Diocesan council hears cautious return to in-person worship
Bishop John Taylor said that once counties go back to the red tier in California’s Covid-19 color-coded case tracking system, leadership teams at parishes and missions will have the discretion “to go to inside worship, with modifications, the same 25% of capacity, or 100%, or 100.” Singing will continue to be restricted, Taylor said, adding, “So we are not going to have the Easter we were hoping for but, depending on the local churches’ decisions, we might at least be with one another.”
Saint Michael and All Angles is working with the new set of diocesan guidelines for returning to in-person worship was released on March 16, 2021. Here they are:
Before Physical Presence Resumes
- Make provision for where worship will take place.
- Decide how many people can safely attend worship, taking into consideration social distancing requirements of six feet per person in all directions.
- Consider increasing the number of services to accommodate your congregation.
- Determine the process by which those who attend the service will be identified.
- Ensure that adequate cleaning supplies and PPE are on hand and available, including, but not limited to: Masks or other face coverings, hand sanitizer, soap and running water, paper towels, and tissues.
- Decide upon appropriate admission protocols, in addition to face masks and social distance.
- Provide training for greeters, ushers, and other volunteers in the chosen admission protocols.
- Prepare a gracious, firm, unified response to anywho refuses to abide by admissions protocols, especially those who refuse to wear masks.
- Prepare a protocol for maintaining social distancing in restrooms and lounges if restrooms are larger than single-occupant.
- Consider placing social distance and traffic flow markings on sidewalks, walkways, and in the aisles, if feasible.
- Consider temporarily closing off access to communal drinking fountains.
- Widely publish your expectations about masks,social distancing, hand-washing, and traffic flow. Signage is vital at entryways and in bathrooms and other high-traffic areas.
- Place messages on websites and Facebook and in recorded phone messages and bulletins so all are aware of your expectations.
In-Person Worship Guidelines
- Open doors and windows for ventilation as appropriate, but welcome worshipers through only one door for better welcoming and monitoring.
- Greeters and ushers should maintain social distance in relation to those coming through the door and should encourage worshipers to do the same, both inside and out.
- Rather than a reusable bulletin or service booklet, consider using a single-use bulletin that worshipers take with them or, if it is not already your practice, a screen and projector.
- Masks or other face coverings should be worn at all times by everyone over the age of five. Children between the ages of two and five wear masks at their parent’s discretion. Face coverings are not recommended for children under the age of two, or for individuals who have breathing issues or cannot remove their masks themselves.
- Rather than passing alms basins hand to hand, have a stationary basin or basket where offerings can be deposited upon entrance or exit.
- Unfortunately, it’s a good idea to provide adequate security for all offering stations.
- Expressions of greeting and passing the Peace Should be no-touch while maintaining social distance.
- Congregational singing in any form or context is not permitted at this time.
- Singing by soloists and small choral groups outside, and also inside for in-person worship and recorded or live streamed worship, is permitted with the following mandatory safety precautions
- A symptom/temperature pre-check process is required for all participants.
- Singers must wear masks. The “singers’ mask” is recommended.
- Singers must be spaced apart from each other and the gathered community by a minimum of 8 feet in all directions – 12 feet is ideal.
- Singers should face the same direction, notstand in a circle or semicircle facing toward one another.
- The conductor, if any, should be placed off to the side.
- Ensure adequate ventilation and air circulation when recording in any indoor space.
- Are adequate cleaning supplies and PPE on hand and available?
- How will you coordinate with those who share the campus to follow protocols and guidelines?
- What guidelines and policies will be established for church staff?
- Have you advised people that spikes in infections in our region could result in new limits on physical presence?
- What will you do if more people come to church than you can accommodate?
- What is the plan to ensure the wearing of face masks by everyone except small children?
- Are your restrooms ready?
- What is your policy to ensure social distancing when going in and out of church?
- How will you tell your members not to come to church if they are, or feel, sick?
- How will you make sure that those who come to church are healthy?
- How will you notify your congregation if someone tests positive for COVID-19?
- Where will your signage be posted as recommended by the CDC?
- Are your admission protocols and congregational expectations clearly communicated on your website, Facebook page, and in any recorded messages or bulletins?
- What is your procedure for marking where to sit in your worship space to allow for social distancing?
- How will you make hand sanitizer available to all who attend?
- Regarding your Sunday School and youth groups, how will you meet the above requirements?
- What are your specific protocols for the altar party and ushers during the liturgy?