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Coronavirus Updates

Coronavirus Updates

June 9, 2020

Update on Reopening

Our Leadership Team affirmed last night that we will gather in-person to worship the Lord this Sunday, June 14, at 10AM, Lord willing. We rejoice in this decision, but we need to give thought to the conditions under which we will gather.

There were three stipulations Mayor Hogsett gave for religious gatherings: (1) We can operate at 50% capacity. (2) We must practice social distancing. (3) We must wear face coverings. Now, before I say more, please remember that today's announcement is good news. It is good that we can gather as a church family once again...to praise and pray and preach and give and encourage one another once again.

Certainly, we may not enjoy any restriction placed on us, but it is worth being inconvenienced if we get to gather in person. It is worth keeping our distance if we can participate in congregational singing and be encouraged by it. It is worth sitting separately if we get to sit under God's Word together. It is worth wearing a face covering if we get to see, encourage, and pray for one another.

Consider this. How many of our brothers and sisters around the world will never have the government's blessing to gather? How many would rejoice if their biggest problem was having to wear a face covering to worship? In the perspective of the church's persecution around the world, these restrictions are small. In light of eternity, these restrictions will not last long. So, we should commit to avoid grumbling and complaining about them.

With that said, here's how we will handle the three stipulations from Mayor Hogsett:

Operate at 50% capacity.

  • We will only utilize every other pew. If seating in the auditorium fills up, additional seating (with a live stream) will be available in the Student Center.

Practice social distancing

  • Handshakes and hugs will eventually return to our fellowship, but for now, we will avoid them.
  • We will maintain the 6-foot social distancing standard, as in other public places.
  • Family units will sit together. As a reminder, a 'family unit' is (a) a single person living alone, (b) a married couple, or (c) all those who live in the same home.

Wear face coverings (i.e., masks or bandanas)

  • Face coverings were specifically mentioned for congregations, as well as restaurant employees, those who provide and receive personal services (i.e., salons, barbershops, etc.), and more. So for now, we ask that you wear a face covering while in the building.
  • For a variety of reasons, there may be strong feelings behind one's decision to wear a mask or not. While we may differ on this issue, we ask that you submit to this requirement. If you cannot, for any reason, do this, then we ask that you wait to return and watch the live stream at home.

That covers the impact of the mayor's announcement on this Sunday's worship service. The rest of the details is the same as we posted below for May 12, so just review those. We're excited to see many of you this Sunday!

May 25, 2020

Update on Reopening

Our Leadership Team determined it would be wise to delay the reopening of Sunday morning services by two weeks. Instead of May 31st, we will now be tentatively regathering for worship on Sunday, June 14th. Thanks for your patience and prayers!

May 12, 2020

Guidelines for Gathering Again

Heather Hills Family,

This is a long update, but it's full of important information. Please take time to read it all!

Last night, our Leadership Team discussed something that is dear to all of us: gathering for worship again. As you know, gathering for worship is a priority in our lives as Christians. We don't just want to gather again because we miss one another, though we do miss you. We need to gather again. God commands it, and weekly corporate worship is a means of grace in our lives, sustaining and encouraging our souls.

Therefore, the Leadership Team has tentatively decided that we, as a congregation, will begin to gather again on Sunday, May 31st.

There are a number of factors that have gone into this decision. One factor is the leadership of our civil authorities. While Governor Holcomb has said churches may reopen as of May 8, Mayor Hogsett issued a continued stay-at-home order through May 15. However, we want a little more time to watch the data in our state as it reopens. So, we will not begin meeting until May 31st. Please note: We will keep an eye on any and all developments that may change this date. In fact, our Leadership Team will be meeting on May 24th to consider any changes that may need to be made for our reopening date.

Now, there may be a diversity of opinions on this decision to begin meeting again. There may be a difference of opinion from one church to another, as well as from one church member to another. Some will think it's too soon to gather, while others wonder why we ever stopped. In addition, some will see the guidelines below and think we're being too cautious, while others will think they don't go far enough.

We understand all of this, and we took it into consideration. However, we believe that our congregation will demonstrate the spirit of Romans 14, not passing judgment on those who differ or causing them to stumble (v. 13). After all, if Christians in 1st-century Rome can differ on eating meat and observing the Sabbath while "[pursuing] what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding", then 21st-century Christians in Indianapolis can do the same, while differing on the ideas of gathering and wearing masks (v. 19).

Another factor in this decision is your health and vulnerability. To be clear, if you are sick at all, you should not come to worship (just like normal!). Also, if you are among those who are vulnerable due to age (65+) or medical conditions, we encourage you to consider staying home for the time being. Listen to your doctor. If you want to talk through your particular situation, feel free to reach out to me or one of the other pastors.

Now, for those who will gather on May 31st, you should know that everything will not immediately return to what we consider 'normal'. In submission to our governing authorities, in an effort to take the counsel of experts in virology, and out of love for our neighbor, we will exercise caution in gathering.

To explain this, I'll keep it as simple as possible using three categories.

Some things will be missing from Sunday morning (for now).

  • There will be no onsite Sunday School, nursery, preschool classes, or Kidzone.
  • We will have no printed bulletins.
  • There will be no greeting time during the service.
  • There will be no Fellowship Time or coffee.

Several things will be different.

  • Entering the building - Only the main entrance under the canopy will be open. We will have men open the doors for you, both coming in and going out. This will keep multiple people from needing to touch door handles.
  • Masks and gloves - Some will wear them; some won't. We are not mandating one or the other. Health officials are encouraging the use of masks in public gatherings, and we will have a very limited number of masks available (please bring your own if you have them). Make an informed decision for yourself, and respect the decision of others.
  • Avoid contact and maintain social distancing - While we have permission to gather, we must maintain social distancing standards.
    • Handshakes and hugs will eventually return to our fellowship, but for now, avoid them.
    • Maintain the 6-foot standard, as in other public places.
    • We will only utilize every other pew, and they will be clearly marked. We will have ushers direct you to seating based on the size of your family. Within pews, please maintain proper distance between family units. By 'family unit', I mean a single person who lives alone, a married couple, or those who all live in the same home.
  • Stay sanitary - Hopefully, we were all washing our hands pre-COVID, but we will have hand sanitizer in various locations. In the two available sets of bathrooms, there will be sanitizing wipes to use when opening the door to exit.
  • Children will be in the service - All children must stay with their own families. As much as I love seeing children from different families sitting together and children playing together after the service, it should be avoided for now. Each week, we will distribute activity/coloring sheets electronically for you to print and bring to the service. Please bring your own crayons. We plan to project the livestream in the Student Center if parents need to exit with extra-squirmy children.
  • Communion - We will not be distributing the elements as usual. Prepackaged communion cups containing both the bread and the juice have been ordered. On Sundays when we have the Lord's Table, these will be on tables at the back of the auditorium. You will pick one up on the way in and keep it with you until the appropriate time in the service.
  • Offering - No offering plate will be passed. If you have been giving online, please keep doing that. A box will be available at the Information Center for those who want to give in person.
  • Post-service lingering - We are a lingering congregation, and I love it! However, we encourage you not to linger in the auditorium but have post-service conversations outside or on the playground.

Some things will be the same.

  • We will be together.
  • We will sing together.
  • We will pray together.
  • We will hear God's word together.
  • We will exalt Jesus in passionate worship...together.

Praise the Lord for all that! And we will continue, for the time being, to meet "virtually" for ABF, Bible studies, and any other regularly scheduled activities via Zoom or other mediums.

One last thing. In order to make sure we are ready, we need to get an idea of how many people plan to attend on May 31st and in the weeks after that. So, I have created a short survey to get your response. Please click here and fill out the survey by the end of this week. Thanks!

I am thankful this step toward normalcy has finally arrived, and I will be glad to gather with you once again. May God continue to give wisdom for decision-making and courage for disciple-making in these days.

Pastor Brian for the Leadership Team

March 13, 2020

Dear Heather Hills,

I hope you're well and trusting and rejoicing in our Lord Jesus today, even in the midst of a sobering series of events as our nation responds to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. As you may know, we had determined to try to hold our services for the time being. However, on the recommendation of health professionals and in the interest of our neighbors the Pastors have decided to move our services exclusively to online streaming for an indeterminate number of weeks.

Brothers and sisters, Christians should never be motivated by fear, not when we serve the Sovereign Lord of the Universe. But there's a crucial difference between fear and prudence, and in this case love for our neighbors compels us to join our nation's extraordinary efforts to minimize contact between people in order to slow the spread of this virus and "flatten the curve" of the pandemic. We are not cancelling our services because we ourselves, as Christians, are afraid to get sick or even afraid to die. No way! "To live is Christ, and to die is gain." Rather, we are cancelling because we believe it is imperative for us to be a part of our society's response to this virus that, at best, will be serious for the most vulnerable, and, at worst, could put even more people at risk by creating a severe and sudden spike in demand on our health care system. So, don't be afraid or fearful, brothers and sisters. Read God's Word, remember God's promises, help those who are needy, and trust in God. He is sovereign over all, and he loves you dearly.

Now let me give you some more information in a few categories:


As long as these circumstances persist, we will be livestreaming the sermon on Sunday at 10:00 am. We will be streaming on our church's Facebook page and hopefully on our church website as well for those who do not have Facebook. Please do not come to the church building for the services. This is important. Even if you are quite convinced that all this is "nothing to worry about" or "overblown" or "fake news," or even if you feel that conscience compels you to come, please don't come. We'll be happy to talk with you over the phone about your concerns, but please do not come.


Until further notice, all Heather Hills Sunday School classes, ABF groups, Bible Studies, Children and Youth events, and other events are cancelled. No events of any kind will be happening at the church building, and no events under Heather Hill's name will be happening anywhere else, either.


We need your help on this. If you are one who normally gives by check or cash, please begin to give through our online giving platform. You can access it through the church website. If you need help, please contact the office.


One of the most important things we can do is continue to communicate with one another through these next couple of weeks. Official church communication will take place by email. If you want to email the pastors, use bmccrorie@heatherhills.org, toetjen@heatherhills.org, and goertel@heatherhills.org


The Leadership Team will be discussing systems and mechanisms by which we can be in touch with one another and care for each other as a church. By far the best way for that to happen, however, is to remain in close contact with the members of your ABF group.

Brothers and sisters, thank you again for your help and understanding in these matters. These are not easy decisions, but we think they are the best way for us to love our neighbors in a critical time. And again, just like we've said before, don't be fearful about this. Be prudent and wise, but not afraid; there's a profound difference between the two. The fact is, this fallen world has always been a dangerous place. We as Christians know this, we have always known this, the Bible teaches us to expect this, and there is a wonderful fear-smashing confidence in knowing that our God is sovereign over it all. So let's live our lives, let's be wise and careful, and at the same time, let's rest in the hands of our sovereign Lord, who is working all things together for the good of those who love him. Please do reach out if you have questions or for any other reason.


Pastor Brian

March 12, 2020

Update 4:30 p.m.

Governor Holcomb has released additional directives today: "Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people. This includes any event or gathering of people who are in one room or a single space at the same time, such as cafeterias, churches, stadiums, meeting and conference rooms, auditoriums and the like." At this time, this new directive will not impact our regularly scheduled services at Heather Hills. To read the entire statement, click here.

Dear Church Family,

As COVID-19, or coronavirus, continues to dominate the news and is a cause of concern and uncertainty within our community, we wanted to take a moment to address how as a church, we are planning for the weeks ahead. We know that God is sovereign, yet we also want to make every effort to pray, think, and plan practically during this unpredictable season.

At this time, we are not planning to cancel services or planned events.

If state and local health officials announce closure recommendations, or if our church leadership feel it is in the best interest of our church family to cancel services or events, we will communicate updates with you through various channels: phonetree, website, emails. We will post updates as we have them at www.heatherhills.org/cvirus.php

Our leadership team has been praying, learning, and talking, and we recommend the following steps:

  • If you or an immediate family member are sick with any communicable illness, please do not attend services or events until you are better. The CDC recommends returning at least 24 hours after a fever or signs of a fever.
  • If you are a high-risk individual or have concerns about potential exposure, please use your own judgment about attending services or events.
  • If you or someone in your home is diagnosed with COVID-19, please let a church leader know so we can support and care for you.

As always, to help prevent the spread of germs, please:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue if you sneeze, or cough into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, and encourage everyone in your home (especially your kids!) to do the same.
  • Get in the habit of not touching your face.
  • Refrain from hugs or handshakes for the time being.

A few final points and resources:

Our facilities team also wants to assure you that we already take steps to keep our building clean. Frequently touched surfaces in the auditorium, bathrooms, and classrooms have been and will continue to be regularly cleaned and sanitized. The products we use are designed to kill both flu and corona-class viruses.

Please pray for those around the world who have been infected and affected by COVID-19, and pray that this uncertain time may be an occasion for Gospel proclamation.

Heather Hills Baptist Church
1421 N. German Church Road
Indianapolis, IN 46229