In light of the revised Alabama “Safer At Home” Order that took effect this week, the pastors and board of directors met to plan Spirit of the Cross’ return of some type of modified, social distanced, in-person worship gatherings.
The top priority in these times of the coronavirus is to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of the Spirit of the Cross congregation and to make those decisions to the best of our ability with the best information available. We analyzed data about Madison County’s COVID-19 infection rates as published by the City of Huntsville and the Alabama Department of Public Health. We reviewed recommendations from the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ and the Department of Public Health regarding the return to worship services. We also studied an academic article about how the COVID-19 virus is spread and what activities increase the risk of infections.
In consideration of all these factors, the pastors and board of directors do not believe it is wise, at this time, to set a definitive date regarding the return of in-person worship gatherings. Below are the reasons:
Madison County has performed the second highest number of tests in the state (second only to Mobile County) and has also done an outstanding job in keeping the number of infections relatively low. Both of these accomplishments are very commendable and very positive. The number of infections and infection rates are definitely on a downward trend, but only for one week. Based on the research listed above, we would like to see a total of at least three weeks of continued downward trends in infection cases in Madison County before setting a date for the resumption of modified, social-distanced, Sunday worship services.
In addition to our concern regarding downward trends in infections, Spirit of the Cross has another issue that factors into this decision. We currently do not have access to the city parking lot adjacent to the North Branch of the Huntsville Public Library. Based on information given to us this week, construction of the new city parking lot will not be complete and will not be available for use for at least four to six weeks. Our church-owned, smaller, gravel parking lot doesn’t have the capacity that we need for even modified, social-distanced worship services.
The pastors and board of directors will give an update at the end of the month that will hopefully include a definite date of return. Church leadership was hoping a date could be set now. We all want to return to church worship services as soon as possible. We miss being together in worship. But at this time, there are just too many unknown factors to make a responsible and prudent decision for a return date regarding in-person worship.
But we have some good news to share too. So far, our church has come through this pandemic as well as could have ever been expected. Thanks be to God. So far, no active member of our church has been infected with COVID-19. The church family has done a good job in keeping in contact with each other. Every need in our church family, that we know of, has been met. Feedback and participation in our internet worship services has been good. Church offerings sent through Paypal on the church’s website or mailed through U.S. Mail have been strong. Thank you! The Spirit of the Cross church family has again “circled the wagons”, supported one another, and has given testimony to the power of the love of Christ Jesus and the enablement of the Holy Spirit in our midst. God is good! Amen!
Before the end of the month, we expect to be able to announce the resumption of some smaller, in-person gathering opportunities (for example - Wednesday Night Bible Studies, Life Groups, etc.). We continue to pray and to discern ways to be the church in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Remember - we are people of the resurrection. Signs of hope are all around. Keep the faith. We will return. We will get through this.