Four Phase Plan
Dear Church Family,
On Monday, May 24th I met with our COVID Advisory Team to discuss ongoing developments regarding COVID-19, vaccinations, and a return to “normal” operations. Over the course of a lengthy meeting, we covered a lot of ground, shared a lot of data, shared a number of concerns, and a fair amount of optimism about where we are in fighting the virus.
One of the ongoing concerns is that we recognize there are many – for good reason – who are hesitant to return to “normal” operations. We have folks in our congregation who are immunocompromised due to medical conditions or medical treatments. We also have a host of special needs families that often experience higher levels of immunodeficiency. We have folks who simply want to avoid respiratory illness, to the best of their ability. In addition, there are folks in our congregation who have wondered why it has taken so long for us to adjust our policies. So, as we move forward, let’s remember to treat one another with grace, mercy and kindness, regardless of each individual’s approach to masks or the vaccine.
We did decide to make some adjustments to our current COVID-19 guidelines after noting that vaccines are readily available, the high vaccination rate in Albemarle County (~65%), the high rate of vaccination in the Blue Ridge Health District (~58%), and the high percentage of our most vulnerable FBC population (over 65) having been vaccinated. In addition, CDC statistics from the past several weeks indicate that death from COVID alone is lower than deaths from pneumonia alone. We also took note that local and state governing bodies are loosening COVID-19 restrictions. As such, we felt comfortable making the following recommendations, effective on Sunday, May 30, 2021:
- Continue to encourage those with a fever greater than 100.4, and/or runny nose, sore throat, cough, sinus infection or diarrhea to not attend in-person gatherings.
- Open all seating. We will retain the physical distancing signage in our Pathways area in the sanctuary, due to the increased risks associated with special needs. Opening all seating will make it easier for those who wish to distance to do so, as more seating options will be available.
- Move to a “mask optional” policy throughout the building. Those with immunodeficiencies or concerns about respiratory viruses are welcome to wear a mask while in the building. You do what is best for your health and we will support you.
- The decision for children under 12 to wear a mask is left to their parents. We believe parents are the first pastors their children have, so we do not intend to override your authority on this matter. Note: the “mask optional” policy also applies to FIRSTkids volunteers.
Let me add for legal and privacy reasons, FBC is in no position to monitor an individual’s COVID health status. Instead, we encourage every adult to take appropriate precautions for you and your family, using your best judgment based on your situation and the situation of those persons under your care, in consideration for others. In so doing, let us continue to pray for the Lord to guide us during this time, that his Name is exalted at FBC and in our community, and that we treat one another with love and respect.
It’s a joy to be your pastor,
We prioritize clear communication. Read any of our previous Covid updates.
As we shared in The Tie on Thursday, we had a positive case of Covid-19 occur in an adult leader who attended Snowbird Camp. As of today, we have had three additional positive cases connected to the Snowbird trip. Virginia Department of Health (VDH) considers three positive tests tied to a specific time and location an outbreak. As such, we have experienced an outbreak of Covid-19 among the students and adult leaders who attended the Snowbird trip. VDH has recommended that those who were exposed to the virus quarantine for 14 days and avoid close contact with others.
Based on the timing of the bus trip (Saturday, August 8th), and out of an abundance of caution, it seems prudent to move our worship service on Sunday, August 16th, to ONLINE ONLY (available at fbcparkstreet.com/live or facebook.com/cvillefbc, links below). Considering that many of the key participants in Sunday’s worship service have family members that were part of the Snowbird trip, we have not come up with a way to conduct an in-person service that is safe and responsible.
Let’s be mindful that “safe and responsible” have been some of our “watchwords” since the pandemic began. We have sought to show love for our neighbors (Mt 22:37-40), to put others ahead of ourselves (Eph2:3-4) and, as far as it depends on us, to live peaceably with all (Rom 12:18) as we navigate life during the pandemic. Please pay close attention to email, social media and our website for updates toward the end of next week, regarding worship on Sunday, August 23rd.
I am sorry I will not see you face-to-face this week, but I am eager for you to join us online as we worship and hear from God’s Word.
It’s a joy to be your pastor,
March 27, 2020
March 27, 2020
On Thursday, March 12th we assembled a team that included medical and emergency management professionals to assess how FBC should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time the decision was made – rightly – to cancel services for the next two weeks. We told the church that an update would be forthcoming on Friday, March 27th. Today, I am providing that update to help keep you informed.
In the past two weeks, much has obviously happened in the United States and in Virginia related to the spread of COVID-19. Both the federal government and state governments have recommended (and in some cases, ordered) steps to be taken to social distance, work from home, and the closing (or significantly altering) of many businesses in an effort to flatten the curve of infections.
On Monday, March 23rd, Gov Northam extended the ban on gatherings of 10 or more people. His statement reads, “All gatherings of more than 10 people are banned statewide, beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.” In addition, the statement reads, “This order goes into effect at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and will remain in place until 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 23, 2020.”
We will, of course, honor the Governor’s order and will not gather in person for worship or any other gatherings of more than 10 on our church campus. Indeed, we ask that you limit your visits to the church facility during this time. We will continue to provide our worship service via livestream at 10:45 AM on Sunday morning. In addition, our Student Ministry will continue to livestream at 5:00 PM on Sunday evening. On Wednesday night we will continue to provide a Family Bible Study at 7:00 PM and our Senior Adult Bible Study on Tuesday at 1:15 PM. All of these can be found at fbcparkstreet.com/live or facebook.com/cvillefbc, in addition to archived copies for you to watch anytime at vimeo.com/fbcparkstreet.
I also encourage you to join me in praying for this crisis, for our national leaders, for our church, and for the work of the gospel worldwide every day at noon, as we all began on Friday, March 20th. Knowing that every part of the FBC Park Street Family is pausing at noon each day will provide a great encouragement to us.
Let me also encourage you to continue to support the work of FBC Park Street financially during this time. We have taken action to reduce our ongoing costs and delayed new ministry projects during this crisis. Yet, we have monthly obligations of approximately $90,000 per month. That amount includes our missionary support, CP giving, utilities, health and property insurance, and personnel costs (salaries, payroll taxes, etc). We have complete confidence that God can and will provide for us during this time through you, just as He always has. You can give online at fbcparkstreet.com/give. In addition to online giving options, you can mail your regular tithes and offerings to the church addressed as follows:
First Baptist Church
Attn: Sherry Parmly
735 Park Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Using this address will ensure the confidentiality of your giving, as Sherry Parmly is our Financial Secretary.
March 12, 2020
Greetings from Daytona Beach! Due to my absence in Charlottesville, I asked Pastor Dale to meet with a group of medical professionals, scientific professionals, and public safety leaders who are also members of our church, to discuss how we should respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I was able to join that call from Daytona Beach. We thought it important to send you this update regarding how FBC is responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.
With many concerns surrounding the virus, we want you to know our church leaders are carefully and continually monitoring the situation. As the situation evolves and information develops that impacts FBC, we will post updates to our website and our Facebook page. Additionally, our deacon body will be taking steps to contact church members who have no access to the internet and/or social media with this update. We are committed to doing all we can to provide a safe environment for our church family and community during this time.
While we place a high priority on gathering physically each week for worship, we also desire to proceed with caution and prudence as the situation will likely escalate. It is the desire of your pastors and church leaders to made decision, not based out of fear or panic, but out of a desire to love and protect our church family and the Charlottesville community. We sincerely desire to obey the Bible’s commands to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and “count others more significant than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Based on what we know about the virus to date, older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. People who are at higher risk are encouraged to avoid crowds as much as possible. Indeed, as we are well aware, major sporting events, even entire seasons, have been cancelled to prevent large groups gathering in a confined space. The goal of these measures is to contain the spread of the virus by minimizing large gatherings and protecting the most at risk populations. Unfortunately, we are a church that regularly has large gatherings and we have a disproportionate number of folks in the at risk category.
Therefore, in light of recent recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health, and after prayerful consideration and consultation with medical and safety professionals, our Leadership Council has decided to temporarily suspend all church activities that take place on campus, including our regular Sunday morning worship service. This is effective immediately and will remain in effect for two weeks, until Friday, March 27. At that time, our Leadership Council will provide you with an updated course of action.
While members and guests will not be able to attend the worship service in person, worship services will be streamed live each Sunday at 11am EST via Facebook Live. You can view the service by accessing our Facebook Page here: https://facebook.com/cvillefbc. Let me also remind you, that despite our inability to gather physically as a church family for worship, your pastors and church leadership are available to meet with you any time. Also, let us be mindful that the financial commitments we have made as a church body to carry on the work of the Great Commission must still be met during this time. We have missionaries on the field who depend on us and I am confident we will be faithful to support the work God has called us to. Therefore, while we are unable to meet, church members are encouraged to give tithes and offerings online by following the link.
Above all, we encourage you to pray. Pray for those who currently are and will be affected by the virus. Also, pray for the doctors and medical professionals who are caring for those who contract the coronavirus. We ask that you pray for our church leaders and other church leaders in our community to respond to this situation in love and wisdom. Above all, pray that God’s gospel will continue to advance, even in the midst of this difficult season.