COVID-19 Update, 2020

Update from Pastor Jim

Hillcrest Family,

Hillcrest Family,

In our sure and steady attempt to see our church return to more customary Sunday and Wednesday gatherings, several changes to our schedule are slated to occur beginning Sunday, August 16. While we are not completely “back to normal,” we want to make you aware of some measured additions to our gatherings at Hillcrest.

  • Adult Connect Groups will begin meeting again on our campuses Sunday, August 16, at the regularly scheduled times (8:15a, 9:30a, and 11:00a). Appropriate safety concerns will be addressed for each classroom, and we will continue encouraging appropriate social distancing. Because no pressure will be placed on Connect Group leaders to return before they’re personally ready, you should verify prior to August 16 that your group will actually be meeting on campus. You may contact your Connect Group leader directly, or Eric Mitchell in the church office.
  • Student Ministry, Kids’ Ministry, and Preschool Ministry will begin meeting again on our campuses Sunday, August 16, at the regularly scheduled times. Parents of students, kids, and preschoolers will receive information with specifics regarding Sunday and Wednesday re-gatherings for those areas. Please keep in mind that Preschool and Kids’ ministry services will be somewhat limited, depending upon the volunteer support we have each week. Classroom maximums will be established, and, in the interest of health and safety, may not be exceeded. Should you be told that one of these ministries has “reached its limit” for your child’s age group, you may feel free to bring your children to worship with you, as many have already been doing over the past many weeks. Please contact your ministry leader with any specific questions.
  • As a precaution, and because of the inability to properly social distance in children’s ministry settings, all preschool and kids’ ministry leaders and volunteers will wear masks during service hours. This will ensure consistency with the same requirement as our local schools, the MDO at Nine Mile, and the Hillcrest Day Care at Spanish Trail.
  • Because the Nine Mile campus will be returning to three Sunday Connect Group meeting times, our worship gathering times will revert to the normal and customary 9:30a and 11:00a services on August 16. For Sunday, August 2 and Sunday, August 9, worship times will occur as they have been at 8:30a and 11:00a at Nine Mile, and 9:30a at Spanish Trail. At Nine Mile, every other pew will continue to be cordoned off and unavailable for seating as a means of encouraging social distancing.
  • Other specifics regarding Sunday morning services are as follows:
    • There will continue to be no golf cart service on Sunday mornings in the immediate future at Nine Mile, and limited Next Steps Center personnel. Worship folders or other literature will not be personally handed to you by others.
    • There will continue to be no traditional altar call after the sermon, though pastors will be available for socially distant conversations after each service in the Worship Center Lobby.
    • Offering plates will not be passed through the congregation but will continue to be stationed on tables at the exit doors with ushers nearby. You can simply drop your physical offering into a plate as you leave, or utilize the drop box in the Worship Center Lobby.
    • All restrooms will be available for use, but water fountains will not be accessible. Bottled water will be available for purchase in the Coffee Shop.
  • Wednesday evening gatherings will commence at each campus on Wednesday, August 19. The following details should be noted concerning Wednesday mid-week gatherings:
    • Pastor’s Bible Study at Nine Mile will commence in the Northwest Hall at 6:30p. This will be a Bible study only, with no musical worship. The Bible study will also be live streamed on each of our three online platforms for those who cannot—or choose not to—come.
    • Preschool, Kids’, and Student Ministries will resume their normal and customary ministry times on August 19, with appropriate precautions.
    • Limited choir participation in worship is currently planned beginning August 16. Choir members will receive appropriate communication from the worship ministry leadership concerning specifics.
    • Growth Groups will commence on August 19.
    • Wednesday evening meals will commence on August 19, from 5:00p – 6:00p. There will be no food, salad, or dessert buffets; all meals will be prepared and served by the kitchen staff who will adhere to appropriate safety guidelines, including masks and gloves.
    • Midweek gatherings at Spanish Trail will also begin August 19, at the regularly scheduled times. Any specific changes to customary. Wednesday night activities will be communicated by the Spanish Trail pastoral team.
  • Limited recreation services (gym and weight room) will be offered beginning mid-August. Please contact Ken Parnell in the recreation ministry for specifics.
  • Deacons should continue to reach out to our in-hospital patients with a phone call instead of a personal visit through July. As you are made aware of particularly serious situations, please let your pastors know and we can arrange for a personal visit, as appropriate. As always, deacons should report the results of their visits through the normal email distribution.
  • Beach Baptism scheduled for Sunday, August 23, has been canceled. Baptisms will be celebrated during the morning worship services held that day. Please contact Rita Malone in the church office if you’re interested in being baptized.
  • Whether it be on Sundays or Wednesdays, we encourage you to use wisdom and balanced judgment when determining when or if you should congregate with others. If you’re not feeling well, running a fever, have a persistent cough or shortness of breath, or have been directly exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not come to church. Nor should you come if your health is compromised, or if you (or others living with you) are in a high-risk category when it comes to coronavirus. Live online broadcasts will continue both on Sundays and Wednesdays, so you may continue to access Hillcrest worship remotely. Masks are not currently mandatory at Hillcrest, but they are encouraged, so please feel free to wear a mask when you come to church. While a limited number of masks will be available at Hillcrest, you are encouraged to bring your own mask if possible. Likewise, there will be plenty of hand sanitizer for you to use as needed.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in our state and community and will be quick to adjust these guidelines if the need arises. Thank you for your continued faithfulness to our church, and for being so understanding as we attempt to navigate this unfamiliar and uncertain terrain. Be wise, stay healthy, and I hope to see you soon.

Pastor Jim
Due to Tropical Storm Zeta, Midweek Activities are Cancelled for Wednesday, October 28. Stay Safe!