orders, even though we were considered an “essential business” and were not by law required to do so. We chose to submit as a way to obey Romans 13, and show love to our neighbor. While we have been patient and doing our best to lead in a way that was honoring to the Lord, and compliant with our Governor’s recommendations, we do believe it is now time to reopen the ministry and our facility according to the following plans and timelines.
Pennsylvania’s Governor and Secretary of Health have designated Red, Yellow and Green for Non-Life-Sustaining Business Closure Orders. They have stated specifically that religious institutions are excluded from these requirements. To not confuse the status of Ebenezer Bible Fellowship Church facility re-opening with the status of the state of Pennsylvania, EBFC is adopting the following 3 stages for re-opening of our Church Facility:
• Stage 1 – Small Group Phase – June 5-27:
Meeting together in homes in a small group forma or at the church in groups of 25 or less.
• Stage 2 – Limited Seating Phase – June 28 – July 11:
Meeting in the church for Sunday Morning Worship services with limited sanctuary seating and overflow in the fellowship hall. Small Groups encouraged to continue meeting.
• Stage 3 – Full Open Phase – July 12:
All seating and spacing restrictions removed. Limited children’s programs available on Sunday Mornings for the remainder of the summer.
We have put together plans on how we intend to reopen the three major areas of ministry: 1) Large Groups: Sunday Morning Worship Services and other uses of the Sanctuary, 2) Small Groups: Kinships, Bible Studies, etc, and 3) Youth Ministry. Please see the details below. (Since AWANA doesn’t meet during the summer, we have decided to wait until the fall to determine how to reopen that ministry.)
We pray that the Lord will continue to bless Ebenezer Bible Fellowship Church during this time.
Serving the Lord,
The EBFC Elder Board
Plan for Reopening the Facility
As an elder board we understand that there is a wide variety of views concerning the re-opening of our facility. In developing this plan, the elders want to be prudent in providing the opportunity for those who desire to worship and gather together and at the same time encourage those who still have reservations to be free to continue worshiping through our livestream ministry. We are asking that all of us lovingly keep in mind the following:
- Anyone who does not feel comfortable gathering should stay home and watch the livestream. Regardless of your decision, please know that we love you and want to continue to support you. We ask that everyone adopt a no-judgment mentality toward anyone who gathers or anyone who chooses to stay quarantined at this time.
- For any EBFC event, if feeling sick, please do not attend. If you are unsure, follow “When in doubt, don’t go out.”
- When we come together be mindful of others. Although you may have a strong desire to shake hands or hug one another we ask that you refrain from doing so during Stage 1 and Stage 2.
- Wearing of masks will not be required during either the Limited Seating Phase or the Full Open Phase (stages 2 & 3).
- For Sunday Morning Worship during the Limited Seating Phase (stage 2), you will be guided to a sanctuary entrance and you will be seated by an usher. You may not be allowed to sit in your normal seat. Please be patient and cooperative as the process may take longer. If you are not able to be in the sanctuary due to the capacity having been met, we ask that you willingly sit in the fellowship hall where our ushers will guide you to your seat.
- We will be cleaning and disinfecting the sanctuary, fellowship hall and bathrooms prior to each service. We will also be cleaning other areas of the church that are used for small groups or youth. The cleaning procedures have been developed by Kevin Kritzberger and the Deacons and have been approved by the Elder Board.
- Although we are endeavoring to do our best to have a clean facility, we cannot eliminate all risks. Anyone who is concerned should take necessary precautions by avoiding touching their face, using hand sanitizer, wearing a mask or staying at home in the near term.
Stage 1 – Small Group Phase (June 5 – June 27)
Ebenezer Bible Fellowship Church encourages the fellowship among believers at the prudent decision of each person. We are encouraging small groups to gather on Sunday morning for worship as well as other times at their discretion.
A) Recommendations for Small Groups:
- Each group leader should reach out to their corresponding groups in order to determine the comfort level and willingness of their group to meet in person and where that meeting would take place.
- The group leader does not need to host if they are not comfortable meeting; in that event they should designate someone else to host the group.
- Try to accommodate as many people who are interested in the in-person gathering as possible while limiting the group size to 25.
- If some group members do not feel comfortable leaving their house, try to provide an alternate method of meeting with the group simultaneous to the in-person meeting (use Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) to include them in the study and fellowship. Use the “majority vote” when determining a place of meeting.
- Assure each group member that there will be no judgment for, nor shall there be any shame in, not attending a group study. Encourage them by understanding their decision.
B) Recommendations for Group Members:
- Do not commit to anything you are not comfortable with… there will be NO judgment for your decision.
- If feeling sick, do not attend the group study. If you are unsure, follow “When in doubt, don’t go out.”
- Face coverings are optional based on the group’s preference.
- In the continuing effort to exercise care for the Ebenezer Family, we recommend that each group member make their own informed decision on meeting with others and trust that all who desire to meet for in-person fellowship will follow these guidelines.
C) Meeting Place: Home:
- Each gathering should be done at the discretion of the homeowner.
- Keep meeting to a maximum of 25 people as space will accommodate.
- Meet outside, if possible and practical.
- As much sanitation and social distancing should take place as the group deems necessary.
D) Meeting Place: Church:
- Rooms at the church are available for use for those who are not comfortable meeting in a home.
- Keep meeting to a maximum of 25 people as space will accommodate.
- Contact the church office to reserve a room ([email protected], 610-868-5501).
- Cleaning after the meeting needs to be done by the group members. The leader should contact Kevin Kritzberger for instructions ([email protected], 484-330-0179)
- Stay 6’ apart from those who do not live in your home, or, if this is not possible, wear facemasks. Refrain from handshaking and hugging.
Stage 2 – Limited Seating Phase (June 28 – July 11)
The first Sunday that we will be holding in-person worship services with limited seating will be on June 28th. The plan will be followed for 2 weeks.
There will be 2 Sunday Morning Worship services at the normal times: 8:30-9:45 and 11:15-12:30.
A) Worship Service – Special Requirements:
- To provide a touch-free environment, we will not be providing bulletins, or sermon guides for these services. As always, sermon guides are available online (aplaceforyou.org/sermons). You will need to print out the sermon guide at home prior to coming to the service or you can use the EBFC app and fill it in on your mobile device.
- The pews will be emptied of pens, bibles, and hymnals. Please bring your own. If someone needs a Bible, an usher can provide one upon request (see an usher).
- The offering plates & fellowship pads will not be passed. If you bring an offering with you, it can be deposited it in an offering plate on your way out of the sanctuary.
- Children’s Bulletins and Children’s Sermon Outlines will be emailed to the parents each week. We ask that parents print them out prior to coming to the service and be prepared with your own writing/coloring materials. Packets of activity pages and crayons will be available upon request (and should be taken home at the end of the service).
- There will be no in-person Adult Electives or Youth Sunday School during the limited seating service Sundays.
- Library will not be open.
- We ask that you not congregate in the foyer or hallways to talk to people. If you want to do so, please leave the building and have your conversation outside.
- Please do not shake hands or hug during Stage 1 and Stage 2.
B) Seating Logistics:
- Seating in the sanctuary will be limited to between 100 and 115.
- Entrance to the sanctuary will be through the center doors only.
- The sanctuary will be open 30 minutes prior to the start of the service.
- Seating in the sanctuary will be on a first come first serve basis.
- Seating will be done from the front of the sanctuary to the back of the sanctuary with the head usher dictating the location that you and your family will be sitting, and an usher will guide you to your seat.
- We will not be taking reservations for seats. If you are not in your normal spot, we ask that you praise the Lord that we are together and lovingly follow the guidance of the ushers.
- When the sanctuary is full the doors will be closed, and you will be guided to the fellowship hall.
- Similar to the sanctuary, seating in the fellowship hall will be completed from the front to the rear with the head usher dictating the location for your family to sit. Ushers will take you to your appointed location.
- After the service is complete, we will be dismissing the seating area starting with the rear first (sanctuary or fellowship hall).
- If you want to talk to someone in the sanctuary or fellowship hall you can stay for a short period of time, but please consider the following:
— Wait until others who want to leave have left the sanctuary or fellowship hall before moving to talk to others.
— We will be asking the sanctuary, fellowship hall and bathrooms to be vacated by 10:15 following the first service to enable the cleaning crew to clean prior to opening the doors for the second service, and by 1:00 following the second service.
— Once you leave the sanctuary and fellowship hall please proceed outside of the building and avoid lingering in the hallways as we want people to be able to comfortably leave the building without passing through crowded areas.
- Families are encouraged to come, however, during the limited seating phase the following will be the status of our children’s programs:
— Nursery will not be staffed. The room will be open for use when needed. Please notify an usher if you are using the nursery so that it can be cleaned after the service.
— There will be no Early Childhood Class for 2-3 year-olds
— There will be no Sunday School for children (age 4 – grade 5)
— There will be no Children’s Church
- We understand that children may be a little fidgety, but please know that we want them in the service if they feel comfortable coming. Feel free to bring quiet things to occupy young children.
D) Small Groups:
- Small Groups will be encouraged to meet during the “Limited Seating Phase”
- Requirements/Limitations will be the same as the guidelines provided under the “Stage 1: Small Group Phase.”
E) Weddings and Funerals:
- Both events can take place during the “Limited Seating Phase”
- Seating in the sanctuary will be limited to the 100-115 and will follow the pattern of the Sunday Morning Worship Services.
- The guidelines listed in “A” and “B” under the “Limited Seating Phase” will govern these events.
- Cleaning will be performed before and after each event. It will be done by the paid cleaning person as arranged under the normal/existing reservation procedures.
Stage 3 – Full Open Phase (July 12)
- As of July 12th Ebenezer will be moving to a full open phase. During this phase, we will remove restrictions concerning seating and spacing for all gatherings.
- Adult and youth Sunday school will resume (Sundays 10:05 – 11:00 am)
- Nursery & the 2-3 year-old classes will available during the worship services. However, they will not be held during the Sunday School hour for the remainder of the summer.
- Children’s Church & Children’s Sunday School will not be held for the remainder of the summer.
- The library will be open dependent on available staff
- The sanctuary will continue to be cleaned and disinfected after each service for the remainder of the summer.
- Offering plates will not be passed for the remainder of the summer. Offering will continue to be collected via online options or putting your gift in the offering plate after the service.
- Fellowship pads will not be used for the remainder of the summer.
- Pens will not be available in the pews so you will need to bring your own pen.
- Bulletins and sermon guides may be available with a no-touch method of distribution (at the discretion of the pastors)
- Bibles will be returned to the pews
- Communion will be issued through individual packets during the summer. For July, communion will be held on the 12th (instead of the first Sunday of the month).
- If you have any questions concerning how things will be done in either the nursery or 2&3 year-old room in the full open phase, please talk with Jennifer Schanely: [email protected], 610-868-5501.
- Small Group restrictions will be removed.
- Restrictions for Weddings and Funerals will also be removed, and the coordination of these events will resume under the normal/existing policy.
Plan for Reopening Youth Group Ministry
Stage 1 & 2 – Small Group Phase & Limited Seating Phase (June 5 – July 11)
- Youth Ministry Gatherings will resume on June 16th on Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. They will be held on a rotating basis between MS and HS every-other week. (below are suggestions, it could be the opposite)
— HS will meet on June 16th and June 30th
— MS will meet on June 23rd and July 7th
- Youth Sunday School classes will not be held until the church moves to the “Full Open Phase” on July 12th
- During the off-week for MS or HS, growth groups will be encouraged to meet following the guidelines for small groups listed in the main re-opening plan.
- Each MS and HS gathering will be limited to a maximum of 25 people. If the attendance is higher, the leadership will determine if there is adequate space available for the larger group or if the group should be split into 2 parts.
- For Youth Ministry Gatherings at the church:
— Activities will be held outside when possible
— When the weather does not permit this, we will hold activities in the gym
— As with other activities in the facility, masks will not be required, but can be worn by those who feel more comfortable using them.
— Large group teaching times will likely be shortened to limit static time in specific areas
— All games will avoid contact with each other, and will also avoid using shared objects
— Musical worship will be via song recordings/videos to eliminate necessary rehearsal time for a youth band
— We will recommend that the teens Social Distance, but we will not enforced it
Stage 3 – Full Open Phase July 12th
- Restrictions for the Youth program will be removed and programing will resume as determined by Pastor Mike Notary in communication with the Elders.
- Youth Sunday School Classes will resume with no spacing/capacity restrictions
Weekday Building Visitors
- Stages 1&2, June 5 – July 11 – All people in the building are required to stay at least 6’ apart, or, if this is not possible, to wear facemasks. Please refrain from shaking hands or hugging.
- Stage 3, July 12 – no requirements for social distancing or facemasks