At the time of this writing (mid-May), Governor Ricketts has declared that churches are able to open for worship, with restrictions. Accompanying that decree are local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines that govern how churches can assemble. These guidelines are stringent and numerous and only apply to weekly worship services (and do not include, educational classes, weddings and funerals). It is with this information that our elected leaders met and chose a strategy for opening.
Many factors contribute to the decision of the Council (who is the governing body of the church), which are outlined below. These factors create the reality that our building would be too small to handle the anticipated crowds.
- The Worship Center is currently being renovated and the seat capacity has been reduced from 775 down to 250 because of worship being held in the Family Life Center.
- DHHS requires the cleaning of every surface of the building in between each service.
- DHHS requires crowds not to “cross” by each other, meaning entering and exiting from separate doors for multiple services.
- DHHS requires monitoring of compliance to their rules, including the wearing of individual masks, controlling the size of crowds and fellowshipping both within the building and in the parking lot.
- Pastoral coverage will be an issue over the summer months.
Inclusion was also discussed. What message does it send when DHHS requires elders and those with preexisting conditions to be excluded? DHHS also requires all children to remain at their parent’s side, thus discouraging families with young children to attend. In essence, will the regulations in which we abide bring the community together or further divide?
In-Person Gathering Target
These and other factors led the Council to decide that Sheridan will not consider gathering for in-person worship until the time when our Worship Center remodeling is completed. The target date for completion is mid-August. The Council will revisit this decision each month at their regularly scheduled meeting.
Continue to Gather Online
To this point, each of you in the Sheridan family of faith have been nothing but supportive. Thank you for your continued faithfulness to the mission and spirit of our community! Please continue to worship online and to participate in our Children’s and Adult Faith Formation activities.
Not Closed; Just Not In-Person Yet
The church is never “closed!” We are worshiping remotely. Our God is incarnational, which means that God shows up in our lives and not at a building. While so much is different in these days, nothing has changed! We remain “a community of Christ’s faithful followers, who are called by God to love deeply, grow spiritually and share abundantly.”
Contact Your Church Council
You may contact the church council via email with comments or questions.