The letter below was sent in July and from July 12th to August 2nd we held live in person worship in our sanctuary. However, with rising Covid-19 cases on July 31st, Governor Whitmer restricted indoor gatherings to 10 people or less. While churches are exempt from these restrictions from a legal sense, in a moral sense we want to ensure we are doing all that we can to conform to the state mandates and keep the congregation safe. Beginning August 9th and for at least the month of August, we are once again worshipping online only. When we prepare to gather in person again, we will use these same protocols.
The last few months have been both challenging and inspiring. We have worked hard to remain connected, to worship online, and to be the church in the world. Now, we are taking the first steps toward returning to worship in our sanctuary. On Monday, June 29, the Ad Board approved a set of protocols for re-opening the building, and set July 12 as
our first Sunday to worship indoors again.
I know this news will be received with mixed emotions. For a variety of reasons, some may be more ready to return than others. I respect that hesitation, and we will continue to provide online experiences of worship. Services will either be recorded and posted on our facebook page, or live-streamed to our page while we worship. You will be able to access these Services in much the same way you do now. There is no pressure to return to the sanctuary before you feel ready.
Having said this, I am enclosing a condensed copy of the protocols approved by the Ad Board. These were drawn up by the Crisis Task Force I created for this purpose. We worked long and hard to research, study, discuss, and discern the practices that would provide the highest level of safety and protection possible for everyone who enters the building any day of the week. We know these protocols are not diligently followed in some
public places, but we expect them to be followed at our church. Please read through them, and contact any Task Force member if you have questions or concerns. The members are listed at the end of the protocols.
Covid-19 is likely going to be around for a long time. Waiting for a vaccine or antidote could mean that we would not worship together for a year or more. While the infection numbers are low in Michigan now, we will carefully watch them, and adjust our protocols accordingly. We remain committed to a calm and cautious response that cares for the body
and the soul. May God continue to bless and guide all of us.
Shalom, Pastor Cathi
Summary of Protocols to Re-open the Church Building
Adopted June 29, 2020
Before you arrive, these areas will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized for your use: the Gathering Room, Sanctuary, Narthex, Hallways, Rest Rooms, Lounge, and Staff Offices. Other areas will be closed off to reduce the number of spaces that need to be sanitized each week: Classrooms, Fellowship Hall, Nursery / Music wing, Fireplace Room, and Prayer
Room. Please avoid walking through or using these spaces.
Sanitizers and extra masks will be available, but we encourage you to bring your own mask (or face shield) with you. All persons must wear a mask / face shield while in the building, unless you are medically unable to do so. If you are medically compromised and cannot wear a face covering, please consider how to best protect yourself, and limit your time of potential exposure.
When you arrive on Sunday morning, there will be two people standing outside each of the entry doors. One will use a touchless scanner to take your temperature, and the other will write down your name. The maximum temperature to enter will be 100.1, unless you normally run high. Your name will be recorded so that we can contact you if someone tests positive for Covid-19 after we have worshiped together. When you enter, please go
directly to the sanctuary, and refrain from hugging and other forms of touching one another. (We know, that will be SO hard — but it is very important!)
A lot of time has been spent to create socially distanced seating for you. When you enter the sanctuary, please look for the X on the seat cushions. If you come to church alone or live alone, please sit on a single X; if you come to church with someone who also lives in your home, please sit together on the double Xs. Ushers will be available to help you, so don’t worry! By the way, I am happy to tell you that a ramp has been installed in the sanctuary during the quarantine, in the corner where the piano sits. It may be used to
reach the platform from the main floor without climbing stairs. Be sure to check it out!
As you wait for worship to begin, please watch the announcements on the screen, because we will not have bulletins to use or take home. Feel free to make and bring a sign with you with a greeting / words of praise to God / your personal message to others in the congregation. You will have opportunities during worship to hold up your sign if you do bring one.
The Service will run about 30 minutes. Worship will include live music, confetti, video, preaching, some responsive prayers, and a few surprises, but we will not be able to sing for a while. Prayer requests should be sent to Pastor Cathi ahead of time, since there will be no prayer cards in the pews. A small pulpit will be placed near the entrance of the sanctuary, and you may leave your Offering there as you go in or out. We will not be passing the Offering plate during the Service. At the end of the Service, the ushers will dismiss you by pews, starting at the back of the church. Please go directly outside without gathering indoors; the Pastor will not be forming a Greeting line.
BUILDING USE DURING THE WEEK
We have also adopted protocols for use of the building during the week.
PLEASE NOTE and follow the new Office Hours and practices we have adopted. The Main Office will be open from 9am – noon, Monday through Thursday, and closed on Friday. Only one person, in addition to Barb, should be in the main office at a time. Masks / face shields are to be worn in the building by staff persons and all visitors, unless you are medically unable to wear one. In that case, please limit your time in the building as much as possible. Staff members may remove their masks / shields when alone in their office, and replace them when they leave or others enter their office. If staff persons are eating food, they should be alone in their office, or at the table in the kitchen. No more than 2 persons may gather to eat together.
After using a room or being in the building, ALL surfaces you have used / touched should be wiped down and disinfected. This includes door knobs and light switches. Disinfectant is available in front of the main office.
Public events (showers, funerals, weddings, etc) and other groups meeting in / outside the church building must comply with all relevant CDC guidelines, and the current Executive Orders of the Governor re: the number of persons allowed in the group, and the use of masks / shields / social distancing.
MEMBERS of the CRISIS TASK FORCE
I want to thank the members of the Crisis Task Force for their thorough and diligent research, discussion, and writing of these protocols. They have worked hard to provide the best protection for everyone, in the midst of constantly changing circumstances. I asked these persons to serve on the Task Force because of their role and expertise among us.
Please join me in thanking: Debbie Boyse, Rachel Deshone, Laura Gray, Nonie Lemmon, Marc Middleton, Karen Nichols, Diane Weaver, and Elizabeth Whiting.
With deep appreciation, Pastor Cathi