The Session met last night, and we anticipate gathering in the sanctuary on Sunday, August 9 as long as the case numbers in the area don’t increase. We will gather at 11:00 am for worship with no Sunday School, Children’s Church or Nursery for the time being. We will have it live streaming at 11:00 am on youtube. The following are the guidelines we put in place for our time together. These have been updated since we last assembled them based on CDC and state recommendations:
- Since the recommendations are still “safer at home,” we encourage anybody who is at risk to remain at home and worship there. We will livestream services on Facebook and Youtube for those members who have concerns about meeting in person. We will also have the radio broadcast available for anybody who wants to sit in their cars outside the church and listen from there.
- We will have the service streaming on the TV in the fellowship hall for any overflow, especially for families with kids or folks at risk who want to come to church but don’t want to be around crowds. If you are going to the fellowship hall, please let an usher know first.
- We will put hand sanitizer at the front and rear entrance to the sanctuary and encourage all members to use coming and going from the sanctuary.
- Health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Surgeon General of the United States, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have recommended the use of face coverings as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19, therefore we highly encourage for all people 11 and older based on the N.C. mask mandate (Executive Order No.147) to wear a mask and we will provide some for worship attenders who have none. We ask that you use the preventive actions including 3 Ws: Wear a cloth face covering. Wait 6 feet apart from others. Wash your hands.
- We will use every other row to improve social distancing and ask that members sit with family groups or not closer than 6 feet to the next member. We will rope off the pews and have indicators of distance on the pews, but will also have an usher help find seats for each family. If a crowd too large to accommodate this then we may utilize seating upstairs and upfront.
- We will continue to Pass the Peace to our neighbors seated nearby, but we will do so standing in place and verbally without contact.
- We will leave the swinging doors open during worship service. Also one of the front doors from 10:45-11:00.
- Someone in addition to our ushers will take attendance with our “Breeze” app, so as you arrive make sure you are seen and checked in.
- We recommend that ushers pass out bulletins wearing gloves and masks. By doing this and not just setting out to take, we can insure that people aren’t leaving germs behind as they take bulletins. This doesn’t need to be ushers specifically but could be someone that is comfortable wearing a mask and gloves.
- We recommend to leave the offering plates in the vestibule and on the communion table and have members drop their offering in when they arrive or leave.
- We will have special music but the choir will not meet or lead music.
- We will not sing congregational hymns but the pianist may play the first verse, have a special singer, or play hymn over audio.
- Without congregational hymns, our service will be shortened to around 30 minutes so we are in the sanctuary together for a limited time.
- We will not have Sunday School (though we will continue Zoom Sunday School), Nursery, or Children’s Church.
- Children will stay in place for the Children’s Message, and maybe stand so the Pastor can recognize them.
- The cleaning crew will sanitize the sanctuary, bathrooms, and Pastors Study each week.
Communion is a central sacrament in the reformed faith, and we have already missed several scheduled Communion Sundays. So, when we reach the next communion, we will use the same liturgy as usual, but people will pick up a prepackaged wafer and cup on the way into the church, then during the time of communion partake in the bread and cup from their pews.
Guidelines for Staff who are exposed to or contract COVID-19
As we return indoors, it’s especially important for the staff of the church to be safe as to protect the members of the church who will be interacting with them in person on a week to week basis.
- If a staff member has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, chills, shortness of breath, new cough, new loss of taste or smell) during the week, they must get a test as soon as possible, and until then stay in quarantine (14 days after first symptoms). They or a family member will need to contact a replacement for the next two Sundays, depending on when the symptoms appear or until they receive a negative test result.
- If a staff member is exposed to someone who has COVID-19 (with them for 15 minutes or longer within 6 feet), they again must get tested as soon as possible, and be quarantined for 14 days since exposure. They will be responsible for finding a replacement for the next two Sundays or until they receive a negative test result.
- If a staff member has a positive COVID-19 test result but no symptoms, they must quarantine for 10 days, and receive a negative test result before returning. They will be responsible for finding a replacement for the Sunday they miss.
- Staff members who lead the music or preaching will not shake hands or interact with church members unless they are outside after the service. They will remain 6 ft away from each other, and 20 ft away from the congregation as they lead the service. As is mandated by the state, they will wear their masks unless they are speaking/singing into a microphone. If they are sharing a microphone, they will make sure to clean microphone between use.
- Who can fill in?
- For preaching: an elder could be asked to share a short message, either taking an already written sermon from the pastor or doing something on their own. A local pastor can be asked to fill in and to be paid the pulpit supply fee. Often it will depend on what day of the week the exposure/symptoms happen and how much time anybody has to prepare something. Should note that since the pastor is in a clergy couple and both pastors would probably have to quarantine, it may be a bit trickier to find pulpit supply to fill in at the last minute.
- For singing/piano: a church member can fill in on singing or playing with enough notice. If there is nobody available to play, we can use canned music behind someone singing, if nobody is available to sing (or something happens the day before worship without much notice), we can skip an anthem and simply have some instrumental music.
Guidelines for Worshippers exposed to or with COVID-19:
- If a worshiper has been exposed to COVID-19, shows symptoms of COVID-19, or gets a positive test with no symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that they quarantine and and worship with us from home.
- If it is discovered that someone who attended worship and has a positive test or shows symptoms and was exposed to COVID-19(for 15 minutes or more in less that 6 feet) before they attended worship, that person or their family needs to contact anybody from worship they were in direct contact with or were less than 6 feet from for 15 minutes to make sure they get tested and quarantine with the help of the local health department, and contact the pastor so that the worship space can be cleaned.
- If it is discovered that people from multiple families who were at worship together have positive tests or begin to show symptoms around the same time, the church will need to close at least two weeks and move online to clean the space and make sure everybody from worship quarantined. All people who attended worship that Sunday will be contacted so they can get tested.
We realize that the situation and understanding of the virus is rapidly changing, and some of these regulations may be relaxed as we move into new phases, but these restrictions will remain in place as long as deemed safe. At any point that our session recognizes a surge in cases in our area, we will have an emergency meeting to either move back outside or online depending on the severity.