Dear Regional Pastor & Leadership Team,
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36
Again, my thanks to all of you for your continued faithful service to God and to your church families as you move through this time of “disruption and opportunity.” Last week, in discussing the “when will it be OK to open for group services again” question stirred by the announcement that Ohio would be moving toward a “reopening plan” beginning May 1st, I shared three recommendations:
1) That any plan for reopening public services be in recognition of and compliance with the guidelines of Ohio government health officials.
2) That church leaders make a plan for how they would shield “high risk” groups in their congregation from infection when gatherings resume.
3) That church leaders keep developing and providing an online presence and decentralized connecting and relationship options should we need to continue to use alternatives to large group gatherings.
After hearing the first elements of Governor DeWine’s much anticipated “reopening Ohio” plan yesterday, I have the sense that we are still some time away from “pre-virus” style worship gatherings. Here is a quick summary of his announcements (from WHIO Dayton TV/Radio Website):
On May 1, all health procedures that can be done that do not require an overnight stay in a hospital can resume. Dentist and Veterinarians can resume normal operations.
On May 4, manufacturing, distribution, general offices and construction will be permitted to reopen. Six feet must be between each employee. If that can’t be accomplished, install barriers.
On May 12, consumer retail and services will be allowed to reopen. All employees and customers should wear face coverings while in the businesses. This will include every retail outlet.
The stay-at-home order and mass gathering ban of more than 10 people will remain in place.
From those guidelines, it appears the Ohio reopening process will be gradual, with strong emphasis on social distancing, strict health safety rules (I read later in the WHIO article that face masks were understood be mandatory for both employees and customers of stores beginning May 12th), and continued gathering size limits for the time being. As we pray for God to intervene to end this virus threat and speed up the “normalizing” process, the first revelation of the aspects of the Ohio plan seem to indicate that it will still be some time before larger group gatherings are “OK’d.” In the meantime, let’s keep praying for one another for God’s guidance toward creative relational connection and mutual service in this virtual digital environment in which we find ourselves.
May each of us see evidence of God’s provision, power, and impact in our local ministry contexts. Keep communication lines open and let us know how we might assist. I look forward to sharing and praying with all of you pastors who are able to join us for tomorrow’s 10 AM ZOOM connection call.
Jeff Kephart, MCECR Director