“For I want very much to see you…to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:11–12). Never have the words of Paul to the Romans personally meant more to us than today. We have missed gathering together as brothers and sisters in Christ. We have missed worshiping together with one voice and hearing each others’ voices. We have missed the connection of serving shoulder to shoulder in ministry. Yet, throughout these difficult days, we have prayed expectantly, lived confidently, served and given sacrificially, and sought to love the Lord Jesus and others faithfully.
On Monday, April 27, Governor Greg Abbott announced the first phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, the City of Plano allowed its local disaster declaration to expire, as the Governor’s existing order provides ample statewide guidance. Under Phase I, churches like Plano Bible Chapel are allowed to open their physical doors, but with minimum standard health protocols. The Governor’s announcement is accompanied by Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas (see pages 39-42 for specific information related to churches) which outlines the new standards and recommendations for minimum health protocols.
With this announcement and accompanying protocols, PBC has began to cautiously reopen in phases beginning with worship services on Sunday mornings at 11:00am with services in English and Spanish. No childcare or children ministries will be available in this first phase. ONLY those who are healthy, not at-risk, and feel comfortable gathering together should plan to attend in person at the chapel. Following the Governor’s recommendation, we strongly encourage at-risk individuals to engage with worship services online. We will continue to broadcast services on Facebook Live on Sunday mornings as we have throughout the Coronavirus crisis. Please register yourself and other family members who plan to attend with you so that we can prepare enough seating.
In addition to resuming worship services, PBC small groups may begin meeting in person as soon as you are ready and if you feel comfortable meeting. Student Ministry small groups will begin meeting with Sr High students on Wednesday, May 13 at 6:30pm and for Jr High students on Thursday, May 14th, at 6:30pm. These meetings are for those who are healthy and both parents and students feel comfortable gathering with others.
When we meet together for worship or small groups, everyone should continue following health guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Everyone should maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals – even though this will be difficult and some may feel it is unnecessary. We also encourage wearing of cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). In order to ensure proper physical distancing and spacing between chapel attendees for worship in the auditorium, PBC will follow the Governor’s protocols by keeping at least two empty seats (or six feet separation) between parties in any row, unless they are members of the same household. In addition, protocols require that we alternate rows between attendees (every other row left empty).
Of course, PBC will maintain rigorous sanitation practices like disinfecting, cleaning, and handwashing. Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant will be readily available throughout the campus. Communion will be served in prepackaged wafer and juice containers. Financial offerings or donations can be made online and offering boxes will available at the back of the auditorium. Because of the hidden nature of the Coronavirus threat, everyone should rigorously follow the minimum practices specified by the CDC and Texas DSHS. The COVID-19 virus is still circulating around us. We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable of our church family and local community.
Again, please register yourself and other family members who plan to attend PBC’s worship service on Sunday morning May 17 so that we can prepare for seating. We look forward to seeing you online (Vimeo or Facebook Live) or in person. Like Paul said to the Romans and David said to God’s people, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1).
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.