We are happy to announce our plans to gradually reopen Bethel Church for in-person services. In doing so, our highest priority is to keep everyone in attendance as safe as possible by following State of Indiana guidelines for reopening worship services. These guidelines require us to employ strict physical distancing protocols, utilize thorough sanitization measures, and ask those ages 65+ and those with high-risk health conditions not to attend at this time for their safety.
In all our efforts, we want to provide the best quality in-person worship experience possible, without compromising the health and safety of our congregation. We also aim to apply ample grace and love to all, as we know there are a wide range of viewpoints regarding what is safe or needed at this time.
- Livestreamed services will continue with the same degree of excellence for the foreseeable future.
- By mid-June, we will have weekly services at the following times and locations:
- 9:00am Sunday service at Crown Point (CP) – beginning May 24
- 10:45am Sunday services at Cedar Lake (CL) and Hobart/Portage (HP) – beginning June 7
- 6:30 pm Wednesday night services at CP, CL, and HP – beginning June 10
- We are doing Wednesday night services instead of two Sunday morning services due to required sanitation measures. We typically need 72 hours between services to prepare the space to be used again.
- The Wednesday service will be the same as the previous Sunday service.
- The plans for reopening the Gary Campus and Chinese Congregation are still in development.
Please understand that the in-person worship experience will be far from normal. We hope and pray that over time we will gradually return to normal. But for an initial “Phase 1,” here are a few details regarding what to expect:
- Capacity will be greatly reduced to allow for 6 feet of physical distancing. That means approximately 200 people at CP and 100 people at the other locations per service.
- Reservations will be required for admittance to every service. We know this is not ideal, but we believe this is the best way to allow everyone to attend an in-person service at this time.
- Face coverings are required to be worn for the duration of the service (approximately 75 minutes).
- There will be no mingling inside the building. You will be ushered directly to your seat, and then dismissed by rows at the end of the service.
- The worship experiences at the CL and HP locations will be more simple (acoustic-driven) with live preaching for the first few weeks.
- Children are permitted at most services if they can follow all required protocols (wear a face covering for the duration of the service, practice physical distancing). The one exception to this is the 9:00am CP service—this will only be for children ages 7 and older. The 9:00am service is essentially a recording studio for our livestream, and we need to minimize the chance of disruptions.
Again, we wish things could be different! But we are starting with an abundance of caution, and we’ll evaluate as we go.
How Do I Make a Reservation?
Due to limited seating capacity, reservations are required so that we do not turn anyone away. Reservations for all services May 24 – June 14 will become available at 10:00 am on Tuesday, May 19 at www.bethelweb.org/attend.
In order to permit everyone an opportunity to attend, we ask each household to make no more than ONE reservation for each three-week interval. If, however, spouses wish to attend two different services (perhaps so one spouse can remain home with young children), two reservations per household are allowed.
At-risk populations: In following the state guidelines, we ask all at-risk populations (seniors age 65+ and those with high-risk health conditions) to stay home and worship through the livestream. Special efforts are under consideration for how Bethel might host safe in-person gatherings for at-risk populations. Please be in prayer for Bethel’s leadership as we work out these details.
What We Need from You
This is just Phase 1 of our reopening. We will constantly evaluate and evolve our approach. We know some of you want us to do more and some of you want us to do less. So please have a spirit of grace, love, and unity toward one another during this time, recognizing that we all have different views on this. We also ask you to be flexible and open to change. Many of the decisions we make are to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us, and this is a dynamically evolving situation which will surely evolve as time goes on.
We also we ask that you please adhere to the safety guidelines and procedures that we have in place. These include:
- Wearing a face covering for the duration you are in the building.
- Not attending if you show any symptoms of COVID-19, or are under a quarantine condition (due to a potential COVID-19 exposure)
- Maintaining physical distancing throughout your time on Bethel premises.
Finally, please anticipate God to work during this new and challenging season in our ministry. Let’s do what we can to view this pandemic with joy—not joy at facing this trial, but joy in trusting God in the midst of it—so that it produces perseverance in us that we may be mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).