Our Response to Covid-19

Update (July 30): Extending Phase 1

Here at Bethlehem First, we understand that the coronavirus pandemic is stressful for many reasons. We have been monitoring the situation and have noted the fast growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in Barrow and surrounding counties. We also recognize that people have many different
opinions about the correct response to the pandemic. Our concern, first and foremost, is the safety and spiritual well-being of everyone who enters our campus. To that end, our staff and church council have met and decided that now is not the time for us to enter Phase 2 of our regathering plan as we had originally discussed. However, given the size of our worship spaces and the number of people who are attending worship services, as well as the wonderful help and support of our volunteers and everyone who has been attending services, we are making the following changes to our Phase 1 plan:

  • Add temperature checks, to be conducted by a volunteer, before people enter for worship or other activities in the building.
  • Allow adult ministry groups who wish to meet in person at the church, as well as other activities, to meet in our outdoor spaces and large indoor spaces (such as the Fellowship Hall, Worship Center, etc). Adult ministry groups will need to contact Pastor Megan to sign up for a particular time and space at the church to meet.
  • Social distancing (a minimum of 6 feet) with masks will still be required of all groups that meet indoors, and social distancing will be required of groups that meet outdoors.
    • The gym will be treated as a special area. Fitness Center members will need to abide by Fitness Center rules. Groups wishing to use the gym to meet must use the marked squares on the gym floor to space out individuals/ family groups. We encourage individuals to leave their masks on in the gym, however, masks may be removed within these squares only, and must be put back in place before exiting the square.
    • Please understand that removing masks, even within the designated squares, may increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others, or contracting it yourself. Signing up to use the gym must be done through the appropriate staff person (Trish Johnson for children, Megan Gomez for adult groups, etc.).
  • Masks must be worn on the church bus or van.
  • Reduce the number of volunteers needed on Sundays to reflect actual attendance numbers.
  • Remove the spaced parking requirement (although it is still encouraged).
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19, have come into known contact with someone else who has, or someone who is awaiting a coronavirus test result are asked to worship from home. If you are sick, please stay home. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please let us know so that we can be praying for you and also so that we can monitor the situation and make sure we do not have a COVID-19 outbreak at our church.
  • Should our attendance numbers increase for worship or other activities, these changes may need to be revised. We will also continue to monitor news and requirements from the governor’s office, the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, as well as the CDC and state and local health agencies.

As a reminder, since we are still in Phase 1, we will continue to observe the following:

  • Masks must be worn in the building
  • No handshakes, hugs, etc.
  • No nursery, or Sunday activities for children or youth
  • Tithes and offerings may be dropped off at exits on Sundays, online, or sent through the mail
  • Spaced Sanctuary and Worship Center seating
  • Escorted to seats by ushers/ host team
  • Orderly dismissal of services by rows as needed
  • Intense cleaning of high traffic areas and restrooms between services
  • The gym floor will be cleaned after each group that uses the gym.
  • Church open during limited office hours (Monday- Thursday 9:00 am-1:00 pm)
  • Services at 9:30 am and 11:00 am on Sundays (no 8:30 am service at this time)
  • Online services will continue to stream and online adult ministry groups will be offered.

Please know that it is our desire to provide the safest environment possible for all of our members while also providing for a person’s spiritual well-being. If you have any questions or would simply like to talk with someone, please do not hesitate to contact Pastor Frank or Pastor Megan. We covet your prayers as we continue to navigate these unknown waters. We are praying for you, and look forward to the day when we can all meet again in safety without restrictions!

Sincerely,

The Pastors, Staff, and Church Council of Bethlehem First UMC

Bethlehem First UMC Church Council Members:

Belinda AgnewMarilyn CrainSally Lanthier
Angie BagwellWanda DosterAbby Lawrence
Frank BernatKim FurlowAnna Marie Lawrence
Brent BohananMegan GomezAmanda Padovano
Fran BowerBeth HinchBecca Smith
Amanda BrannonGrace HughesJudy Smith
Art BrautigamRon HughesAnissa Sullivan
Matt BrownAndrea JermanRandy Thompson
Matthew ChristenberryTrish JohnsonAndrea Tyler