We have big news regarding our re-opening! After much prayerful consideration, discussion, research, consulting medical and government officials, and consulting with other churches in our community, we have decided to set a date for when we will re-open our Sunday morning services. Sunday, May 31st will be our first in-person worship gathering since we decided to suspend gatherings due to COVID-19. May 31st is in line with CDC and White House recommendations for churches to only resume meeting once their state is 14 days past the peak of its curve (barring a second-wave, our peak was the end of April). This also places us after the current state of emergency is supposed to expire. Therefore, we will open in a limited capacity while holding to a carefully thought out Re-Opening Policy. Please read the policy below so that you can be prepared to gather with us on May 31st in a way that is safe and reasonable! We are very much looking forward to this day!
As we prayerfully and carefully re-open our in-person activities in the wake of current events, we have created a tentative policy for re-opening Sunday morning worship services beginning May 31st. This policy will ONLY be for the Sunday worship service at 10:30am. Nursery, children’s ministry, student ministry, connect groups, Bible studies, and all other activities will NOT be meeting in-person at this time and will be phased back in during the coming weeks. Until then, we will continue to use zoom calls and livestreams to connect during the week.
This Re-Opening Policy will include three different parts. The first part involves “Requirements.” These are non-negotiable rules that will be put in place for the safety of all in attendance, as well as, those in our community that people in attendance may come in contact with during the week. The second part will include “Recommendations.” These are suggestions that we strongly encourage but do not require or mandate. Finally, the third part will include “Safety Procedures.” This will include procedures for things like sanitization and social distancing that will be put in place to help ensure health and safety.
*Disclaimer: Please understand that these requirements are given out of love. Christians are called to love our neighbors, and in the midst of a pandemic there are some things that would normally be fine but currently put our neighbors in jeopardy. As a result, we are prohibiting those things in order to be loving neighbors and to honor Christ.
-If you or anyone in your household is sick, or if you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms, remain at home and watch the service online.
-If you have regular contact with someone outside of your home who is elderly or has a pre-existing health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications, remain at home and watch the service online.
-Maintain a 6ft social distance from people outside of your household at ALL times. This includes children.
-Only one household per chair cluster (more info in Safety Procedures). DO NOT share a chair cluster with another household, even if it is only one person. However, you may share a chair cluster with someone who is not in your household if you have regular contact with them outside of church…like a co-worker, close friend, or extended family member.
-Only one person will be allowed in each restroom at a time (unless you are accompanying a small child as their guardian). Wash your hands with soap and water UPON ENTERING and BEFORE LEAVING. While in the restroom, you must utilize a disposable barrier (such as a paper towel or disposable glove) before touching any surface (like turning on the sink, flushing a toilet, opening a door, etc.) and dispose of that barrier immediately after touching a surface and before touching another surface. When you touch another surface, please utilize another barrier and follow the same disposal procedure.
-Do not stand around and loiter IN THE BUILDING before, during, or after service. Even if you are social distancing, this will make it difficult for people to walk around you while maintaining appropriate social distance. You are welcome to spend some time fellowshipping and chatting OUTSIDE as long as you maintain 6ft of social distance and leave room for people to move around you while maintaining social distance.
-We recommend that senior citizens and people with pre-existing health conditions remain at home and watch the service online. We cannot guarantee you will not be exposed to the virus. Should you decide to still attend, we welcome you, but know that you do so at your own risk.
-We recommend if you do not feel safe or comfortable attending in-person gatherings that you remain home and watch the service online. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Rejoin us when you feel reasonably safe.
-All buildings will be cleaned the day before the Sunday Worship Gathering by a professional cleaning service.
-One of the reasons that we will not yet resume any gatherings during the week is just in case any remnant of the virus was left uncleaned on a surface, there will be ample time for that virus to die naturally on the surface before we meet again.
-All doors (with the exception of restrooms) will be propped open so that you don’t have to use door handles.
-We will NOT be offering our coffee/food table at this time in order to avoid cross contamination.
-We will NOT pass an offering plate in order to avoid cross contamination. There will be offering receptacles by the doors that you may utilize upon exit.
-We will have as many hand sanitizer stations available as we can (based on supply).
Seating and Social Distancing Measures:
-All chairs will be arranged in clusters of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Each cluster will be at least 6 ft. apart from all other chair clusters. There will only be one household per chair cluster. Even if you are the only person in your household, you cannot share your chair cluster. We will place a few books and toys at several chair clusters for families with small children. See exception under Requirements: Seating.
-Once we have reached capacity in the sanctuary, we will begin seating people (under the same rules) in the foyer and C4 room, where the service will be simulcast into the room with a TV and sound system. All of the same rules apply in those spaces as in the sanctuary.
-We will not have designated greeters inside the building at this time. It is difficult for a greeter to meet you in a doorway or foyer or to open a door for you without getting closer than 6ft.
-Doors will open at 10:00am to allow people to stagger their arrival so everyone is not arriving at the same time. The countdown will begin at 10:30 with service beginning at 10:35.
-We will be dismissing chair clusters in an orderly fashion at the conclusion of the service in order to maintain social distance upon exit.
-If you feel that you need to wear a mask to protect yourself and/or others, please do so. But please refrain from sharing your opinion on the matter with others who may feel differently than you.
-If you plan to attend our first in-person gathering on May 31st, please email April at firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to the post on social media so that we can be adequately prepare the seating arrangements.
If we Have a COVID-19 Positive Case in the Building:
-In the unfortunate event that someone within our congregation tests positive for COVID-19 AND was present at an in-person gathering within 14 days of testing positive, we must (per DHEC regulations) close the facilities for 14 days after the time of exposure. In that case, we would move to a completely online format and the church office would be completely closed during the week until we have reached the 14 day threshold.
Thank you so much for your understanding and participation regarding these policies and procedures. We are working hard to be as faithful and loving as we can during this unprecedented time. We look forward to the day when we can loosen up more guidelines and include more gatherings, but for now we are excited about May 31st!