A Letter From Our Pastor

Dear Friends,

It is a blessing and a privilege to be part of such a wonderful church like we have here at Shiloh. During this “stay-at-home” order, you have been so supportive of the efforts of our leadership and we are so appreciative. And while there is a lot of excitement about our reopening on May 31, 2020, we also understand the tremendous responsibility that we have to make sure our church takes the necessary precautions to provide for the health of every member of our church family.

Three weeks ago, I met with seven pastors in our area and since then I have emailed or I have talked to other pastors, as well as, our church staff to come up with a plan that would be effective in the “Reopening” of our church. The Florida Baptist Convention calls it a “Regathering.” Some churches call it a “Rebooting.” But whatever name we may give it, we want to do it right.

Just like our governor has divided the reopening of our state into phases, I want to do the same in the reopening of our church. Over time, our goal is to gradually do away with many of these precautions that we feel are necessary in the beginning.

As you know the Coronavirus is highly contagious and is known to spread mainly from airborne particles transmitted from person-to- person. Therefore, we will be taking every precaution that we can to enable you to come to church and worship our Savior while at the same time feeling safe and comfortable. The way we express our love for one another through fellowship will not cease but it will feel different, at least for a while. Please do not judge one another if they are not as precautious as you and do not be offended if you feel they are overly cautious.

Like most of you, we are also excited to begin the process of regathering and we ask that you continue to pray for our church and our community in the days ahead. If you have any questions or if you have any concerns or if you have any needs, please feel free to contact your deacon/yokefellow, staff member or myself. We will do our best to consider any concerns and to try to meet any needs that you might have.

Please understand that this is a new territory for us to explore and we are moving into it with caution but also with a sense of adventure to see what God has in store for us. We love you and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday, May 31st, or when you feel comfortable enough to return!

God bless you,

Bro. Joe

Shiloh’s Reopening

Phase 1:

  1. In Phase 1, we will host two Sunday morning worship services: 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM.
  1. Because of the close proximity of those in attendance in an enclosed classroom, we will not have Sunday School classes in Phase 1.
  1. We will not be able to provide nursery/child care during the worship services. We will also not be able to have our children’s programs (children’s church) during the two worship services. All members are asked to stay with their family at all times. We understand that children are very active and that it may be difficult to keep them occupied during the worship services. Therefore, we will provide all children with activities that will correspond to the message/sermon for that day.
  1. We will not have Sunday evening nor Wednesday evening worship services in Phase 1. We will also not be able to have our children and youth meeting together on Sunday or Wednesday evenings at our campus.
  1. The church office will be open each day from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM.
  1. Hopefully, we will be able to transition to Phase 2 in a few weeks.

Phase 2:

  1. In Phase 2, we will continue to host two Sunday morning worship services: 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM.
  1. Again, because of the close proximity of those in attendance in an enclosed classroom, we will not have Sunday School classes in phase 2. We are encouraging every adult and youth class to schedule Zoom Sunday School classes during the week. Each class may choose the best time for them to meet for their Zoom class. If you are not familiar with Zoom, we will provide teachers with the information necessary to conduct a Zoom meeting. Teachers who are leading preschool and children’s classes are encouraged to contact every child in their class each week.
  1. In Phase 2 we will add our Wednesday evening service in the Worship Center. Again, we are asking for families to sit together. At some point during phase 2, our youth, children, preschool and nursery ministries/activities will be added to our schedule. We will practice social distancing as much as possible.
  1. The church office will be open each day from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM.
  1. Phase 2 will probably last longer than Phase 1, and we may slowly transition into Phase 3.

Phase 3:

  1. In Phase 3, we will host one Sunday morning worship service: 10:15 AM.
  1. We will have all Sunday School classes meet again as usual. Classes will begin at 9:00 AM and they will conclude at 9:55 AM.
  1. In Phase 3, our Wednesday evenings will return to normal. Our youth, children, preschool and nursery will resume their usual ministries and activities.
  1. The church office will be open each day from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
  1. We will gradually add other programs and ministries as we progress in Phase 3. This will probably be our new normal.

Q & A Time (Questions & Answers)

Q.- I am concerned about attending church because I have some health issues. What should I do?

A.- First of all, let me say that we want every person in attendance to feel comfortable knowing that we are doing our best to provide a clean, sanitary, and safe environment. Obviously we cannot do everything, but we can make our best efforts to ensure the safety and health of all those who attend our services. If you have underlying health issues, if you do not feel well, if you are sick, or if you have recently been ill, then it is okay for you not to be in our church services.

Q.- Will we continue to broadcast our worship services when we reopen?

A.- Yes. We will continue to broadcast our worship services on YouTube. We are not exactly sure what time the services will be launched or if they will be live streamed, but we have received so many wonderful comments from those who have watched our broadcasts that it would be foolish not to continue them. Once again, if you do not feel well or if you have underlying health issues, please feel free to continue watching our broadcasts until you feel comfortable enough to attend God’s house again.

Q.- What measures will the church provide to make sure that those attending God’s house will be safe?

A.- We will disinfect our facilities before, between, and after every service. We will disinfect all bathrooms, the worship Center, and any other buildings that may be in use. We have purchased a commercial disinfectant misting machine that we will utilize to disinfect all areas as quickly as possible. This machine is environmentally safe, it only takes 15 minutes to dry, and it is not harmful to humans.

For obvious reasons, our water fountains will be off limits (they will be covered or disabled). Instead, we will make available 8 oz. bottled water for those who may be thirsty. You may also bring bottled water with you, if necessary. We also ask that no one bring soft drinks, coffee, etc. in to the worship center.

In addition, we have removed everything from the pew racks (hymnals, pencils, registration cards, offering envelopes). Although recently, the CDC has stated that the possibility of contracting the Coronavirus from surfaces is minimal, we felt that is was prudent to eliminate the possibility.

Q.- What will we do about entering and exiting the worship Center?

A.- When you enter or leave the worship Center, one of our ushers will open the door for you so you will not have to touch the door at all. We will do so with our interior doors as well as our exterior doors.

Q.- Will you provide hand sanitizers?

A.- Yes. We have ordered hand sanitizing stations but until they arrive, we will provide the pump bottles for all who may need it.

Q.- So, what about our registration cards and offering envelopes?

A.- Here Is what we will do. Every Sunday, when you enter the worship center, each family will be given a “gift bag.”  Inside, you will find a bulletin, a pencil, an offering envelope, and any other information as needed.

Q.- How will we be able to give our offering and turn in our registration slips?

A.- As you know, our registration slip is a perforated section of our bulletin. Every family will be asked to tear off that section, complete it and place it in the offering plate along with their tithe and offering. I want to personally thank everyone who has continued to give during this difficult time. During this crisis, our online giving has increased and our overall giving has remained constant due to your faithfulness and your commitment to honor God with your gifts. For those of you who want to mail your tithe and offering or bring it by the church office or drop in our mail slot, you may continue to do so. For those of you who want to give during our worship services, our ushers will each have an offering plate that will never leave their gloved hand as they move about the sanctuary offering the plate to all those in attendance. We do not feel that it is safe to pass the plate from one individual to another.

Q.- Why are we having two services on Sunday mornings?

A.- Well, it is much easier to practice social distancing when there are less people in the Worship Center. Therefore, the easiest and best solution is to host two Sunday morning worship services. The services will basically be the same. You may attend whichever service you choose. We will broadcast the second service(10:30 AM service) on our YouTube channel.

Q.- How long will each phase last?

A.- I have no idea. A pastor friend of mine put it like this, “making decisions during this pandemic is like trying to change a tire when the car is moving.” I couldn’t think of a more descriptive way to put it. Each and every day we hear something new. I have no way to predict the future, but we are planning to do the best that we can while at the same time making safe choices as we try to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord. Please understand that our governor has made it very clear that churches are essential businesses. We are essential, not because the governor said so but because the Word of God says so. We could’ve met together as a church  earlier. It was our constitutional right to do so, but it was also our realization that the church does not need a building to exist. We are the church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. However, if we love our neighbor as we love ourselves, then we should want to protect our neighbor as well as ourselves from any harm or danger that may exist because of the potential spread of this virus.

Q.- How will we practice social distancing as we are seated in the worship Center?

A.- We will not practice “individual” social distancing. It does not make sense for a family to live together and be together all week and ride in the same car to church and then be separated by six feet in the pews. We will, however, practice family social distancing. Therefore, when you enter the worship Center, an usher will escort you and your family to an area that you desire to sit in. We know that some of you sit in the exact same place every week. We will do our best to try to put you there, but if we’re not able to, we will escort you to that general area. We will not be roping off any pews. Families will be able to sit together, but our ushers will make sure that there is the proper social distancing between families.

Q.- What about Masks? Are we requiring everyone to wear a mask?

A.- We are asking everyone to bring a mask to wear during the services. Obviously, Brother Mark, Brother Mitch, myself, our praise team, and others who are leading in the service will not be able to wear a mask as we speak or sing. However, we will wear our masks when we are not leading in the worship services.

Q.- What if I forget my mask?

A.- We will have masks available for anyone who has forgotten to bring their mask. We are not going to turn anyone away who refuses to wear a mask, but for the safety of others, and in the spirit of “loving our neighbor as we love ourselves,” we are requesting everyone to wear a mask.

Q.- What about our fellowship time when we greet one another?

A.- We will just have to greet one another verbally at a distance. We are not encouraging nor will we provide a time of fellowship that promotes shaking hands or hugging one another. Unfortunately, until there is a vaccine available, we will refrain from this practice.

Q.- Why is the church office closing earlier each day?

A.- Well… in the first few days of the “stay-at-home” order, the office was closed all day. But we learned rather quickly, that it is difficult for us to operate efficiently unless the church office is open, at least, part of the day. Our normal hours are 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. During this crisis, however, we have reduced office hours from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM and we will do so until we enter Phase 3. Please understand that office hours are necessary but in reducing office hours that does not mean that we are doing any less than we were doing before this crisis. Instead, we are trying to minimize our risk due to the fact that many people who come to our office are not church members and we do not know the status of their health. We want to be protected, just like you do.

Q.- What about all the important Sundays and special events and holidays that we have missed during this quarantine time?

A.- It is our desire to celebrate every one of them. We may do so in the middle of the summer but we will not let this pandemic rob us of these important days. So far, June 7 will be “Graduation Sunday” and on June 21 we will celebrate “Father’s Day AND Mother’s Day.”  At some point in the future we will have our “Baby Dedication Day,” “Palm Sunday” and “Easter” Celebrations.