The following are representative questions from the congregation and the reflections of the members of the Resumption Roundtable workgroup as the group has discussed COVID-19 and the ongoing response of Yates Baptist Church.
Why are we being so conservative in opening when other churches and businesses are opening?
- Current data show the virus growing in North Carolina and Durham, not diminishing. Thus the risk of infection and community spread remains high.
- Risk reduction strategies are complex and require significant logistics, and there is no way to eliminate risk by any reasonable practical approach. Even with social distancing, wearing masks, limiting entrances/exits and proper sanitizing of surfaces, there is risk. So far, we agree that the benefits of physical gathering at this point do not outweigh the health risks of return.
Why don’t we open the facility or campus in a limited fashion and allow people to make the choice to come or not?
- That is possible, and scenarios are being reviewed that would accomplish at least limited physical gathering. However, the group feels at this point that some vulnerable people, who always come when the doors are open, might take more risk than is advised and put themselves and others in jeopardy of infection.
- We continue to look for opportunities for activity and remain very open to your ideas and initiatives. Opening up to specific groups who are in low-risk categories may be possible with proper precautions. However, if we do this and encourage higher-risk groups to stay away, new initiatives will be needed to keep them engaged. This will be difficult for staff and lay leaders due to the additional planning needed to carry out activities in multiple ways to meet the diverse needs of the congregation.
In light of the reality that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, can’t we simply reengineer our services to increase opportunities for interpersonal connection through electronic means and forego physically meeting altogether?
- For now, that is what we are doing by facilitating home worship, online meetings and discipleship opportunities. While this is not as personal for some, it remains the safest and most prudent way to provide significant interactive opportunities.
- We continue to explore new technology and innovation to help us become more effective in connecting our congregation and community with meaningful worship, discipleship, mission engagement and interpersonal interaction.
- The downside of this type of approach is that some of our members are not particularly adept in using the internet and may not even have the devices needed to participate.
- The safety of our members remains our primary concern. For now, the primary criteria guiding our assessment are case rates, virulence, hospitalizations, therapeutic programs and availability of a vaccine.
Absent the opportunity for physical gatherings, won’t we risk missing out on possible new members who might be looking for a church that is open now? Are we risking losing some of our own people to other churches that are open?
- Possibly. However, with the restrictions necessarily placed on anyone gathering (face masks, spacing of seating, having one way traffic in and out, etc.), it seems likely that gathering will not be the type of experience Yates is accustomed to, nor will the restrictions allow the welcome we love to offer our guests. Our outreach and discipleship strategies must adapt to our new reality.
If the spread of COVID-19 does not begin to go down, do we continue to avoid in-person gatherings?
- The same principles will continue to apply until we recognize credible clinical evidence to indicate reopening and gathering can be accomplished safely and with reduced risks.
- There is evidence that the continuation of the spread of the virus is partly due to people abandoning safe practices.
- While we are eager to return to in-person gatherings, we recommend that the campus remain closed. We continue to monitor, assess and discuss the data and our church needs frequently and will continue to update the congregation with regularity.
- The church’s office hours are Monday-Thursday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm and Friday 8:30 am – 1:00 pm. Access to the building must be by appointment. Please call ahead and make arrangements with the ministry staff if you need to access the building. The ministry staff is available by calling the church office at 919-489-2309; the office phone can even be answered remotely during office hours. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The members of the Resumption Roundtable workgroup are Don Bynum, Lindsay Cook, Beverly Garcia, Sam Haithcock, Walt Pickett, Pam Riley, Gene Smith, Bill Yount, the pastor and ministry staff. We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to reach out to any member named above with your additional thoughts or questions as we discern the best way forward.