Where Is Your Church at in the Physical Reopening Process?

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Where is your church at in the physical reopening process? Are you still gathering via live stream? Meeting outside? Meeting inside with precautions?

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Participant

Fantastic question, Staci! I serve at Third CRC in Kalamazoo, MI as Director of Worship Arts. Throughout the Michigan "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order and in recent weeks, we've been pre-recording all of our worship services. Currently, we are moving toward live-streaming on Sunday mornings (after making a significant financial investment in upgrading the audio, visual and lighting capabilities in our sanctuary). This past Sunday (June 28), we held our first in-person worship gathering since March 8 as an outdoor service, with plans to have one again next Sunday, July 5. Beginning July 12, we'll be inside the building, but with significant precautions in place (physical distancing, hand sanitizer stations, communion with pre-packaged elements, limited congregational singing with masks required, pre-registration for contact tracing purposes, and two service times to accommodate the limited capacity).

Participant

We are holding small services now but are having issues with people not wanting to mask! It's tearing the church apart with some leaving. It is so difficult when the masking became a political statement instead of a health decision. It prevents any of our older or people with other health issues from attending. We have a long way to go with a lot refusing to attend! Sad!

We just started having outdoor services (we're in northern NJ). Our church is fortunate to have a large hill behind the church lined with trees at the top for shade. Our Plan B in the event of bad weather is to cancel the outdoor portion and livestream the Pastor and Praise Team. I don't think we'll be having services in the sanctuary until it's safe to have the majority of the congregation back in there.

 

NJ laws currently allow for 100 people indoors or 25% capacity, whichever is lower, but religious and political groups can have unlimited numbers outdoors as long as we social distance and take precautions.

Participant

July 5 was the first in-person worship service at Fleetwood CRC in Surrey, BC.  We allowed 49 people in the sanctuary.  They had to pre-register on our app, wear a mask if they sing, sit in the designated pews, sanitize their hands at the door and at the pew, only wave or nod to each other at the passing of the peace, practice physical distancing and exit through the back doors.  Members can register for two services a month.  We are allowing for 5 walk-ups per service so that we can still practice hospitality.  It went well, but I think people were a bit reluctant to be the first ones to sign up (sort of like how no one wants to be the first to go up to get food at a potluck), so we had some seats left over.  We have a lot more signed up for this week.  It's a communion service so we will ask people to either take their own elements or take the prepared elements that will be on a table in the lobby.   

Last week was our first try to have any kind of gathering in the church building and we offered it on a Saturday night but we didn't get enough people signed up.   This week we are trying for Sunday morning and the numbers are better.  We are limited to 50 people including any volunteers.  It won't be a live service - they will be meeting in an area to watch the livestream.  The volunteers from the creative team put together a wonderful cafe in our multi purpose room with comfortable chairs and couches. There are rules they have to follow: pre-register, if they want to sing they have to wear a mask, social distancing, hand sanitizer,  answer health screening questions. 

This is how it is advertised:

"These services will be what we are calling a "Message Cafe." [Think "Drive-in-Theater meets Coffee Shop."] Here, people can come to watch the service and have a time of fellowship before, during, and after the service. It will be a more relaxed, casual environment, for people to mingle, enjoy a hot beverage, pray, and listen to the service."

Community Builder

  Here in Montreal, the maximum limit for indoor gatherings is 250 people.  Since our congregation is nowhere near that when we're all there, which is rare since we have housebound people, there is no need for people to register to attend anymore.  However, we are still not allowed to sing during services, and we have to observe protocols during the service.  Other than that I'm not aware of anyone refusing to wear a mask to get in or out of church.  We are encouraged to keep our masks on during the service, but once we're in our seats we're allowed to take them off as long as we put them back on to get out of church at the end of the service.  

And our church still puts a service online for people who are not necessarily members but who watch it on YouTube.

In Québec the majority of the population is compliant with the order in council that requires people to wear masks while riding public transit or while inside public spaces, but we do have our share of yahoos who won't listen to public health explanations of why we should do so, people who prefer to believe conspiracy theorists rather than reason, and some of them have made death threats against Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) or other government officials.