BBC family and friends,
As you are aware, Louisiana has entered Phase 3 for businesses and organizations, including church facilities. While we are naturally excited to get back to church, we are far from getting back to normal. This letter is to describe our course of action and what to expect when you enter.
Please know that we have taken special precautions to secure your safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19; yet, no facility can provide a guarantee against exposure and infection. Rest assured, our janitorial staff is working to disinfect strategic areas in our building, especially metal surfaces, door knobs, handles, light switches, pews, and bathrooms, to name a few.
The following course of action is informed by the Office of State Fire Marshal "Open Safely" guidelines found at www.lasfm.org.
First, on Sunday, we ask that you enter through the sanctuary doors through the front or the west end doors. A masked and gloved deacon will offer you hand sanitizer, after which a masked and gloved deacon will offer you a clean mask, if you do not have one. A masked and gloved usher will then give you an order of worship and escort you to an available pew, where you or your family will have a 6 ft. radius from other worshipers. It may not be where you usually sit, but remember, this is a temporary adjustment to adhere to safe guidelines.
Second, BBC is a music-loving church, and though there will be no traditional choir, you will have plenty of opportunity to hear inspirational music and to worship God through song. Because we have learned that singing, especially without a mask, extends our range of projection possibly up to 30 feet, some may prefer to hum along. But we ask that if you sing, please wear your mask as a courtesy to others' health.
Next, we are accustomed to a traditional time of giving our offerings followed by singing The Doxology. But, in order to reduce contact, instead of passing the plate, we will place one at each exit so that, when you "pass the plate" as you leave, there is an opportunity to give. Thank you for your faithfulness in giving to God, supporting our church and its mission.
Finally, following the benediction in worship, we simply ask that worshipers not congregate in groups but leave the sanctuary through any of our exits.
BBC is a welcoming church family. We love to shake hands and hug one another. It runs against our nature to distance ourselves from those we love. However, to prevent against contracting COVID-19, we ask that you continue waving or bowing or some other warm and creative way of welcoming one another instead of using physical contact.
Sometimes the most loving thing is to leave some distance. We call it physical distancing instead of social distancing, because we are social by nature and by faith; that doesn't change. But these are temporary adjustments to respect and support the health of others.
To sum up our course of action based on State Fire Marshal guidelines:
We strongly recommend wearing a mask unless you are 2 years old or younger, or if you have a breathing issue. Wearing a mask is not so much for your own health but to protect the health of others. Simply, it is another way to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves."
Volunteers, such as deacons and ushers, must wear masks and gloves since they encounter a greater number of people in their service.
Temperature checks are required for church staff and all volunteers.
Avoid gathering in groups unless you are a household unit or a group that meets on a regular basis. If you must congregate, please do so outside the sanctuary.
Social distancing of 6 feet is a radius, meaning front and back, right and left; which is the reason available pews will be separated by one empty row of pews.
Worship attendance for each service is no more than 25% of room occupancy, which, for BBC is approximately 175 persons. Space depends on the number of individuals and household units. Technically, 25% is based on one person per 60 square feet of gross area.
Worshipers that are aged 65 or older and people that have health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, or a weakened immune system are at a higher risk for getting very sick or worse. If this is you, we recommend that, for your own health, you join our worship online by BBC website, YouTube, or Facebook. We are available if you need help finding our worship service.
Worshipers that have household family with health issues making them at higher risk of getting very sick or worse, we recommend that, for their health, you also worship with us online. There is no pressure to worship in the sanctuary. Please join us there when you feel you are able.
Those who are sick or experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms should worship with us online, as well.
We will live stream our worship services online as usual at 10:30am each Sunday.
These are challenging times, but God is faithful regardless where or how we worship. Know that our church staff misses you and looks forward to the day we all are able to gather as we are accustomed to. These are not normal days. It is "back to church," but not "back to normal." What is normal, what is unchanging, is God's love for us, and our love for God and each other.
Dr. Ezell and Church Staff