Covid-19 Updates

Update on Use of Face Coverings

On Thursday, July 30, Governor Evers signed and published Emergency Order #1 which mandates face coverings be worn in public enclosed spaces throughout the state. We recognize that some will see this Order as governmental overreach or even unnecessary in our county. Others will view it as a medically appropriate precaution given the increased number of cases of COVID19 and its threat to the most vulnerable. While we remain alert to the potential danger of restricting religious freedom, we did not find in this Order a violation of biblical mandates such that civil disobedience was justified. Therefore, at this time we are urging our congregation to comply with the Order by wearing a face covering when you enter the church building for worship or other gatherings unless an exception applies. Because such exceptions exist, it is clear from the associated FAQs that it is not the church’s responsibility to enforce this, and so we will not be doing so. An exception in the order is to allow for an individual, whether speaking or singing to the group, to not wear a face covering as long as they are six feet from others. Therefore, you will see an individual speaking/singing from the stage without a mask. As we have done since regathering started in June, we will make masks available at the sanitation stations at entrances but encourage you to bring your own since our supply is limited. We also understand that some may prefer to worship virtually at home instead of having to wear a mask in a public gathering, and so the livestream and recording will continue to be made available. But we would encourage those who are able to do so to continue the regathering process in person while complying with this Order in the spirit of “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s (Matt. 22:21).” It is this principle as well as Paul’s admonition to submit to the governing authorities in Romans 13:1-7 that has guided our decision-making. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Children’s Ministry Update

Nursery (birth-2 years) and Children’s Church (3 years old – 2nd Grade) are available during the worship service. Parents, nursery is located upstairs, room 203. Children’s Church will be meeting outside under the shelter at Florence Park (By GraceWay, on Lincoln Ave), kids can be dropped off and picked up there. The bathrooms at the park are open, and we will have hand sanitizer and water available. Mask are optional and we will do our best to have kids spread out. No snacks will be provided, and the number of toys (nursery) has been reduced to aid in cleaning. Questions or concerns can be directed to Anna at anna@gracewaysaukprairie.org. We are limiting the number of children, and so parents are asked to reserve a spot for your child.

Regathering

GraceWay Church has resumed in-person worship services. We made a number of changes to our Sunday mornings to keep everyone healthy and safe. We ask that you take a few minutes to read through the new procedures. Thank you!

>> Reserve your spot for this week’s worship services.

While we are looking forward to being together again, for the health and safety of our church family, this is not a return to “normal” – at least not yet. After consulting the guidelines from state and local health officials as well as the CDC, we have made changes to what our Sunday mornings will look like for the time being. Please note, this is a fluid situation and recommendations change frequently. We will do our best to communicate the most up-to-date information, but ask for your grace and flexibility as we come back together during these unprecedented times.

We know not everyone is going to feel comfortable returning to church just yet – and that’s OK! Each household needs to prayerfully consider what is the best decision for their situation. For those who are most at-risk, we encourage you to remain at home for a while longer. The 9:00 a.m. worship service will be live-streamed on our website and a video of the service will be available after 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

Worship Services

On Sunday mornings, we will offer a one-hour worship service at 9:00 a.m. with limited seating at two locations off the foyer, the Sanctuary and Room 103. This will allow us to accommodate more people while still maintaining social distancing and also allow for differing levels of precaution (additional precautions will be implemented in room 103 – music room).

The separate venues are also intended to reduce widespread exposure in the event of an unintentional spread of the COVID-19 virus. For this reason, we would ask that the various locations remain separate from one another on Sunday mornings and that people not congregate with the other group.  See below for more detail on the requirements for each location.

General Principles

  • Chairs will be set up in household group* clusters, 6 feet apart, to allow for social distancing. Ushers will help families get settled/move around chairs as necessary. *A household group can consist of people who are already interacting with each other (i.e., a family and parents who live in different houses) as long as the group is less than 10 people.
  • Seating will be limited in each location; all participants are asked to sign-up online to reserve a spot. Call the church office if you need assistance.
  • Please avoid congregating at entrances and doorways.
  • After the service, please head out to the parking lot. There will be no coffee or fellowship in the foyer. If you decide to have conversations in the parking lot, please maintain social distance.

Sanctuary

  • Preaching will be done live; congregational singing will occur late in the service to limit exposure as well as have fewer songs.  
  • Those attending worship in the sanctuary are asked to park in either the north or south parking lots and enter through those doors. Please only use the restrooms in the foyer and do not go to other areas of the church to allow for separation from those worshipping in the gym.
  • Wearing a mask/face covering is encouraged (see info above about the Governor’s order). Please understand that those addressing the congregation from the platform will not be wearing a face covering so as to be clearly understood.

Room 103 (Music Room)

  • Worship will be live streamed from the sanctuary; music may be replayed from the sanctuary, but as an added precaution we are asking people to not sing out-loud.
  • Please park in the north parking lot and enter through the main north foyer doors. Please only use the restrooms in the foyer and do not go to other areas of the church to allow for separation from other groups.
  • Wearing a mask is required. While we do have some masks available for use, our supply is limited and ask everyone to bring their own if possible.

Cleaning & Safety Measures

Hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building. We encourage you to sanitize your hands upon arrival and again when leaving the building.

Reduced Touch Points

  • Removing high touch items, including coffee, bulletins, brochures, name tags, pens, children’s activity packets, etc.  
  • No passing of offering bags or communion plates. Offering boxes have been installed by the sanctuary doors and the kitchen area in the gym. Online giving is another no-touch option.
  • Using non-touch greetings, such as a smile or a wave rather than handshakes, fist bumps, etc.  
  • Exterior and interior doors will be propped open during arrival and exit times, weather permitting.
  • Water fountains will be closed.
  • Quiet Room (cry room off the sanctuary) and the Church Library will be kept locked to avoid potential spreading of germs.

What We’re Asking of You

We understand there are many different opinions about the COVID-19 situation. But in order to regather and follow recommended guidelines, we need your help. Here is what we’re asking of our church family.

  • Social distancing: please follow the “6-foot” rule when interacting with others. No shaking hands, hugs, etc. We miss it too, but we’re not there yet. 
  • Be respectful of our volunteers and others: everyone has a different comfort level with social interaction in a post COVID-19 world. Please be mindful of that. Also, our volunteers are being asked to implement these new guidelines. If you are asked to move where you are sitting or any other requests, we greatly appreciate your cooperation. If you have concerns with any of the guidelines, please contact Pastors Bryan or Rod
  • Reserve your spot: seats will be limited at each service/location. You will need to sign-up each member of your family who is attending.
  • Not feeling well?: if you are under the weather or have symptoms of COVID-19 (or were recently exposed to a possible/confirmed case), please help us protect the health and safety of the congregation by staying home. At this time, we will not be doing health screenings. The service will be live-streamed and video posted each week for those unable to attend. 
  • Please bring your own Bible, pen, paper, face covering, children’s activities, etc.
  • Use of church facilities: while the bathrooms will be available, we ask that you limit use while in the building. Water fountains will be closed.
  • Patience and grace: it’s been a long few months and we understand we’re all ready to get back to “normal.” In the meantime, we ask for your patience and grace (with the church and each other) as we navigate this situation. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
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