Psalm 87:2, “The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.”
Our region of Ontario has entered stage 3 reopening. Notably since stage 2, our church has been able to resume meeting together (https://files.ontario.ca/mof-framework-reopening-province-stage-2-en-2020-06-08.pdf).
Truly this development is God’s kindness to us. Corporate worship is a great gift. Even more, it is a matter of necessity for our development in Christ (Hebrews 10:25). For in corporate worship we hear the Word of God preached, we offer up our prayers together, we find the nourishment of the gospel in the ordinances, and ample encouragement in the fellowship of the saints.
While suspending the normal activities of the church under the government’s directive was logistically quite easy, resuming ministry takes both foresight and wisdom. You likely have many questions about what church will look like and feel like in the coming weeks and months. The aim of this document is an attempt to flush out many of the details regarding corporate worship and how it will be conducted.
Get Your Seat
In order to ensure appropriate social distancing and hygienic practices each household (those whom you live with) will need to preregister for corporate worship. Please email the church office or phone us at 807-622-3739 to book a seat at one of our three services.
A Word of Encouragement and Guidance
As we gather again for corporate worship I want to set before you two principles to consider.
First, the proper worship of God is a risky endeavor and has always been so. Think of Abel, little did he know that pleasing God would mean the shedding of his own blood. Or consider the Israelites who returned from exile who devoted themselves to rebuilding the city of praise. In one hand they held a trowel and in the other hand a sword. A more recent example is found in the book of Acts. Peter and John were commanded by the governing authorities to desist from proclaiming Christ, but both men persisted incurring abuse and persecution.
God has made the worship of his name a risky endeavor. He planned it that way. You find risk in the Old Testament. You find risk in the New Testament. You find risk throughout the course of church history. And we find risk before us as we begin gathering together again. I urge you to consider that this situation we find ourselves in is not abnormal or strange, but perfectly normal for the people of God. In fact it is quite possible that our God is using this pandemic to prepare us for more risk taking in the face of suffering. And so Paul’s words ring in our ears, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3).
Our first principle must always be wed to a second. The proper worship of God is constrained by a heart of love. As God’s people we are not to be thrill seeking adrenaline junkies. We do not risk for the sake of risk, we risk in the cause of love.
Our Lord aptly summarized the Old Testament law with two commands: love your God and love your neighbor. Building off of Jesus we must consider that worship is first and foremost about our great God. How we conduct worship and the physical safeguards we put in place must show the great worth of his name. The preeminence of the first commandment, however, does not exclude love for our neighbor, rather it establishes it. In love we work hard to ensure our worship is edifying to one and all. Even more, in love we take practical and concrete steps to ensure the well being of our neighbors.
This principle of love gets practical for us as God’s people. Perhaps some of what you will find below will rub you the wrong way. Perhaps in this new phase of life together you will be tempted with irritation or anger for one reason or another. I call you to love. Paul reminds us, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
So, brothers and sisters, for the sake of the gospel and its flourishing in Thunder Bay let’s risk and love well. Jesus is worth it.
FAQ about Corporate Worship at FWBC
What you will find below is a list of FAQ that will guide you through the reopening process for FWBC.
Should I attend corporate worship physically?
Yes. An essential component to corporate worship is the physical gathering of God’s people. The New Testament urges us again and again to gather together. However, in our present circumstances there are legitimate reasons to abstain for a brief time.
DO NOT attend corporate worship if you or anyone in your household is/are presenting any symptoms of Covid-19 (fever, cough, fatigue, etc…).
Those who are considered high risk should consider abstaining for the present. A livestream will be made available for these folks.
If you are not sure whether you should attend or abstain feel free to reach out to myself and or to any of the elders. We will gladly advise you in the decision making process.
How should I prepare for corporate worship?
Carry on with your normal hygiene (hand washing and all). Please mind the time. Plan on arriving 10 minutes early so that you can sanitize and find your seat. An accessible washroom will be available on the main floor.
Prior to the weekend, you will receive a roster via email confirming your appointed service.
When you arrive enter through the front (the blue double doors) or the elevator if applicable. For the present time we are restricting access only to the main floor of the church building.
Please wear a mask. They are now mandatory in public places. If you do not have a mask there will be masks available for your use at the front door. A greeter will offer you a mask if you do not have one.
At the front door you will meet a masked cheerful greeter armed with hand sanitizer.
After sanitization make your way to the sanctuary. This is where you will notice the most significant changes. There will be no bulletins. Also, the sanctuary will look vastly different. To maintain social distancing requirements we will be operating at 30% capacity. Household units (those whom you live with) will be spaced 2 meters from all other household units. Find a grouping of chairs that will best fit the size of your household.
Please no back row baptists. To the best of your ability fill the seats toward the stage first. Once those seats are taken, then fill in behind.
What should I do with my children?
There will be no childcare, nursery, or Sunday school for the time being. Children of all ages are most definitely welcome and encouraged to attend corporate worship. We will have a service that is shorter in length and more accommodating to the whole family. Noises and disruptions are expected as we teach our children to incorporate into a worship service.
What can I expect the service to be like?
All of the essential elements will be present (singing, praying, preaching). However, you will notice a few changes. The offering plate will not be passed. For those who prefer to give via cheque or cash, a box will be set out at the back exit of the sanctuary. Online giving will remain an option as well.
Fellowship will be restricted as well in the church building. Please refrain from handshaking, hugs, and physical contact with other congregants. Do your best to keep a 2 meter separation from others. There will be no coffee or food served.
What should I do when the service is over?
At the end of the service those sitting in the rear of the sanctuary will be instructed to leave the building first. Those sitting at the front of the sanctuary will leave the building last. This orderly process will both alleviate congestion in the foyer and allow proper time for the cleaning of the sanctuary for the next service. Please exit through the front entrance (the blue double doors) or the elevator if applicable.
What else do I need to know?
For those unable to attend physically a livestream will be made available.
Please continue to invite friends, neighbors, and family members to church. Visitors are welcome! Simply have visitors pre-register for corporate worship by phoning (807 622-3739) or by emailing the church office.