Guidelines for the Re-opening of Grace Chapel of Ladson
Prepared by Pastor Bobby and Leadership Team
Beginning Sunday June 7, 2020
We have never seen a crisis of religious freedom like the one the Coronavirus has created. For the first time in modern American History, the government has outright told churches that they are “not essential”, and ordered them to cease assembling.
Let us be clear – churches are essential. The importance of faith and spiritual wellbeing are more important than ever and every church has a vital part to play in aiding their local communities in any way they can.
Covid-19 is a deadly disease that has to be handled with extreme care, diligence, and planning.
Why we closed our facility.
We agreed with the governmental authorities that because of the unknown seriousness of the virus that it was our responsibility as leaders of the church to close. If we did not close, there could be individuals that might take unnecessary risks due to their overzealous faith, age or medical conditions. This closure has been faithfully followed during this whole episode. We have continued our Sunday Morning Services with Pastor Bobby Garvin and recently Wednesday Night with Pastor Howard via Facebook. Donation giving has been faithfully sustained with all bills being paid, workers being paid and missionaries receiving full support.
There have been several times in the last two weeks when I have been curious as to when would be a proper time that we could safely began coming together as a body of believers. I have received conflicting reports that churches should meet now or wait until the virus is not a major threat. I then heard the governor of South Carolina say that they did not tell the churches that they could not meet, but that people outside their families should maintain a social distance of 6 feet and it would be unwise to meet because of the rise of Covid-19 cases. I was informed that certain businesses could start phasing into services this May 4th while maintaining social distancing. We are all in agreement to open the church when it is not in violation of Federal, State, and local government. Opening the church may be as difficult a decision as the President’s for the nation or for governors of each state. We have determined to open in stages and let the people decide what they believe is best for them.
Reopening is a difficult decision that will come with substantial legal consequences. It is not a decision to be made lightly,
The Christian Law Association is here to stand by our side, but there are risks
and this is something you must be aware of. There is absolutely the possibility
of fines being levied and/or criminal charges being filed until this
constitutional issue is resolved in the court system. Governmental edicts aside,
there is a grave risk of civil lawsuits should any member or visitor to our church
fall ill with COVID-19. Even if our member wouldn’t sue, their family might if the member passes away. Christian Law Association has already seen law firms lining up to sue churches in particular for continuing to meet during this pandemic.
Reopening is a difficult decision that has not come without substantial prayer, concern and planning. It is not a decision we take lightly. We have reviewed the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, our insurance provider, the Federal, State and county, and the Christian Law Association. Because our congregation is primarily made up of elderly saints, we believe perhaps they should continue meeting in an online capacity for a while longer. If any one doesn’t believe it would be wise for them or their families to attend at this time, then by all means, wait until you believe it is safe for you to do so.
Prior to your return we are making sure that all areas have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected: sanitize pews, bathrooms (floors, sinks, toilets, faucets), doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, and any other high-touch surfaces.
So, Sunday, June 7th, Grace Chapel will open for Morning Worship Service only with Pastor Bobby at 10:30 a.m. Families are encouraged to please sit close together; others sit 6 feet apart. Seating is only permitted on every other pew. If there is an overflow, chairs will be provided in the Fellowship Hall. We are taking every precaution to ensure we keep our congregations safe. As such, Christian Law Association has prepared a list of recommended guidelines for us to adhere to when we reopen. We are doing our best to ensure that these guidelines are communicated and announced to our members and visitors before they enter.
I believe it’s necessary for the Church to continue adapting to the changes we’ve experienced collectively and allow these insights to teach us how to move forward. Adapting isn’t just about a church staying relevant – it’s essential for the Gospel to continue spreading throughout the world.
We are initially seeking to open with a smaller service to ensure all procedures can be adhered to, and slowly “scale up” attendance once all guidelines are being provably followed; guidelines may vary as the virus takes a downward slide. You can still watch our services online at Grace Chapel of Ladson Facebook.
SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR REOPENING
We will reopen with extreme cautionary measures. The Bible is clear that we have a duty to our fellow man, and we should take every precaution to ensure we keep our congregations safe. Additionally, it is vital that we show the government that our churches can be even safer than the entities they deemed “essential.” We should never give the government a reason to argue that we should be forced to close.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW:
We are encouraging all high-risk individuals (and/or caregivers of high-risk individuals) to stay home and utilize distance options to attend.
A. Medical experts find those at highest risk for life-threatening illness from COVID-19 are:
• People 65 years and older.
• People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility; and
• People of all ages with underlying medical conditions.
B. Underlying medical conditions include, but are not limited to:
• People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
• People who have serious heart conditions or immunocompromised.
(Many conditions can cause greater concerns, such as: smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications, people with diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and/or liver disease.)
COVID-19 is a deadly disease that must be handled with extreme care, diligence, and planning. It is very important to understand that many early carriers of COVID-19 are entirely asymptomatic and will show absolutely no signs of the virus. Entrance will be refused to anyone (with our knowledge) who has been in contact with an infected person or who is exhibiting the following symptoms that have been associated with COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell or other neurological issue.
If you are showing any of these signs of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has PLEASE STAY HOME.
C. Sanitation Guidelines
* We are encouraging you not to use the restroom unless needed (Restroom in fellowship hall is prohibited).
* We will have staff constantly prepared to clean and sanitize the restroom following each individual usage.
* Please use hand towel to cut water on and off. Use hand soap and paper towels and discard in trash can.
* It would be beneficial to bring your own hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the facility. Please use hand towel to dispense and then discard in trash can.
* Wearing of a mask is encouraged but not mandatory.
* We will help you on where to sit to ensure social distancing. This may cause you to leave your comfort zone. We are working on creating signs of where you are to sit based on your normal sitting pattern. Please understand we are trying to accommodate everyone in a safe manner.
* Please refrain from touching (handshakes, hugs, etc.)
* Families need to enter, sit, stand, and exit as a group.
* Keep six foot between you and others at all times, including in the parking lot. Remember to be respectful of people’s space.
* Dismissal will be controlled and you will be instructed to exit row by row to ensure no unnecessary crowding or congregating at the exits.
* The ushers will be at all entrance/exit doors to provide directions and to assist in social distancing.
PHASE ONE REOPEN GUIDELINES
Church service times are as follows:
* Sunday Morning (10:30 a.m.)
* Wednesday Night (7:00 p.m.) No Choir Practice; No Supper
* There will be no Sunday school, nursery, or children’s program.
* There will be no food or drinks except for health reasons.
* There will be no Lord’s Supper.
* The kitchen is off limits.
* Pews will not have Bible, hymnals, tissues, pens, offering envelopes, or pillows in order to reduce sanitization procedure.
* Offering plates will be in the foyer and at the front of the pulpit. We still encourage people to donate online if possible at www.gracechapelladson.com.
* Please be sure to bring your own Bible and writing utensils.
* There will be no printed materials like bulletins, Daily Bread books, etc. Please download weekly bulletin and Sunday morning notes.
These are necessary precautions that the church must take in this first phase of reopening. We will make decisions for the next phase as we see the governor of South Carolina respond to the reopening of the state. If you have any questions, please call Pastor Bobby Garvin @ 843-824-6002.
Current decision making was based in part on the following information:
- Projected Peak Cases
Following is the latest data from South Carolina DHEC. We reference this data according to where the majority of our members reside.
North Charleston: Reported Cases: 81; Projected Cases 498; Total 579
Goose Creek: Reported Cases 36; Projected Cases 221; Total 257
Ladson: Reported Cases 23; Projected Cases 141; Total 164
Summerville: Reported Cases 64; Projected Cases 393; Total 457
Moncks Corner: Reported Cases 66; Projected Cases 405; Total 471
Reported Cases 270
Projected Cases 1,658
Total Cases 1,928
- Over the last couple of weeks the leadership has contacted several churches in the area concerning when and how they were going to open. The majority of those churches informed us they would be opening June 7th. This would give them time to disinfect their facility, as well as, prepare for their reopening.