Returning to Bethel – (Indoor Worship Services)

“Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.” Gen. 35:3

May 31, 2020

Dear New Salem Baptist Church,

   I want to thank all of you for your cooperation and spirit of unity over the last two and one-half months as we have navigated together the uncharted waters of this viral pandemic. Your continued faithfulness and the “can-do” spirit of our staff and volunteers has been a joyful encouragement to me. As the above referenced Scripture reminds us, God has truly been with us on our journey! He has provided safety and direction like the way He did for Jacob in the Genesis 35 narrative of his return to the place where he first met God.

   After much prayer, studying all the information available to me, and consultation with respected church leaders around our state, I believe the time has come for us to begin transitioning our services back inside the buildings. On Wednesday night, 5/27, I met with our staff and key leaders from our deacons, security team, and building and grounds team to plan the process of such a transition. We had these goals in mind as we prayerfully planned. 1. Keep our people and the community safe by limiting the possibly of spreading the virus at our meetings.

2. Maintain church unity realizing that there are strong opinions and emotions about the virus that vary widely even amongst our own church family.

3. Give or church an opportunity for in-person worship that honors God. 4. If we err, let it be on the side of caution.

   With those goals in mind, we have put together the plan attached to this communique. It is not a perfect plan. It will likely need to be revised as we learn from week to week like we did when we moved our services outside. Today, for the sake of church unity, I am respectfully asking for your cooperation with the plan, even the parts with which you disagree. If you find there is some part of the plan with which you cannot abide, or if you do not yet feel safe in returning to in-person worship, I am respectfully asking that you not participate in these in-person services and continue worshipping with us via Facebook live-streaming. Please know that all our leaders here at church will respect your decision not to participate and will continue ministering to you as best we can via other methods. Finally, I am asking all of you to re-double your efforts to pray for God’s direction and wisdom for our leaders. Pray for safety for our church family and pray that our Lord Jesus Christ would receive glory from all we say and do. Prayerfully consider some type of “fast” as you intercede with God for our church and community. May God bless us!


Pastor Mel Howton

Returning to Bethel

(A plan for moving our services back inside the buildings.)


— Beginning June 7 and for the entire month of June 2020, we will have Sunday morning worship services only. The only exception will be a church business meeting on Wednesday evening, 6/24 at 6:30 pm.

— To limit the number of people in each service, there will be three services each Sunday morning in two different locations: 8:00 am in the Sanctuary, 9:00 am in the Fellowship Hall, and 10:00 am in the sanctuary. Using two locations will allow for cleaning/sanitizing between each service.

— The 8:00 am service in the Sanctuary will be reserved for those over age 65 and those with health conditions that may make them susceptible to the virus. Members of the Adult 2 SS Class (led by Jeff Epling, Danny Atkins, Don Keltner, Chuck Putt) and members of the Adult 3 SS Class (led by Mark Williams) are encouraged to attend this service. Park in front and North of Sanctuary for this service.

— While not reserved, we request that those in the Young Adult Class (led by Dale Stafford), Adult 1A Class (led by Johnny Frisby), Adult 1 Class (led by Tony Carley, Jessie Riggs), and the Adult 4 Class (led by Tony Smith) attend the 9:00 am service in the Fellowship Hall. Park on South side of Sanctuary for this service.

— While not reserved, we request that those in the Young Married Couples SS Class (led by Hunter Parker) and the College and Career Class (led by Mel Howton) attend the 10:00 am service in the Sanctuary. Park in front and North of Sanctuary for this service.

— Children and Youth should attend the same service as their parents. Youth not coming with parents are requested to attend the 10:00 am service.

Guests may attend any of the services but please respect the 65 and older recommendation for the 8:00 am service in the sanctuary.

Parking/Entry and Exit/Seating

— Parking will be directed and assisted by the security team. Please cooperate.

— Building entry/Seating/Exiting will be directed and assisted by the deacons. Please cooperate.


— There will be no nursery or children’s church for these services. Please bring and keep your children with you. A crying baby or a squirming child will be a welcomed blessing to us all! A children’s activity sheet will be available at each service.

Fellowship/Social Distancing

— We request that you refrain from shaking hands and hugging at these services. Please maintain 6 feet of separation between family groups.

Face Masks/Hand Sanitizer/Building Sanitation

— Face masks are recommended for everyone to protect you and show courtesy to others. For the sake of love and unity, consider wearing a mask. Bring your own, but we will have a limited supply on hand for those who forget theirs. Staff and all volunteers working the services will wear face masks except when singing or speaking on the platform. Staff and volunteers working the services will also be screened and temperature checked by our medical team prior to the services.

— Hand sanitizer will be available at all entry exit points. Please sanitize your hands upon entry and exit of the building.

— Our deacons will be sanitizing seating, restrooms, and entry exit points before, between, and after services.

Congregational Singing

— You are encouraged to sing along while maintaining social distance between family groups and wearing masks. We are coming together to worship, make a joyful noise!

Facebook Livestreaming

— We will livestream the 10:00am service only.


— Offerings and tithing are acts of worship. We will conclude each service with an opportunity for you to worship through giving in a no-contact way as you exit. You may also give electronically at our church website.

Food and Drink

— Please refrain from bringing food and drink to these services.

— Water fountains and Coffee stations will not be available for these services.


— This plan and its exaction will be evaluated each week. Revisions will be made and communicated accordingly as we go along.