In order to re-open our church safely, for worship, special services, and other gatherings, the council elect has put the following protocols in place. These protocols outline what we are asking our parishioners to do to protect one another, as well as what we, the church leaders, will do to keep the space safe. This plan is laid out in four sections: Physical Building Logistics, Sunday Morning Worship, Other Church Events, and Routine Cleaning.
The building itself and items in it will be arranged to encourage social distancing in traffic, seating, and to eliminate as many touchpoints as possible. Windows will be opened whenever possible and fans will be turned on, to assist in better air circulation.
Entering the Church: We will keep the main doors open before and after services when possible or ask a volunteer to open and close the door to eliminate the door handle touch point. Parishioners are asked to use only the main entrance to the church, whenever possible.
Narthex: Congregating in the Narthex will not be allowed. Stickers will be placed on the floor to assist with social distancing when using sanitation stations, picking up Worship materials, and entering the sanctuary, as well as waiting for use of the restrooms. Coat hangers will be removed through the summer.
Sanctuary Seating: Pews will be blocked off to allow recommended distance between family units. Family units may sit together. Only one family unit will sit in a pew. A volunteer will be encouraged each Sunday to help “usher” parishioners to available seats. Cushions will be removed, as porous material is harder to sanitize.
Fellowship Hall: The Fellowship Hall will be rearranged to ensure any small gatherings (council, WELCA, confirmation class) can easily adhere to social distancing measures. Tables will be joined together and chairs will be removed.
Kitchen: The kitchen will include a sign-in checklist for cleaning and sanitizing following its use. No more than four people may be in the kitchen area at a time in order to maintain social distance.
There will be temporary changes to our usual Worship. These changes will be reevaluated by council bi-weekly, based on health organization guidance, and adjustments will be made on a fluid basis to create the best, safest experience for all.
Our first priority is keeping our occupancy to a minimum so we can adhere to social distancing guidelines. We will continue to broadcast each service live, through Zoom. We ask those who are able to worship through Zoom, to continue to do so. We can allow no more than 75 people in the sanctuary with a maximum of 12 family units (12 available pews) in the sanctuary. We will use the fellowship hall for overflow if needed.
There have been numerous studies on the added danger of group singing and recitation. This makes gathering for traditional worship a high-risk event. There have also been numerous studies done on the effectiveness of face masks. There are many opposing viewpoints on both of these topics. We have chosen to err on the side of what is safest for all and recommended by health care organizations.
1. A volunteer to greet people and open and close the door would be ideal. This can be determined week to week.
2. All parishioners entering the building will be encouraged to wear a face mask. We ask that anyone who is feeling ill remain at home and attend worship through Zoom (will continue).
3. All parishioners will be asked to use hand sanitizer before entering the sanctuary or fellowship hall. Hand sanitizer will be provided in the narthex.
4. All hymnals will be removed from the pews. Worship materials will be printed in a bulletin that can be disposed of after each use. Bulletins will be preplaced in pew to help designate available seating.
5. Only one reader will be used each Sunday to prevent cross contamination of the reader’s lectern.
6. We will not pass the offering plate. The offering plates will be located at the sanctuary entrance, and we will continue to encourage giving through our online platform, tithe.ly.
7. The passing of the peace will take place without movement throughout the sanctuary or physical contact of any kind. Please remain in your place and greet one another from a distance.
8. Communion will be served (1st, 3rd, and Celebration Sundays) by individual glass, spaced out at tables in the front of the church. There will be no contact with the pastor, who will remain at the altar. Those assisting in communion are required to wear gloves when preparing, and put on a fresh pair of gloves in view of the congregation if assisting in the distribution.
a. Traffic during communion will continue as it has, adding a 6’ distance, marked on the floor. Move forward single file down the center to receive, and return by moving along the wall, back to your seat.
9. We ask that all parishioners refrain from reciting any part of the worship program at a higher volume than normal speech. The quieter you are, the less aerosol you expel at a shorter distance.
10. Singing and projected speech can increase the range of aerosol droplets in the air, up to 20’, making it considerably risky. Knowing these are very important worship elements for many people, we will implement the following to reduce this risk:
a. For in-service music, we ask that you listen while selected music is played. You may hum softly to yourself and a low volume.
b. We will sing out one song at the end of service and invite those uncomfortable or at risk to adjourn prior to the singing.
c. For all group recitation, we ask that you speak at a low volume.
d. This will continue to be evaluated and restrictions will be lifted when it is safe to do so.
11. Following service, parishioners are asked to exit in an orderly, well distanced fashion, following markings on the floor. There will be no receiving line with the Pastor. Any social conversation should take place outside the building.
12. When we believe it is safe to hold coffee hour on 2nd and 4th Sundays as we have, we will adhere to the following guidelines:
a. One person will serve the coffee, wearing a face mask and gloves while serving.
b. Only store-bought goods will be served, and must not be opened prior to being served.
c. No items will be placed on trays, nor will shared utensils (such as tongs) be used. Items must be served on individual plates or napkins. Those serving will wear a face mask and gloves.
d. Eating utensils (forks, knives, spoons), if needed, will be offered with individual servings rather than set in a basket or tray.
Other church events must be scheduled through council, in advance, to ensure we can arrange for the space to be properly cleaned and sanitized before and/or after. Occupancy and social distancing measures should be followed. Anyone approved to use the kitchen should wear a mask and gloves at all times in the kitchen and when serving food or beverages of any kind. Measures should be taken to eliminate shared touch points, such as utensils, silverware, coffee carafes, etc. Potlucks should be avoided.
In addition to our previous cleaning routine, we will ensure the following:
· All touchpoints will be cleaned before and immediately following a service or event. Parishioners may be asked to assist with this. Touchpoints include: all door handles, pew backs and arm rails, piano/organ if used, sound booth, lecterns/podiums, microphones, offering plates, and sanitizer stations.
· Restrooms, especially handles, will be wiped down before and after each event. Restrooms will be fully cleaned weekly at a minimum.
· If/when the Fellowship Hall/Kitchen in used, the space must be cleaned and surfaces/touchpoints sanitized following the event.
· Opening and Closing Checklists will be provided to guide those assisting in ensuring this plan is followed.
In order to help us follow through on this plan, and because bulk supplies are hard to come by, we are asking for donations of disinfecting wipes and sprays, hand sanitizer, and face masks. A donation box will be set up in the narthex. Thank you all for helping us keep everyone safe through your donations.