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A Regathering Revision–June 25, 2020

Our focus remains on Jesus and His command to love God and love our neighbors. Our unwavering commitment to act out of deep compassion love for each other means our response to the current spike of COVID-19 cases in Houston is to simply press pause on regathering on the Grace campus for worship.

The Session voted unanimously on June 23 to press pause on our plan to regather for in-person worship through July 12.

It does not mean we press pause on our mission to be disciples who make disciples.

We long to regather as a Grace Family. We hunger to be together as the body of Christ. But, no one predicted we would be facing such uncertain and everchanging times. Yet, this season has reminded us that the Church is so much more than a building. The Church has always been and will continue to be a body of believers called, equipped, gifted, and sent. We must continue to move forth in that mission together.

Click HERE for a detailed look at our REVISED phased plan for regathering.

About Regathering…

We’ve been working with Grace leaders and elders, in concert with local and national authorities, to determine what the days ahead can and will look like. What we can say with certainty is that God is sovereign, and He remains in control.

As we move forward, please reflect on these questions:

  • What if we looked at this time as an opportunity to NOT just step back into the normal rhythms that “were,” out of convenience or routine?
  • What if God was stripping everything away in order for us to see how to be the best church we can be for our community?

Let’s not regather simply because we can. Let us regather with renewed and refocused vigor, intentionality, and purpose. Prayerfully consider these questions as we look forward to regathering soon:

  • Are there things we’ve done that we need to stop doing?
  • Are there things we we’ve overlooked that we need to start doing?

We want to be intentional about bringing the hope and joy of the gospel to our neighbors as we Gather, Connect, and Bless!

What You Told Us

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28

Purpose Of The Survey

During late May, we surveyed the congregation of Grace. We wanted to assess your potential response to a return to in-person worship on campus. We also wanted to gage the impact of several different measures on your likelihood of attending. These various measures might be implemented to mitigate the chance of a COVID-19 outbreak occurring as a result of any Grace in-person church service.

Who Responded

  • To date we have received 271 responses which is about 17% of our active adult membership.
  • People 60 years and older represented 65% of the survey respondents versus 47% of our adult membership.
  • 85% of respondents reported attending Grace on 25 or more Sundays per year, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, and 65% participate regularly in our current online services.
  • 35% indicated that they or a member of their household would be considered at a definitely higher risk of serious health issues from COVID-19.

What You Said

If Grace were to resume in-person worship with enhanced social distancing such as face masks:

  • 58% said they were somewhat or highly likely to attend.
  • 29% said they were somewhat or highly unlikely to attend.

The survey asked respondents to indicate the impact of 14 different mitigation measures on their likelihood to attend in-person worship. The measure MOST likely to positively impact the likelihood of attendance was the requirement to wear a face mask, with 51% saying it would either somewhat or greatly increase their likelihood of attendance.

Other measures with high positive impacts (greater than 25% with somewhat or greatly increased likelihood of attendance) include:

  • Social distancing of family groups47% with somewhat or greatly increased likelihood of attendance.
  • Screening you for a fever before you enter the building 43% with somewhat or greatly increased likelihood of attendance.
  • Decreasing community interaction due to social distancing requirements38% with somewhat or greatly increased likelihood of attendance.
  • Eliminating congregational (but not worship leader) singing to decreased airborne virus particles38% with somewhat or greatly increased likelihood of attendance.
  • Closing of common gathering areas such as the Welcome Center32% with somewhat or greatly increased likelihood of attendance.

The measures most likely to negatively impact the likelihood of attendance was the need to make an advance reservation in order to worship at your desired time and place with 36% saying it would either somewhat or greatly decrease their likelihood of attendance.

Other measures with high negative impacts (greater than 25% with somewhat or greatly decreased likelihood of attendance):

  • Eliminating congregational (but not worship leader) singing to decrease airborne virus particles32% with somewhat or greatly decreased likelihood of attendance.
  • Need to attend worship of a different style than you normally attend to facilitate social distancing29% with somewhat or greatly decreased likelihood of attendance.

What To Expect

What You Can Expect From Us

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. — James 1:5
We will strive to lead with humility, grace, wisdom, love, and the boldness of the gospel.
We will maintain social distancing guidelines through a variety of practices such as closing every other row of pews in the sanctuary to allow six-foot spacing between household groups. No more than 150 in attendance at any one time.
The seating and exiting process will be usher-led and orchestrated to allow household units to stay at least six feet apart.
Items will not be passed hand-to-hand during worship services. These include bulletins, communion elements, and offering plates.
Bulletins will not be passed out by ushers but the worship liturgy is available online at gpch.org.
When communion is celebrated during worship we will use pre-packaged individual communion supplies.
For the offering, we will have a basket at the back of the sanctuary for you to place your offering. We encourage you to take advantage of our online giving platforms.
Bibles and hymnals will be removed from pews; if you need one, please let one of the ushers know.
Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the facility: entryways, Welcome Center, lobby, and restrooms. We encourage you to use hand sanitizer upon entering the building.
Bathrooms will be sanitized after each service. We encourage only one person or family unit in the bathroom at a time. Disinfectant wipes will be available for door handles and surfaces when exiting.
We will conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of common areas and hard surfaces after each worship service, to include: bathrooms, doorknobs, and light switches.
To reduce unnecessary cleaning, all rooms with closed or locked doors should be avoided.
There will be no communal refreshments like coffee, cookies, or drinking fountains available during this time. You are welcome to bring your own coffee into the Sanctuary. We are working with Sacred Heart Café to get the café up and running soon.
We will ask you to wear a face covering in order to protect those around you, i.e. “I protect you—you protect me.” Masks will be available at entrances.
Children’s and Student Ministries programming will not be available on campus until Phase 3. Children must remain with their parents until we begin to offer childcare and children’s programming onsite. Children’s Ministries resources will continue online, including weekly Bible Story video lessons and Zoom Small Groups which can be found here. Student Ministries resources continue to be available as well.
We will continue offering online worship services for you to participate in via Vimeo and YouTube if you are not yet comfortable, ready, or able to return in person.

What We Expect From You

Let all that you do be done in love. — 1 Corinthians 16:14
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. — 1 Corinthians 10:31
Be patient with the transition to regathering. It may take longer than you expect and we will not do everything perfectly without frustrating some. Pray for us as we strive to lead for the glory of God and the good of His church; we need His wisdom to lead wisely.
Make corporate worship a priority whether it is in person or via digital platforms.
Bring and wear your own face covering (we will provide masks if needed). All worship attendees must wear a face covering that entirely covers their mouth and nose at all times. Note that during worship, people who are preaching or speaking from the chancel, or those who are participating in the worship team, may temporarily remove their masks while singing or speaking. Children over the age of 10 should wear face coverings. Face coverings for children under the age of 10 are optional (under age 2 are discouraged).
Per CDC Guidelines, “Singing is a higher-risk activity as it more forcefully expels respiratory droplets than speaking. And the act of singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols. Congregations should refrain from singing.” There will be worship leaders helping to facilitate your worship in a variety of other ways on Sundays, and we encourage you to continue to worship in spirit and in truth in a variety of
other formats.
Maintain appropriate social distancing with others. Respect the boundaries and personal space of others who need extra precautions because they themselves or their family members are at higher risk.
Join us in welcoming young children into worship. Children are a gift from God and are a wonderful addition to the worship experience.
Parents will ensure their children maintain appropriate social distancing from other families while on campus.
We recognize that we love our Grace family, however we must encourage our children to maintain social distancing with other friends and family.
Anyone who has a confirmed positive test for being actively infected with the virus within 14 days of being on the Grace campus is asked to voluntarily notify Harris County Public Health. This will allow the church to collaborate with the county so they contact everyone who attended in-person worship
that day.

Phased-Regathering Grid

Please look at the details of our Phased-Regathering Grid (click here or access from ‘Downloads’ on sidebar). At this time, our goal is to “WELCOME BACK” members on Sunday, June 28. This date is for those who are ready to return to in-person worship.

We will continue our virtual Sunday morning worship for those who prefer to join us from home.

(Click image to view PDF)

A message about a Regathering ReVision

Downloads

Phased-Regathering ReVision 6-25-20Original Regather Plan
Church Survey Results

It’s never been about the building. The “church” has always been a collection of individual believers called, equipped, gifted, and mobilized. Every single day, we, as disciples, are called to make disciples who make disciples for the glory of God.

Our mission remains unchanged. Are you ready for what lies ahead? Together, we are called to this amazing mission! That’s why we will begin regathering soon!

—The Session of Grace Presbyterian Church and The Rev. Dr. Trey H. Little, Senior Pastor

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