Covid-19 Updates

July 29

OUR SUNDAY SERVICES ARE MOVING OUTSIDE

AND NOW HAVE A NEW START TIME OF 10:00AM

Starting this Sunday, August 2nd, we will be moving our services OUTSIDE and we will have a NEW START TIME of 10:00amso the temperatures will be a bit cooler and the trees will be able to provide more shade for us during the service.

  • Please note: The 10:00am start-time will be for in-person services only, for now.  Church Online will continue to be at 10:30am for the month of August.

WHY ARE WE MOVING SERVICES OUTSIDE?
Not only is our property beautiful and not only is it safer to meet outside, moving outside also means we won’t need to wear face coverings for the entire service AND it means we’ll be able to sing together!  With the transition to Phase 3, our province has allowed up to 100 people to gather together outside at one time and the Ontario health guidelines say it is safe to sing together outside as long as we continue to maintain the 2 metre physical distance.  So we are excited for the opportunity to once again lift our voices together in worship to the LORD — and to do so surrounded by God’s beautiful creation!

HOW WILL IT WORK?

  • Pre-Registration for in-person services will still be required via our Eventbrite page, as we can have a maximum of 100 people gathered outside at one time.
  • Everyone attending in-person will need to bring your own lawn chair.  We will have some extras on hand in case anyone forgets. We are working hard to ensure there is enough space to remain physically distanced and still allow everyone to sit in the shade.  We have some great trees on our property for shade, and we’ll be setting up soft-top gazebos as well in the more sunny areas to provide more shaded space.
  • A worship team will be leading us in worship by song.
  • The lyrics for the songs we’ll be singing will be available digitally to follow along on your device OR on a paper handout when you arrive at the service for anyone who feels comfortable taking one.  We will be singing only our most familiar songs so you may not even need lyrics in front of you!
  • We will be running a great sound system out there as well to ensure everyone can hear well.
  • We will still have Communion for both Church Online and the outdoor in-person service every Sunday in the month of August.  For those attending in person, the elements will be provided for you in a “Fellowship Cup” (a sanitary pre-filled cup and soft wafer). If you would rather, you are welcome to bring your own bread & juice with you.
  • Washrooms will be available in the church building throughout the entire service.  You will be able to enter through the office entrance (main entrance) and exit through the south entrance (these will be clearly marked).
  • We will also have special parking just for our seniors – a designated area on the grass, close to where we’ll be meeting outside. A parking attendant will direct you as you drive into the church driveway.
  • IN THE EVENT OF RAIN (OR AN EXTREME HEAT ALERT OR IMMINENT TORNADO WARNING), we will move the in-person service inside and forego the congregational singing.
  • If you are coming for the in-person service, feel free to pack a bagged lunch and stick around after the service outside.
We will continue to make Church Online available for all those not able to come out in-person yet.  Church Online will begin at 10:30am on our YouTube page.  So, once again, there are two ways you can worship this Sunday:
 

TWO WAYS TO WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY

1. Church Online: Sunday at 10:30am
youtube.com/stoneycreekbaptistchurch

2. Church In-Person Outside: Sunday at 10:00am
Register at: stoneycreekbaptist.eventbrite.com

 
A reminder again that we’ll be participating in Communion together this Sunday both for Church Online and Church In-Person.  If you’re worshipping through Church Online, we’d encourage you to prepare your elements (juice and bread) ahead of time.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility in response to all the changes we’ve had to make recently due to COVID19.  I am so grateful for your resilience and your willingness to be flexible as we seek to move forward in a way that will glorify God, care for one another, and enable our church family to continue to grow in Christ.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 
Blessings,
 Mark
 
 
 
 

June 27

A CHANGE OF PLANS

We’re being reminded daily that though it’s good for us to make plans, it’s the Lord’s purposes that prevail. It is important that we seek the Lord’s direction and wisdom when we make plans, but even as we do that, the plans we make require a level of flexibility. Sometimes God redirects us even after the initial plan is made.
 
And we learned that lesson again this week.
 
We received new information this past week that suspension of singing activities for in-person church gatherings at 30% capacity applies to song leaders and worship teams as well. Therefore, to be able to incorporate worship music into our services, we knew we would need to change our Reopening Plan. We made the commitment to you earlier that “we will be happy to make changes and adjustments to this plan if we discover there is a better way. If we find something isn’t working, we will adjust accordingly. With changes happening in our world so quickly, we realize we will need to be ready for changes to this plan.” (page 7 of Reopening Plan)
 
The reality is: If we continued with Saturday evening services, we’d have to do so without a worship team — which would then mean our Church Online services would not be able to include our worship team either. The only way to follow public health guidelines in regards to singing would be to continue to pre-record the worship team leading with less than 10 in the building.
 
So, in order to follow the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations, I’m happy now to share with your our NEW REOPENING PLAN — and personally, after much discussion and prayer, I believe this new plan is even better than the previous one.
 

RE-OPENING PLAN 2.0

  • CHURCH ONLINE: Church Online will remain as is. It will be pre-recorded and premiered on YouTube on Sundays at 10:15am, just as we’ve been doing. The elements of Church Online will remain the same.
  • SUNDAY IN-PERSON SERVICES AT THE CHURCH: We will start in-person services at the church on Sunday mornings at 10:30am on Sunday, July 5, 2020. These services will not have any singing by the worship team (except by video in the pre-service countdown starting around 10:20am). We will seek to incorporate other forms of worship in these in-person services.  We will be following the same health guidelines and protocols as the Reopening Plan we sent out last week.
 
REGISTER TO ATTEND AN IN-PERSON SERVICE
We are asking that everyone who is planning to come in-person to the church for Sunday services please pre-register. This will allow us to pre-plan seating and allow more people into our building. You can register yourself and your family online at http://stoneycreekbaptist.eventbrite.com, or you can register by contacting the office and we can register for you.  When you get to the Stoney Creek Eventbrite page, click on the orange “Select a Date” button to choose which service you’d like to register for.
 
NEW PLAN DOCUMENT
In light of these changes, we have updated our Reopening Plan (PDF). The changes are highlighted in blue text throughout the document.  
 

We are sorry we need to make these changes to our Reopening Plan, however, I personally am looking forward to this new plan and believe it to be better than the previous one anyway. I am excited to be able to worship together with you on Sunday mornings (Resurrection Day) in-person at the church again!

Blessings,
Mark, on behalf of the elders and deacons

 
 

June 17

OUR REOPENING PLAN

COVID-19 has changed the world and it is unlikely that we will see the full extent of how much it will have changed us until years later. Perhaps it’s time, in light of COVID-19, to not just look at how we will “go back to church”, but rather, how we can go “back to the basics” on what church is and who we are called to be.
  • What makes a church a church?
  • Can we still be a church family and not be able to gather in-person all together on a Sunday morning?
 
I believe that, through this pandemic, God may be challenging us to re-examine these fundamental questions that shed light on His desire for the church and who He calls us to be. At the same time, as we’ve seen throughout our series on Joseph, perhaps the Lord is preparing us for what’s ahead.
These are some of the fundamental issues that we have been seeking to work through in light of the provincial announcement last week that churches could re-open at 30% capacity.
 
After much prayer together, our elders and deacons met on Monday evening to work out our reopening plan. I’m happy to announce that starting on July 4th, we will be returning to the church building for in-person services. If you look at your calendar, you will see that July 4th is a Saturday. That’s because we have decided to return in July on a 3-week trial basis with live in-person services on Saturday evenings at 6pm, while continuing to gather together for Church Online on Sunday mornings at 10:30am. The services will be recorded on Saturdays and will be premiered on Sunday mornings at 10:30am on YouTube (as we’re doing now). There will be no in-person services at the church on Sunday mornings for this 3-week trial. The reasons for this are outlined in the attached “Reopening Plan” document below.
 
As public gathering sizes are permitted to increase (but not enough for 400+ to meet together again), I believe that we will need to shift our thinking and begin – at least temporarily – to look at Stoney Creek Baptist Church as a family of house churches. We meet together in the building to worship (at least 30% at a time) and we worship together in our homes as well (as per Acts 2:42-47).
 
We are still one family, but we are one family that meets together in many different homes. We will essentially need to see ourselves, in the interim, as a “network of house churches” gathered to worship together through the Church Online service (and in other ways as well: communion together in homes, praying together in homes, and exercising your spiritual gifts together in your homes). All of these are mentioned in the attached document.
 
For our in-person gatherings, there will be a number of new guidelines that will be in place when we gather, including physical distancing, pre-registration and separate entrances and exits. These are all outlined in our “Reopening Plan” document, so we’d encourage you to read it carefully.
 
We recognize that in light of these additional guidelines, there will be some people who would rather wait to gather in person until some of these are loosened. We fully support your decision if you choose you’d rather stay home for now and participate in the service via Church Online. But at the same time, we know many will be excited to be able to gather together again, even if it’s a limited capacity, and we will be excited to worship together with you in person on July 4th!
 
We will continue to release information on what a return to our building will look like, so stay tuned for that. Our plan right now is to put together a short video of what it will be like for you to arrive for a service, so once we have everything in place and shoot that video, I will send it out through these weekly emails and on our social media pages.
 
I trust that the attached “Reopening Plan” answers any questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.
 
Blessings,
Mark, on behalf of the elders and deacons
 
 
 

June 9

Well, Monday’s announcement from our provincial government caught me off guard. I read it once but had to read it again.
 
“Places of worship can re-open at 30% capacity.”
 
We had made plans assuming we knew what was coming next; instead, the announcement was one that I (and every other pastor that I have been in contact with) was not anticipating at all. But how exciting it is to be one step closer to being able to meet together again!
 
We met together as elders and deacons on Monday evening and discussed many possible scenarios for re-opening in light of this announcement. Right now, however, we are still waiting to hear from our provincial government what the guidelines will be for churches to be able to meet together again. Can we open washrooms? What cleaning will be necessary for our chairs? Will singing be permitted? Until we receive guidelines on these issues, it is difficult to plan for when we will be able to open our building for Sunday services again.
 
Let me share a two things we are committed to as we move forward:
(1) We are committed to re-opening on Sunday mornings only when we are able to do so safely, orderly, and well.
(2) Church Online is here to stay. Regardless of the plan we end up taking, it will include our services still going online on YouTube as well. We want to ensure everyone is able to worship together, whether you’re ready and able to come back to meet in person or not.
 
I would also like to ask you to make a commitment. Many people have strong opinions on whether “to open” or “not to open”. Would you please commit to respecting that others may have a different opinion than you have, and that’s okay? There are some who are struggling far more than others in regards to not being able to meet together in person. Others are loving being able to participate in the service from home and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future because of health issues or because they have young children. Would you please put yourself in the shoes of others in our church family who are experiencing this pandemic in different ways than you are? And just as Jesus did for us, please look to the interests of others even ahead of your own. My prayer is that we would move forward together, stronger and even more united in the mission given to us by our Saviour Jesus Christ.
 
Please know, this is not a decision we are taking lightly. We have a capacity of 600 in our auditorium, so 30% is 180 people. We are placing every option on the table (including multiple weekend services) and seeking the Lord’s direction and wisdom in this.
 
We will not be opening this coming Sunday. However, my hope is to be able to set a re-opening date, God willing, within the next week. There are many logistics that will need to be worked out, but we are working on these things the best that we are able and I have been consulting with other pastors in the area and region as well, that we can together have a united front in our re-opening plans.
 
I want to thank our elders and deacons for their help in the midst of these days. Discussing these matters with them last night, I was reminded what a blessing it is to have a plurality of leadership at Stoney Creek. We are so blessed as a church family to have such godly, compassionate leaders.
 
I also want to thank you as a church family for your patience in all of this. I know these are not easy times for many of you, and so please know that we are praying for you — and will continue to pray you in the days ahead.
 
Blessings,
 – Mark, on behalf of the elders

More updates to follow