UPDATED AUGUST 12, 2020

Church Family,

      I hope this finds you well in the care of our Lord.  It has come to my attention that some of our folks are concerned about our church’s response to the Coronavirus.  I would like to take just a few moments and share my heart with you, as well as briefly summarize our current procedures in the hopes of clarifying how seriously we are taking this pandemic.

    In many of our communications, you will notice that I have addressed the subject of fear.  Some may have felt that I implied that if people were not worshipping with us physically, that they were living in a spirit of fear, and therefore in sin.  I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth.  Though this virus has been highly politicized and emphasized by mainstream media, I do believe that it is a legitimate health concern for our congregation.  Many in our church have been joining us for worship online, and that is exactly what I believe biblical wisdom would dictate.  There is no shame in attending online, and whether you attend virtually or physically has no bearing on your obedience to Christ.  For those with underlying health conditions, those who are older, or those who may have older folks living in their home, right now worshipping with Mt. Olive online is the best choice.  Let me be clear.  We want all of our members to return to worship with us physically, but as I have stated from the beginning of this situation, we only want you back when you feel comfortable.  Your church misses you, and we are praying for each other and for the strength to face whatever will be our new normal.  My only reason for addressing fear is that I believe that even in the face of uncertain circumstances, we as believers should remain confident in Christ.  I do not know what tomorrow may bring, but I know the One who holds all the tomorrows in the palm of His hand.

    Speaking of normal, let me remind you all of the precautions we have been taking at the church building since the start of this pandemic, and inform you of some new ones.  

  • I am asking that all members of Mt. Olive do wear a mask during our service.  If you forget and leave yours in the car or at home, we will happily provide you with one.  We are not requiring them, and we will not ask people to leave if they feel uncomfortable in a mask.  
  • You will notice that every other pew has been marked with a large yellow X sign.  Please do not sit in these rows as they allow for appropriate distancing.

    

  • Jeff Kirk, our Deacon Chairman, along with some additional deacons, will once again seat you and do their best to create physical distance in our worship service.
  • We have increased our sanitization of all common touchpoint in the church.  We have purchased additional cleaning equipment (a Clorox 360 Electrostatic Mist Machine), as well as hiring an additional custodian to provide you with a worship space that is as clean and safe as we make it.  We have removed all hymnals, worship Bibles, worship guides, and envelopes.
  • We believe the financial stewardship is an important part of worship.  In order to keep you safe, we have offered touch-less giving stations, as well as text and online giving. We deeply appreciate your faithful support of our church during this time.
  • At different strategic locations throughout our church, you will find hand sanitizing stations.  Please feel free to use them, and please continue to practice good hand hygiene by the washing of hands.
  • All childcare workers have been asked to wear a mask, and anyone entering the children’s building including parents, workers, siblings, and staff will have their temperature taken with a touch-less thermometer.  Anyone with a fever of 100.4 or higher will be asked to worship with us via our livestream.

    As many of you aware, we have had a few members test positive for this virus.  The church staff legally cannot report the names of those infected out of a concern for their personal and medical privacy.  We will do our due diligence if someone needs to be notified through contact tracing.  We appreciate your concern for the body of Christ, and would encourage all of us to pray for all of those who are sick.

    Yes, we are living in strange times where this pandemic has interrupted our normal ways of life.  I personally want to thank you for extending your patience to us, as well as your flexibility in response to the rapid pace of change that sometimes occurs daily.  One change that we are making is, due to the rising numbers of COVID, we are postponing our regathering of our Sunday morning Bible Fellowship Groups until at least Sunday October 4th.  Also, the Knox County Health Department is meeting today, and depending on what occurs, you may see another communication from the staff about our worship services.  

     However, during this season of distance and waiting, I believe that the church can shine bright with the love of Christ for each other and the lost with a convincing witness.  Let me encourage each of us to adopt a bold response to these times, but one that is humble, kind, and founded upon the Scriptures.  Paul put it best when he said, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

    I can’t wait join you Sunday in whatever worship setting you prefer, and please join me in asking God to give to us peace as we seek to follow in the footsteps of the King.  

Respectfully in Christ,

Pastor Kirby