Facial Covering Guidelines (June 25th update)
In recent days, Texas and our area has experienced a significant spike in the percentage of COVID-19 tests that have been positive. This has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19. This has led our Tarrant County officials to implement new requirements for face coverings (masks) for all businesses and large outdoor gatherings.
Churches have been exempted from these rules based on the First Amendment principle of the separation of church and state. However, we have been asked to consider these guidelines. With that in mind, I have adjusted our guidelines for our in-person worship services beginning this Sunday morning, June 28. Please understand this decision is not based on fear knee-jerk reaction. As your pastor, I have prayerful considered our course of action and spent hours looking at the best scientific evidence I can find.
9am Service – All attendees will be STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to wear a face covering upon entering the building. Those who are leading worship from the stage will be exempt. I will ask that once the worship leader comes down off the platform area, they utilize their face covering.
10:45am Service – All attendees will be REQUIRED to wear a face covering upon entering the building.Those who are leading worship from the stage will be exempt. I will ask that once the worship leader comes down off the platform area, they utilize their face covering.
There is a reason for my choice to allow exceptions in the 9am service. First, our number of attendees in the earlier service has us well under 20% capacity allowing or a significant amount of distance between worshippers and lower probability of community transmission. In the second service, we have been approaching 100 in attendance. Though that has us at about 33% capacity and well under health department guidelines for meeting, that number presents significantly more chances of community transmission. Second, there a few people who cannot wear a face covering for health reasons who I believe can be accommodated in our in-person worship service with this policy. I simply encourage you to prayerfully consider which service may be best for you and your family.
We have a couple boxes of disposable surgical type masks that are available for those who do not have their own. These will be available near the entrance to the building. If you have a cough, fever, or have been exposed to someone with the virus in the past 2 weeks, we asked that you refrain from attending in person and join us through our live streaming worship of the 10:45 service.
May the Lord keep us all safe and carry us through these trying times.
Br. Dennis Hester
Two Service Format to Continue through July
It has been a joy to worship together the past 5 weeks following the extended shutdown. As we have continued live streaming our services, we have continued to see good participation online. We have backed off of much of our online content as many of us have become fatigued from the extended use of technology. As we approach the third week of June, we feel it necessary to make a decision on what our church services will look like in July.
In short, we have decided to continue our current schedule for the month of July. The uptick in COVID-19 cases in the previous couple weeks causes us to hesitate a return to “normal” at this time. We feel it is necessary to provide the early service for those who wish to have a live worship experience with an opportunity for less contact. This also means we will not try to relaunch our Growth Groups just yet.
In the 9am service, we are only having 10-15% of the capacity of the room in attendance. The 10:45am service is close to 25-30% so there is still room for more people without feeling crowded.
The end of June through July is also filled with a very heavy schedule of camps and staff vacation. Many things have been compressed into a smaller summer “window” because of the virus and precautions associated with it. Pray for your church staff, deacon, and other leaders during this time of extended trials.
Two Service Format through June
The question on many of our minds is “when we be able to go back to normal?” And maybe even, what will “normal” look like in the coming months?
The truth is no one knows the answer to that question except the Lord. Just as James reminds us in James 4:14-15, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’.”
With this in mind, the staff at FBC Watauga has made the decision to continue our present worship service schedule through the month of June. We will have a 9am service and a 10:45am service. The second service will also be live-streamed.
This decision will help all of us know what to expect and be able to effectively plan. As long as we have this structure, we will NOT be able to restart Growth Groups on Sunday Morning at our traditional time regardless of what the government leaders decide to do.
We are continuing to seek the Lord’s leadership for how to encourage our growth groups to stay connected. We will provide more information on this in the coming weeks.
See the post below for guidelines. The only change at this time is we are open to 50% seating capacity instead of just 25%.
ReGathering Worship Procedures - May 2020
Sunday, May 17th-31st, we will resume Sunday morning in-person gatherings with some limitations and restrictions. During this time, we will continue to evaluate how we move forward through the Summer.
2 Worship Services
- Early service- 9:00am - 10:10am for the at-risk population.
- Late Service- 10:50am - Noon for young families and lower-risk population.
- Childcare will be provided for the late service only. Additional precautions will be published for our preschool procedures.
- Some will be serving at one service and worshipping at the other. If you are only attending the service, we ask that you not stay too long after the first service so that we can clear the building and the parking lot.
- Every other row will remain empty and will be marked for no seating.
- Family units are to sit together
- Leave gaps of at least 6 feet between each family unit.
- Between services, the seat markings will be moved so the rows not used in the first service will be used in the second. (Rows 1, 3, 5, etc. will be used in the first service and rows 2, 4, 6, ect. in the second service).
Parking & Entry
- Please park on the EAST side of the building. Other areas will be partially blocked as a reminder.
- Enter through the EAST doors into the service area hallway. This is by the prayer garden and big tree. All other entrances will be locked.
- Greeters will be there to man the doors so no one else will touch the doors entering or exiting the building.
- Those feeling ill should remain home, regardless of service time.
- Live online services will continue. Anyone who is ill or simply does not feel comfortable returning to in-person worship due to COVID-19 is encouraged to remain at home and join us in worship at 10:45am.
- Social distancing will be practiced. No handshakes or hugs.
- Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance of the auditorium and the rear of the auditorium.
- We are not requiring our folks to wear masks at this time, but we will be providing a limited number of masks at the door for those who wish to wear one.
- At this time, we will not resume in-person growth groups. We encourage you to still engage with your growth groups through zoom and through our weekly growth group video.
Post COVID Preschool Policies
- Upon check in, take each child’s temperature with the touchless thermometer.
- Any temperature 100 degrees and above will not be allowed into the nursery.
- If your child has a cough, trouble breathing or is recovering from illness, please keep with parent or stay home.
- If you child has run a fever (100.4+) in the last 24 hours they will not be permitted to the nursery.
- There will be hand sanitizer provided at the check in desk. Children and Parent will be asked to use before entering the nursery, but this will not be forced.
- Hand sanitizer will be put in each classroom for leaders and children.
- (Baby/Toddlers) Sippy Cups used by children will be washed then sanitized.
- Older children will use disposable cups if they need a drink.No snacks will be provided by the church at this time. If your child needs a snack, please send them with one.
- Any snacks from home may not be shared with other children.
- Toys will be wiped down or sprayed with Lysol.
- Toys put in mouths will be washed then sanitized.
- Door handles, tables, and play surfaces will be wiped down after all children leave.
- Leaders will wash/sanitize hands before & after changing diapers.
- Leaders will wear gloves when changing diapers.
- Dirty diapers will be placed in a diaper sack or grocery bag, tied, and placed in trash receptacle.
- Changing pads will be wiped down between uses.
Restarting Worship Gatherings - May 17th
We have set Sunday Morning, May 17th, as the target date to begin corporate worship services. We will keep the safety of all in mind and follow the guidance of our local officials. Things will look different as we begin coming back together for worship. The first two phases of our Sanctuary Facelift will be complete by then so that will be an exciting time to return.
We will begin with two identical services – 9:00am and 10:50an. Both will have live worship and preaching in the sanctuary. We will continue to live-stream the 10:50 service for those who cannot attend or may feel it is not time for them to come back yet. More specific guidelines for our in-person gatherings will be made available as we get closer to May 17th.
9am Service - We will encourage all members who are considered “high-risk” because of age or health issues to attend the 9:00 am service. This will help to limit their exposure.
10:50am service – This service will be for younger families and the lower risk population. Childcare will be provided at this service for preschoolers 4 years old and below.
These are guidelines to help minimize risks – especially for those in the higher risk categories. No one will be turned away from either service because of age. If you have a blended family of young and old (such as grandparents bringing grandkids), we ask you to use your best judgement.
At this time, we will not resume in-person growth groups. We will continue to encourage online groups. Sandra Roberts, our leader, will continue to provide the excellent recorded resource for our study of each weekly lesson. To accommodate our early Sunday start, this lesson will be made public on Saturday night.
Our offices will be open to our church family with limited hours beginning May 11th. Office hours will be Monday and Thursday from 8:30-4:30. The office will remain closed the rest of the week and many of the staff will continue to work remotely on those days.
The Student Ministry (7-12 grade) will resume Wednesday evening gatherings on May 20th. This group will also implement social distancing practices. Recorded services will continue to be made available online, post service, for those who are not with us in person.
AWANA will not resume until the FALL school year.
All committees will continue to conduct business through electronic communication.
Our intention is to follow this plan through the month of May. We will continue to evaluate the circumstances as we move through the month and will keep you updated through email, Facebook, the website, and personal phone calls where needed. I greatly appreciate your patience and support through this challenging season as we serve the Lord together.
I recognize these are still not the ideal conditions. A great value to our FBCW family is the wonderful diversity of young and old members who come together in unison for worship and study. My prayer is that we can return to normal soon. Until then, we will continue to praise our Lord for every blessing every day.
Until He Returns,
Br. Dennis Hester
Staying Connected in Lockdown - April 1st
This is a challenging time for all of us that requires some patience and innovation. Much of our church family interaction has been moved to some form of electronic communication by the “stay at home” orders by our local officials. Some have been asking our treasurer how they can give their tithes and offerings.
HOW TO GIVE
1) Online – The easiest and most secure way to give it through the new online giving platform. Find it here: https://fbcwatauga.org/give
2) Mail – You can mail your offer to 6124 Plum St, Watauga, TX 76148.
3) Drop Off – You can drive through the awning by the offices and place your envelope in the mailbox on MONDAY morning. Our Treasurer has asked that you do this right at 9:30am on Monday morning. It will be collected by our counters and added to Sunday’s offering totals.
HOW TO STAY CONNECTED
1) Scan our website. https://fbcwatauga.org Our new website format allows us to keep it up to date much easier.
2) Follow First Baptist Watauga on Facebook. If you “like” the church’s Facebook page you get automatic updates. https://www.facebook.com/fbcwatauga/?ref=bookmarks
3) YouTube - Find all of our recent messages, Bible studies, and podcasts on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/FBCWatauga If you subscribe to the channel, you’ll get updates when a new message is posted.
4) Check your email. Almost all of our communication is also sent to our church members who are signed up on our “News Email” list.
CHURCH-WIDE SCHEDULE (through April)
Monday Evening Prayer Meeting via Zoom at 7pm. I’ll send out instructions each Monday around noon.
Tuesday Morning devotional on Facebook Live around 9am led from Br. Dennis.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study at 7pm – This will stream on https://fbcwatauga.org/study, Facebook, and YouTube.
Thursday Morning devotional on Facebook Live around 9am led from Br. Dennis.
Sunday Growth Group – Our Growth Group leader will publish a lesson at 9am each Sunday Morning.
Worship – Livestream worship with Mathew and our praise band and preaching from Br. Dennis or Kevin Skinner.
Our Children Ministry, Student Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, and Men’s ministry are also publishing material that they will communicate to their members.
We are planning a special Good Friday service that will be led by Mathew and Brother Dennis. Stay tuned in for more information on that!
God bless you and stay safe!
Until He Returns,
Br. Dennis Hester
COVID Update #9 - Sunday, March 22nd
New guidance and restrictions have been put in place in Tarrant County since my last COVID-19 update. Because of the precautions we were already taking, little will change for us.
The office was already closed to the public. With the new limited travel recommendations, I have instructed Julie to stay at home until further notice. I have also recommended that our staff continue to work from home as much as possible. We will be allowed to utilize the church for preparing for and producing online content for our church family.
Our church Treasurer and Assistant treasurer will collect and account for all offerings both online and those delivered to the church. They will continue to provide a statement of offerings and the weekly summary early in the week for accountability purposes. A staff member will collect the mail each day to help us keep up with mailed offerings and bills.
Some are certainly concerned about our finances. We were slightly ahead when this crisis hit us. I encourage you to continue to pray for and support the finances of the church. I want you to know that in consultation with our financial leaders we will continue to pay our ministerial staff and administrative assistant at our budgeted rate as long as possible. We have cancelled our cleaning service for now and are looking for ways to cut other costs. I understand that some of you may be facing reduced hours or job loss. I will be praying for each of you.
Our staff and deacon body will continue to stay connected to our church family as much as is possible through electronic communication. Our staff will continue to produce online content that will be published on our Facebook pages, YouTube channel, and website.
I am grateful and privileged to serve as your pastor through this challenge. Please reach out with any specific need you have through email or our website. I plan to take tomorrow off and rest. Pray that Lord continue to lead and guide me as your shepherd.
For HIS Church,
Br. Dennis Hester
COVID Update #8 – Thursday, March 19th
We will NOT have Growth Groups or our regular public Worship Service at our facility for the next two Sundays (March 22nd March 29th). We will provide a LIVE worship service for you and your family to tune into on our website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Vimeo channel. Sandra Roberts is recording Growth Group lessons that we will publish Sunday morning as well.
Our worship service will feature our live praise and worship team and a message from Brother Dennis. The service will be structured much like every other week.
Additionally, all other events and services including Wednesday night activities have been cancelled through April 3rd. Only necessary meetings for the ongoing business of the church such as the counting team and worship practices will be held at our facility. These decisions have been made to stay in compliance with the orders provided by Governor Abbott and our state health commission.
Your pastoral staff and deacon body will remain available to serve you as best as we can. Hospital and nursing home visits have been limited or eliminated by the health guidelines. However, we will seek try to stay connected and minister to our church family in every possible way.
Our team has done a superb job providing online content for every level of our church. I enjoyed adding the Wednesday night Bible study yesterday and will continue this venue through this crisis. I’d remind you that we don’t GO TO church, WE ARE THE CHURCH.
If you are having difficulty connecting to the Bible studies or worship services online, please let us know. I understand that technology can be frustrating. There are MANY ways to do this. In just a couple minutes today, I was able to show one of our families how they can watch the service and Bible studies on their living room TV! If you are struggling, let us know. We are investing a lot of time into providing these alternative lessons and services and we want you to be able to enjoy them.
I have asked the deacons to contact by phone any of our members who may not be getting this information electronically. If YOU are aware of someone who may not get these emails, please keep them informed. If you have a neighbor or church friend who is not able to watch the service online, I’d encourage you to invite them into your home to watch it with you.
May the Lord bless us and send a spiritual awakening to our nation through this crisis.
In Christ’s Service,
COVID Update #7 – Tuesday, March 17th
FBCW has postponed our upcoming Safety and Security meeting that was scheduled for this coming Saturday. We have also put all plans for outreach into our community until this crisis passes. We continue to work through the recommendations of our local and state health officials, we believe these measures are prudent.
Please stay tuned for future updates. Presently, we plan to have worship service as regularly scheduled on Sunday Morning. In this rapidly changing environment, there are no guarantees.
We will certainly live stream our service and have added a mid-week Bible study that will be live tomorrow at 7pm (Wednesday).
Stay safe and pray for God’s provision and protection.
In His Service,
Update #6, March 16th - Office Closing
Our local and state health officials have asked that those who can, plan to work from home during this COVID-19 outbreak. With this in mind, we will be closing the church offices to the public for the next 2 weeks as of noon today.
Your ministry team and deacons will be available for any of your needs. With our cellphones and social media, we will be readily available. You can contact us by text, email, messenger, or through the contact link on the website. Your staff will not be taking this time off! We will be in and out of our offices and working from home. If you need to meet with us, you can make an appointment and we will be more than happy to meet with you face to face.
Some small groups will continue to meet as needed. Your leader will let you know. These include such groups as the counting team, worship teams, and etc.
We also plan to continue our Sunday Morning Worship time and Growth Groups unless we receive different guidance from our health officials. Mathew will be installing updated equipment this week to facilitate a more professional and stable live stream experience.
Please continue to pray for your staff during this challenging time as we seek to fulfill the mission of the church. Please also consider continuing your tithe and offerings as we seek to move forward. If the live stream is helpful to you, you might consider a special donation to help cover the costs of the new equipment. You can give through this link: www.fbcwatauga.org/give
In HIS Service,
Update #5, March 15th - CHILDCARE NEED
What a wonderful morning of worship in the midst of an incredible fear-filled week. I am grateful for a staff and church family who has come together in this difficult time. I pray the Holy Spirit ministered to all those who attended by live-stream this morning as He did for those of us in the building
We have identified an important ministry need.
Our kids will be required to stay home from school for the next couple weeks. Some of these younger kids have parents that will be required to work and they don’t know how they will manage their kids childcare. We also have some mature high school kids, college students, and teachers who are also stuck at home. We would like to connect those in need with those who can help.
We can do this through our church website. I have set up a webpage titled “Kids Connection.” Whether you would like to serve by providing care or you need help with your kiddo, you can fill out the form on this web page and we will immediately get to work connecting you.
Certainly, we will be working with trusted families who have already passed our child safety guidelines. More than likely you’ll simply be working together with families you already know.
For those who wish to help, be aware that these kids may need some assistance with homework assignments when their schools begin to provide distance learning curriculum. This will likely look very different from one district to the next.
I’m confident that our church family will come together to help one another in these crazy times.
Sign up to help or sign up for childcare assistance through this link. https://www.fbcwatauga.org/kids-connection
Br. Dennis Hester
Update #4, March 14th @ 9:45 pm
Our services will be live tomorrow at 10:45am. We tested our live feed tonight with a 20 minute Coronavirus update. It went pretty well with only a minor hiccup. If you are unable to join us in person tomorrow, you can enjoy the full worship time and message live on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/FBCWatauga
By next Sunday, we will have installed better and more updated equipment for this purpose. By then, we will plan to stream on multiple platforms (including our website and Facebook).
If you weren’t able to watch the video earlier, let me give a couple key highlights.
1) We don't live in fear, because we can trust God to lead us.
2) We will replace the welcome/greeting time with a time of prayer.
3) We encourage you to stay home if you are ill, have been exposed to recent illness, or are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections.
4) AWANA will continue to follow the Birdville ISD school schedule. When school is out, AWANA does not meet.
5) We have cancelled ALL midweek meetings for this coming week. So our YOUTH group will NOT meet this coming Wednesday.
6) We will continue to assess the situation and update the church through Facebook, emails, and our website.
If you have any question, feel free to contact your deacon, staff, or the church office.
I hope you join us in worship tomorrow, either in person or through our live stream.
God bless you and stay safe!
Update #3, Announcement, March 14th @ 5:30 pm
Tonight at 8pm, LIVE from FBC Watauga, Pastors Kevin Skinner and Dennis Hester will give an update concerning our church’s plans for the coming week. We will share an encouraging passage of Scripture and pray for our community and our nation.
We have two purposes for this broadcast. We hope to encourage and inform you during this crazy time. We also want to test our live-streaming feed before our morning worship service tomorrow.
Please join us at 8pm fbcwatauga.org/live or https://www.youtube.com/user/FBCWatauga
Update #2, March 13th @ 7:00 pm
In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen many changes within our community. Both Tarrant and Dallas County officials have asked for any gatherings of more than 500 people to be cancelled or postponed. The schools in our area have extended Spring Breaks and many are preparing to finish the year utilizing technology.
At First Baptist Watauga, we continue to pray for our community and our nation. We will continue to evaluate and adjust to the threat (not the scare) as we are directed by the health experts in our community. We have decided to continue with our Sunday Service this week for a couple of reasons.
1) Our attendance numbers fall well below the threshold established by the health experts for large gatherings.
2) The number of COVID-19 cases in Tarrant county continue to be VERY LOW. (3 cases out of over 2,000,000 people).
3) There are no known cases among any of our church family or extended families.
As I mentioned in my communication yesterday, we are making preparations to live stream our service. Mathew and his team have spent several hours today working on this for our church family. We are also grateful to Cross City Church in Euless who has loaned us a key piece of equipment so we can begin streaming this week. This week may be a little rough, but by next week we will have all new equipment in order to provide a better live streaming experience. Tomorrow, I will send out instructions for those who wish to utilize this service.
Let me leave you with a few important thoughts.
1) As followers of Christ, we live by faith and not fear. I encourage you to spend extra time in God’s word and in prayer through this challenging time.
2) If you are sick, please stay home and worship with us by connecting online.
3) If you have had any exposure to the virus, please let us know so we can take the necessary steps for our church family.
4) We have already taken extra measures to sanitize our preschool and nursery area. Though the statistics show that our children are the least vulnerable to this disease, we want to assure you that we are taking steps to care for our most precious family members.
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
We will continue to keep you updated in the coming days. Your pastors and deacons are here to serve you and pray for you. Please let us know if you need help. Please lift up your staff as we seek to serve you and the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus in these days.
In HIS Service,
Update #1, Pastor's Letter from March 12th @ 5:00 pm
OUR PASTOR'S RESPONSE TO THIS WEEK'S COVID-19 NEWS
Let us be thankful, even in these challenging times. We live in a world that is easily shaken, but we are a part of an unshakeable Kingdom. This week, fear of COVID-19, the corona virus, has swept across our nation. Though we should take certain precautions to protect the most vulnerable among us, I do not believe this is a time to panic. In His sovereignty, the Lord has planned for us to study this encouraging text this Sunday.
“You have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm. . . . Instead you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. . . . Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful.” – Hebrews 12:18, 22-24, 28.
We have no plans to cancel our Sunday worship or Growth Groups. However, we will be making a few adjustments to take the necessary precautions for the safety of our church family. We will also make some changes to help you stay connected in the coming weeks as the threat of this virus passes over our community.
1) We will suspend our Welcome time in our worship service and replace it with a time dedicated to prayer for our community, nation, and world.
2) We will begin live-streaming our services this week with the equipment that we have on-hand.
3) We are investing in new technology that should be installed next week to significantly upgrade our live-streaming capabilities. This will provide a higher quality remote viewing experience. It will be an asset to the church during this difficult time and will also be useful in the years ahead.
We will continue to emphasize some practices that we have already put in place.
1) By not passing a plate for our Sunday offerings, we do not have to worry about the transmission of the virus in that form. We will continue to emphasize our new and helpful online giving platform.
2) We will continue to provide hand sanitizer in the auditorium and the nursery entrance.
3) Our twice weekly cleaning services are provided by an outside agency. Any time we have an infection concern, we take extra steps to clean and sanitize, especially in the nursery and preschool area.
How you can help:
If you are ill or show any symptoms, please stay home. We hope that you will stay connected through the new live streaming opportunities. Our church is also active on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with a communicable disease, please contact your deacon or the church office to let us know. Your privacy is crucial, but we also desire to take the necessary precautions for the rest of the church family.
If you cannot attend physically, please continue to support your church and staff through prayer. If the new online streaming is beneficial to you, you may consider an extra donation to help cover the cost of this expense.
If you have a specific prayer request, you can communicate that to the staff on our website.
In Christ’s Service,