COVID-19 Update (please read)

COVID-19 Update for Hilltop Baptist Church

Being the pastor of a church occasionally feels a bit like trying to herd cats. The harder I try to bring us together and overcome the challenges, the more chaotic things seem to become. This seems to be especially true over the past several months. That’s not a comment on how you react, but more of a commentary on what these challenging times have introduced into our lives. However, my real desire for our congregation is that we spiritually, physically, socially and emotionally thrive while growing in Christlikeness, intimacy with God and love and fellowship with each other. In fact, Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17 echoes those same desires. “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.” (John 17:21 HCSB https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.17.21.hcsb)

In that spirit, I met with the Deacons, church staff, and our medical professional advisory group on Thursday evening to seek their advice and input. As you know, when the number of virus cases recently began to increase in Oklahoma we decided it was best to stop meeting in person and return to online only services. That decision was difficult and was made after much prayer and input from this group. As we met last night, it became clear to us that we are going to have to take a different approach to this situation. We cannot continue to meet online indefinitely and this virus is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. So, our desire is to try and restore a sense of normalcy and fellowship while also seeking to keep our most vulnerable members safe and healthy. With that in mind, we are implementing the following guidelines:

1. We will return to meeting at the church on Sunday, July 5 for our 10:45 AM Worship Service and July 8 for our 7:00 PM Wednesday Prayer Meeting. We will also continue to stream our services live on FaceBook and archive the videos on our church web site for those unable or unwilling to attend, in person.

2. Masks will be required for everyone in attendance over the age of 2 (as per CDC guidelines) and shall be worn at all times when inside the building. This is necessary if we are going to meet in person while also striving to protect the health of our at-risk members. It is unsafe for them to attend unless everyone wears a mask and it is unfair and counter productive to our Christian principles and goals to create an environment where they are unsafe or unwelcome. Some of you may not feel the need or want to wear a mask but wearing one is a small sacrifice and an act of Christian service you can make that says “I care” to our at-risk and vulnerable members. If you do not have a mask, we will provide one for you at the church entrance.

3. Observe social distancing guidelines and provide 6 feet of distance between yourself and other individuals or family groups while inside the building and respect others by asking before breaching that distance when outside the building. Some may feel comfortable with close contact and others may not. Please be respectful and understanding of those who may feel differently than you do about this situation.

4. Enter the building through the west foyer double doors, exit the sanctuary through the front hallway door (near the organ) then proceed down the hallway and exit the building through the east foyer door.

The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of our members has been and will continue to be a core value of our church, not just something we emphasize during a time of crisis. Every indication is that what we tend to view as an inconvenience of the moment is quickly becoming our new normal. While the number of COVID-19 cases is going to fluctuate in the days, weeks and months ahead, this virus is not likely to be eradicated. We hope to see a vaccine in the next 12 – 18 months but, for now, we must learn how to live and thrive safely in its midst and alongside one another.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, the staff, or the deacons. We are more than happy to help in any way we can, pray with you or answer your questions. Also, we covet your prayers, your input and your feedback. Communication is essential to fellowship and friendship and we hope to hear from you, soon.

In Christ’s love,

Bro. Gary

Faith based resources:

This page is simply a list of resources I’ve compiled that might help you during (and after) our current COVID-19 pandemic. I will continue to update and add resources here as I find them…

Free resources from Lifeway for parent’s to teach their children at home

Focus on the Family Pandemic/COVID-19 resources

Tips for talking to your children about the COVID-19 pandemic

Local and federal governmental resources:

Oklahoma State Government resources

Center for Disease Control COVID-19 resources

Mayo Clinic self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic

CDC Stress and Coping during the pandemic resources

Resources for keeping yourself motivated and learning:

Harvard University free online courses

Free online courses from a variety or universities

More free online courses from a variety of universities

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