A Letter From Pastor Bobby About Returning to In-Person Worship

Dear Church Family, 

We are thrilled to announce that we are planning a gradual regathering to in-person worship beginning September 20th. While our doors have been closed over the last several months, the church has been alive; flourishing, thriving, growing, and bearing fruit. Although we haven’t been gathering under one roof, we have been gathering in our homes under one name. We have been gathering every Sunday online under the name above all names! We hope you have enjoyed your experience worshipping online.

As we expectantly look toward the initial stages of regathering on September 20th, I want to share a little more about what to expect. Initially, we will launch with a courtyard and fellowship hall experience. In our testing over the last few weeks, we’ve been repeatedly amazed at what a great experience and blessing it is to enjoy the service outside. This fruitful experience is something we hope to continue to offer for a long time to come. Additionally, and for more capacity, the design of the fellowship hall allows us to open the walls on both sides of the building and create a good amount of airflow. Both of these experiences will include a live video feed of the service with superb sound quality. 

We will begin by offering both the courtyard and fellowship hall viewing experiences at 9 am every Sunday and will respond to demand by adding additional services as more people feel comfortable returning to church.  You can reserve a spot for you and your family beginning every Monday at 9 am by visiting sgp.church/rsvp, or by calling the church office at 714-971-4001. These reservations will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis and can only be made for the upcoming Sunday. No multi-week reservations will be accepted to allow everyone an opportunity to secure a spot. While we’ve struggled with the notion of having to reserve a spot for church, we feel this is the safest for everyone as we begin our initial stages of regathering.

We ask that you please arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before the service begins. Masks are required, but if you don’t have one, we will provide you with one. You may wear a face shield at your discretion, but a face mask will still be required in addition. We know this will be a big change for some of you as you’ve spent years enjoying community time before church starts or arriving early to get a preferred seat. However, due to the safety and cleaning protocols we have put in place, which required the spaces to be empty, you will not be allowed into the courtyard or fellowship hall until 30 minutes prior to each service. In addition to cleaning the viewing areas, the cleaning crew will be disinfecting all touch surfaces and will be spraying a neutral disinfectant cleaner over the entire facility, and all bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected routinely throughout the morning. The products we use are certified by the EPA and meet eligibility criteria for use against COVID-19. 

We have been carefully and diligently preparing for your return these past few months. We installed a state-of-the-art Air Purification System in the sanctuary, and are pleased to be able to increase our filtration and provide UV sanitation of the inside air. Not only will this system prove beneficial as COVID-19 continues to prevail, but we are confident that it will also work to provide cleaner air for the congregation long into the future.

We ask that everyone takes the important step of prescreening at home before leaving for church. Please see the attached CDC handout regarding symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or feel like you may have been exposed, we ask that you please stay home for everyone’s safety and consult with a medical professional moving forward. 

When you arrive at SHEPHERD’SGROVE, you will be met at either side of the courtyard by a group of trained volunteers to perform an initial screening including a temperature check. These volunteers will ask if you’ve felt any sort of illness, fever, or have been exposed to anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in the last week, and take a non-contact temperature reading on your forehead. Once you have been cleared you will enter the courtyard where you can enjoy pre-packaged pastries, and be served coffee or water. We also ask that you do not move any furniture or seating arrangements as they have been placed with social distancing in mind. If there is a need for something to be moved, please notify a staff member.

If for some reason your temperature reads above normal, we will have a shaded spot where you can sit, relax, and have a drink of water for a moment. Once you’ve had an opportunity to relax and cool down, our volunteers will take your temperature again and move forward from there.

If you have reserved an inside venue seat, you will be required to wear a mask for the entirety of the service during our initial stages of regathering. Please under no circumstances take it off while you are inside the building. If you have reserved an outside venue seat, once you are seated you are free to take your mask off and enjoy your coffee and pastry while seated. Please be mindful of those around you and realize that not everyone may feel as comfortable as you about masks being off. Whenever you are moving or standing, please put your mask back on.

We know that music is a huge part of the SHEPHERD’SGROVE experience. With our phenomenal choir and musical guests, we know that singing is a value to many members. During our initial regathering we will continue to have a virtual choir until it is deemed safe to sing indoors for both the choir and the congregation. We ask that you do not sing along at the inside venues. If you find yourself unable to hold back singing along with our wonderful choir, make sure you reserve a seat at an outside venue.

At this time, we don’t anticipate having the sanctuary open for September 20th, however, we are constantly monitoring statewide mandates and health data and are prepared to readjust our service times and locations as quickly as possible. We look forward to worshipping together again soon, we’ve missed all of you so much!

The most up to date information will be made available on our website, social media platforms, and eNews email blasts. If you would like to talk to someone directly, please feel free to call (714) 971-4001.

God loves you and so do I,

Bobby Schuller