Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Bethel Council met this past Wednesday and made decisions regarding our plan to consider when and how to “reopen” Bethel. While we know that not all congregations will respond in the same way, we feel confident that our approach is the best for us.
We plan to continue with our previous decision to remain without “in-person” gatherings through June 10. All worship services will be virtual via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and our website through Sunday, June 7.
We plan to offer worship on June 14, 21, and 28 at Bethel with the services held outside (weather permitting) near the picnic shelter. This will involve all attendees keeping to social distancing, sitting in your own lawn chairs/blankets, with the encouragement that you wear masks. Some may even decide to sit in their cars. Please note that if there is inclement weather, we will NOT hold worship outside and instead continue with a virtual service.
We do not plan to have indoor worship until, at the earliest, July 5. HOWEVER, we may continue with outdoor worship as weather allows because it is the safest way for us to gather at this time. This will be a fluid situation but please know that as we consider moving indoors for worship, we want to make sure that we can effectively offer you the safest possible experience. YOUR HEALTH is our priority.
We have made the decision to keep our Bethel building CLOSED to outside groups through Labor Day, September 7. This DOES NOT apply to worship gatherings or other “approved” Bethel gatherings at the church.
Payroll Protection Program Loan
A final piece of information that you should be aware of is that very early on Bethel applied for and received, in late April, funds from the Payroll Protection Program via our local bank, Bank of Clarke County. We were proactive in planning for this possibility and I am so thankful to Kim Williams for her wonderful work in helping us get in on the ground floor of this opportunity.
This infusion of funds has allowed us to keep ALL STAFF on payroll with their FULL SALARIES and BENEFITS through June. These funds, while technically a “loan”, will be fully forgiven as they have been used as intended.
At the same time, your wonderful support of Bethel has allowed Bethel to be in as positive a financial position as we have been in for some time. THANK YOU! We ask that you continue doing what you are doing and this will allow us to continue to thrive moving forward in these uncharted waters.
Again, I cannot begin to thank the Staff, Council, and all of you for your amazing faithfulness. We ALL want to get back together as soon as possible. We ALL want to get back to some semblance of normal. Yet we know that loving each other best may mean that we continue to stay apart for the time being. Still, know that we are continually working to provide ways for you to feel connected to your Bethel family.
Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions and please know that God who is always near has got this!
Bethel Lutheran Church
2077 N. Frederick Pike
Winchester, VA 22603