Due to an additional positive result on our staff as well and the increase in positive cases in our state we have decided to postpone VBS to a future date. We will also pause our MMO program until we can be confident about a safe return for your children. It was not an easy decision to make and are definitely disappointed, but we know it is our role as a church to help prevent the spread and we know we will gather again in the future! Continue to follow us on socials for current updates as we navigate this unprecedented time.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will experiences last the same length of time?
Our worship experiences will look much the same however in order to give people ample time to exit and enter the building in the safest way possible we will be very careful to leave a little extra time between experiences.
What will seating look like in the worship center?
We will be spacing our rows out with more space than normal and encouraging families to space between one another to the degree they are comfortable to allow for common sense social distancing.
Are there capacity limitations? Can we invite friends?
With our four experiences we have plenty of room to invite friends. However we do ask that our Freedom Church family consider our 8:00am and 12:30pm experiences as a possibility.
Is it recommended we wear masks and/or gloves?
Per CDC guidelines, masks are optional for all attendees and DHEC has not recommended gloves for the general public unless you can follow strict glove protocol which would include changing often. All church staff will be wearing masks.
What additional precautions will be taken in Freedom Kids?
As always, we will be cleaning our Freedom Kids area to allow for a safe environment for our children. Each room will be cleaned before and after each experience and we will be opening all of our physical classrooms to allow for the greatest capacity possible in order to have some level of social distancing. We will also have contactless entry and registration for our kids area.
Will people be permitted to linger in the lobby?
Per DHEC guidelines we ask that our church not gather in the lobby area before and after church in order to allow everyone to practice common sense social distancing to the greatest ability possible and comfort of each individual family. Also, if you are considered vulnerable we remind you that we will still be gathering online as well.
How can we, the members, help with this transition?
You can pray and spread the word! Also, we will be in contact with our Dream Team over the course of this transition and asking you to attend training for opening our church the safest way possible.
Are there any areas that need additional dream team volunteers during this season?
Our desire is to open every single Freedom Kids room for every experience to allow for the smallest ratios possible. This is one area that would be a huge service to our church family.
What will happen if there is a spike in cases in the future?
This decision has not been made lightly. It is informed by the science of the excellent epidemiologists and health care specialists in our state, as well as the CDC and the SC Department of Health and Environment Control. It is also made with the understanding that this is an ever moving and evolving situation that we will continue to monitor and make decisions based on new facts if they are presented in the future.
Are other ministries open like youth, brotherhood, etc?
We have allowed limited small group gatherings to start happening again at the church building and they will be following DHEC guidelines as well. We encourage you to check with the leaders of each group and to follow Freedom Youth and Freedom Kids on social media to see the exact meeting times and locations.
In the video message below, Pastors Shawn and Connie informed the church that they had both tested positive for COVID-19 and would be following quarantine protocols for two weeks.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is staff being required to get tested?
Dependent on exposure and other factors, various staff members are choosing to be tested out of an abundance of caution.
Are we still having church, youth, or other events?
Yes, no church events or experiences will be paused at this time but we will be offering all of our groups and experiences online as well. VBS will be in-person only and we are taking extra precautions for safety.
Do you know where Pastor Connie got it from?
It is most probable that it was contracted from someone who was with Pastor Connie at a non-church related event who later tested positive, but with the rate of the spread and the ability to contract the virus, it is impossible to know with certainty.
Are any other staff positive?
As of now, three staff members have tested negative and no other staff members who have decided it was best to get tested have received results.
Should we still attend small groups?
Group leaders will make a decision based on their individual group. All leaders have been trained how to have a blended group meeting using virtual tools if necessary.
Is the church being sanitized?
Yes, since March we have been following CDC guidelines to sanitize the church and office areas.
How do we know volunteers aren’t positive?
In regards to “knowing” whether volunteers have COVID-19 or not hasn’t changed since the beginning of the pandemic. We will encourage anyone who doesn’t feel well or who has been in contact with someone exhibiting symptoms to stay home. See note below.
We were able to say Welcome Back Home to our church on June 7th and and began gathering in our building for worship with all four of our in-person worship experiences at 8am, 9:30am, 11:00am and 12:30pm!
Weeks ago a group of local pastors met with the public health experts at SC Department of Health and Environment Control as well as the Governor's office to examine how to implement a safe return to our buildings in June. The results have been published into guidelines for churches on the AccelerateSC website from the SC Department of Health and Environment Control. In concert with the SC Department of Health and Environment Control and local and state authorities we continue to monitor COVID-19 trends and will recommend appropriate measures to implement at Freedom Church going forward. Training on and implementation of these guidelines have been done at every level of our church - your health, safety, and wellbeing remain a top priority.
The in-depth conversations we have had and the tireless work of the SC Department of Health and Environment Control gave us a new level of understanding and confidence that in-person worship, Freedom Kids and Youth gatherings could safely begin in June.
The decision was not made lightly. It was informed by the science of the excellent epidemiologists and health care specialists in our state, as well as the CDC and the SC Department of Health and Environment Control. It was also made with the understanding that this is an ever moving and evolving situation that we will continue to monitor and make decisions based on new facts if they are presented in the future.
We also understand that there will be some who would prefer to still join us online. Therefore we will continue to provide excellent opportunities for small groups and weekend worship online.
For those who are returning to our building plans include the following:
We encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines (and to follow the changes they make to these guidelines) with a common sense approach in all areas of your life, including Church.
We encourage those who are vulnerable because of pre-existing conditions to join us online.
We will ask that anyone who feels sick or has shown any symptoms of sickness in the last 7 days please join us for Freedom at Home online.
We will be spacing our worship center rows of chairs in a way to allow a degree of social distancing that will give you peace of mind.
We will be cleaning all church surfaces (including chairs) and kids areas under the guidance of CDC standards before every new experience.
We will cease, for the foreseeable future, all hospitality items, cafe items and response stations that would encourage the passing of items.
We will also have contactless entry and exit of the building as well as contactless check-in for our kids areas.
We will increase our kids occupancy by staffing all rooms in order to have more social distancing for our kids.
And finally, no attendees, leaders or staff members will be required to return. We want everyone to make the choice that is best for their health situation.
The new normal at church will be different but judging by how well all of you have risen to the occasion during the challenges of the last many weeks, I have great confidence that Freedom Church will continue to accomplish our best days ahead.
Our mayor and governor and local law enforcement have been briefed on this plan and we will continue to work seamlessly with both the city and the state on our re-engagement plans.
I love being your Pastor (online too but most certainly in person),
Pastor Shawn Wood
An open letter from Pastor Shawn:
As I write this Connie and I are on day 9 of isolation in our bedroom. I appreciate each of you praying for us and sending your encouragement as well!
Over the past several weeks we have watched as the Covid-19 numbers in the low country have been steadily climbing and we have also all been keenly aware that we now know people who have been infected.
In May when along with our Elders we made the decision to meet in person again we were seeing 200 new cases a day and everything was pointing to a flattened curve as the summer came info focus.
That has changed drastically as we are now seeing daily numbers of 2000+, and are once again in a position of needing to be a part of a solution as a church.
It is with that knowledge that the Elders and I have made the difficult decision to pause all of our in-person gatherings at Freedom Church, seek advice and prayer and come up with a game plan for how to move forward as a church.
We know this - our Church is an amazing group of people who know how to BE THE CHURCH gathered and scattered! We showed this in the spring and we will show that again now!
We certainly know this will disappoint many of you - it certainly does me.
I am reminded of my own sermon last week, “when we are tempted to see something as a thing we are losing, God is always ready to show us how he can use it!”
I am asking you once again to be this kind of church. The kind of church that makes Jesus famous in Berkeley County and the World. Our world needs us now more than ever!
Please continue to join online, connect with your small group and give generously to your church! We will have more updates soon!
Let’s go Freedom Church!