Our application to resume public worship, made to Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton to and through District Superintendent Julia Y.H. Yim – has been approved!
Our Church Council, represented in large part by a Reopening Sub-committee, has developed a safety protocol that we will be obliged to follow. That committee consisted of the following people: Rev. Adrienne Brewington (Pastor), Carolyn Cavanaugh (Finance Chair), Gregory Courtelyou (SPR Chair), R. Kyle Dunlop (Trustee Chair), Gregory Lupion (Lay Leader), Thomas Mazziotti (Administrative Assistant), and Kathleen Schrader (Church Council Chair).
Should we fail to comply with the requirements of this protocol, the Bishop’s permission for in-person worship may be withdrawn. We all must do our part. Consequently, we take this opportunity to share with you the particulars of the safety protocol that has been put in place. Its components are consistent with CDC regulations, State and local health department ordinances, and Bishop Bickerton’s directions.
At the current time, we are only permitted to seat people in our sanctuary at 25% of our usual capacity. For us, that number is 31. To maintain social distancing, worshippers will be seated every third row, with the first two rows closest to the pulpit remaining empty. No seating will be available in the balcony.
We will be shifting to a single worship service in order to minimize the possibility of virus transmission on hard surfaces. For the time being, worship will be at 10:00 a.m. professional service will clean and sanitize the worship space prior to each service. Worshipers will be seated by the ushers via the center row, beginning in the front of the sanctuary. Worshipers will exit the sanctuary via the side aisles. There will be no passing of the peace and no pastoral welcoming line in the narthex at the end of service. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the worship space.
Our live-streaming ministry will continue. In addition, we will utilize our Fellowship Hall as an overflow space into which worshippers will be directed to experience the live stream should the occupancy of the sanctuary reach maximum capacity.
Everyone on the premises will be required to wear masks. Masks for visitors who arrive unable to comply with this expectation will have a mask provided for them. The length of the service will be shortened in order to minimize contact and enhance the goal of social distancing. Attendance will be taken each Sunday for purposes of contact tracing.
At the present time we are prohibited from conducting baptisms. There will be no choir. There will be no congregational singing. Hymnals and Bibles have been removed from the sanctuary. There will be no church school and children coming to worship must remain with the parents at all times.
Communion will be celebrated using an all-inclusive juice and wafer packet distributed by communion stewards wearing gloves.
Washroom facilities will be limited to occupancy by one person at a time. Those visiting the lavatory will be asked to wipe any hard services they have touched.
We hope this communication provides you with enough information to know how much your church leaders wish to keep you safe once you return to in-person worship. If you are in an at risk category or feel uncomfortable returning to worship at this time, please remain home and enjoy our virtual worship. And always know that if there is anything your church can do to help you through these days, you need only ask.