Guidelines for services during Covid-19

Dear Calvary Baptist family: 

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have been giving thought on how to handle a possible influx of seasonal guests beginning the month of October and how to accommodate all of our people in our family. In the process, I have made a lot of inquiries of different individuals in our church. I have also met with the church staff, deacons and trustees. In those meetings, we have discussed a lot of scenarios of how we could accommodate the church family. Most recently, I met with a group of leaders throughout our church finalizing a proposal to present to you.  

From day one, it has been the desire at Calvary Baptist to have a safe place for its members and guests to come and worship God. While the body at large is a little varied in its opinions concerning the virus and the handling of it, your pastor and deacons have endeavored, from day one, to initiate protocols upon our return to on-campus services beginning May 3 that were reasonable and generally followed the Florida Health department and the CDC. Our goal has been to maintain unity amidst the chaos. God has been pleased with our prayers and I am confident that our good attendance has indicated a peaceful and happy body of believers.  

Here is the plan we propose in moving forward. It is in three phases: 

  • Phase 1 – Beginning September 13 
  • Continue with distance seating (Every other pew marked as unavailable) and mask wearing as acceptable, but optional. 
  • Add more seating to the entire foyer area. 
  • Make use of the Fellowship Hall as an overflow room. 
  • Phase 2 – Beginning October 4 
  • Continue with distance seating (Every other pew marked as unavailable) and mask wearing as acceptable but optional. 
  • The Fellowship Hall will continue to stay open for livestreaming but will now be labeled as a “distance room” whereby masks are required for all who attend in this area.  
  • Phase 3 – Beginning November 15 
  •  The first two phases will be evaluated within the first couple of weeks in November and a determination will be made on how we proceed. 

While these guidelines were given, it is still highly recommended that those who are vulnerable should take special care to stay home. This includes the elderly and those with serious underlying health conditions. In other words, if you believe your health is compromised in some way, it is ok for you to stay home. We are here to help you in any way that we can and are very grateful that we can livestream the services.  

For those who come, allow me to give a few words of caution. First, know your own state of health when you come to church. It would be prudent for every person to check their temperature before they come. We check temperatures in our nursery and youth ministries and anyone with a temperature over 100.1 is not allowed in. Also, if you are coughing, it would not be wise for you to come in. If you begin coughing often in the service, be courteous of those around you and exit the auditorium if necessary. Second, please continue to show respect to each person at the services. We have people coming of all different persuasions concerning the virus, health and how to handle this. So, for example, if you are sitting down and it happens to be relatively close to someone, please ask if this is o.k. Minimize handshakes and hugs as much as possible. My mode of operation has been to follow the lead of people coming to me. If you are uncomfortable shaking hands, no problem… just keep your hands at your side or simply wave.  

As I close, let me encourage you to pray for Calvary Baptist Church. There is enough division about this in the world that sadly it has spilled over into many churches. The one thing that troubles my soul is that the devil would use this to divide our church family or cause someone to leave. I must be frank with you here. This has been one of the hardest times for me in ministry. Every pastor I know has agreed with the fact that this is the most unusual thing to affect ministries (imagine if we lived in California). Therefore, it would behoove you to pray for me and the leadership here as we continue to make decisions. And pray that our body of believers will stay together.  

If you have any questions, concerns or comments, I am available for you. Feel free to email me at:  j.boutchia@calbaptist.net.