Pastoral note: Outdoor worship (& the weather)

Dear Yates Family,

I am so excited to celebrate Holy Week and Easter with Yates very soon.  Now more than ever, the promises of new life and the enduring hope of God’s victory won for the world in Christ is just what we need. In the weeks to come, you will see new opportunities for engagement in church worship on the church grounds.  We are making every effort to provide welcoming and safe space to gather for worship, discipleship and mission.

Our Resumption Roundtable has consistently encouraged careful application of the NC Department of Health and Human Services guidelines during the pandemic. NC DHHS has issued new guidelines found here (, effective today. The ministers and the Resumption Roundtable have diligently sought to apply these revised guidelines to our worship life right away.

I’m excited to invite you to worship on the church lawn with Yates Baptist Church for outdoor worship at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday morning beginning this Sunday (Palm Sunday, March 28). While outdoors, please remember that masking, appropriate distancing, hand hygiene and other customary precautions remain in place. There will be access to restrooms if necessary. Also, we will note attendance for contact tracing purposes, but are not asking for you to register your intention ahead of time for outdoor services.

The church will send a confirmation of worship plans the Saturday before at 12:00 noon via e-mail, Facebook and on the church website.

Outdoor worship has one obvious vulnerability: the weather! If we anticipate inclement weather to preclude outdoor worship, we will announce this in that Saturday announcement. If inclement weather is announced, morning worship will take place in the sanctuary. If worship must move indoors, please remember:

  • This is all part of an interim plan, an incremental step toward resumption of church life that seeks to remain in-step with public health standards.
  • The Yates live stream ( continues to offer high-quality access to weekly worship.
  • DHHS interim guidelines limit attendance inside the sanctuary to approximately 12 persons/1000 sq. feet (75 persons, give or take a few), appropriately spaced. In order to conform to this guideline, we must remain patient and attentive to one another’s needs. What this means is that we will have to be gracious in responding together on a given week if indoor attendance is too high to conform to the interim standard. We may need volunteers from the congregation to defer personal indoor attendance in join via live stream.
  • If you self-identify as someone who remains at higher-risk for COVID-19 (for existing health conditions, not yet being vaccinated, etc.), please also consider remaining in worship via live stream in order to safeguard your health for the time being.

As I indicated in my pre-service remarks last week, there is no perfect way right now to hold in balance the ongoing precautions that promote public safety and living up to all our personal needs and preferences. If you are like me, you might want nothing more than to pack the house, raise your voice loud and clear, hug your neighbor and abide in the physical presence of a growing community alive with Christ. We are much closer to that day than when we first began the pandemic journey over a year ago. We are in this together – and together we will see this through.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me or any on the Resumption Roundtable with questions or feedback.

With high hopes,

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