Regarding Phase 1 Reopening in Virginia

Harry Long   -  

About Phase 1 reopening in Virginia:

The big news this week is that the Commonwealth of Virginia, in Phase 1 of reopening, is probably going to allow churches to meet again up to 50% capacity under certain conditions! Our governor projected last Friday that this Phase 1 might begin today (Friday, May 15).

How can we respond? We are eager to be together, and we are cautious, realizing the responsibilities involved. The Session meets next Tuesday night to discuss when and how we can start meeting again. There are some very creative ideas on the table!

I have talked with other PCA pastors in the Richmond area via video conference this week. I don’t know how many plans are final yet with their Sessions’ approval, so the details I gathered may be tentative, but they are revealing about how our sister churches are thinking.

-West End PC, Richmond, is thinking about starting June 7 with an outside service in their parking lot.

-Spring Run is thinking about starting June 7 with one service only, with concerns about sufficiently cleaning between more than one service.

-City Church is thinking about starting June 7.

-New Life in Christ, Fredericksburg, is thinking about May 24.

-West End, Hopewell, has adequate space for a small congregation to start this Sunday, May 17.

-Some church plants that meet in schools cannot meet until fall. They are doing their best online.

-Others are in process and don’t know what they might do.

Pray for us as we make these decisions. Requirements for distance, cleaning, personal protection, etc., are more challenging than you might think. We should do everything in the light of the distinct possibility, even probability, that someone attending may be Covid positive without realizing it.

This is not hypothetical. Some of you know Brian Waugh. He has be attending one of our Tuesday morning men’s Bible studies for over a year, and his wife, Dawn, and kids have been worshipping with us for the past several months. Brian is a vender of medical equipment for hospitals and was required to be tested every week. He was surprised to find last Sunday afternoon that he tested positive. He is young (30s), doing well, and is basically asymptomatic, and his family has tested negative. Pray for them all that he will continue to have a light bout with this. (Brian gave his consent to be mentioned here.)

It is a wake-up call for all of us if we have become lax. Most will have no problem with this if they get it. Some are more vulnerable. It is a matter of loving one another that we take care in how we gather.

It is exciting that we have the prospect of gathering again! We will continue to stream the service with the improvements we have made during this challenging time. We know that a good portion of our congregation should still avoid gatherings because of age and underlying medical conditions, and it is a priority to care for all in our congregation as best we can.

One other note: A pastor on a MNA conference call mentioned that he asked his congregation to share their recorded service with others as means of witnessing. Those who may be reluctant to come to church in person may be willing to check it out online. His congregation of 300 (if I remember correctly) had 5000 hits for their service! (I remember that number!)

I encourage you to send a link to the video of our service to others you know, and pray that God would bless that outreach!