Coronavirus Update

Regathering Information

Updated July 9, 2020

Saturday, July 11 at 5pm  &  Sunday, July 12 at 9am & 11am

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Regathering in person July 11/12

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Meeting in 4 Different Spaces

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Social Distancing & Cleaning

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Church Online Still Available

We are excited to announce that we are regathering at the church beginning the weekend of July 11 & 12, 2020. Worship service times will be Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 9am and 11am. We added extra time between the Sunday worship services so we have plenty of time to clean our facilities.

Note that the church building is now open M-F with office hours from 8:30am-5pm and café from 7-11am. Please wear a mask when you visit the church office and when ordering from the café.

We are working with guidelines from officials, seeking input from our medical team, and carefully preparing multiple venues for worship. In many ways, it was easier to stop gathering for worship than to restart it. We've chosen to be cautious and mindfully consider reports from churches across the country who have already gathered for worship. Being careful is prudent and allows us to flex our patience muscles as we prepare for regathering.

It is essential to understand that when we regather on July 11/12, it will not be back to “normal.” Necessary changes were made to all programming to continue growing and serving while we gathered online. We learned of a multitude of people who preferred or were only willing to worship online. So, we elevated our online worship experience. We will continue to provide excellent online worship and make connections with people who gather in that venue.

Many updates have been made to accommodate the technical requirements for providing excellent worship on Church Online. As we begin to regather at the physical building, our Church Online service will shift back to a mostly live feed. Worship in multiple venues inside the building will be live with some video elements, very similar to pre-COVID-19 worship. Our immediate goal is the safety of each person who chooses to regather for worship on July 11/12.

Here are some guidelines for your consideration in Step 1 in regathering for worship inside the physical building the weekend of July 11 & 12:

  • We will worship in the West Auditorium, East Auditorium, and two large rooms in the second level FirstKids area. There is a capacity limit in each area.
  • Each worship venue will have a separate entrance/exit to the building and venue.
  • We have carefully considered each element of your experience to ensure it is done safely without touching others or shared objects. Communion will be self-serve in prepackaged containers. Giving boxes will be located in each venue to receive checks or cash.
  • Social distancing of six feet between individuals/family groups will be observed.
  • Ushers will assist individuals/family groups in each venue to be seated with a six foot social distance between groups.
  • Children will worship alongside parents. Two worship venues will be family-friendly with seating at tables, children’s activities provided, and include a worship element familiar to kids. Children’s ministry areas will regather soon, hopefully in Step 2 of regathering.
  • Mosaic Café is open Monday-Friday from 7-11am but not during worship services. You are welcome to bring a beverage to worship.
  • Everyone who plans to attend worship should complete a self-check before arrival. This includes no temperature above 100.4 or not recently in contact with someone who has had COVID-19. Worship online if feeling sick, or someone in your home is feeling sick.
  • Each venue has been cleaned utilizing a Clorox T360 system. An airborne cleaning agent adheres to surfaces and kills viruses and bacteria within minutes. It is safe to enter the venue within two minutes of a cleaning cycle.
  • Following each service, bathrooms and hard surfaces will be cleaned, and the Clorox T360 system will sanitize each venue.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged and required when singing. Disposable masks will be provided for those who forget one. We can serve one another by wearing a mask while gathered.

We are all learning how best to navigate the changes the pandemic has created in our world and for our regathering. We love the people of First Christian Church and ask for grace toward leadership and one another as we enter a phase of “new normal.” If you have any questions, contact Lori Putnam at lputnam@firstdecatur.org or 217.875.3350.

Statement Regarding Re-opening for Corporate Worship

Updated May 18, 2020

We are in the midst of a pandemic none of us has witnessed before. Our government leaders are making decisions based on the latest information they have. Your church leaders are doing the same.

Not being together in our building is difficult and unusual. And yet, we’ve also experienced higher attendance via online worship services than when we were in our building. Giving has remained consistent. We’ve been safe and innovative in serving others who are in need in our community. Despite the negative emotions about being sheltered at home and not gathering corporately for worship, God has shown his goodness and faithfulness to us.

Every church impacted by the government’s guidelines has had to wrestle with difficult decisions. As the situation and guidelines have changed, we’ve evaluated our options, and then re-evaluated them. We want to update you on our decisions as of today.

  1. The mission of First Christian Church is to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ by growing and serving together. We have been providing online worship and additional programming to help people grow in their love for God. We are also continuing to serve our community in safe ways to show love for others. We would even say by abiding by the governor’s executive order, we are demonstrating our love for the least of us in our community—the sick, immunocompromised, and the elderly. We have not been ordered to stop worshipping, but rather, to limit our group size to avoid infecting others. Therefore, we will continue to abide by the governor’s plan and worship at home. Worshipping at home is not less than, but it is different. We are very anxious to be allowed to come together as soon as possible. We believe we need to be patient, listen and respect the authorities, and look for innovative ways to “be the church” during this time.
  2. We are continually updating our plans for reopening as we receive more information from the authorities. Phase 2-Flattening is projected to end on May 29, 2020. We hope Macon County will then move into Phase 3-Recovery. Phase 3 still requires gatherings to remain under 10 people. Worship will remain online during Phase 3 unless governing authorities allow places of worship to open with more than 10 people in attendance. Phase 4 allows for gatherings of up to 50 people.
  3. We cannot release a re-open date at this time, however, we are not planning to reopen until Phase 4, which will allow 50 or less to gather. Then, we plan to host multiple worship services in multiple places throughout our building while remaining under 50 people per area. This means for a congregation our size having multiple auditoriums open at many service times to accommodate our pre-Covid-19 attendance numbers. We have many worshipers over the age of 65, as well as others who are immunocompromised, in the life of our congregation, and we want to protect them from exposure. As the governor’s re-opening plan now states, places of worship will not fully open until Phase 5. At that time, we would expect to have worship services in the building with no restrictions as we continue to practice health safety in all programming.
  4. The Macon County Health Department has provided guidelines for drive-in church. Drive-in church would allow more people to be on the church property at one time while remaining in their cars. However, the guidelines only allow for half of the parking spots to be utilized. Everyone must remain in vehicles with windows rolled up. The church building would not be accessible – even for restroom use. The layout of our parking lot would ensure that a majority of people in vehicles would not be able to see anything. The result would be a less than desirable experience, and certainly not the kind of worship experience to which we have become accustomed. Church Online provides a much better worship experience at this time. Therefore, we have decided not to further pursue the option of drive-in church, but understand for other churches in our area, drive-in church could be a good transition step.
  5. We believe it is essential to be mindful of our witness to outsiders. There are thousands of people in Macon County who did not attend church before the pandemic, but are now watching our response, and maybe even our online worship. Will we submit to authority or will we rebel? We believe it is the proper posture to submit to authority and demonstrate an attitude of humility. We remain “the church” even as we are scattered across the county. Although we gather online to worship God each weekend, it is important to remember worship is not just a weekend activity, but rather a lifestyle. Therefore, we choose to demonstrate humility toward authority and abide by guidelines provided for all large group gatherings, of which our congregation size indicates.

We believe it is vital to keep in mind the government has not exclusively closed our church. Other businesses and gatherings of large numbers of people are limited. We are not being singled out from other large group gatherings such as schools, concerts and movies. We have had to be more creative and innovative in how we facilitate growing in our love for God and ways we serve others. It has not been easy. However, it has produced fruit.

We are monitoring the situation closely and expect changes to come, hopefully sooner, rather than later. Those changes might include various groups of our congregation meeting in homes. We will also pursue managing groups of less than 50 at the building as soon as possible.

Our decisions have been influenced by men and women in healthcare who are part of the life of First Christian Church. We have sought counsel and learning from other church leaders in states across the nation who are opening ahead of us. We have been diligent in seeking God’s guidance as we make difficult decisions.

It has been encouraging to see the innovation from churches across our community and nation. The pandemic has forced us to “be the church” in new ways, and, as a result, people are being reached with the message of hope of the Gospel. Yes, we are not meeting together in a building like we are used to doing. Yet, we can seize the opportunity to reach people who have never stepped foot in our buildings.

We understand some may not agree with our position. We still love you and consider you to be part of the life of First Christian Church even when we disagree. We ask you to continue to pray for the leaders of First Christian Church, our community, state and nation as we all seek what is best for those we love. We also appreciate your faithful giving during this time that allows us to continue to reach our community for Christ.

- THE LEADERSHIP TEAM OF FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH

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ONLINE WORSHIP SERVICES

Saturday at 5pm
Sunday at 9am & 11am

We love the people of Decatur. So, to help protect those we love from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we are hosting worship services online and in person as well beginning July 11 & 12. Worship services will be live streamed at Church Online Platform, YouTube, and Facebook Live. If you've never watched church online, scroll down for tips to a great online experience.

Visit the "What's Happening" page below for the latest news:

May the peace of Christ rule our hearts and minds - today and the days ahead.

Tips for a Great Online Experience!

You can watch any of our worship services on our Church Online Platform on any device. A church online host is present during every worship service to answer any questions you may have as well as guide you through the worship service. A church online host can also pray with you privately through our online prayer chat. You can also interact with others watching church online. You can also watch our worship services on YouTube and Facebook Live.

  • CREATE AN ACCOUNT IN ADVANCE
    In order to prepare for the weekend services, consider creating a Church Online Platform account at https://firstdecatur.online.church in advance.
  • CHECK YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION
    You will need to have high-speed internet in order to have a smooth worship experience with no interruptions.
  • HAVE A BIBLE
    Have a bible and pen/paper ready to take notes.
  • ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
    This will help you have a wonderful worship experience.
  • UNMUTE
    The video will begin with no audio so you will need to unmute it. There is a button in the lower right-hand corner of the video screen where you can unmute the audio.
  • ONLINE GIVING
    Participate in worship through giving in a secure, easy manner at firstdecatur.org/give.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Lori Putnam at lputnam@firstdecatur.org or 217.875.3350.