In the past month, I have given my full attention to meeting the target Council set for reopening our sanctuary for in-person worship: April 18th. Thanks to the help of many, I gladly report that we will meet this target, though not as we had expected or planned.
This article summarizes plans and decisions for reopening. This summary served as an outline for my Zoom presentation on Sunday, March 28th. Further details will come as we progress toward reopening and then adjust as we go.
We all know the approach we are taking won’t please everyone in our congregation, but I believe that working together to create a safe worship environment is how we as people of faith serve God in these challenging times.
With God’s help, your cooperation, and mutual sacrifices, our congregation will emerge from this pandemic stronger and more united.
NOTES ON REOPENING
Number of Worshippers: As more of our members are vaccinated, the number of members ready to join us for in-person worship has grown. Thirty-five (pink) of the 84 members who planned to return to in-person worship after they had been vaccinated have been vaccinated, bringing the total number of members ready to attend in-person worship to 135.
Given our current capacity limit, two worship services are needed.
Capacity Limits: We are unsure how many worshippers can be seated in sanctuary with social distancing. One hundred chairs are set up. The total number of worshippers in the sanctuary will depend on the size of family units, as three chairs between each family unit is required. Capacity also depends on ushers maximizing seating.
Additional seating in the Narthex may be needed as capacity limits increase, as determined by our Medical Advisory Team.
Ten percent of capacity will be reserved for our guests.
Worship Service Times: Worship service times will be 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Questions about these times tend to rise from expectations that by default we would worship at the pre-pandemic times of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. There are several reasons for these worship times:
- Ushers and greeters will need extra time to prepare for worshippers to enter and be seated.
- Extra time is needed between services for ushers and greeters to sanitize frequent-touch, hard-surface areas.
- Extra time is needed for 9:00 a.m. worshippers to visit outside of the building and depart from the parking lot to open spaces for 11:00 a.m. worshippers.
Intermediate Technology and What to Expect: The new sound and video system has been ordered. The expected installation date is the week of April 18th. We will devote our resources to setting up the new system rather than also setting up an intermediate system. As a result, as we begin in-person worship, we will continue to livestream worship using an iPad. This decision will affect the way we conduct worship in ways we will discover as we go.
Also, as we launch our new system, there are sure to be glitches and problems to solve we cannot see in advance.
Online Registration for In-person Worship: Worshippers will sign up for weekly in-person worship using an online system.
- Phone and email support will be provided for those for whom technology is a barrier to participation.
- The registration system will be open to the congregation for a trial run after Easter.
- Online registration is required to attend in-person worship.
- A process is in place in case of cancellation.
- A process is in place in case capacity limits are reached, enabling those who are unable to attend because of limits to be first in line to attend in-person worship the next week.
- Help and explanation documents will be available before registration begins.
- There are sure to be adjustments needed as we go.
Serving in Worship: In-person worship depends upon support of safe worship through active participation of our members. The following roles for serving in worship are needed, totaling 17-20 per service, 25-27 per week:
- Online Registration Support: 3 per week. (may not attend)
- Ushers: 4 per service, 8 per week.
- Greeters: 2 per service, 4 per week.
- Tech Team: 3 (estimate) per service, 6 per week.
- Musicians: 2-3 per service, 4-6 per week.