Page last updated Friday, August 14th, 2020
REGATHERING AS A CHURCH
If current legislation remains in place, MEC will enter a new season of regathering from AUGUST 16th, 2020. Please read the information below carefully. There is much about this season that will feel strange and unfamiliar, but the Lord still reigns, and we trust that His grace will hem us in as we learn together.
Where will we be meeting?
Metford Baptist Church. 83-85 Chelmsford Dr, Metford. Next to Maitland Christian School.
Will I still be able to watch the service online?
Yes. The 2pm service will be live streamed and available to watch in real time and afterwards online. Those who currently receive the service video via USB or DVD will continue to receive content in these ways.
How do I register for a gathering?
Registrations will be done online and can be found via the link which will be emailed out on the Monday before the gathering takes place each week. Extra support will be available for those who cannot access the registration page via the internet. Please contact Karen Christensen in the office if you need help registering.
When will we be meeting?
Across three service times and online; 2pm, 4pm and 6pm from August 16th onwards.
How many people can gather at once?
Each service will be capped at 100 people (including children) as per current NSW legislation. A pre-booking system will stop each service from over-filling. There will also be a small number of ‘buffer spots’ for visitors.
Will there be a children’s program?
Yes! Sunday School will recommence for Infants and Primary aged children. The team has also put together Sunday School pack that continues on from the previous packs that went out at the beginning of term. There will also be Sunday packs available Creche and Junior Vine will not recommence at this time. We understand that this could be particularly challenging for parents of young children. Please see further info below.
What will happen at the gatherings?
When you arrive you will be asked to check in by providing your name and contact details. This is to comply with the government regulations around contact tracing. We are encouraging congregants to arrive 15 minutes before their service time to allow for staggered entry and check in.
You will then be asked to move straight into the auditorium to find a seat, filling the chairs at the front of the room first. The service will contain many of the usual elements, such as prayer, Bible reading, preaching and Communion. There will be no congregational singing, but music will be incorporated in other ways. We will also create opportunities for conversation with those seated around you. Once in the auditorium you will need to remain seated, unless using the bathroom or moving to the stage to lead part of the service. This is a requirement of the NSW Government for religious gatherings.
Health & Hygiene
Should I wear a face mask?
As per the NSW Premier’s recommendation, we are encouraging people to wear face masks when they enter and exit the gathering, as these are the times it will be most difficult to maintain social distancing. It is not necessary to wear a face mask once people are seated, although you are welcome to. Children under 12 do not need to wear face masks at any point. The wearing of face masks is encouraged but optional.
When should I stay home?
You should not attend a gathering if any of the following apply to you:
You have COVID-19, or have been tested for COVD-19 and have not yet received your results.
If you are unwell (fever >37.5C, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or other cold/flu symptoms)
If you have travelled to a COVID Hot Spot in the last 14 days.
If you have not pre-registered for a service.
Will there be more cleaning involved?
All spaces used by the church will receive a COVID clean before and after each service. Checklists have been developed according to the NSW health guidelines. There will be strategies in place to make the cleaning as efficient as possible and opportunities for congregation members to help by joining the cleaning team.
To reduce the cleaning load, we ask that you avoid using spaces that are not designated for our use.
How will we maintain social distancing?
Every effort will be made to accommodate 1.5m between persons from different households throughout the entire gathering. Some strategies include:
Avoiding physical contact, such as shaping hands or hugging
People will be asked to keep two empty chairs between themselves and those who do not share their household throughout the week.
Rooms will be clearly marked with capacity numbers
Will there be afternoon tea/dinner?
At this stage there will be no afternoon tea or dinner on site. The recommendation is that there is no mingling of any sort before or after the service. We encourage the congregation to find COVID safe opportunities for hospitality and fellowship off site.
Do children need to practice social distancing also?
The government legislation states that children do not need to practice social distancing as adults do, but do need to maintain good hygiene. This means that while adults must maintain 1.5m from children (who they don’t share household space with throughout the week), the children themselves can interact more closely.
Notes for Parents of Young Children
We understand that many of our young children are not used to sitting in church and may find this difficult. The government guidelines stipulate that we cannot walk around whilst in the service, but must remain seated as this minimises the opportunity for mingling. Below are some questions that may come up as you plan how to best regather with your family:
Why is there no creche?
MEC has listened to the wishes of creche families and they have overwhelmingly agreed that for now it is safest to not run a creche program. We will respond to legislation and continue to consult the community of creche families about when they feel it is time for creche to recommence.
Can my child eat and drink during the service?
Unfortunately children (and adults) are not allowed to have food in the auditorium where the service will be held, as this is Maitland Baptist Church policy.
Can children move around?
MEC wants to respect NSW Government guidelines which ask that even small children stay seated as much as possible during church services (this could be in prams, on laps, on a seat or on a mat on the ground). We welcome the added energy that young children bring to the gathering and want parents to know that the church welcomes the extra wriggling and noise. If parents need to take a restless or upset child out of the room for a time, they are welcome to sit in the foyer area or outside, whilst remaining socially distanced from others.
Will there be a parent’s room available?
Unfortunately, due to Social Distancing requirements, it is not viable for us to open the Parent's Room for use during the services.
Can my children sit with extended family members
How long will the service go for?
Approximately an hour.
The guidelines state that you don’t need to practice social distancing with people from your own household. Children also don’t need to be socially distanced from carers, such as grandparents. If you share household space with extended family throughout the week, they do not need to practice social distancing during the service.
Will there be kitchen facilities available for use?
At this stage we will not have use of the kitchen facilities. If we were to use the kitchen facilities, we would need to do a complete COVID clean of the area.