An Update on In-Person Activities and Worship
Posted: February 1, 2021
As we entered the Advent season last year, our state and local area were experiencing a second surge in COVID-19 infections. At that time, the Administrative Council voted to cease in-person activities at the church. The Council agreed at that time to monitor conditions on the ground for signs of improvement and a decline in the numbers before restarting limited activities with continued safety protocols and precautions in place.
On January 26, the Administrative Council met and unanimously approved the following proposal to begin a phased re-opening:
On February 1, Smoke Rise Baptist Church will reopen for small groups of fewer than 25 people. The Weekday School, Digital Learning Center, Academy of Arts, and Smoke Rise Prep School will return to in-person learning with continued safety protocols on this date. Our church will offer the opportunity for in-person Sunday evening children and youth events, choir rehearsal and other activities with many of these events taking place outdoors and all events including our adopted safety protocols.
Assuming that the number of COVID-19 cases continues to trend in the downward direction, plans for resuming in-person worship are tentatively set for later in February and in-person Sunday school in March. With all previous safety precautions and requirements in place, we plan to schedule two worship services at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM and to return to a rotating model for limited in-person Sunday school. We will continue to livestream worship at 11:00 AM each Sunday and will also continue Zoom meeting options for Sunday school each week. While we are excited about the opportunity for in-person participation, we are also very understanding and supportive of those who will continue to learn and to worship using our streaming platforms.
All activities and events will continue to follow COVID-19 protocols that remain in effect at Smoke Rise, including wearing face coverings, performing temperature checks, social distancing and diligent cleaning of our facilities. The goal of the Administrative Council is to safely provide for the nurture and fellowship of our congregation, recognizing that people have varying degrees of comfort with this option. The Council continues to make difficult decisions in this unprecedented time of pandemic, as it seeks to honor our shared commitment to love each other and our neighbors as ourselves.
COVID-19 Worship and Operations Plan
Updated: November 23, 2020
The United States is facing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases that has resulted in extended public health warnings. On November 18, 2020, the Administrative Council reviewed and approved updated worship and operation plans for Smoke Rise Baptist Church.
Worshipping “online” remains the surest, safest and preferred way for congregants to stay safe in worship during the on-going pandemic. If you are enjoying this option, we urge you to continue doing so for your safety.
You should not attend in-person worship unless you have thoroughly and seriously considered all the consequences to you and your health. Adherence to restrictions adopted for in-person worship does not eliminate the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Restrictions adopted by our church are designed to decrease your risk of being exposed to or contracting the virus. Before you decide to attend in-person worship, we urge you to read all the information about the potential risk to your health and safety at the following webpages:
The Administrative Council approves updated restrictions consistent with the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control as follows:
(1) If attendance patterns require more space to accommodate increased social distancing, the staff should institute two worship service times.
(2) Continued observance of social distancing guidelines to include new set-up in the sanctuary designed to maintain nine (9) feet or more between persons and/or family units during worship (a 50% increase in distancing for worship over prior guidelines).
(3) Temperature checks reading lower than 100.4 to attend worship.
(4) Wearing facemasks that cover the mouth and nose, with masks worn above the nose at all times while in the building during worship.
(5) Compliance with all other recommendations of risk management that remain in effect, including sanitation, cleaning, handwashing, personal hygiene, disinfection, and special rules of ingress and egress.
Under what circumstances would in-person worship be cancelled or suspended?
Informed by consultation with contacts at the CDC, the Administrative Council authorizes immediate suspension or cancellation of worship based on any one of the following:
(1) If combined local and/or regional hospital capacity to treat COVID-19 patients in the greater Atlanta area reach a threshold of a 75% or higher limit on capacity (excluding hospitals in Gwinnett County where need exceeds capacity under typical circumstances). If capacity reaches 70%, the Administrative Council shall convene an emergency meeting to review worship and operation plans.
(2) If the seven-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 residents reaches a combined threshold averaging 40 or higher in counties contiguous to the church (Dekalb, Gwinnett and Fulton). If the seven-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 residents reaches a combined threshold averaging 35 or more but less than 40, the Administrative Council shall convene an emergency meeting to review worship and operation plans.
(3) If our ministry staff is under quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure.
(4) If the Administrative Council approves a cancellation for any other reason it deems prudent for the safety of persons in consultation with the ministry staff. The science and recommendations are updated daily. Specific markers may be revised over time if new guidance or information is provided by public health authorities.
In the event worship is cancelled due to reasons (1) or (2) above, all other events and activities at the church will also be cancelled until conditions on the ground change, including all children and youth activities of all kinds.
If we cancel in-person worship for any reason, staff will make every effort to broadcast worship online each Sunday. If you do not have access to online worship opportunities, please contact the church office to find out how we can help you get access to online worship or other means of worshiping with us in a virtual or digital format.