The 2020–2021 global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., the virus that causes COVID-19), also known as the novel Coronavirus, has altered our way of life and way we worship for the foreseeable future.
It is important to remember that federal, state, and local governments are unable to place mandatory restrictions on places of worship because of the protections provided in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, as well as the Tennessee Religious Freedom Restoration Act (T.C.A. § 4-1-407). Places of worship, such as our own—the Grace Seventh-day Adventist® Church (hereafter “Church”)—are responsible for establishing their own guidelines.
The Church began reopening in phases its facility at 9123 S. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, TN 37922-6326, on 04 July 2020 after a short period of a few months of closing for in-person services and gatherings.
Since its phased reopening, the Church holds all of its usual services and gatherings in person with an added online option via Zoom for those who are unable or feel uncomfortable with participating in person at this time. Our midweek prayer meetings and weekly youth and young adult Bible study take place at 07:00 p.m. ET on Wednesdays. A general combined Sabbath School program is held at 09:30 a.m. ET followed by adult, youth and young adult/collegiate, and children Bible lesson study breakout classes at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturdays. The Sabbath worship service begins at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturdays and weekly fellowship meals for church and community follow at around 12:45 p.m. ET.
The facilities are also open and available for special services and gatherings, such as weddings, funerals, baby/child dedications, baptismal services, etc. Requests for such services can be presented to the pastor, who will bring them to the church board for approval.
Descriptions and guidelines of future phases of this reopening plan will be given when the Church is ready to implement each phase.
At this present time, the Church has lifted all of its required guidelines for in-person participation in its services and gatherings. Each individual participant is responsible for safeguarding his/her own self and family in the ways that feel necessary to him/her while on the Church's campus. Nevertheless, the wellness and safety of our in-person participants continues to be of upmost importance. Those who are considered a part of populations that are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 an other spreadable illnesses (i.e., everyone 65 years and older, people with disabilities, people with serious respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, people who are immunocompromised, and others) are encouraged to assess their personal risk of attending the aforementioned in-person gatherings and services with the guidance of their primary care physician. Additionally, those experiencing any of the physical symptoms associated with COVID-19 (i.e., a cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat, a fever, loss of taste or smell, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) or other spreadable illness should seek immediate medical attention and not participate in the above gatherings and services in person but rather make use of the provided online services via Zoom.
Special safety guidelines have been put into place to minimize the spread of illness as far as possible.
Plates used for the collection of tithes and offering during Sabbath worship will be passed around the sanctuary in our traditional fashion. However, some in-person participants may not wish to handle the plates. Therefore, a box will also be available in the Church's foyer where tithes and offering can be placed for those who do not want to handle the plates. Alternatively, some may choose to give (1) online via our website at https://gracesda.com/giving or the AdventistGiving application for Apple and Android mobile devises (available for download at https://adventistgiving.org) or (2) by post mailing tithes and offering to the treasurer, Donna Asbury, at the Church's mailing address (9123 S. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, TN 37922-6326). Those performing treasury duties should take precautions to minimize risk of illness when handling currency.
For communion services (i.e., the Lord’s Supper celebrations), participants who are unable or feel uncomfortable with the practice of the ordinance of humility (i.e., the foot-washing ceremony) at this time are encouraged to practice it in their homes with their families prior to such services. Otherwise, the Church will provide an opportunity for the corporate practice of foot-washing as it has traditionally done. Men gather downstairs in the fellowship hall, women in the adult Sabbath School classroom to the right of the sanctuary (connected to the women's restroom), and married couples in the adult Sabbath School classroom(s) to the left of the sanctuary. The emblems of unleavened bread and unfermented wine are now being distributed in communion plates by the pastor, elders, and deacons in the traditional manner. However, provisions have been made for those uncomfortable taking from the communion plates. Individually pre-packaged and sealed emblems are available for pick-up in the Church's foyer the morning of communion services. We use the brand TrueVine for the emblems (pictured below). The ingredients are also listed below.
Unleavened Bread: Flour and vegetable shortening.|
Unleavened Bread (Gluten Free): Flour mix (garbanzo bean, tapioca, sorghum, fava beans, potato starch), filtered water, canola oil, and salt. Free of gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, eggs, soy, nuts, and corn.|
Unfermented Wine (or Juice): 100% grape juice from concentrate produced from USA grown grapes that are a blend of Concord grapes and others types combined with filtered water only. No sugar or artificial flavors added. Kosher and non-GMO. Gluten Free.
Those who choose to attend the aforementioned in-person gatherings and services are encouraged to comply with the following guidelines while on the campus of the Church.
The wearing of protective face coverings is encouraged (especially for more vulnerable populations) but not required at this time.
In addition to social distancing efforts, greater vigilance in cleaning and hygiene. The Church will implement the following safety and wellness measures to increase the sanitation and hygiene of the church facility in an effort to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 to attendees.
Since Friday, July 02, 2021, the Church has been circulating purified air throughout its facility through the installation and use of ionization systems from Global Plasma Solutions, Inc. (see below) in the HVAC units that have been proven by third-party testing to clean the air of pollutants, dust, dander, pollen, smoke, mold, mildew, and even different types of viral and bacterial pathogens—such as Norovirus, HuCoV-229E, Legionella, Clostridium Difficile, Tuberculosis, MRSA, Staphylococcus, E. coli, influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., the virus that causes COVID-19), etc. These ionization systems have been shown to reduce 98.33% of SARS-CoV-2 in the air and 99.98% of it on surfaces. More information about needlepoint bipolar ionization technology and how it purifies the air of unwanted particles and pathogens can be found by clicking here.
Thank you for your understanding the above reopening plan and your voluntary compliance with the guidelines expressed therein. We pray that God will richly bless you and our local Church as we do our best together to worship him and perform the mission of the Church, all the while attempting to keep our community safe and well.