Church Update

Sunday Worship Reopening

Know Before You Go

We are eager to welcome back our Church Family and Guests. Below is a quick-guide as we reopen our campus and navigate the days ahead.  

Practice Social Distancing

In order to achieve social distancing, we will restrict our seating capacity for each of the worship services. Additionally, social distancing is to be observed in all common areas.

Service Times

To provide space for social distancing, we will have three identical services:  8:00 AM, 9:30 AM, and 11:00 AM. (Balcony will be open in all services) Doors will open 10 minutes prior to each service start time. 

High Risk Individuals

All individuals who fall within the high-risk groups as defined by the CDC, or are sick, are encouraged to stay at home and worship with us online.

Worship With The Entire Family​​

Initially, there will be no Preschool or Children’s Ministry programming, so we are encouraging you to come and worship together as a family. 

Hand Sanitizing Stations

Hand sanitizing stations will be located at all entrances into the Worship Center.

Restrooms In The Worship Center

Restrooms in the Worship Center will be staffed with an attendant for continual cleaning and sanitizing.

Hand to Hand Items

We will not be handing out Worship Guides or passing the Offering Plate. You will have an opportunity to give using newly installed Offering Boxes.

Sanitation

All touched surfaces will be sanitized between our worship services.

Water Fountains

These will be turned off for the time being. Water bottles will be available at the Guest Services Desk.

Staged Reopening of MBC

Just like you we long for the day that our Church Family and Guests will be able to visit our church campus again. As we continue to navigate this time as responsibly as we can, our Elder body has appointed a “Task Force” to help identify and recommend reopening steps. Here are the general “Stages” of our reopening plans. Please continue to check back for additional updates.

Our Current Stage:

Journey Together and Other Ministries

Elder appointed Task Force working to evaluate and recommend to the Elders reopening of ministries and operating measures around campus.

The large venue reopening of our Sunday services in the Worship Center building only.

Reopening Sunday morning Life Groups for all ages around campus, and limited ministries throughout the week.

Reopening our Wednesday evening activities and other ministries.

Church Family Update 06-28-2020

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CHURCH SCHEDULE UPDATE SUMMARY

SUNDAY WORSHIP

We are please to announce the reopening of our Sunday Morning Worship services. This is the only in-person, weekly event scheduled at this time. Refer to the Home page for a summary of things to know.

  • Live stream will be available at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM. Web, Facebook, Youtube
  • Online giving will be available, US Mail acceptance, and drop-off locations on campus. Learn More

WEEKLY DAY/EVENING ACTIVITIES  

We are suspending all church ministry activities during the week, including all evening activities until further notice. Includes Wednesday evenings.

CHURCH OFFICE OPEN

Monday—Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

SFCA

Based on the recommendation of the Florida Department of Education, Southwest Florida Christian Academy will extend its closure until May 31, 2020.  Our teachers and staff will continue to provide a high-quality Christian education virtually until that time. CLICK HERE to visit SFCA.

MELA and THE LEARNING COVE

Normal class schedule this week.

Letters from Pastor Russell

May 31, 2020

Dear McGregor Baptist Family,

What a season it has been!  None of us could have imagined, when we last met together on Sunday morning, that nearly three months would pass before we would gather again.

But now, after a great deal of prayer and preparation, we are pleased to announce that we will once again be meeting together on campus for Sunday services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 beginning on Sunday, June 7.

Right off the bat, I want to agree with those of you who feel that this is not a perfect choice.  COVID-19 has caused all of us to have to think through new variables, ask new questions, assess new information, and make new decisions for ourselves, our families, and our church.  For some of  you (and I know this because you’ve told me), we’ve waited too long.  For some of you, June 7 is too soon, and I understand that as well.

For those of you who will need to wait a while before rejoining us in person, we want you to know that we will be continuing to webcast our Sunday morning services, and we’ll look forward to your continued “virtual” involvement.

If you are in a high-risk group, or if you are not feeling well, please stay home and watch the service on line.  We’ll be there for you!

But for those of you who are ready to return, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some details about what you can expect.  There is a lot to read and understand below, but I really want to encourage you to make your way through it.

Social Distancing

This seems to be one of the most important practices known to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus so, as we gather, the following will be true: 

  • As difficult as it is, please no handshakes or hugs until we put this season behind us.
  • Please don’t attempt to enter the Worship Center until 10 minutes before your scheduled service.  Also, please attend the service that you previously attended.  We should have no capacity issues during the summer, as long as we don’t attempt to pile into one service. 
  • If you arrive at the campus early for your service, please wait in your car until we’re within 10 minutes of our start time.  The doors into the Worship Center will be locked, and we don’t want crowding outdoors.
  • The auditorium entrances and exits will be “One Way.”  The simplest way to explain this is you will enter through the center doors nearest to the fish pond bridge and go straight through the foyer into the Worship Center.  There will be no furniture in the foyer because we really want to discourage gathering there.  All of the other Worship Center doors are “Exit Only.”
  • If you have a mobility issue, or otherwise need to use Valet services, that team will continue to serve and assist as normal.  This means it’s all the more important to keep the fish pond bridge and the Worship Center foyer clear of people standing in place.
  • For those of you who typically park on the East side of the campus, beyond the Hope Building, Main Street will be open for pass-through only.  There will be no furniture for seating in Main Street, and we really want to discourage gathering there.  Both the Preschool and Children’s Ministries remain closed on Sunday morning until further notice, so come on through and head to the Worship Center and enter once we are within 10 minutes of time for the service to start.
  • Once you’re in the Worship Center, half of the pews have been marked with red tape.  Those pews are not available for seating.  Within the open rows, we’re asking that you move to the center, so that no one has to crowd you to get by you.  Please leave six feet between households as you sit down.

    Throughout the morning, there will be volunteers in blue vests to assist you and your family with any questions.

    Personal Protection

    We’ll be providing hand sanitizer stations all over the Worship Center building, and we encourage you to take full advantage of them!

    We are neither requiring nor discouraging face coverings.  This has become an issue where a great deal of polarization has occurred, and, (not surprisingly given the state of the human heart) there is a lot of opportunity for almost-militant self-righteousness to creep in.  Wearing a mask does not mean that you love people more than others do, and declining to wear a mask does not mean that you have more faith to live fearlessly than others do.  It is simply a matter of personal choice, and that’s how we’ll be treating it.  If you are uncomfortable with that approach, it may be best that you wait a while before returning to our worship services on campus.

    We’re not going to be handing out anything made of paper.  That is, we won’t be distributing paper bulletins, sermon outlines, or connect cards for the time being.  All of the information traditionally in the bulletin is available on our web page, including the downloadable sermon outline.  There is an online version of the Connect Card as well. 

    Likewise, we won’t be gathering our morning offering as we traditionally have.   That is, we won’t be “passing the plate.”  In this season, the MBC family has done a marvelous job with giving online or by mail, and of course those methods remain available.  Also, for those who prefer to give in person, or to give cash, secure offering boxes have been mounted to the walls near the Worship Center exits.

    Worship Center Cleaning

    As we prepare for June 7th, and the Sundays to follow, we will be working in the Worship Center building to get things scrubbed and ready for our worship services.

    On Sunday morning, a crew of volunteers will be surface-sanitizing the entire congregational seating area, both on the floor and in the balcony (which will be open for all three services).  In order to make time for this procedure, our service will be held to an hour in length, and we’ll be very deliberate to vacate the auditorium quickly once each service ends.

    We also have removed pew Bibles, hymnals, and Connect Cards from the racks on the back of the pews to make it easier to sanitize all surfaces.

    The bathrooms in the Worship Center will be attended by personnel from our Operations Ministry who will work throughout the morning making certain all bathroom fixtures are consistently cleaned and sanitized.

    Family Worship

    All three services will share the same format, and they will be quite similar to our online services from past weeks.  We must maintain distancing on the platform as well, so we are not able to bring back the choir or the orchestra at this time.

    Since neither the Preschool Ministry nor the Children’s Ministry is available, families will be worshipping together.  Each family should prayerfully decide together whether they wish to join us in person, or remain at home and watch online.  That being said, let me remind us all that the sounds of children in a Worship Service are NOT to be considered like those of a child in a movie theater, because we are not an audience.  They are to be considered like the sounds of grandchildren at a family gathering, because that’s what our worship is, and our youngest worshippers are always welcome in the Worship Center.  If a little one is having a particularly difficult time, we trust that the parents will be wise enough to discern how best to help even if that means leaving with the child.  Let us love one another!

    Future Plans

    In MBC’s Stage 2, we’ll be bringing Life Groups for all ages back to our campus.  That includes everyone from the youngest preschooler to our most senior adults.  At this time, it would be premature to attempt to maintain social distancing and cleanliness standards across the classrooms, assembly spaces, and childcare facilities given what Sunday morning requires of those spaces.

    We ask for continual prayer for our future plans, and we commit to continued preparation and continued faithfulness in “virtual ministry” until we can resume Life Groups.  On a personal note, it has been a great blessing to hear of the online gathering and Bible study of so many of our Life Groups!

    And in MBC’s Stage 3, we’ll be looking at Journey Together, which will also continue to have a strong online component, and various other ministries, with the goal of returning to completely “normal” use of our campus as soon as seems wise.

    No dates for Stage 2 and Stage 3 have been set.  So there you have it.

    There is no way (in this format) that I can address, or even anticipate, every question you may have, so I want to encourage you to take advantage of the following resources.  A video has been prepared to walk you through some of what you can expect next Sunday and thereafter.  It will be available at www.mcgregor.net, as well as the church’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

    Tomorrow evening, June 1st, Pastor Mark Bricker and I will be together on Facebook for McGregor’s Live at 7:55 talking about details and taking questions as we work toward once again being literally #McGregorTogether.

    I love you.  I love the way that our Body of Christ is determined to love our Lord and each other.  I am praying for next Sunday.  I speak for all of the Elders, Ministerial Staff, and other leaders and volunteers when I say that we look forward to serving in special ways in the still extraordinary days ahead.

    By Grace,

    Pastor Russell Howard, for the McGregor Elder Body 

May 7, 2020

Greetings, Brothers and Sisters!

Early last week, the Elders appointed a Task Force to start putting together a plan to reopen the McGregor facility for worship and other activities.  That group met several times in recent days, and prepared a draft report, which was submitted to the Elder Body last night, Wednesday the 6th.  That report was adopted by the Elders.

Here’s a quick summary:

The church’s facility will reopen in stages.  The first stage will be use of the Worship Center only on Sunday mornings, beginning sometime after the State of Florida is acknowledged to be in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.  For the Worship Center, we will follow the “Large Venue” guidance from the state and federal governments, so things will look and feel a bit different, especially at first.   We’ll have more to say about that as we draw closer to reopening.

Our second stage will involve reactivating Life Groups on campus.  That stage, of necessity, includes our Preschool and Children’s Ministries, our Student Ministry, and essentially all parts of our campus.  Because of social distancing guidelines for these smaller rooms, this stage of our reopening will occur within Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. 

Other on-campus ministries will involve careful, case-by-case examination and consideration sometime after on-campus Life Groups have been reactivated.

While AMAZING connections have been maintained virtually, and the Body of Christ has been incredible to continue in love for one another during this pandemic chapter, it will be good to see this time of separation and isolation end!

I know that we long to be back together.  Nobody feels that more strongly than your Elders.  You and I have both heard of other churches that will be reopening right away for gathering.  We wish them well, and we pray that the Lord will bless them.  However, the process of getting our facility ready for our return, and getting our Body of Christ up to speed on new guidelines and new ways to use our facility is neither simple nor easy.  None of your Elders would claim to be infallible in how this process is being designed, timed, or executed, but we do own the responsibility to proceed prayerfully, wisely, lovingly, and resolutely.

There will be a whole lot of additional detail coming out in the days ahead.  Meanwhile, we ask for your prayers and careful attention as we prepare to, once again –  literally – be #McGregor Together.  You are loved and prayed for!

By Grace,

Pastor Russell, for the MBC Elders

 

April 6, 2020

Greetings, Church Family

Last Thursday evening, the Elder Body met, and we’ve reached the conclusion that it’s best for our church to continue suspending our regular on-campus ministry events and worship services for at least the remainder of the month of April.  We will continue to maintain office hours for our staff Monday through Thursday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Both the McGregor Early Learning Academy and The Learning Cove will continue to be open, while SFCA is continuing to provide a robust online education for its students.  All of this is in line with both national and state guidance.

Meanwhile, we’ve undertaken two new ministry initiatives.

Loving Lee is a food drive that our church is doing during the month of April to collect non-perishable food items and personal care items in an effort to bless the families that are in need in Lee County.  To comply with social distancing guidelines, we have actually ceased the distribution that normally happens in our Food Pantry near downtown, so now we are mobilizing all our church family to be a blessing by meeting some tangible needs in Jesus’ name.  I would encourage you to participate as you are able. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Bless Every Home now has more than 1600 households being covered by the prayers from our church members for their own neighbors that live close by.  This is a great way for us to intentionally pray for and engage our neighbors during this difficult season.  CLICK HERE to learn more.

Also, if you are able to donate blood on Wednesday, 4/8/20, please call our main church number at 239-936-1754.  The Lee Health Bloodmobile, which will be on campus this Wednesday, requires sign up in advance in order for you to donate.  The need is very great!  If you are healthy and able to participate, please consider doing so. 

My brothers and sisters, the Lord continues to show His faithfulness during these days.  Ministry is ongoing.  The love of Jesus for His people and through His people has not diminished!  I know that the pain of this pandemic and its effects are widespread and deep, but this is also a Gospel opportunity.  1 Peter 3:15 says we should live “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Please know that you are loved and prayed for, and may we all look forward to celebrating the resurrected Christ on Easter Sunday morning.  

By Grace in the Storm,

Pastor Russell

 

March 18, 2020

Dear Church Family,

Monday evening, I wrote to you about what was then a two-week plan for the Worship Gatherings at McGregor.  However, I also said that things were subject to change without notice.

In the last two days, governmental leaders have restated and amplified their guidance.  The Lee County School Board has made important decisions regarding schools.  Even more churches in our community have announced that they won’t be assembling. 

The Elders met again tonight.  In that meeting, after painful discussion and heartfelt prayer, we reached the following conclusion:  We are suspending all Sunday Morning activities on the McGregor Campus, along with the other weekday and weeknight activities that we already suspended. 

We don’t know how long this suspension will last, and to a man we are greatly burdened by this decision.

We’ll be webcasting a service, yet to be planned, at the usual 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings for the foreseeable future.

As a counselor, and a brother who loves you, please give me the freedom to encourage you with this:  We were not extraordinarily brave before, and we’re not cowardly now.  In the other direction, we were not foolish before, and we’re not suddenly wise now.  We are just shepherds, seeking to love and lead this church well, while following the guidance of the Lord and His Word.  I quoted from Hebrews 10 on Monday night, and while neglecting to assemble is discouraged, we are also directed to submit to the worldly authorities God has placed over us (Romans 13:1-2), and to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39 and others).

There are other details I look forward to sharing with you soon, so I’ve asked our Media and Communications teams to be ready to work with me tomorrow as I shoot and post a video talking about some additional matters.  The Elders will also be sending a letter out to the membership of our church with more details.  But for tonight, I wanted you know of this important decision.

Jesus loves us.  Jesus has us in His sovereign hand.

Pastor Russell