Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
Assumptions for this document
- Why = Healthy Balance. We are doing our best to address holistic health. We want to do our part to mitigate the virus (through social distancing and using masks while moving through common spaces) while still meeting mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs.
- Our commitment as a board and staff is to err on the side of being light and life to the communities we serve. While we can find data to support a myriad of facts and opinions, our charge is not activism. It is conveying the truth of Jesus Christ.
- This document is subject to, and even likely to, change as new executive orders and local enforcement ensues.
- We are a church. The freedom from interference of the government into church affairs is what has provided churches exemption from all executive orders, as is noted in each of the 165+ executive orders.
- In the interpretation of the state, that exemption pertains to religious services/gatherings for worship. We recognize that definition narrowly defines worship and is by no means how Scripture defines worship.
- We recognize also that the Constitution of the United States actually does not mention worship, but speaks to the freedom to exercise religion.
- All ministry throughout our building is designed as a corporate act of worship, yet the exemption, from the vantage point of state enforcement agencies defines this as worship services on Sunday a.m.
- We will note that “Liberty is not the license to do what we want, but the ability to do what we ought”. Just because we can do what we want, does not mean we should.
- We have more people in our building throughout the week than we do on Sunday morning. Therefore our policies need to be consistently applied throughout the week—Sundays excepted.
- The Byron Center area is in Phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Start program. If the area is moved back to Phase 3, we will have a different plan. If the area is moved to Phase 5, restrictions will ease.
- We will use the Byron Center Public School “Return to School” policy as a guidepost for our children’s and student activities that take place in our facilities and on behalf of Rush Creek—Sunday and throughout the week.
- Where BCPS exceeds the standards of what is required by the state, Rush Creek will strive to achieve the state and local guidelines.
- We are trusting the counsel that we have diligently sought to shape our own policies as we “look to the Lord and His strength, seeking His face always.”
- We recognize that God designed each of us intricately; mental, spiritual, social, and emotional aspects are intertwined with our physical well-being. And we see the damage that has been done when the governments are isolating our physical safety from a pandemic at the expense of holistically healthy human beings.
- We will not play the “church card” to skirt being a good community partner. Yet our continued response to the confusing and changing situation acknowledges that appropriate church function fosters holistic health and healing.
Student and Children Expectations
During all student activities conducted in this building, Rush Creek will encourage students and children to engage in health-promoting behaviors that prevent many illnesses:
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds and frequently.
- Don’t share food or drinks. All food prepackaged, or brought from home.
- Give elbow bumps instead of handshakes or hugs.
- Wipe down tables regularly throughout the day.
- Use hand sanitizer and perform temperature checks for those entering the gym for physical games and activities.
- Use of hand sanitizer after leaving the gym.
- Temperature checks for volunteers and staff working with Kids and Students.
Face Coverings: “Masks While Moving”
- Per the assumptions above, Rush Creek will work to structure classroom settings where six feet of social distancing is possible and/or class sizes are smaller.
- Students in grades PreK through 10 years of age will not be required to wear a face-covering during class but may be asked to wear them in common areas.
- Students 11 years and above will be required to wear a face-covering while moving through common areas (hallways, foyer, bathrooms, etc.)
- Face coverings are not required in classroom settings where social distancing is observed.
- Face coverings are not required during physical activity in the gym, however hand sanitizer and temperature checks are required before beginning activities in the gym. Outdoor activities are strongly encouraged as weather permits.
- Where functions straddle age categories, such as 5th and 6th grade programming, face-coverings will be required in common areas.
- We recognize this is THE hot button issue. While we will not place our staff and lay leadership in the position of policing this issue, we may need to ask our ministry leaders to find another location for ministry activities should a participant not put forth a good faith effort to comply.
Rush Creek needs every family to be involved to help reduce the spread of ALL infectious diseases.
- Parents are responsible for determining that students arrive on the Rush Creek campus without a fever. We would encourage checking before you arrive.
- Please DO NOT bring your child or student on campus if they have symptoms of a contagious ailment. Keep sick children at home.
- If your child is diagnosed with COVID-19, parents must let Rush Creek or partnering organization leadership know so they can communicate with, and get guidance from, local health authorities.
- Continue to train your children and students to cover their mouths with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and throw out the tissue immediately, or to sneeze or cough into the bends of their elbows when tissue isn’t handy.
- Please report any international travel to group leadership before a student enters the building.
Plan 4A Programming Changes
- Rush Creek is committed to holding two services on Sunday a.m. at least through December. The move to two services, in part, is to allow for social distancing.
- Rush Creek will continue to host our partners (such as homeschool groups) throughout the ministry/school year. Those partners also need to follow the guidelines listed above, or future guidelines that may be amended and tweaked over time.
- Rush Creek will not be an alternative venue for other organizations that have been displaced from their originally scheduled venue.
- Between now through the end of 2020, we will not be scheduling outside groups to host large gatherings at Rush Creek.
- Rush Creek values all the ministries we plan to launch this ministry year, and we value the ministry efforts of our partners. We want to do what we can, short of circumventing executive orders, to foster ministry within our building. If the guidelines above cannot be followed as demonstrated by self-policing of leadership (volunteers and staff) of the various groups within the church, we encourage you to continue your efforts outdoors on our campus or find another venue for a particular event.
- God has blessed Rush Creek with seemingly non-stop ministry efforts on our campus throughout the week. At any given time we may have 5 or 6 events run by various leadership. Our policies are not intended to be punitive, they are needed to ensure consistency throughout the building.
Rush Creek will create as many policies as is reasonable to help prevent the spread of disease:
- Staff and our partnering organizations’ leadership will control access to the building. All entrances will be locked once ministry/programming has begun.
- Classrooms and ministry gatherings will be configured to provide the best social distancing possible while maintaining a realistic ministry environment.
- After each day’s ministry activities in the building, utilized areas of the building will be cleaned according to best practices delineated here. While Rush Creek’s custodial crew will clean the facility before or after ministry activities, we are asking other staff, partners, and respective volunteers to engage in best practices.
- Each room equipped with the tools to sanitize as well as instructions as to how to do so. Those tools include 1) sanitizing wipes for light switches and door knobs, for example, 2) no-wipe spray sanitizer for tables and chairs, and classrooms each classroom down the children’s room is equipped with 3) a thermometer, and paper towel.
- Shared materials: When shared materials must be used, they will be cleaned before being used by other groups of students. Toys will be washed daily, and those that cannot be cleaned easily will not be used.
- We will post signs re: our mask wearing policy throughout the week.
Rush Creek and/or partners will isolate and then send home staff, volunteers, or students with any symptoms of illness.
- Exception: those with seasonal allergies or the common cold may attend ministry activities on campus if they do not have a fever of 100 degrees or higher.
Mental Health Actions
Our staff is always committed to letting you know if we see any sign that your child is struggling in any way, including their response to this pandemic.
- Individuals who live with someone known to be infected with COVID-19 must not come to the Rush Creek Campus. The return date should be discussed with the church leadership and/or the leadership of our partnering organizations.
- Individuals and staff are immediately sent home if they exhibit any symptoms of the virus or if they report having been in contact with someone who is infected.
- Individuals may return to Rush Creek after they have been cleared by a physician.
- Individuals who have had contact with someone with COVID-19 should be quarantined by their parents for 14-days.
- Individuals with seasonal allergies or the common cold may attend ministry activities on campus if they do not have a fever of 100 degrees or higher.
Rush Creek Cancellation Policy
- If a participant in an on-campus ministry tests positive for COVID, all staff and partnering ministries will be notified.
- If two or more cases are confirmed from those participating in any given program taking place at the church, that program will be canceled for a period of at least 14 days.
- If Byron Center Public Schools are closed due to COVID-19, then Rush Creek will consider canceling its mid-week activities.
Until further notice, there will be no food prepared in the kitchen. Catered or pre-packaged food may be served with gloves and masks.
These are difficult times. We thank you for your patience and understanding. Rush Creek is committed to controlling what we can. We will rely on our families to do their part at home. And most importantly, we’ll trust the Lord God to lead and guide.
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.