UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
A COMPLIANT PLAN FOR REOPENING OF FACILITIES FOR WORSHIP AND MINISTRY AS MANDATED BY BISHOP MARY VIRGINIA TAYLOR IN ACCORDANCE WITH HOLSTON CONFERENCE TASK FORCE ON COVID 19
Submitted June 10, 2020
Note from Pastor Ken
Dear Members and Friends,
I am excited to share with you the news that very soon we will be reopening our facilities to begin worship and ministry in a more personal way. As you are aware in early March, Bishop Taylor mandated that all churches in the Holston Area close to due to the rapid spread of Covid 19. Since then we have had no public worship inside the building. Small groups of less than 10 have met to carry on certain ministries such as online worship, recording children’s Sunday School, financial necessities, ongoing food programs working with Wear Wood Elementary School and the distribution of free mask for those in need.
I want to thank you for your patience and your dedication to the ministries that helped our church continue to make a difference in the lives of people in our community and congregation. I was encouraged as to how many people were being reached by our online worship and this is something we plan to continue. Many of our friends that have left this area are now worshipping with us again.
So your question is, “When are we going to meet again?” It would be great to start meeting on June 20, but much preparation will need to be made, such as disinfecting the church thoroughly. My thought is realistically we should be ready by June 27th or July 4. That date will be released later. The Wears Valley Administrative Board approved our plan on June the 9th and when our District Superintendent approves our plan then we can move forward in resuming a worship service that will follow the guidelines set forth by the Bishop and task force.
I know that some of our congregation is reluctant to resume onsite worship because of age and under lying health conditions. I want to make sure that everyone knows we all respect that decision and applaud you for your desire to stay in a safer environment. You know as your pastor I share those health concerns as well. Be well assured we will be continuing our online presence for those that have concerns.
Please read the following document that will be presented to our District Superintendent so that you understand what it will take for us to meet safely. I have stated in the past, worship will be different in the beginning. Know that the guidelines will change and later we will be able to do more as the pandemic lessens.
It will be good to see you face to face and I thank God for that.
Peace and Grace
WHAT WE WILL DO
1.EVERYONE SHALL WEAR SOME TYPE OF FACE MASK 2.WE SHALL SOCIAL DISTANCE AT SIX FEET APART 3.WE SHALL KEEP ATTENDANCE RECORDS and Worship Check list in Church Office 4.WE SHALL CLEAN AND DISINFECT AFTER ALL EVENTS
• If you are older or health compromised, we encourage you to consider staying home and staying safe. If you choose to stay home, we will honor your decision, we affirm you are doing the right thing and you are very much a valued part of our church family. We can continue to be church together in a variety of meaningful ways.
• The Task Force has established a policy and procedure for cleaning the church facilities. We are sanitizing everything possible, on a regular schedule.
• During this time, we will NOT be passing a collection plate. Collection containers will be available for you to leave your donations as you enter or exit the main sanctuary. You may also give on-line or drop your contributions off at the church office. You may also mail in your contributions. Again, thank you for your generosity.
• Hand sanitizer will be available but you are encouraged to carry some with you at all times.
• Everyone entering the building MUST properly wear a FACE MASK or FACE COVERING. This is for everyone’s safety. It is dangerous for children under two to wear face coverings so please consider the safety of your child during this time.
• New signage has been placed around the church building to help us navigate during the reopen, please follow the directional signage.
• Services of Holy Communion will be conducted using pre-packaged elements which can be taken from the tables near the sanctuary entrance. Please take one packet per participant. Usher or worship leaders WILL NOT be handing out the elements, please pick them up from the table on your way into the sanctuary.
• Bulletins and other printed materials WILL NOT be handed out. Please look for bulletins and other printed materials on the tables outside the sanctuary as you enter.
• We MUST have contact information from everyone who attends so we can notify you ASAP about the risk involved should someone in our community become ill with Covid-19.
• All hymnals, Bibles, pencils, offering envelopes and other materials have been removed from the Sanctuary, to help reduce the risk of cross contamination.
• NO SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS with more than 10 people are approved at this time. Therefore, the following areas of ministry (which are larger than 10) remain suspended for in-person gatherings:
• Small group ministries including all Sunday school classes.
• No in-person youth gatherings.
• No in-person children’s gatherings.
• No children’s church.
• No nursery or childcare during in-person worship.
• No choir gatherings.
• No greeting time.
• No children’s sermon at the altar.
• No congregational singing.
• No food preparations or eating, no coffee pots, and no community meals.
• Everyone will need to maintain SOCIAL DISTANCING. Please give everyone a space of at least 6 feet.
All groups are responsible for disinfecting the area after their meeting.
• FAMILY UNITS SHOULD SIT TOGETHER.
• Seating arrangements in the sanctuary will be limited and the attendance is subject to limitations. Various pews will be closed during all worship services.
• Please do not cross barriers or enter into closed areas of the facility. This is for everyone’s safety.
• The Task Force will continue to meet frequently and will adjust these guidelines as the preclusions of Covid-19 increase or decrease.
• Wears Valley United Methodist Church leaders, staff, or pastor cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. We are all striving to make your safety our number one priority. • We pray there will come a time when all of this is over, until then, let us all CELEBRATE our limited abilities to worship in-person and compromise our desires for the safety of us all. • As things change (and things always change) we will keep you posted. • YOU ARE LOVED AND MISSED! We are praying for you all.
What You Need To Do
• Prayerfully consider your tolerance and risk factors for attending in-person worship. No one should feel pressured in returning to in-person worship at this time. There are several media opportunities for anyone to join us in worship. (Wears Valley Face Book, Judy Hunter and Donna Shultz Sunday School on Face Book, and Jeff Rabeck’s Sunday School via email)
• If you plan to attend in-person worship, please help us by following these guidelines:
• Please plan to arrive at church a few minutes before worship times. This will allow time for social distancing and time to pick up printed materials. You can also drop off offerings and pick up holy communion elements or other needed information.
• Please plan to dismiss and leave promptly following each worship service. As much as we would all love to FELLOWSHIP, we are asking you to please refrain from FELLOWSHIP at this time. *If we do not follow these guidelines, we will be subject to additional closures from the leadership through the Holston Annual Conference.
• Watch for communications from the church leadership and pastor via email, social media, One Call or our website wearsvalleyumchurch.org.
• PLEASE STAY HOME IF:
• You have been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
• You are experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.
• You have had a fever within the last 48 hours.
• You have had new loss of taste or smell.
• You have had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 48 hours.
What You Need To Bring From Home
• Everyone attending in-person worship MUST WEAR A MASK OR FACE COVERING. A limited amount of face masks will be available at the church, if you already have a mask please bring your own.
• A Bible, pew Bibles have been removed from the sanctuary.
• Each week we will be tracking attendance in our worship services. • NOTE: Attendance information will only be used if we have to track a Covid-19.
• Your continued contributions to missions and ministry are greatly appreciated.
These Guidelines are in compliance of the publication Taking Steps Forward Faithfully and Safely: A Plan for Returning to In-person Worship in the Holston Annual Conference during the Covid-19 Pandemic – printed June 1, 2020 – first edition – can be found at www.holston.org.
Concerning In-Person Worship Outdoors (at this time)
1.Outdoor worship will take place in pavillion and surrounding grassy area. 2.All participants shall wear some type of face mask to cover mouth and nose. 3.All participants shall bring their own seating. (chairs, blankets, etc.) 4.There will be no congregational singing. 5.Restrooms will not be open. 6.Attendance will be taken. (See above reasoning.) 7.Families will sit together. 8.We will social distance at six feet. 9.All aspects of indoor rules will apply to outside as well if not noted here.