Want to know more about Wesley Church’s reopening plan? Check out these answers to some of our frequently asked questions:
Other churches opened as soon as our county reached the “green” phase. Why didn’t Wesley Church reopen at that time?
While the move to “green” provides the opportunity for indoor gatherings and gatherings of somewhat larger groups, it’s important for each business and organization (including churches) to make decisions based on their own unique circumstances. In our case, we based our decisions not on comparisons to other churches, but rather on feedback from our congregation and information from public health officials.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe we are called to love one another…and in this situation, loving one another also includes protecting one another. Our leadership believes we have an obligation — to our church family, to our wider community, and to God — to prevent Wesley Church from being the source of a local outbreak.
What were the results of the church-wide survey?
In the church-wide survey, approximately two-thirds of respondents indicated that they planned to worship at home throughout the summer, regardless of whether in-person worship was available at Wesley. Approximately three-quarters of respondents indicated that they would be more comfortable to consider worshipping in person in the fall, depending on updated public health information. More than half of respondents indicated that they identified in a higher risk category for COVID-19, due to a variety of risk factors.
I feel comfortable being out in public, even if others don’t. Why can’t I come for in-person worship?
You can! If you feel both comfortable being out in public and passionate about worshipping in person, we eagerly encourage you to volunteer as an usher, greeter, temperature screener, or sanitation volunteer. We need people like you! By doing so, you’ll be providing a vital service to your church family… and you’ll be back in the sanctuary even sooner.
Is there a risk in coming to church in the midst of the pandemic?
Earlier this month, a group of scientists ranked a variety of common activities according to “risk level,” on a scale of 1-9. Activities like getting take-out or pumping gas ranked low on the scale. Activities like going to the beach or flying on a plane ranked in the mid range. Activities like attending church ranked much higher, alongside buffets, sports stadiums, and gyms. This ranking was due in large part to the amount of time spent together in an indoor space, the risk levels of likely participants, and the potential for singing.
It is because of this potentially higher risk that we have delayed our opening plan and set up a variety of policies and procedures to ensure social distancing, maintain proper sanitation, and manage potential risk. When we all cooperate with these policies and procedures, we are able to keep one another healthy and safe.
However, given the possibility of asymptomatic spread, we cannot guarantee that there is no risk in coming to church, just like any other business or organization. If you are concerned about your own risk, or if you are in a particularly high-risk category for COVID-19, we invite you to worship with us online from the comfort and safety of your own home.
What precautions are being taken to make the church more safe?
We will have touch-free hand sanitizing stations available in the atrium and at sanctuary entrances. In the sanctuary itself, we have marked off pews and seats in order to help you maintain distance from other worshippers. We will temporarily remove all items from the pews (hymnals, Bibles, tissues, pens, pencils, prayer cards, and giving envelopes) to reduce the likelihood of indirect contact transmission. (We invite you to bring your own Bible, as well as anything else you might need for the service. We will also have the opportunity for individuals to sign out a hymnal through our church library.) We will not “pass the peace” in the sanctuary, and the ushers will not pass the plate for the offering. (You’ll be able to place your offering in the boxes provided for you at the sanctuary entrances, or continue to make your offering via mail or online.)
All volunteers and attendees will be expected to wear masks and maintain social distancing at all times.
Our housekeeping staff will continue with their comprehensive sanitation efforts. Furthermore, each week we will close the church from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning. This way, we can reassure in-person attendees that no one except worship and housekeeping staff has been present in the building or made contact with any surfaces. If you need to access the church during this weekly window of time, please contact Susan Matacavage (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Masks feel uncomfortable. Do I really have to wear one in church?
Masks can be uncomfortable, especially in these warmer months. Yet they are also crucial in helping us minimize the spread of COVID-19. By wearing masks, we are better able to protect one another. All those who enter the church are expected to wear masks. Reasonable exceptions may be provided for small children and individuals with medical conditions whose doctors have advised against wearing a mask.
Two important reminders regarding masks: They are effective, but not 100% effective… so please maintain social distancing even while wearing a mask. Furthermore, a mask is only effective if it is worn over both the nose and mouth.
Will we be able to sing?
Research continues to unfold… but there appears to be evidence that singing or loud talking can more readily distribute infected droplets even through a mask. In the initial stages, we may only be able to hum in the sanctuary — but you can sing your heart out at home! We will continue to monitor research as well as the guidelines from the conference, and will make this information available to you.
In the second phase of the reopening plan, why do we have to RSVP? Why can’t we just show up for worship?
In order to ensure social distancing, it is imperative that we manage the number of individuals in the church at any one time. The RSVP plan will enable us to do that. While RSVP will primarily take place online, there will be an opportunity for individuals who don’t have online access to make their RSVP by phone.
Will there be child care?
Currently, our Annual Conference leadership strongly recommends against child care and nursery options for Sunday morning worship. Parents should plan for their children to stay with them for the duration of the worship service. If children under the age of thirteen need to access another part of the church (for example, the bathrooms), they should be escorted by a parent or responsible adult, in order to help them to minimize contact with surfaces throughout the facility.
Who are the members of the Reopening Team?
The Reopening Team is composed of our church Lay Leader, Church Council Chair, Trustees Chair (for matters related to the building), SPR Chair (for matters related to staff), Director of Music (for matters related to worship), Church Administrator (for matters related to supplies, schedule, and facility management), and the Pastor. In the coming weeks, the Reopening Team will also meet with other staff members and ministry leaders to determine next steps for individual ministries. If you lead a ministry at Wesley Church and would like to discuss reopening with the team, please contact Pastor Candy.