Letter about a return to In-Person Worship Gatherings
We are excited about the possibility of offering in-person worship again soon. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been monitoring the guidelines and suggestions offered by our bishop, medical practitioners, and government leaders.
A team of several key leaders here at Cross Plains United Methodist Church (CPUMC) met last week to discuss the possibility of offering in-person worship.
One of the things we want to stress is that we are not talking about reopening the church because we have remained open throughout these weeks of social distancing. Online worship through our website and Facebook page has been greatly received. One of the things we have affirmed is that we will continue to offer these online options going forward.
The Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (TNUMC) has put together a task force to make recommendations to local churches about reopening for in-person worship.
The recommendation at this time is that in-person worship not happen in our church until June 21, 2020. As stated by Bishop McAlilly, “June 21 is a tentative date that will allow for in-person worship in an organized, phased manner where it is safe to do so. It is also a tentative date which is subject to revision based on current COVID-19 data at that time.”
CPUMC plans a return to in-person gatherings on June 21 unless there is guidance that this date should be changed.
As we discuss the return of in-person gatherings, we want to state clearly that anyone who does not feel comfortable returning to in-person gatherings should feel absolutely comfortable continuing to worship online (or through a delivered DVD/CD).
The TNUMC has made the following recommendations for who should attend in-person worship services.
- People who are well and meet the defined criteria.
- No recent contact with infected persons.
- Not exhibiting any symptoms.
- People who cannot attend online (or through recorded options).
- People who feel it is the right time for their family.
That task force has also put forth some recommendations for what the church needs to make sure happens before there is a return to in-person worship. The leaders at CPUMC are seeking to follow those recommendations and are ready to implement a phased return.
Here are some of the things we are looking to make sure happen before we return to in-person worship gatherings based on TNUMC guidelines.
- Ensure that a 3 month supply of cleaning/sanitizing products are on hand.
- Availability of sanitizing stations at entries and exits.
- Define a single point of entry (maintain accessibility).
- Highly encourage all people to wear masks.
- Availability of masks for those without masks of their own.
- Thoroughly sanitize all surfaces.
- Develop a congregational seating plan that ensures at least 6’ distance.
- Develop a plan for cleaning and sanitizing between gatherings.
- Removal of all materials in pews (hymnals, bibles, cards, etc.).
- No congregational singing.
- Discontinue any hand holding, passing of the peace, etc.
- Availability of other options for offering besides passing plates.
- Online & Text to Give
- Offering receptacles
CPUMC is making every effort to see that all of these recommendations are in place before we open the doors for in-person worship.
In an effort to make this possible, we will be only allowing around 50% of our normal attending congregation in on any Sunday. We will be asking that people/families only attend on the 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month, or the 2nd & 4th Sunday of the month.
We will be contacting everyone soon to discuss you which Sundays you are encouraged to attend.
This is phase one of the plan to return to in-person worship gatherings for CPUMC. This plan will be in effect from June 21 through the end of July.
At that time, we will inform you what Phase 2 will look like and when it will begin.
Any plan to return at any level will only be introduced when we are convinced that is is best for the people of CPUMC and Cross Plains, and it is the best witness to the world around us.
More detailed information will come in the future. Thank you for you continued patience and prayers.
In the End…Love Wins,