Coping with COVID: Resuming In-person Worship

Resuming In-person Worship at UBC

On June 3, church leaders met to discuss preparations for the reopening of our sanctuary space for in-person services. The team reviewed the results of a recently completed Worshipping Together Survey, which received 29 responses. The survey results, in combination with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, were used to establish a timeframe and a list of best practices for reopening.  The team recommends the following actions.

We are provisionally planning to resume in-person worship services on Sunday, July 26, 2020.  It may be necessary to delay the reopening should COVID-19 cases increase, but that can be determined as the date approaches. 

Please keep in mind the ministry of live streaming worship services will continue after the sanctuary reopens and will be available for any who prefer not to worship in person.

The team recommends the following practices:

  • Congregants are asked to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms or are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Use face coverings at all times, except under 2 years old or those who are not able to remove a face covering on their own. If a person arrives without a mask, one will be provided for them. 
  • Maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more at all times as we enter, worship and depart. 
  • Limit physical touching. 
  • Reduce exposure time in worship and fellowship gatherings.
  • Avoid practices known to spread the virus more widely, such as congregational or choral singing, unison speaking and speaking loudly. 

In reviewing the property and programs of the church, the following specifications will be enacted to ensure that all who come to worship gatherings are as safe as possible, with as few exposures to infection as possible.

  • Childcare will not be made available. Families are encouraged to sit together in the sanctuary.
  • The breezeway will not be available as there is not enough room to allow proper social distancing of cross-traffic.
  • Two entrances will be made available for entry and exit: the 22nd Street door (with elevator access) and the Guadalupe Street entrance. 
  • Pews will be designated as available or unavailable for seating. This is done to maintain 6’ social distancing. The main floor of the sanctuary will be open except designated pews for social distancing. The balconies will be closed (except to sound and video managers).
  • One set of restrooms will be available for use, the restrooms on the Sanctuary level, near the Library. Only two people will be allowed per bathroom. 
  • All touch items will be removed from pews, such as offering plates, envelopes, hymnals, writing utensils and Bibles. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own Bibles or electronic devices if they wish. 
  • Kids’ worship bags and coloring pages will be removed from the sanctuary. Parents are encouraged to bring quiet diversions for their children if needed. 
  • A limited number of cushions will be available at the entrance. If they are used, congregants are asked to leave the cushions in the pews after worship. 
  • The order of worship will appear on-screen and announcements will be made available on the church website. There will not be any printed material. 
  • Communion has not yet been discussed at this time. 
  • Although online or mailed donations are encouraged, there will be a secure box for offerings in the sanctuary.
  • At the end of service, congregants will be allowed to exit row by row, in order to maintain social distancing upon departing.

Listed below are ways we will maintain cleanliness for the safety of our congregation. Hand sanitizer will be available on each open pew.

*Item in italics is still being evaluated.

  • Hand sanitizer will be available at each entrance/exit and in each of the restrooms.
  • Restrooms will be cleaned before and after the service.
  • Hands-free door openers have been installed on restroom doors.
  • A plexiglass barrier will be installed at the pulpit so particles transmitted from the preacher are limited. 
  • Cushion use will be rotated from week to week to allow for the death of germs. 

The COVID-19 Response Team consists of Trustee and Finance Chair Bob Bass, Church Moderator Lisa Cauble, Deacon Chair Jody Joyner, Safety and Property Chair Kris White along with staff, Designated Senior Pastor Rev. Amelia Fulbright, Minister of Music and Outreach Jonathan Castillo, Director of Finance Paul Taylor and Director of Hospitality Lily White.

If you have questions or suggestions, you are welcome to contact a member of the team.

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