Temporary alteration to service times - 11am Live Stream on Facebook
Updated 9 July 2020
Our mid-week groups are all meeting to chat, pray and study the Bible using Zoom, if you would like to be part of a group please message us.
At 11am on Sundays we will live stream a short service which will include prayer, bible reading and a sermon - this will be on Ebenezer’s Facebook page so that you can interact. If you aren’t on Facebook then why not sign up now so you can join the services. Ebe can be found at https://www.facebook.com/EbsBaptist/.
On the first Sunday of the month (apart from August) we have communion on Zoom at 6:30pm, details are on the front page of this website in the calendar section.
In terms of when we might return to our buildings we have spent time as Elders prayerfully considering this. After much consideration we have come to the view that whilst social distancing measures of 2 metres are in place, we wouldn't be re-opening for Sunday Gatherings. Aware that some might be disappointed or puzzled by that decision we want to take an opportunity to share our thinking with you so that you too can prayerfully reflect on it and let us know what you feel God is saying.
The context for the decision is the realisation that we have just over 170 chairs in our building and regularly fill 100 to 140 of them, sometimes more. The church family that gathers on a Sunday ranges from infants through to some in their 80s, and we are blessed to have a healthy number of children join us in worship. With social distancing we think we could seat around 25, possibly slightly more if you had "blocks" for a single household to sit at.
The first consideration was children. Normally children are "free range": would we be able to force them to stay in a chair throughout a gathering and, even if we could, would that be desirable? It would be a massive culture change from “everybody is family and mingle" to "sit still and don't interact". Then we have some younger children and those with additional needs who have limited or perhaps nil understanding of social distancing.
The second consideration was that to accommodate everybody we would have to have between 4 and 6 gatherings on any given Sunday, even if some were shielding at home. There are a few implications from this:
those leading would be exhausted after 4-6 straight gatherings
how could we deep clean between each of 4-6 successive gatherings?
how would we decide who came at what time?
how would we handle visitors (and we get some most weeks)?
The final consideration was theological: what is a Sunday Gathering? We believe it to be the family of God coming together to worship and fellowship; that doesn't happen if we have to split into between 4 and 6 disparate groups meeting at different times.
So, from a practical perspective we can't see how socially distanced meetings could work in our current buildings. From a theological perspective we are not happy with the idea of artificially splitting the church family up and requiring us to meet at different times. On reflection we felt the limited online services we have (limited in what they can do as opposed to limited in frequency) were a better way of maintaining an inclusive community. We are also mindful that these are supplemented with online quizzes, mid-week small groups, prayer meetings, and so on.
We do feel that when the 2 metre restrictions are relaxed then we would change our view, even if there were still some people shielding. The thinking there was that the vast majority could meet together and we would propose to the church that we invest in technology where necessary to enable those shielding to be as much "in the room" as we possibly could make it; to that end the VP/PA team have been working on “post lockdown” technology options.
As we said at the top of this note, we would welcome your prayerful reflections on the situation, so please email us, message us on Facebook or use the contact form on this website to let us know what you feel God is saying at this time.
For further updates please keep an eye here on our website and on our Facebook page.