Dear Gateway Family, 

A couple of months ago, we took the unprecedented step of suspending in-person gatherings and meetings.  We did this, along with other churches in our nation, to protect the vulnerable in our congregation and to love our community by doing our part in stopping the spread of Covid19.  Thank you for supporting our online efforts and continued outreach.  You have proven that the church cannot be contained by brick and mortar!  I think we are also becoming aware of how much we miss and need the relationships of the Body of Christ.  So many are struggling emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as we are separated from one another.  We are all becoming painfully aware of how much we need our church body. 

As you all know, there are so many differing viewpoints when it comes to how to handle this crisis.  Those views are deeply held and important.  We must be truly vigilant to not allow the enemy to bring division into the church over this issue, but to respond always to each other with love and understanding.  Thank you for being this kind of church!  Thank you for respecting each other so well.  

So, as we continue to protect and love, it is time to begin plans to restart in-person gatherings.  Certainly, we cannot do this all at once.  It must be done thoughtfully and carefully.  Please know that a lot of prayer, planning and collaboration has gone into making each decision. 

Gateway will begin by re-starting SMALL GROUPS first.  They are truly the lifeblood of our church.  Bro. Jay is already in contact with small group leaders to work out times and places where groups can meet and do so safely.  Those groups comfortable meeting will begin as soon as this coming week.  In terms of WORSHIP SERVICES, we will begin services the weekend of May 23-24 with THREE services at the ATOKA campus.  Three services will allow for smaller crowds and better cleaning. Online services will still be available as well.  

 Service times: Saturday Night – 6:30pm Sunday Morning – 10:45 am (only one service on Sunday morning) Sunday Night – 6:30pm   *Munford and Covington services will begin that weekend at their normal times. 

  *We are asking that you let us know which service you will be attending and how many are in your family.  You will be able to do this online at gatewaytipton.com and this will help us know how many might be attending each service. When a service is full, you will be prompted to sign up for another service. 

Here are some VERY important precautions to be aware of: 

1. Please do NOT attend if you are not feeling well, have a cough or fever, or are significantly health compromised…or if you are just not ready yet to return.  It is perfectly fine not to return in these circumstances.  Your safety is so important.  We will maintain an online service until everyone is ready to attend.

2. SEATING will be spread out in both small groups and worship settings.  Families can sit together, but will be at least 6 feet from others. 

3. MASKS will be encouraged, but not required.  (It might be a good sacrifice to make if it encourages others to come back to church!) 

4. WASH hands and sanitize often.  (There will be sanitizing stations in all settings)

5. We will not pass offering plates or bulletins.

6. Thorough cleaning will be done after each small group and worship service.

7. There will be limited childcare in services for babies – 3 years.  (The expectation is that most families will want to stay together.  Please do NOT be afraid to bring your child with you into worship.  We are looking forward to the chatter and noise!) 

Gateway, let’s make this fun!  No doubt we will learn as we go, and things could certainly change.  As time goes on, more and more people will feel comfortable returning to church and eventually we will all be back together…stronger than ever.  We can do this! You are deeply loved by your pastor, staff, and your Lord!  I can’t wait to SEE you in person and experience what the Lord has next for Gateway!  Please feel free to call me personally or at the church if you have any questions!  

Bro. Steve