Regathering the Church

Introduction

We will arrange our regathering protocols according to the three phases identified in President Trump’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. The Rector will be responsible for deciding when the church will move from one phase to the next. The Rector will consult with the vestry before moving to a new phase to make sure that all details of the new phase have been accounted for. The Rector may choose to reopen the church more slowly than the Governor chooses to reopen the state, but the church will not reopen faster than the state and county governments. As of 05/13/2020 our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Neil Lebhar, strongly recommends that each phase last for at least 2 months.

Pandemics often have resurgences. In the event that a resurgence occurs in our geographic region, it may be necessary to regress to a previous phase until conditions improve.

The plan presented here will be revised as necessary to adapt to changing circumstances as they develop. 

Before Entering Phase 1

  • Regular cleaning of church facilities will resume. According to the CDC, facilities which have been unoccupied for more than 7 days, “will only need your normal routine cleaning to reopen the area. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.
  • Worship will transition from pre-recorded and edited video services to recording a simulated live stream with musicians, clergy, and readers present. A distance of 6 feet shall be maintained at all times. The total number of people assembled for the live recording session shall not exceed 10.

Throughout the Three Phases

  • Continue to practice good hygiene:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces.
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
    • Wear a face covering while at church. Strongly consider using face coverings while in other public places.
  • People who have any symptoms of sickness should stay home.
  • People who may have been exposed to the coronavirus in the last 14 days should stay home.
  • Remember that while the spread of the virus has been slowed by the extreme physical distancing of the past few months, the virus is still present in the community, and there is still no vaccine. It will be important to be cautious until such a time as there is no longer an active threat from this pandemic.

Phase 1a

  • Staff shall continue to work from home as much as possible.
    • Staff should not come to the church campus if they have any symptoms of sickness
  • During the Phase 1a, all in-person gatherings will continue to be suspended aside from drive-through Communion (as outlined below) and drive-through Food Giveaway.
  • Drive-through Communion
    • Please remain at home if you:
      • Have any symptoms of sickness.
      • May have been exposed to the coronavirus.
    • Because communicants will remain in their vehicles, vulnerable individuals may consider participating if they feel comfortable doing so.
    • Those who come for drive-through Communion are encouraged to participate in one of the remote worship services before coming for communion.
    • Drive-through Communion will be distributed at designated times in the breezeway between the Church and the parish hall. The buildings will remain locked and the bathrooms will not be available.
    • The distributions shall be administered by one clergy-person to the occupants of one vehicle at a time. The clergy person shall wear a mask and will wash or sanitize his or her hands regularly, but especially before touching any communion elements and after physical contact with those who come to receive.
      • Clergy may not participate in distributing communion if they have any symptoms of sickness.
    • Participants should remain in their vehicles and drive into the breezeway.
    • The clergy person will pray a short service (see BCP pg. 227-231 for details) with those in the vehicle.
      • A printable bulletin for this service will be published on the church website so that people can print a copy before arriving for communion. An online version of this will also be available for people to view on their phones or tablets. A printed copy of the service will be available, but it is recommended that communicants employ one of the above options if possible.
    • Distribution of communion will be in the form of bread-only
      • A paper cup with bread will be placed on a disposable tray with a pair of tongs. The driver of the vehicle will take the paper cup off of the tray and pass it around to those in the vehicle. The paper cup will then be disposed of in a paper bag which will later be burned.

Phase 1b

  • After at least two weeks of Phase 1a, in person communion services may be added with groups of up to 20 people (including one clergyperson).
    • Please continue to worship at home if you:
      • Are a vulnerable individual (people over 65 or with certain medical conditions, see below).
      • Have any symptoms of sickness.
      • May have been exposed to the coronavirus.
    • To avoid having too many people show up at a service, all in-person services will be scheduled at times other than Sunday morning. A schedule of worship opportunities will be posted on the church website each week.
      • All worshippers must pre-register for a particular worship service, using the online registration system or by phone. Registration will be closed when the number of participants (including children and clergy) reaches 20.
    • Drive-through communion will continue to be offered using the protocols outlined in Phase 1a above. This may be a good option for vulnerable individuals if they feel comfortable with it.
  • In-person worship protocols
    • All worshipers shall wear a mask.
      • The clergyperson leading the service shall wear a mask whenever possible. Masks may be removed when speaking in front of the congregation for Bible readings and Preaching.
    • There will be no congregational singing during in-person services.
      • Musicians may continue to play or sing during the weekly live stream or recording session.
    • Only the Church building will be open during services. The parish hall and office will remain closed.
    • The door to the family care center will be open so that parents can access the bathroom and changing table. All of the furniture and toys should be removed and stored.
    • The other restrooms in the church will be available for use as well.
    • Greeters/Ushers will not make physical contact with others as they do their jobs.
      • Their primary role will be to greet people from an appropriate distance and give them instruction about safety protocols.
    • Bulletins will not be handed out, a slide presentation will be used instead.
      • People may also print their own bulletins at home and bring them.
    • Books, cards, and pencils will be removed from the pew backs.
    • The church doors should be propped open as people enter and then closed when all registered worshipers have arrived.
    • Hand sanitizer will be available near the entrance to the church.
      • People should either wash their hands in one of the bathrooms or use hand sanitizer upon arrival at church.
    • Physical distance
      • If sitting in the same pew as someone from another household, at least 6 feet must be maintained at all times between households.
      • Alternating pews should be taped or roped off to prevent people from sitting immediately behind another individual or family.
      • There should be no physical contact between people from different households.
    • The passing of the peace will be verbal with no physical contact (except between those of the same household) and while remaining in the pew where you are seated.
    • Offering plates will not be passed:
      • People are encouraged to give online
      • Those who desire to give by check may:
        • Use the offering box near the entrance of the church
        • Mail their check to the church
        • Use the “Bill Pay” feature through their bank’s website
      • The offering will not be brought forward during the service.
    • Communion
      • Only the celebrant will stand at the Altar.
      • The Altar should be set up for communion before the service begins. The bread and wine should remain covered until the time of distribution.
      • The celebrant shall sanitize his or her hands after the offertory and again just before distributing communion.
      • People should refrain from holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.
      • Communion shall be distributed in the form of bread only. Only the celebrant will drink from the chalice.
      • The Celebrant shall wear a mask while distributing communion to the people.
      • The people shall receive communion standing to avoid contact with the altar rail. A minimum distance of 6 ft. should be kept between households as they wait to receive communion.
        • The celebrant will place the bread in the hands of each communicant. Communicants should return to their seats with the bread and then briefly remove their mask to consume it. Masks should be worn again once the bread has been consumed.
      • The prayer for spiritual communion will be included in the service for those who don’t receive communion.
    • The church doors (including the two side exits) should be propped open at the end of the service so that worshippers do not need to touch any doors as they leave.
    • Clergy will greet people after the service but will maintain 6 ft of distance and will not make physical contact.
    • No food or drinks will be served after the service.
    • Following each service, the church building, including the bathrooms, must be cleaned and sanitized using the cleaning protocol.
  • Remote opportunities for worship will continue.
    • 8:00 AM on Sundays by conference call
    • 10:30 AM on Sundays via Facebook live
  • In-person groups will continue to be suspended. Groups are encouraged to meet online.

Phase 2

  • Staff shall continue to work from home as much as possible.
    • Staff should not come to the church campus if they have any symptoms of sickness.
  • Worship services may take place on the church campus in groups of no more than 40
    • Please continue to worship at home if you:
      • Have any symptoms of sickness.
      • May have been exposed to the coronavirus.
    • Sunday Worship
      • In-person worship protocols shall continue as in Phase 1b with the following exceptions:
        • Pre-registration will no longer be required
        • If more than 40 people attend a service, we will add an additional service the next week.
        • A serving schedule will be created to provide for a rotation of people on the following ministry teams.
          • Usher/Greeters
          • Lectors
          • Tech Team
    • Drive-through communion will continue to be offered using the protocols outlined in Phase 1a above. This may be a good option for vulnerable individuals if they feel comfortable with it.
  • A livestream of the 10:30 AM service will be available for those who are unable to attend in person via facebook live or by telephone.
  • In-person groups will continue to be suspended. Groups are encouraged to meet online.
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