Phase 2 is here! Do you know what that means?
I’m assuming that most of you are following the latest COVID-19 updates from Governor Inslee’s office. As you are probably aware, we have transitioned to Phase 2 of the Governor’s Healthy Washington-Roadmap to Recovery plan. While we all may not agree with the current guidelines and it may not make sense to us, we are still obligated to follow the legal directives which do not cause us to sin by doing so. So, what do the current guidelines mean for us at Westhill Church?
In terms of worship services, the in-person attendance numbers have not changed.
For indoor services, we are still limited to 25% of our seating capacity in both the sanctuary and the multi-purpose room with 6’ social distancing and requires all attendants to wear a mask. This equates to 44 in the sanctuary and 33 in the multi-purpose room, for a total of 77 people. They have modified the social distancing guidelines to allow people from 2 households may sit in a group, but no more than 2 households. We have had an average of around 54 people between the two rooms and for both services.
For outdoor services we can have up to 200 people in attendance, with the same social distancing guidelines as indoors and everyone required to wear a mask. If we use canopies for shelter as we have in the past, the shelters cannot have more than 2 of the sides enclosed to allow for ample ventilation.
When we began planning for in-person services last year, one of our main objectives was to be able to get everyone together in order to worship and see each other as opposed to just seeing the person preaching on the livestream service. This has been such a huge blessing and many of you have commented on how great it is to be able to see each other.
As we have announced last Sunday, we are transitioning to just one service which starts at 10:30. Transitioning to this one service serves a few purposes.
1) This will give us the opportunity to see everyone who comes out to the worship service. Having 2 services (9:30 and 11:00) allowed us to have enough seating for everyone and still have some vacant seats available, however, it prevented us from being together for worship at the same time and people didn’t get to see everyone else.
2) It does not require the worship team, the audio/visual team to set up for 2 services and it does not require the person preaching to have to preach twice.
3) This also facilitates a Sunday School hour before the worship service. We are still not allowed to have children’s Sunday school indoors. We are going to have adult Sunday school from 9:00-10:00 in the sanctuary which will also be open for parents who want to attend and feel like their children can sit through it.
4) This will also help us minimize the changes to our worship service times. When we are allowed to have children’s Sunday school, we won’t have to adjust to a different time for worship.
There are some minor changes for singing under Phase 2. While congregation singing is allowed indoors, it doesn’t really apply to our services. There is a maximum number of 15 people who can sing indoors and the social distancing expands from 6 feet to 9-12 feet and they all must wear a 3-layer surgical mask (don’t ask me how they came up with this). We can also have a soloist sing indoors. That person does not have to wear a mask but will be required to keep a 15’ distance from the congregation.
We will continue to have congregational worship outdoors as we have been directed. I know it is a little chilly and can be a little wet on some Sundays, but again, most of you prefer that over not being able to sing at all.
1) We are so thankful for everyone’s understanding and positive attitudes through all of these changes. We try to minimize the adjustments and try to focus on what is best for the congregation as a whole.
2) We also appreciate everyone complying with the guidelines. We will continue to have to temperature monitoring and hand-sanitizing stations at both entrances. We appreciate those who show or feel any symptoms of being sick to refrain from attending in person. Also, anyone who’s temperature exceeds 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit will be asked to return home.
3) We are planning to return to having outdoor services when the temperature permits and once we get past the rainy season (if there is such a thing). This will allow us to have a larger group together in one location and provide better ventilation than indoors.
4) We are looking for opportunities where we can have other fellowship events as we have in the past while remaining compliant with the COVID guidelines. Phase 2 allows us to have up to 200 people at parks, camp sites and hiking trails. If you have any ideas, please contact one of the elders. There is an allowance for outdoor dining. It doesn’t specify a maximum number or if this only pertains to restaurants. It does have a maximum seating of 6 people per table and no more than 2 households at the same table.
We are encouraged by everyone’s enthusiasm, understanding and love for one another during these difficult times. Michael, David, and I really do miss everyone and look forward to the opportunity when we can fellowship for extended periods of time.
Keep on loving Jesus and loving each other,