Hurray for the re-opening of City Harvest Church’s Jurong West premises— but don’t get too excited, remember to follow the safety measures.
Singapore has slowly been resuming activities in recent months since Phase Two. Starting September 30, the maximum number of people carrying out congregational and other worship services was increased from 50 persons to 100.
City Harvest Church has reopened at its Jurong West building for small group meetings—the caveat being that safety management measures must be in place and strictly observed.
ENTERING JURONG WEST
Going to a meeting at JW today is quite different from before. No hanging around to wait for your friends, no chionging to the first floor toilets, and no sitting around at the Level 1 reception area.
But you will be greeted by cheery yellow barricades that will lead you to an entry point where you take your temperature with a scanner and complete your safe entry check-in.
If you’re attending an event with 50 people or fewer, you will enter by the designated gate and proceed to Level Four. Instructions for a meeting of more than 50 are different: prior to the meeting, you will be assigned a Team, A or B. To avoid cross-contamination, these two teams will enter and exit from different points, and both teams wear stickers of different colors.
Imagine you are attending your zone meeting. You have been assigned to Team B, so you enter the church via the main gate and proceed to the entry point, where you are given a sticker that must be displayed at all times. You then proceed to take lifts 4, 5, and 6 to Level Four, where the zone meetings are held. If you need to refresh yourself, you can do so at the toilets located near lifts 4, 5, and 6.
After that, you enter the Children’s Church Hall through the front door. Once you step into the hall, you will notice a long aisle in the middle with neat rows of five chairs on each side. Just like attending a wedding, except the floral pew decorations are replaced by (less dreamy) red queue posts. You then proceed to the seats allocated to Team B.
If you belong to Team A, you will enter from the side gate of the church, along Pioneer Road North. You will complete your safe entry and temperature checks before you proceed to lifts 1, 2, and 3, which bring you to Level Four. You enter the Children’s Church Hall via the side door from the café.
If you are driving into the building, the facilities officers will approach you to take your temperature. They also explain to you the safety measures in place and remind you to only use the lifts and toilets allocated to your team.
While churchgoers are still not allowed to sing during the meetings, they can still worship God in their hearts to music. The worship team conducts praise and worship from the Chinese Church Hall across the cafe, which is streamed to the screens in the Children’s Church Hall.
GETTING READY FOR RE-OPENING
It was not an easy feat to get the building ready for re-opening. CHC’s facilities manager, Lim Wee Lee tells City News that his team has, like many facilities teams throughout Singapore, had to adjust to new guidelines with every announcement made by the government.
“It started when we were allowed to record our services on-site,” he recalls. “Just 10 people were allowed. It subsequently increased to 30. Every now and then, we have to adjust the safe management procedure.”
Besides registering and preparing the QR code for the building, the facilities officers also had to consider entry and exit points, usage of washrooms, and most importantly, ensure that they do not exceed the number of people allowed in the building.
“When the building was opened only for on-site recording, it was just staff that was involved, so it was easy to pass the guidelines for safety measures,” Wee Lee says. “Now that we are allowing members to enter the building, we need to ensure that all the signage is self-explanatory. The communications and graphics department came up with signage that we placed around the building to remind the members of the guidelines.”
Part of adhering to the safety measures is the upkeep of hygiene in the building. Hand sanitizers are placed in the lifts for members’ use, and the facilities team has to do regular wipe-downs of the common areas, such as lift buttons. “We also have to sanitize the hall and all the equipment before and after each meeting,” he adds.
The major part of the job was the planning of the route from the entrance to the hall and to ensure the two groups are segregated at all times. The team also doubles up as technical support staff if the members were to encounter any problems with the equipment.
“We had to go through a course with the church’s tech crew to learn how to operate and troubleshoot the different equipment,” Wee Lee says, adding that the team is also responsible for the proper handover of the hall to the members and for making sure that the attendees are obeying all the safety management regulations.
“The team also has to take care of the security of the building while they are on call for tech support, so they are actually overseeing a lot of things,” he explains.
So when it’s your turn to gather at the Jurong West building, please help the facilities team by following all the safety management guidelines. Have your mask on at all times, don’t mingle in groups of more than five, and don’t arrive at Jurong West more than half an hour before the meeting; and kindly leave right after the meeting ends.
WE’RE TOGETHER AGAIN
On Oct 23, CHC’s Jurong West building welcomed 80 members from WR Zone, overseen by pastoral supervisor Ong Wei Ren’s zone. And they were glad when they heard the call, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Tan Jian An, 23, said it felt “really good to be back in Jurong West. Even the food from the coffee shop (located across the road from the church building) tasted extremely good!” He didn’t mind the safety measures at all, saying, “To be very honest, I would rather go through all this ‘trouble’ just to be back in church again, although we couldn’t sing during the praise and worship session, which is quite sad, just being able to watch and listen to preaching live is already a privilege in this season. Nothing feels better than to be back in church again.”
Another member Eunice Ang, 29, shared Jian An’s sentiments. “I was moved and excited to be able to go back to JW and worship God together with everyone—a privilege that I took for granted before the Circuit Breaker. It was a touching moment to see everyone lifting up their hands in worship although we couldn’t sing. I also felt like I was finally reunited with my spiritual family, even though we meet virtually every week.”
With regard to the safety measures, Eunice understood the necessity. “I do not find it troublesome at all. I think it’s important that we continue to be vigilant and not let our guard down. We have the responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe during this COVID season.”
Health policy analyst Cheryl Seow shared, “The journey to Jurong West has never been sweeter. These restrictions have reminded us of the value of gathering together, something which I might have taken for granted until now. As Wei Ren said during the zone meeting, this verse pretty much summarizes this whole experience: ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ (Ps 133:1)”
Cheryl also expressed her gratitude to those who made the gathering possible: “I’m very grateful to the people serving and all the massive planning done to make this zone meeting happen while providing a safe environment for everyone.”