The New Guidelines
It has been a long year, we have been social distancing and wearing masks for a long time. Yesterday the CDC updated their guidelines stating that people who have been vaccinated no longer have masks under most circumstances and I am sure you are all wondering how that will affect church events going forward.
For this weekend and through May we will follow the rules for the services we currently have in place. The state of Illinois is currently in the Bridge Phase, limiting the number of people that can attend. The Northern Illinois Conference also considers singing to be high risk. (By the way we are nowhere near the limit of attendees, we can have up to 75, if you still wish to join us in person on a Saturday or Sunday morning, register here)
Then during the first weekend in June we will begin to meet maskless. And if the case numbers in Illinois continue to go down the we will go into Phase 5, a complete reopening.
This slight delay in removing our masks will allow those who feel a bit rushed to ease into going bare faced again, and for those still in the process of getting vaccinated to receive their shots. It will also let us determine if there will be a spike in cases due to lifting restrictions too soon.
Since this began we have followed the rule to "First Do No Harm" and by slowly relaxing our rules we can safely open up to a new world, keeping everybody as safe and healthy as we can.
Here is a nice graphic put out by the CDC showing the risk level of various activities for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. (PDF)
Plan for Reopening Our Church
Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,
Greetings to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is my hope and prayer that you are staying healthy and well, and encouraged during these uncertain times.
In the past few weeks, the Relaunch Team, the Single Board and the Staff developed a plan/protocol required by our Conference in order to resume indoor in-person worship and gatherings. It was approved by our District Superintendent, Rev. Heath. Our reopening date is set for October 17/18, if and when everything is in place and ready to do so.
While we are eager to worship together, we want to be diligent in implementing a thoughtful, wise, responsible, and safe plan to reopen our church.
Our plan is grounded in our sense of responsibility for our neighbor and our confidence in the love and grace of God.
Our first imperative is to not endanger the common good (“Do no harm.”)
We value life and are our neighbors’ keepers.
Our priority is safety and health.
Reframe our understanding of extravagant welcome to be extravagant care and protection.
I know that the stress and anxiety of the moment can be a daily struggle. It certainly is for just about everyone. It’s a good time to remember that we need each other. Our call as People of God is to love and take care of each other. I bring this up because in our own community we will have differing ideas of what can or should be done in the country, the state, or even our own church. The truth is, none of us have been through this before. So we need to walk gently with each other, demonstrating kindness, patience, love and humility as we seek to worship and praise our God and serve our community.
Re-opening our church will inevitably be a time of mixed emotions – joy at being able to come together to worship in our church building after many months in lockdown; sadness for the absence of some members. Many of us will be able to attend services and activities as fully healthy, low-risk individuals. Others, though, will come out of a deep love for and obligation to their church, deciding to take a risk in order to be back with their church family. And still others won’t be ready or won’t be able to join us yet.
The reopening will take place in two phases. Phase One: Worship and Youth Ministry (October 17/18). Phase Two: Other Ministries and Outside Groups (November 15). The in-person gatherings will look different and feel different. There won’t be singing and coffee hour and hugs and fellowship. We will continue the online Sunday worship service and online discipleship opportunities.
Friends, this pandemic has disrupted our lives. Life has changed. And the future of the church will be different. But, as I have expressed before, one thing will remain the same: our mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our mission to profess Christ to everyone we meet; our mission to serve the community. We will continue to do this whether online or in-person.
Friends, I believe we are blessed to have people (leaders and volunteers) with the wisdom and skills necessary to get us to the “new normal” stronger and better. We will prevail in facing these difficult times. For God is with us. God is our rock and our unwavering foundation under our feet. (Psalm 18:2). Please, keep us all in your prayers.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Christ’s service and yours.
Guidelines for Attending In-Person Worship
Before You Arrive
Check for symptoms like fever of 100.4, cough, runny nose, loss of taste or smell. If symptoms are present, please stay at home and/or seek medical help.
Use the booking system in advance to reserve your attendance. (50 people capacity limit)
Make sure you have a face mask to bring and wear.
When You Arrive
Doors will be opened 10 minutes prior to the start of worship.
Enter only in marked doorways. Pews and floors will be marked as well.
Contactless infrared temperature checks upon entering the building.
Wear a face mask at all times. Make sure it covers both nose & mouth. (Everyone over the age of 2)
Maintain 6 ft. physical distancing from others. If accompanied, remain with your group.
Wash your hands and use sanitizer often. (Hand sanitizer available at entrance and exit)
Follow all one way traffic patterns and the guidance of the ushers.
No hugs or handshakes or high fives or fist bumps.
No congregational singing.
Leave your offering in the offertory plates located at the back of the sanctuary or mail it to the church.
After The Service
You will be dismissed by pews. Please follow the instructions of ushers.
Use only designated exit doors.
Practice physical distancing and continue to wear your face mask.
No congregating in the parking lot or church.
To download a PDF of the opening guidelines click the button below