Opening The Church To In-Person Worship
An Ad Hoc Committee was commissioned by our Session to develop a plan to safely reopen the church to in-person worship. The committee waded through multiple documents from governmental agencies, other denominations, and PC (USA). The end result was a Strategic Plan for Reopening the Church to In-Person Worship, which was approved by our Session in August.
We will begin holding in-person Worship on October 18, 2020. However, it is important that we, as a congregation, be prepared and understand the protocols that will need to be followed.
Is The Church Clean?
Filters in the air conditioning and heating units have been cleaned and/or replaced and will be inspected on a regular basis. Our sextons will be deep cleaning the church each week, paying particular attention to touch points (i.e. those things people touch).
Is The Church Safe?
As we are all aware, nothing is entirely safe when dealing with COVID-19. However, a number of protocols are being put in place to minimize the risk.
- First and foremost, we are asking that if you are thinking of attending, please do not do so if you are sick, have a cough or fever, or are “at-risk”. We also ask that you not attend if you are aware of having been in contact with someone who tested positive in the previous 14 days.
- Please refrain from shaking hands or hugging one another while in the church.
- For the foreseeable future, access to the church building is restricted to the sanctuary, narthex, and vestibule unless the parlor bathroom or the chairlift is needed (see additional information below).
- The sanctuary will only use every 3rd pew and the pews being used will be marked off to allow for 21 two-person seating sections; this means that a maximum of 42 people can be in the sanctuary during worship.
What Do I Need To Know Before Attending In Person?
- You will need to register to attend worship. Registration will be available from Monday at 9:15 am through Thursday at 1:45 pm during the week prior to that Sunday's service. You can register to attend by calling the office at 856-547-6139 or completing the online registration form found here:
- Please understand that no one will be permitted to attend worship unless they have registered for that Sunday.
- The only entrance to the sanctuary will be through the main sanctuary doors at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Green Street. If you are in need of the chairlift, you will need to note that when you register to attend.
- Everyone is required to wear a mask, covering both mouth and nose, the entire time you are in the building. If you forget your mask, we will have some available for you to use and take home.
- We ask that you use hand sanitizer that will be provided before entering the sanctuary.
- Your temperature will be taken. If it is above 100 degrees, you and anyone in your immediate family group will not be allowed to enter the sanctuary.
- An offering plate will be placed in the narthex and you are requested to place your offering there as no offering plates will be passed during the service.
- On Communion Sundays, prefilled, sealed communion cups will be on a table in the narthex. We ask that you pick one up as you enter and that you take the empty cup with you when you leave. Gluten-free cups will be available and clearly marked.
- Pews will be blocked off as will spaces on the open pews to allow for social distancing. Each space will accommodate 2 people. You may sit in any of the open spaces.
- Bulletins will be placed in the open seating spaces; please take the one you use during worship home with you. Since all Bibles and hymnals will have been removed from the pew racks, we suggest you bring your own Bible with you.
- The Joys and Concerns book will not be available; please make sure you send in your prayer concerns by Saturday night as Pastor Eliza will not be asking for those concerns on Sunday morning.
- Please do not sing out loud. Singing in your heart is more than acceptable. More information is provided in the appendix following this document on why singing is not permitted.
- At the end of worship, there will be no greeting line and Pastor Eliza will not be available for greeting. If you need to discuss anything with her, please contact her by phone, text or email.
- Exiting from the sanctuary is only via the Green Street door between the sanctuary and the parlor. To ensure social distancing, please exit row by row, beginning at the back of the sanctuary.
- Please do not congregate in the sanctuary, vestibule or parlor. Greetings and conversations should take place outside.
- We prefer that the parlor bathroom not be used, but if it is needed, please be sure to wipe down all surfaces with the disinfecting wipes provided before exiting.
- No nursery will be provided for the foreseeable future until it is deemed safe for both the children and nursery workers.
- Sunday School will be virtual for the foreseeable future.
- No singing by choirs or soloists will occur. Instrumental music will be permitted if social distancing can be maintained.
- During this initial phase of reopening, no gatherings other than worship, Sunday School (if and when it is resumed in person) and funerals will be permitted inside the building. The time frame of the “initial phase” is unknown at this time.
- Baptisms may take place outside in accordance with the guidelines of PC (USA). If you wish to have your child baptized, please discuss the protocols with Pastor Eliza.
This is not what any of us envisioned when we first began discussing reopening the church to in-person worship, nor is it perfect. But, based on what we have read and listened to, we’ve set forth these protocols to keep everyone who wishes to attend as safe as possible.
In Service to Christ’s Church,
Your Ad Hoc Committee for Reopening the Church to In-Person Worship
Virtually all of the documents reviewed by the committee indicate singing should not take place in enclosed spaces but the most comprehensive explanation comes from the Wisconsin Council of Churches (WCC). The WCC is an inter-denominational ministry of 13 denominations in Wisconsin praying & working for the unity & renewal of the church & reconciliation of the world. The document below outlines their advice and the standards that we are currently adhering to for maintaining a safe environment.