1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Update May 22, 2020
Dear Church Family,
From the outset of the Coronavirus situation, we have striven in earnest to be transparent and honest in all our communication. We know that there have been differing opinions about the severity of the virus’ impact, and the appropriate response from the church to the virus, and we have attempted to walk the fine line between faithfulness to the biblical mandate to worship, and love for our neighbor and community. Each step along the way, we have attempted to exercise an abundance of reasonable caution. In the interest of that same transparency, and a desire to maintain the standards of caution that we have already established, we must inform you that late yesterday (Thursday, May 21) afternoon, Tim Wade received word that his previous Coronavirus test returned positive. As a result of this positive test, and other factors which will be explained below, we will suspend our live service this Sunday, May 24th, and plan to resume our live gathering under the previously articulated conditions, pending any unforeseen changes, on Sunday, May 31st.
We are making this decision for the following reasons:
1. Whereas we do not think that Tom had been infected upon the last Sunday he attended church, May 3rd, Tim was almost certainly infected and contagious when he last attended church on Sunday, May 10th.
2. At that service, although Tim was wearing a mask to help mitigate transmission, he did have direct contact with many of the congregants while showing those attending to their seats.
3. Suspending the service for one week, May 24th, will allow 3 full weeks to pass from the time Tim last attended the church service until the next service, and this is more than the recommended time for symptoms to develop thereby mitigating the risk of continued transmission.
4. This intervening week will allow an opportunity for anyone who would like to be tested to do so and likely receive results. (Tim was tested for free by the health department and received his results within a week. If you would like to take advantage of this option, you can call 912-230-9744 and make an appointment to be tested, usually you can make this appointment on the same day if you would like.)
5. We want to be good stewards of the well-being of our membership and the broader community.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the church office, or one of the pastors. We understand that this decision may be frustrating for some of you, as you have enjoyed the ability to reconnect with your church family over the past several weeks. We ask that you continue to extend trust, patience, and prayers as the leadership continues to discuss and evaluate our circumstances in an effort to best serve you, the body.
Elders & Deacons of Ferguson Avenue Baptist Church
Update May 15, 2020
Dear Church Family,
We wanted to provide you with an update on our continually evolving response to the Coronavirus. Due to Tom’s positive test, we are taking additional measures to encourage safe practices for our upcoming worship service. These precautions do not nullify any of the previous guidance we have issued.
• Those individuals who are older than 60 or who have additional complicating factors affecting their health are strongly urged to utilize our live-streaming option on Facebook and YouTube for the next two weeks.
• All office staff who had any interaction with Tom before his positive test will also be asked to be tested.
• This Sunday, we ask that during our worship, you remain seated, particularly while singing, as this may help mitigate the risk of transmission.
• We humbly ask that this Sunday, you be extra cautious in following social distancing guidelines that are already in place, particularly prior to and following the conclusion of the service.
We will continue to keep you updated as information is available. As has been the case since our re-entry a few weeks ago, we do not want anyone to feel pressured in any way to attend the Sunday Morning Worship Service. We are glad to be able to gather with those who are able, and understand the need for many to continue live-streaming our worship service from home. Please utilize the information above and make the best decision for you and your family, and continue to pray for wisdom for our leadership as we strive to navigate the church through these uncharted waters.
Elders and Deacons of Ferguson Avenue Baptist Church
6 May 2020
Thank you all for helping to make last week a success. The joy of being able to gather together after a lengthy absence was palpable among those gathered, yet it was bittersweet as we remained not yet complete as a congregation. We will proceed in much the same way this week, with just a few reminders.
1. Please remember to contact the office if you plan to attend this week. Even if you attended last Sunday, it is important to make sure that we are prepared each week for the number of people that will be at the worship service.
2. When you arrive, we will have a seating suggestion for your family, if you would like to sit somewhere else, you may ask an usher and we will accommodate you as best we can. Our aim is to arrange the seating to maximize the use of our space while maintaining appropriate distances.
3. Please refrain from congregating in the center aisle as you arrive. This is an exciting time, and we want to facilitate good fellowship, but we also want to be mindful of those who are coming to church because they are trusting us to be good stewards of their health.
4. To that point, as you exit, please make sure not to congregate around the main exit which may prevent those who want to leave promptly from doing so without walking through a crowd. If you would like to engage in conversation, please do so away from the main exit.
We look forward to worshipping with you again this week, and for many weeks to come. We are continually evaluating our situation to see how we can facilitate God-honoring worship, while following government recommendations, and being mindful of congregational sensitivities across a broad spectrum. Thank you for your patience and willingness to adapt through all of this.
29 April 2020
Dear members of Ferguson Avenue Baptist Church,
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus ordeal in March, your elders and deacons have been praying for you and longing to see your faces, and we know from talking to most of you that you have been doing the same. Each week we have been meeting and discussing the ways in which we can best serve you and the community around us. That has meant until now that we suspend all in-person gatherings, including our Sunday morning worship service. However, it has remained clear to everyone over the past several weeks, that a church cannot continue to function as a church ought to with such limitations in place. We acknowledge and affirm that scripture presumes that if able, we will come together as one body to worship God and proclaim the majesty of King Jesus. We have eagerly anticipated the day when circumstances would prove to be favorable for us to resume our gathered worship.
Based on the data that is available to us now, and the governor of Georgia’s relaxing of regulations imposed on businesses, we believe that it is now time to welcome those of you who are able and willing back to worship together in our church building on Sunday, May 3rd. We understand that this is only a small step back toward “normal,” and even with this reconvening, there will be necessary precautions that will have to be taken which will be outlined below. However, we are none the less excited for the church to be able to begin returning to a small degree of normalcy. In order to accomplish this, we ask that you please cooperate with our efforts in the following ways:
1. If you have any symptoms of illness, especially including a fever, shortness of breath, or a dry cough, please plan to stay home. Those that demonstrate such symptoms while at church may be asked to leave the service. We will still continue live-streaming the worship service for as long as necessary.
2. If you are elderly or in any way immunocompromised, we encourage you to consider remaining at home for a little while longer until it appears that your attendance will not further jeopardize your personal health.
3. If you do plan to attend, please let the church office know via email to email@example.com or by calling the church at 912-355-0949 of your intentions. We are diligently trying to maintain a safe environment which will necessitate a temporary, but strict enforcement of social distancing guidelines. These guidelines will require us to limit the number of seats we can utilize during a service. Your notifying the office of your intention to come will allow us to ensure that we have adequate seating for those planning to attend.
4. Due to our adherence to social distancing guidelines, certain pews will be roped off and will not be used. You will need to sit toward the ends of the pews that we will be using. A volunteer will be on hand to help guide you to a seat.
5. Certain high-contact practices, such as our time of greeting and passing the offering plates will remain suspended. You will have an opportunity to contribute an offering to the church in a box at the front of the sanctuary or in the foyer.
6. At this time, only the Sunday morning worship service at 10:30 A.M. will be open for attendance. That means there will be no Sunday school, no nursery, no Sunday evening or midweek activities. We hope to resume these things in the future and will let you know when we will be opening these activities back up.
7. Due to there being no childcare during the service, please plan accordingly if you have small children. Children are welcomed in the worship service, and you may find this to be an opportune time to introduce them to the worship service, but if you do bring your children, please plan to make sure they are accounted for before and after the service so as to help reduce risk of any accidental transmission of illness.
8. All those attending the church service will be asked to utilize the main entrance at the front of the church, and these doors will be propped open to minimize contact. The doors at the front of the sanctuary will be left open during the service for those that may need to use the restroom. We are asking that you limit your use of the restroom to the handicap accessible restroom behind the sanctuary and the men’s and women’s restrooms near the fellowship hall. These doors will be left ajar as well so as to minimize contact, and cleaning supplies will be left on a table near the doors in case you would like to sanitize any doorknobs or fixtures before use. However, since we will only be gathering for the worship service, we would encourage you to avoid utilizing the restroom facilities at the church if at all possible.
9. Upon conclusion of the service, those in attendance will be dismissed in an orderly fashion out the main doors so as to minimize any risk of transmission. We strongly urge you not to congregate in the sanctuary. Though the urge to fellowship may be strong, we encourage you to exit the building in a timely and orderly manner as you are dismissed. If you would like to continue a conversation, please do so in the open air while maintaining an appropriate degree of distance.
10. Our hymns will continue to be printed in the bulletins which you can grab on your way into the church so you do not have to worry about handling the hymn books.
11. In addition to the preceding guidelines, we will also be giving the sanctuary a thorough cleaning before this Sunday and after each service.
12. We encourage you to wear a mask if you have one, though you are not required to do so to attend the service. This is simply a measure to help mitigate the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus to anyone else in the sanctuary, even if you don’t know that you are infected. We realize that masks are not foolproof and can sometimes create a false sense of security, so we encourage you above all else to thoroughly wash your hands after leaving the service, and avoid touching your face.
We understand that even if we follow all of these measures, we cannot guarantee that these mitigation efforts will be 100% effective in reducing the risk of infection. However, we want to be faithful to trust the Lord and to act with all wisdom. Therefore, while we are excited to welcome the church back to worship, if you are uncomfortable with gathering at this time, we understand and want to make sure that you do not feel any undue pressure to put yourself or your family at risk by coming to church. Please feel free to continue to utilize our live-stream at home for worship for the time being.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, and please continue to pray for the leadership of the church, as we continue to strive to honor the Lord and serve the body in all of these decisions.
The elders and deacons of Ferguson Avenue Baptist Church