COVID-19 Response

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In-Person Worship Update- September 23, 2020

Friends,

We are still the church! The pandemic has been a long journey (with many steps still to come, it seems), but I’m grateful for the ways we’ve been able to stay connected, worship, and serve even during these times!

The Executive Committee of the Board met this past Monday night via Zoom to determine our plans for worship and building usage in October. We’ve enjoyed outdoor worship the past couple of months, which has provided a lower-risk gathering, but we also realize the weather will soon be turning colder, making that less of a possibility. With that in mind, we are moving to a transitional model for worship.

Beginning Sunday, October 11, we will be offering an indoor worship service in the sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. and an outdoor worship service in the side yard at 11:00 a.m. These services will largely be identical in content and each will last 30-35 minutes. We’ll still be doing online sign-up for each service so we can manage the size of the gatherings. You can now sign-up for any of the next 3 Sundays at any given time by using our online form (https://forms.gle/arYyMXbf5Wqh7EH1A ) or by contacting the church office at 502-863-2049. We will continue to offer an online option for engaging in worship even once the in-sanctuary services resume. This will be offered either via livestream or a video recorded and posted later on Sunday- watch for more details soon. For both services, if you feel ill or are running a fever (or have been exposed to someone who is/has), please remain home and participate in worship through our video option.

It’s important to us to carry out these opportunities in ways that minimize risk as much as possible, as this is an act of loving one another and our larger community. With that in mind, here are the guidelines we are already using for outdoors service and the guidelines we will be using for our indoor service:

Outdoor service in the side yard at 11:00 a.m.:

You can enter the side yard from either the College Street or Clinton Street sides. Everyone is masked and maintains physical distance of at least 6 feet at all times. (Masks and hand sanitizer are available at the tables when you enter the yard) Bring a chair or blanket and seat yourself at any of the spray-painted spots on the lawn. Bring your own communion elements if you wish to partake in the service. Boxes are available at both yard entrances to accept offerings.

Indoor service in the Sanctuary at 10:00 a.m.:

When you arrive for worship, you’ll encounter signage with reminders of our plan and masked greeters at each entrance that can answer any questions you may have. We’ll have masked ushers inside at the sanctuary thresholds to help you be seated in the appropriate pews.

  1. Physical Distancing- Please practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others in the parking lots, entrances, and inside the building.
  2. Masks- Everyone attending worship (except for small children) is required to wear a mask while at entrances and in the building. Additional masks will be available for those who do not have one of their own. If you have a medical condition or any other reason that precludes you from wearing a mask, you are encouraged to participate in worship at home through the online video.
  3. Entry/exit and traffic flow- There will be two entrances/exits into the sanctuary:
    • Those entering from College Street will enter the back doors and be seated by an usher on the organ/pulpit side of the sanctuary, starting at the front and moving back
    • Those entering from the Clinton Street entrance into the education building will enter the sanctuary through the sanctuary door on the lectern/chapel area side and be seated by an usher on the lectern side of the sanctuary, starting at the back and moving forward.
    • At the end of the service, everyone will be dismissed row by row by their usher in the reverse order in which they were seated.
    • These traffic flow and seating patterns are implemented to avoid congestion and close contact in our aisles.
  4. Seating- Attendees will be seated among six pews on either side (every third pew).  The balcony and choir loft can be used for overflow. To further clarify and avoid any confusion, pews meant to be left empty for appropriate distancing will be roped off.
  5. Offering- Boxes will be placed just inside in the sanctuary itself at the two main entrances for people to drop off their contributions when they arrive or leave.
  6. Children & Worship- There will be no Children’s Moment, no nursery/childcare, and no Children’s Worship and Wonder at this time. Children should remain in the pews with their parents for the entire service. Families are welcome to bring materials to help engage their children during worship if needed, but please remember to take all materials with you when you leave.
  7. Communion- We will have a time of communion in the service. Those wishing to partake should bring their own elements from home or you may simply reflect during that time.
  8. Worship music- Multiple studies and guidance show that congregational singing, even when masked, is considered a high-risk activity in congregational worship at this time. In light of that, we, like many other congregations, will continue to not have congregational singing at this time. Dr. Cully Bell and Kelli Evans will play hymns and lyrics will be printed in the bulletin for those who wish to read and reflect on them during the instrumental hymns.
  9. Restrooms- Restrooms located in the basement near the College Street entrance and in the nursery area restroom on the first floor will be available for use, as will the basement restrooms in education wing for those needing handicapped accessible restrooms. You are asked to wipe down all points of contact prior to leaving the restroom. Hand sanitizer and wipes (or other cleaning supplies) will be available in each restroom.
  10. Bulletins- Paper bulletins will be used, but you are asked to take them with you when you leave. They will be distributed in advance in seating pews by a person who is masked and gloved. We are exploring best options for having it available digitally for those who prefer a touch-free option.
  11. Attendance- We will be co-operating with public health officials in contact tracing should anyone attending a service test positive for COVID-19 after attending. For this reason, we will be recording the names of those attending to assist with that process.

Beginning on October 11, the building will also be open for small group gatherings of 10 or less (with guidelines for use). Groups are still encouraged to use online options or outdoor space (weather permitting) as much as possible in order to mitigate risk. The only designated spot in the building for initial use will be the fellowship hall, which provides plenty of space for groups to adequately space out. Those attending are expected to be masked and distanced at all times. These groups (both church and non-church related) will need to schedule use with the church office and will be subject to space availability and our ability to adequately clean between uses. We have full guidelines for use that each group coordinator will be provided in advance.

Later in October, we’ll assess any needed modifications to these plans moving forward. We appreciate your flexibility and are grateful for all the ways we continue to be the church during this time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 502-863-2049 (church office) or Barb Southworth, Board Chair.

Grace and peace,
Chris