Process of reopening Updated 5-15-20

Greetings Church Family,

Our leadership team has been meeting and praying over plans to return to church as we manage through this Covid-19 crisis. Proverbs tells us that there is wisdom in the counsel of many. We have been seeking counsel from many sources including our Conference leadership, Adventist Risk Management and Public Health. We crave your prayers and that we would make decisions that honor God and build community. 

We have reviewed the safety instructions for churches and have crafted guidelines for reopening our church that meet those requirements. We are sending these guidelines through email and US mail to you for your review. Please take time to review them and ask questions if you have them. 

We believe it is important to adopt these guidelines. Although it may be inconvenient to have to learn a new church lifestyle, failure to do so may well result in the loss of life. Maybe not your own, but someone to whom one of us may have unwittingly passed the virus. That person may or may not even be known to us as we may not have been aware that we were a carrier or that the person infected was especially susceptible to the virus. It is difficult to apologize to someone when they can no longer hear us.

We are working out the details of how we can warmly receive you as we adopt the guidelines.  We have safety challenges to consider in every facet of both Sabbath School and Church. We will need your support and buy-in to effectively return to meeting together; to minster to you in person and to those who feel more safe at home.

Our new online format has reconnected some whom we haven’t reached though traditional services. We are thrilled to share an online connection with you. And we hope to adjust our in-person services to meet the needs of both venues. We are considering the needs of each and how we function moving forward to further hope and wholeness.

We are praying for the Holy Spirit to guide our decisions. Diligently we are working with the leaders in each department of our church to ensure they know the guidelines and can offer safe and effective programming.  We are also working to remain effective with our online presence when we return to meeting in person. 

And so, we are unsure of an exact reopen date for in person services.  We encourage small groups to connect through this transition. If you would like help connecting or if you would simply like a phone call, please reach out. We would love to connect. Thank you for joining with us in prayer as we journey forward. We will keep you informed as plans move forward.  

Below is a list of guidelines we have adopted from professionals and organizations. While these are not concrete, we wanted to give you an idea of the guidelines that have been put into place.  While it may seem simple enough to open our doors to the public, the truth is that it is not that simple. 

   ● All guests enter through the front doors. Back door entrance to be discouraged--deacons &greeters to assist with traffic flow
   ● Greeters open doors for all guests;warm welcome and ask guest if they are sick; hand sanitizer offered; direct guests to information desk for more information
   ● Information desk: masks; guidance for SS, seating map for sanctuary; directions for washing hands and use of hand sanitizer
   ● No printed bulletins; no pass of offering; no singing--suggest humming for songs
   ● Children’s SS limited to 1 parent per classroom
   ● All SS classes should strive for 6-foot social distance between participants with layout and seating
   ● SS leaders consider no printed materials and no sharing of visual aids between guests
   ● All hymnals, tithe envelopes and connection cards removed from pews
   ● Every other pew marked for no seating throughout the sanctuary
   ● Left side of the sanctuary reserved for members and guests more at risk: persons over 65; those with compromised immune systems. Mask use is strongly encouraged.
   ● Center of the sanctuary is for general seating
   ● Right side of the sanctuary is reserved for families with young children. Recognizing children may intermittently wear masks
   ● The exit at the right front of the sanctuary will be opened at the end of services for those who would like to limit social contact
   ● Mask use is highly encouraged.Please direct members or guests to leadership if they have questions.

I recognize we are eager to return, but please, I am asking for grace and understanding as we are doing our very best in this very difficult situation. This is the time where our genuine relationship with Jesus needs to be evident. The Bible tells us to "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." While we each have the right to our own opinions, we must consider others' safety above our desires.  Again, thank you for your patience, love, grace, and understanding.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Stephen Carlile & Leadership Team

Billings Seventh-day Adventist Church

3200 Broadwater Ave • Billings, MT • 59102


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