A Message from the Northside Coronavirus Response Team
Dear Northside Family, you have been in our thoughts and prayers almost constantly during this pandemic. The elders and ministers have been meeting by Zoom every Tuesday night for the specific purpose of praying for you. And they remain in daily prayer for this church and our world.
The information that follows is important for every member. We want you to know when we plan to come back together to worship at the building and how we will do it. Here are the two main points”
First, there is still a risk. This risk is real. We are going to continue listening to the health professionals, both in our congregation and nationally. We will continue to take seriously Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as well as federal and state recommendations.
Some of our members are medically vulnerable and should not return to the building for worship services. Not right now. All of us, even those who believe they are in the greatest of health, could unintentionally pass COVID-19 to at-risk members. The evidence is clear that health precautions such as keeping social distance and wearing masks lessens the danger of contagion and saves lives. We must continue to act with care and compassion, both toward our fellow members and to the larger community.
Second, we believe we are in a position to offer modified worship services for some of our members. We have carefully watched the COVID-19 trends in San Antonio these past few weeks. While cases have recently increased in the State of Texas, the situation in San Antonio has gradually been getting better. But we are not out of the woods yet. The situation can change, and we will have to be ready to adjust.
We believe at the present time that the public health situation in our city is at a place where we can justify a modified worship service—with precautions and for members who are not at risk. We plan to begin those worship services on JUNE 7.
Guidelines and Precautions
We will all be excited to see one another! It has been such a long time. But we will still need to follow certain guidelines and precautions:
- At-risk members. We are encouraging anyone who falls under any of the at-risk categories—or has someone living at home who does—to consider continuing to worship at home. The at-risk population includes those who are 65 or older, particularly those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, chronic heart disease, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis, liver disease, or a weakened immune system. – Coronavirus Disease Risk Factors – Texas Department of Health and Human Services (dshs.state.tx.us).
- Online worship. Because of the large number of members who have indicated they do not plan to return to worship services at the building anytime soon, we will continue to have online worship services for the foreseeable future.
- Personal health. Please do not come to a worship service if you have been exposed to someone at home or at work who has or may have contracted the coronavirus or if you are showing any symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste of smell. Covid19 Symptoms (cdc.gov)
- Two services. Beginning June 7, we will have two services at the building: 8:30 and 11:30am.
- The second service is offered particularly for those who may have moderate or higher health risks or particular health concerns.
- You may come to either service, but please be aware of the higher risk members as you decide which service to attend, and be alert to the needs of everyone present.
- All family units, including children and teens, should remain with their parents during the service. It’s important that we all exercise appropriate social distance and concern for one another.
We will send a follow-up survey in a few days asking you which of these services you plan to attend or whether you plan to continue online worship.
- The services. Our worship services will need to be relatively brief—community contagion is still possible, and the longer we are together the higher the risk. But though the services will not be long, we will do our best to make them uplifting and encouraging.
- Seating. Seating in the auditorium has been significantly reduced. Seats are spread out so that we may honor 6-foot distancing. Families can sit together, but we are asking that a minimum of two empty seats remain between family groups.
- Cleaning. We have scheduled the worship services several hours apart because the building will need to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between services.
- We will be doing electrostatic spraying before each of the Sunday services. This cleaning method applies a coating to all surfaces providing a positively charged wrapping effect that allows disinfectants to evenly coat and protect all surfaces.
- Every surface—every chair, table, light switch, door handle, trashcan, and restroom area—will be thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected before and after every service.
- There will be hand sanitizers in multiple locations in and around the auditorium.
- Upstairs will be closed. Please use the downstairs restrooms only.
- Masks. For the sake of others, we are requesting that all adults wear masks. All children 2 years old and older are also encouraged to wear a mask.
We understand some children, especially small children, may not be comfortable wearing a mask. However, the children must still respect social distancing, and they must be overseen closely by their parents. Here is an excellent article about children and masks: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Helping Kids Get Used to Masks (for Parents), (kidshealth.org – Nemours)
- This is a strong recommendation for churchgoers from both the CDC and the State of Texas Attorney General’s Office:
We know this is not everyone’s wish. But public health officials have strongly encouraged churches to do this. And many members have said they simply could not come if masks are not worn. We are asking everyone to honor this request for the sake of the most vulnerable among us.
- Entering the building. You may enter the building at the North, South or East doors. The West door (the office entrance) will not be open. The doors will be clearly marked as “entrance” and “exit.” Hand sanitizer will be available outside the doors as well as inside. Please be mindful of others and maintain at least a 6 ft difference with other families. Make your way directly into the worship center and find seats for your family.
- Singing. Regrettably, we will not be able to sing at this time. We know this will be hard for us. We are a singing people. But the medical evidence suggests singing can spread the virus in the same way as coughing or sneezing. We will need to take all necessary precautions until the pandemic is under control. –
- Communion. Taking the Lord’s Supper together will continue to be a vital part of our services, but we will not be passing trays as usual. At every entrance to the auditorium, tables will be set up with a number of communion packets. Please take (and touch) only what you need. You may also choose to bring your own communion items with you. We will have trashcans with liners throughout the auditorium for disposing the cups.
- Offering. Secure offering boxes will be placed near the exits for your convenience. You may also choose to set up your regular giving electronically. You can do so from the Northside website, the church directory app (Elexio), or through your bank’s online “bill pay.”
- Exiting. At the end of our service, we will be dismissed by rows so that there won’t be crowding at the doors.
- Visiting outdoors after services. We request that you not stand and visit in the auditorium or atrium. There will be no coffee available in the atrium. Visiting outdoors is safer (or less unsafe) than visiting indoors, so those who feel comfortable in doing so may visit outside.
- Classes and other services. Bible classes, Bible Hour, and nursery will not reopen at this time. The playground will not be open.
We are excited about getting to see one another. It has been a long time, and it’s important. But we will continue to exercise caution. We know there are some congregations, in Texas as well as in other states, where individuals who did not know they were infected have inadvertently caused the spread of COVID-19 within their congregation, resulting in multiple illnesses and even death. – Churches in Georgia and Texas Close Again After Members Test Positive for Coronavirus (people.com)
We must do everything we can to keep such a thing from happening at Northside. We will have to be alert to our health risks. We will watch out for one another and will be willing to sacrifice our own wishes and preferences for the sake of the whole church.
Mostly we are anxious to see one another and greet one another—safely—and in the Lord. Be well, Northside family. Keep the faith. Pray strong.
The Response Team
Please take a moment to complete the Returning to Worship Survey, your responses will help. Thank you.
- Important! – Community Response to Coronavirus
- Message from the Northside COVID-19 Response Team
- Return to Worship at the Building June 7th [Updated June 19]
- Services June 21st Return to Online Only
- Covid-19 Update: When can we return to face-to-face worship?
- COVID-19 Response Team Update – August 21st, 2020
- COVID-19: Q&A with Dr. Bob Frolichstein
- In-person Services Planned for Sunday, September 27
- Join Us for Worship Outside this Sunday