Update on Our Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

September 17, 2020

Dear Baptist Temple Family,
It is with continued caution and in a spirit of prayer and love that we announce a target date for what we have named “Phase One” of our strategy to reopen the church’s building for in-person worship on Sunday mornings.
This is a plan with a target date. We can and will adjust this plan and/or the target date should conditions change within the next 30 days.
After you have carefully read the information below, you may contact us with your questions or concerns.
There are many tasks to complete before we are ready to reopen the building for you to attend worship. Because of the nature of these tasks, our limited staff resource, and in an abundance of caution, we have selected Sunday, October 18, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. as the target date to begin Phase One.
We have selected this target date based on several factors:
  • Face-to-face instruction in Houston ISD begins October 19. It would not be prudent for us to re-open substantially earlier than this.
  • Covid cases in Houston and Harris County are in decline.
  • The Covid effective reproduction rate is now 0.96. The positivity rate is 3.9%.
  • We do not have any new Covid cases in our congregation, and the daily new cases for the Greater Houston Area is declining.
Some of you reading this will be contacted and asked to volunteer at some level during Phase One. We will contact those of you who are not in high-risk categories. Some of the success of Phase One is dependent upon the willingness and availability of these volunteers.
Please carefully read the information below.
OVERVIEW OF A PHASE ONE SUNDAY MORNING
  • When you arrive, a volunteer in the Main Lobby will open the door for you.
  • There will be no coffee or refreshments served, and we ask that you not bring any food or drink into the building.
  • Worship will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary.
  • We will be recording the service on video, which we will publish on Sunday afternoon. Please arrive before 9:30 a.m. with enough time to find your seat, visit the restrooms, and prepare for an hour of worship.
  • If you choose to continue to worship with us online during Phase One, you will be able to do so Sunday evening or anytime the following week.
  • We will not use hymnals or pew Bibles. You are encouraged to bring your own Bible. Hymn scores and scriptures will be printed on a disposable order of worship for you to use.
  • Offerings will be collected in boxes at the Sanctuary entrance.
  • Seating in the pews will be designated to insure social distancing. We kindly ask that you maintain awareness and observance of social distancing in the Sanctuary and in the hallways.
  • During Phase One the choir will be only Section Leaders. Volunteer choir members should remain in the pews and sing the hymns.
  • Our Pastor and Music Director will be the only people on the platform using the pulpit during Phase One.
  • We ask that you exit the building after worship. Socialize in the porte cochère or parking lot.
  • There will be no Bible studies or Choir Rehearsals during Phase One.
  • There will be no childcare during Phase One. Children of all ages are always welcome in worship.
REQUIREMENTS
  • If you are experiencing any symptoms that have been identified with Covid-19, especially fever, body aches, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell, you must not attend.
  • Masks must be worn at all times in the building. There must be no exceptions.
  • Restrooms must be limited to no more than 2 people at a time.
  • Please refrain from hugs and handshakes. Use the ‘elbow bump’ or a friendly wave to say hello.
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray will be provided in the restrooms and hallways. Please use them liberally.
  • Each individual will maintain personal responsibility to adhere to the above requirements. We do not have the ability to monitor every person at every time. We trust that each person in attendance will respect these conditions.
CAVEATS
  • Each congregant should use his/her own best judgement about attending. Those who are in high-risk categories due to age and/or underlying health conditions are encouraged to continue to worship with us online.
  • If you have been recently exposed to someone with Covid, you must receive a negative test result before attending.
  • If Covid cases in Houston/Harris County begin to increase between now and the target date, we will postpone this reopening.
  • This is Phase One of several phases of our reopening strategy. We hope that we will be able to continue to progress toward a full / “normal” activity. If there is an outbreak of Covid in the congregation, we will close the building and watch for the right time to start Phase One again.
POSSIBLE QUESTIONS
  • How long will Phase One last?
    • We do not know. If Covid cases continue to decline in our community, and if local and State officials continue to relax warnings and capacity requirements, we believe that Phase Two could begin before the end of 2020.
  • When will Bible Studies and Choir Rehearsals resume?
    • We do not know. We will do our best to accomplish this in Phase Two or Phase Three.
  • How can I help?
    • Thank you for asking.
    • Please contact Kelly or Eddie to let them know how you would like to help.
    • You can continue to pray for our church, our leadership, and for all who have been affected by the pandemic.
    • You can stay home, stay healthy, and limit your exposure so that you can not only enjoy attending worship, but also do so in a way that keeps your fellow church members safe.
    • You can continue to watch our weekly worship service videos on our website or on Facebook, and share with your family and friends.
    • You can continue to give your tithes and offerings. In order to accomplish this phased reopening plan we need your financial support.
  • What if my family wants to wait to attend until Phase Two or later?
    • In Christ’s love, we fully support your decision. We will continue to provide worship service videos online each Sunday evening, and will keep you informed of our progress.
Thank you for your attention to this information, and for your continued faithfulness to God and to Baptist Temple. We hope to see you Sunday, October 18 at 9:30 a.m.
Sincerely,
Rev. Kelly K. Burkhart, Senior Pastor
Mr. Edward Crowell, Director of Music