Covid-19

COVID-19 Updates

Update 7/15/2020

Good afternoon GCMB Family, 

Just a quick update to inform that the re-instated requirements this week will not effect our ability to gather outside for worship service, so we will continue that pattern going forward until further notice. As a reminder, face coverings are strongly recommended, particularly during times where maintaining physical distancing isn't practical or feasible (i.e. coming/going before and after service, times of socializing). Also, as a reminder sunscreen equally as recommended. We have been blessed with wonderful weather the last two Sunday's and sunscreen has been a higher necessity than hand sanitizer!


Update 7/4/2020

Good afternoon GCMB Family, 

In order to provide a wise and tempered response to the Governor's latest guidance, the Elders have met with much discussion and prayer. As a response, we have decided that to best facilitate unhindered worship tomorrow as we are called to do, we will hold our church gathering outdoors. We will be meeting outside on the Fellowship Hall blacktop. The six feet of social distancing will still be observed but singing will be fully accepted and encouraged. To facilitate this we will have chairs set up on the black top in a manner that adheres to the physical distancing requirements and accommodate those that stay with their cars as well.  

To maximize our available space for outdoor seating, we are asking those who will be coming up seating on the black top, to please park in the lower parking lot, adjacent to the parsonage, or on the side parking lot next to the office. For those who will still prefer to sit at or with their vehicle, we will have a “front row” indicated near the short fence but leaving room for additional chairs outside the fence.  

Per the State order, face coverings of some type are required any time that the minimum 6ft physical distancing is not possible (i.e. during entering and exiting times or general milling about) but are not required while seated. As recommended in the latest State requirements, we are recommending the limited use of restroom facilities as best as possible . In that regard, the restrooms in the foyer will be available as will the Fellowship Hall restrooms. Though we do ask that you make use of the hand sanitizing dispensers in the foyer prior to and after using the facilities.

Some other friendly reminders: as with all things Monterey, there is potential for either fog or sun or both during the service so plan accordingly (sun screen, hats, sweaters, parkas etc. as necessary). Since we won’t have projection, the lyrics for the songs will be posted to Slack. The Livestream will be available as per the norm, however the quality will be significantly different.


Update 6/20/2020


Good Morning GCMB family

As many of you may have heard, this past Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom made a new directive regarding the use of face coverings in public places as part of the shelter in place order. In essence, the new directive is a statewide requirement that anytime someone is inside a public space or waiting to enter a public space, they are required to wear a face covering of some kind. This is similar to what Monterey County has had is place and had begun to relax, however the State order obviously supersedes the County order and is a little more restrictive that Monterey County was originally. One of the changes in the State order is that the requirement includes children down to the age of 3. There are also some stipulations regarding physical distancing that affect the need for face coverings, however, put into the context of our Sunday morning gathering, they essentially do not apply. For the full directive, here is a link to the California Department of Public Health page


So what does this mean for us for this and subsequent Sundays? Fortunately, the new order does not affect our ability to meet in general. The current shelter in place directives and suggestions have not been changed by this order. So we will be meeting as we have been. However, in compliance with the State directive, we will be requiring the use of face coverings inside the Church buildings. We still do recommend that physical distancing be followed a best as possible, and we will continue to use a spaced seating arrangement in the sanctuary as indicated with our posted signage. Additionally, the numerous hand sanitizer dispensers are still available around the foyer and sanctuary and we recommend their frequent use.  


We will have two obvious exceptions to the face covering requirement, and that will be those up front during the service. Some time back, the Worship team re-oriented the stage so that the musicians are at least 6 feet apart, if they are not part of a family unit, so they will not be wearing masks while singing/playing. And obviously, when someone is addressing the congregation from the pulpit, they will not be wearing a mask during that time.


We will continue to be refraining from passing the offering plate during the worship service as handling money is always one of the highest transmission points of any virus every year. To that end, just want to remind everyone that our online giving options are always available (for details see the website at www.gracemonteryby.org/giving) and the offering drop box is also available to use in the sanctuary. In that same vein, we will postpone communion again for an amount of time that is yet to be determined.


A couple changes for what we will do to accommodate for this Sunday. We will be setting up some manner of outdoor speakers to carry the sound outside. This is two fold. First it is for those parents who have needed to have their kids outside to minimize distractions in the sanctuary to be able to still hear the service, and second for those who would like to be on campus for service but may be of the higher risk category and would prefer to participate from their car. The method and manner of how that is going to come together is still being worked out, but there will be outside sound for coming Sunday. And to that end we make one accommodation request, for those who will be inside the sanctuary for service, we ask that you park at the further ends of the parking lot and leave the spaces directly in front of the foyer doors available for those who may stay in their car. This most likely the primary focus of where the sound system will be aimed, but again that is still a little in a gotta-figure-it-out mode. Additionally, we will have some chairs available for people to sit outside as well, though our sidewalk space is not particularly accommodating to that, but they will be available.


Lastly, the Elders continue to covet your prayers as we wade through this murky mud puddle. Pray that we are wise in our decision making as information continues to be confusing at times and sometimes down right contradictory. Please continue to pray for our government and health officials for the same reason. They need wisdom as they look at what is before them and make policy and plans that affect us all. Also, continue to pray for those who have been directly affected either by themselves or family who have contracted the coronavirus and for those who have been negatively affected by the economic ramifications of the differing directives from government officials. Through all of this, we remember that we do serve a sovereign God, who is not surprised or taken aback by this virus outbreak. It is part of His eternal plan, and at some point and in some way we may not see now or really ever, He will receive glory. We pray that this will strengthen the Church and strengthen our church. We pray that this causes us to trust Him more, rely on Him more and strengthen our faith in Him more. May our confidence in our God be a beacon of hope to a world that is still reeling in panic and distress. 



UPDATE - May 29, 2020


Dear Grace Church Monterey Bay Family,

   This time of shelter in place has been quite challenging, particularly for those of our family who have had a direct negative impact on their lives when it comes to health and finances. It has been a time of relying on God and trusting HIs sovereign will and that He will work out all things for our good and His glory. We continue to pray for healing for those who have been physically affected, for those whose families have suffered the ultimate loss, and for those whose livelihoods have been impacted in both big and small ways.

   For us as a whole, one of the most obvious challenges has been our lack of ability to gather together for worship physically. While we’ve appreciated the available technology to stream our services and gather apart, we long for and desire that time that we can be in one another's presence.

But it looks as if that time has come to an end, or at least changed some. As of late Thursday, 5/28, Monterey County confirmed that per the State Order of 5/25, that churches can resume in person services. Of course there is a list of requirements and recommendations that are necessary to adhere to as we consider all the ramifications of gathering (those requirements will be detailed in the following pages).  

So we will officially be gathering for our 10:30 am service on Sunday May 31st. Of course our live stream will still be available like always, and we will continue to start promptly at 10:30 (with the stream actually starting a couple minutes before) for the purposes of the live stream. As we do come back together, please do remember and keep in mind that throughout our body we have the full spectrum of opinion and ideas about the impacts of the coronavirus, as well as the full spectrum of risk factors across our body. For those who are not comfortable yet, or are yourselves in the “high risk” category, or are in direct contact with someone who is, do not feel compelled to join us on campus. We will seek to continue to minister to you and your needs the best that we can. 

The biggest challenge for a church, and particularly ours, is the social aspect and the sweet time of fellowship that we enjoy before and after the service. However, this is one of the biggest areas of potential risk, and the strongest points of recommendation from the Monterey County and State Health Department, as well as the CDC, and that is to limit this time as best as possible. So while this first Sunday will be particularly the most difficult, we ask that we as a body try and keep our pre- and post- service fellowship to a minimum. 

Again, we look forward to all being together (hopefully sooner than later) so that we can edify and encourage one another in Worship to a great God who has provided so many things to all of us during this time. We also ask that you continue to pray for your Elders as we continue to strive to do our best to navigate these waters, and also to keep your brothers and sisters, both in our local church and across the universal church, in prayer for the individual needs and challenges we all have during this time.

See you all this Sunday, either in person or online.


For His Glory, your Elders

Dom, Nick, Justin


Physical Distancing

As with all information coming from the various authorities, physical distancing is the primary method for limiting the spread of the coronavirus. We ask that we try and accommodate this practice as much as practically possible as it is still a stipulation for gathering from both the County and the State. Along similar lines, at this time, it appears that this new State Order supersedes the County requirement of face coverings at all times. However, the State Order does highly recommend face coverings, particularly in the context of congregational singing. It is our feeling that if we are diligent with our physical distancing (as described below) we will have met the intent of the recommendation, so that we are not going to require the wearing of masks in the worship center. Yet if you feel the necessity to wear a face covering, please do so as you see fit.

It is understood that when we are congregating in the foyer particularly, that physical distancing would be a challenge. We ask that when arriving, we make as much effort as possible to use both the foyer and sanctuary to facilitate this needed distancing as well as trying to not linger too long in the foyer and make your way into the sanctuary directly. To help facilitate this, we are asking to use a one-way traffic pattern in and out of the building. To this end, we are temporarily designating the front double doors of the foyer as the “Entrance Only” doors, and the double doors on the side of the foyer (facing Waring Street) as the “Exit Only”. We will post some temporary signs as a reminder.

When coming into the sanctuary, we ask that there is only one family per pew and that when adjacent pews are used, that families set at opposite ends of the pew (i.e. the first pew sits on the center aisle end and the next pew sits on the widow end of the pew and so on). As the pews only have just under 4 feet distance between the backs, this alternating pattern will help us facilitate the six foot distancing requirement.

The most challenging thing we ask, is that during this transition time we restrain our children a little more than we typically do. It has been shown that children are less likely to be affected by the virus, but they can be carriers and are more likely to be the ones who transfer the virus from one surface to another since kids have a tendency to be kids.

Touch Points

Since physical transfer still remains the highest method of transmission, we are trying to limit the number of places where contact is made with surfaces of potential transfer. To that end, all doors will be left open for the duration of the morning (this will also help with fresh air ventilation that helps mitigate the risk of airborne spread). We do ask that as much as possible, restroom doors are opened and closed with feet or elbows or the such. 

We may have bulletins, and if we do, we will not be passing them out, but will leave one at each end of each pew (total of two per pew).

The coffee and refreshment station will not be available for the short term.

Next to the challenge of our children, the greatest challenge will be our desire to greet one another with a holy kiss (or fist bump or bear hug or whatever the individual preference). This is probably what many of us are missing in not seeing one another. However we do ask that you refrain from handshakes and hugs as much as practically possible. If not, please be sure that the recipient of such brotherly love is comfortable with that much lack of distancing at this present time.

We will be providing disinfectant wipes and sprays at a number of places (yet to be determined) around the foyer to use as you enter the facility or as you see fit to need. Sanitizing gel hand cleaner dispensers have been mounted in a number of places around the foyer as well.

We will be removing the hymnals and Bibles and pens/offering envelopes from the pews for the short term.

Offering

We will not be passing the offering plate for the foreseeable short term future, though we will be providing an opportunity to utilize our on-line or text giving options during the service. Additionally, offerings can be placed in the box at the back of the sanctuary. However, for the time being, we do prefer that you do use the on-line option as this does help reduce the number of touch points when it comes to counting and administering the offering. For information and instructions for online giving, please go to our website: www.gracemontereybay.org/give

Communion

Your Elders are still considering how best to observe communion for the short term. Most of the State recommendations specifically address “sacramental observances” and we would have to approach communion preparation in much the same way as any food service entity is having to operate at this time. Because of this, and the short window we have for preparation (being it’s Friday), the most prudent method may be to wait until a later date to resume communion. While it is a strong desire to worship and worship together in this method, there is freedom in the timing of communion and we have some leeway in implementation and are still working this one out.

Children's Ministries

For the near future, we will not be holding any children’s ministries activities. This means that children are welcome in the main service as always. If it is necessary to use the Cry Room, we ask that surfaces be wiped down with the provided sanitizing wipes as best as possible and we will be wiping down all services prior to and after service as well. More information will be made available when the time gets closer to resuming Children’s ministries.  

Attendance

While we long to see everyone, we do understand that some folks will not yet be comfortable being in larger gatherings at this point as they may be in higher risk health categories, and we want to serve them as much as we possibly can too. If you are in a higher risk category or just not yet comfortable being in large groups, please do not feel obligated to be with us on Sundays as we physically gather. The live stream will still be available on Facebook (and we continue to work on wider options for that as well) and we hope that you will continue to take advantage of that, preferably in a live setting (instead of watching the recording later). We do ask that if you do feel the need to wait in rejoining us physically that you please let us know so that we can minister to any needs you may have.  

Sickness Policy

Those of you who have children in, or have volunteered in our Children’s Ministry are aware of our Wellness Policy and how it pertains to potential illness in those involved with the children. In light of the present situation, we ask that you are more diligent than normal with this policy but also to apply it to Sunday morning attendance at all whether you have kids or not. We ask that if you are showing any signs of any communicable illness, flu-like or otherwise, that you stay home and fully recover before rejoining us for Worship. Specifically, if you feel that you have been in a situation where you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, we recommend that you follow the County guidelines and be tested as soon as possible, but also wait until you have a negative test before returning to Worship. And again, if you are in regular contact with someone who may have an underlying health condition or are in a position to have a higher risk of exposure, that you use the most prudence and wisdom in deciding whether or not to join physically on Sunday.

Non-Sunday Morning events

At this point, the official recommendations are to continue to limit the number of gathering times, particularly outside of the main worship gathering. So we will continue to do Ladies Monday Bible Study, Wednesday Grace Group, and the Tuesday and Thursday prayer times via Zoom. See the church website for times and Zoom meeting link information.

www.gracemontereybay.org/events 


Resources

https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/Home/Components/News/News/7361/1336

https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=90635

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/NR20-100.aspx

https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-places-of-worship.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/faith-based.html




UPDATE - April 3, 2020

As of April 3rd, Monterey County updated it's shelter in place order to extend the order through May 3rd, 2020 and to further define what public activities where allowed and prohibited and the steps required for open "businesses" to be present to prevent the spread of the virus. The County SiP order does not explicitly allow for houses of worship to be open, nor does it explicitly allow, the clear implication is that church gatherings would fall into the former category of not being allowed. Furthermore, the precautions required to be available and implemented to meeting the County requirements to be open for gathering seem to put the burden of effort to lean towards not gathering even if allowed.

With May 3rd fast approaching, the Elders are following what changes may or may not be coming for us in the next few weeks, and beginning to discuss what that might look like for GCMB over the next few weeks. At this point, this is a moving target until new information from the County is released giving new instruction, which will only clear up the picture to a minor extent. Many questions and plans still will be necessary once the authorities allow for gathering once again.

We are in continual prayer that a quick end comes to the SiP so that we may gather physically. We pray for this with eagerness and anticipation. We ask that you are devoting much prayer to both our physical gathering as well those who are effected physically, emotionally and financially by these trying times.


March 22, 2020 - 10:30pm

Dear Grace Church Monterey Bay Family,

This is just an update to formally put out there that we will not be gathering physically on Sunday mornings until the State mandated shelter-in-place order is lifted, which currently is in place through April 8th. We will continue to have our regularly scheduled Sunday morning services live streamed via Facebook (see links below) at 10:30 am. Additionally, we will be meeting via Zoom video conferencing every week day at 6pm for 40 minutes. On Wednesday, we will be holding a Grace Group to go have a time of further study of the Sunday morning service. The other 4 week days at 6pm will be a time of prayer together. See our Faithlife page at www.faithlife.com/gracemontereybay for Zoom details.

We hope that you continue to join us in prayer regularly if you cannot make the Zoom meetings. Also, as a reminder, you can send your tithes and offerings to the church via the online giving portal on our webpage (www.gracemotnereybay.org/give).

We have also started using the Slack app to replace texting for more immediate communication needs. Please contact Pastor Dom or Justin Clausen or Jonathan Coon for details on how to connect through the Slack app.


March 13, 2020 - 8:30pm

Dear Grace Church Monterey Bay family,

We are aware of the ongoing public health concern regarding COVID-19. As followers of Jesus, we need not let fear or hysteria drive our thinking. At the same time, we want to love our members and our neighbors well and be wise in living out our mission to glorify God by magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ, ministering to His Church, and multiplying His disciples.

After prayerful consideration and discussion, your Elders have decided to NOT physically gather for worship this coming Sunday 3/15/2020. We will still hold our regular worship service, but ask you to join us in its entirety online via our Facebook live stream, www.facebook.com/gracemontereybay, at our regular 10:30am time. If you are able to join live on Facebook Sunday morning, we would like to ask that you leave a simple comment during the live stream to let us know that you are in attendance.

Please join us on line with your whole family, if you can. We will conduct our Worship Service as normal with singing and scripture reading, and Pastor Dom will continue his sermon series through James. We encourage you to sing and pray with us at home as if you were with us in the building.

We have also temporarily suspended all other gathering times, including mid-week Bible studies and the Prayer Gathering. The exact duration of this arrangement has yet to be determined, but expect this to be at least through the end of March if not longer. Updates will be posted here and to our Faithlife page.

We worship the sovereign God of the universe, and know that his perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Our best response is always to pursue his glory, moving forward in faith, wisdom, and love.

For now, in an effort to love one another and our neighbors well, and also to protect those in our church family who may be more susceptible to illness, we plan to take some extra precautions and would ask you to do the same. These are some of the steps we are planning to take:

  • We are increasing cleaning frequencies of restrooms, classrooms, and surfaces around the GCMB facilities. 
  • When we are able to gather, we encourage you to greet one another with joy but as much as possible do so without handshakes or hugs for the time being.
  • You may wish to wash your hands (20-seconds!) upon arrival and upon returning home. 
  • Since we won't be gathering for worship, if you want to keep to your regular pattern in giving, you can give your offerings online at www.gracemonterebay.org/give.
  • If you do not have access to our Facebook live stream, but still want to participate live in real time, please call or text Justin at 831-402-7051 to work out some other solution. Otherwise, the sermon will be available later Sunday afternoon via the Sermons page.

The Center for Disease Control reminds us of the best habits to prevent the spread of any virus:

  • If you or your loved ones are ill with flu-like symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, and coughing), please stay home and contact a physician.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Respecting others, refrain from shaking hands or hugging others in public.
  • The federal government is encouraging individuals to avoid Coronavirus-affected areas. You can learn more about travel advisories here

If we need to cancel or postpone other future events or gatherings because of the spread of illness in our area, we are prepared to do so. If we find it prudent to take those steps, we will make the necessary accommodations to stay connected remotely. 

Remember that these circumstances bring about a call to prayer. Pray for:

  • healing for those affected
  • protection and peace for those living in anxiety
  • wisdom for governmental authorities and agencies
  • energy and protection for health care workers
  • believers and missionaries in nations where pandemic conditions are already in full force

Our elders have met together and will continue to pray about how best to shepherd you and be a blessing to our community. We want to love our neighbors well and be wise in living out our mission to glorify God by magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ, ministering to His Church, and multiplying His disciples. The best way to do that with what we currently know is to abide by the public health directives from our local and state authorities.

These troubling times represent a real opportunity to share with those around us the hope we have in Christ. Remember that that hope is only in the "Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:34).

If you and your family are in the low risk category, and are comfortable meeting with other members in smaller groups, please do so prayerfully and thoughtfully and in wise consideration of Health organizations recommendations and guidelines.

Also, Pastor PJ Tibayan from Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, Ca. has put together a list of useful links regarding the Church and these types of situations. Link Here

If you have any questions, or other needs, or are affected other ways by the Covid-19 virus, please contact any of the Elders.

In Service to Christ and His Church, 

Grace Church Monterey Bay Elders - Dom, Nick, Justin