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Faith Community Guidelines for Resumption of In-Person Worship

Brothers and sisters,

We contemplate the return of in-person worship being mindful of the health and safety of others.  I ask that our decisions be based upon the recommendations of health experts.  Each congregation is engaged in ministry in its own context, so there isn’t one solution which will be appropriate for all of our churches.

However, each congregation will be asked to comply with the following guidelines:

• In-person worship may begin no earlier than June 1, 2020.
• Develop a written plan for return to in-person worship and send it to the Bishop and Canon to the Ordinary for review.
• Include safety and social distancing protocols in your written plan as well as how the spaces will be cleaned between services and after services.
• Instead of using 25%, 50% or 75% occupancy guidelines, determine how many people can be present with a 6-foot radius between each family or individual.
• The Daily Office or the Liturgy of the Word are the permissible forms of worship.  No Holy Eucharist at this time.
• Other activities including coffee hour, formation classes and nursery will not be held at this time.
• No congregational singing at this time.  Up to 4 soloists may sing provided that they are separated from the congregation and are separated by at least 10 feet.
• Remove all books from the nave including BCPs, hymnals, Bibles and other materials from the pews.
• Use single-use service bulletins which can be recycled.  Designate places for people to pick up and dispose of bulletins.
• Designate places for people to leave their monetary offering.
• Consult with the Bishop prior to baptisms.  Confirmations and ordinations will resume when these liturgies can be safely conducted.
• In-person staff and vestry meetings may occur with proper safety precautions.
• No outside groups including AA and other recovery groups, scouting, dance groups and tutoring program may meet in church buildings without the prior approval of the Bishop.
• The worship space and any other space that will be used, such as restrooms, should have a deep cleaning prior to the first in-person worship service.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
• Consider doing a test service by inviting a select group of people, such as the vestry, prior to the first in-person worship service.  Make any appropriate adjustments to the written plan.
• For the first few weeks of in-person services, pay attention to where people wander and how people enter and leave the premises, making adjustments to seating as appropriate.
• Consider the possibility of worshipping outdoors if weather and space permit.  Safety and social distancing guidelines still apply for outdoor worship services.
• Consider maintaining an online service for those who are not able to attend in-person services.
• Consider having supplies for worshippers, including disposable facemasks, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, facial tissue and additional trash cans for disposal of these items.

GUIDANCE FOR WORSHIPPERS
• The evening before the worship service, each member of the household planning to attend in-person worship should check their temperature (should be less than 100° F) and determine whether anyone has a dry cough or has lost their sense of smell.
• If anyone has any of these symptoms, has been exposed to someone with coronavirus or has tested positive for coronavirus, the household members should remain at home and worship online.
• Persons who are at higher risk for coronavirus (children, persons age 65 or older, those who are asthmatic, diabetic or have a compromised immune system) should assess the degree of risk that is acceptable for them and their household.
• Please wash your hands before you leave home.
• Please bring a clean face mask for each member of the household except for children less than 2 years old.  Wear the face mask throughout the service and when you are near others.
• Please bring hand sanitizer and apply it before entering the building.
• Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other persons at all times.
• Please do not shake hands or otherwise touch people who are not members of your household, including during the Peace.
• There will be no congregational singing until health experts advise otherwise.
• Please follow the church’s protocols for entering and exiting the building.
• Please go straight to your seats at the beginning of the service and leave the building promptly after the service.
• Please place your bulletin in the place designated by the church at the end of the service or take it home with you to recycle.

GUIDELINES FOR CLERGY AND WORSHIP LEADERS
• Be mindful of moving people along when greeting them at the beginning and end of the services.
• Consider how an entering and retiring procession might bring you too close to others.
• All persons involved with any aspect of the worship service (clergy, ushers, acolytes, readers, singers, musicians, altar guild and flower guild) should wear face masks when they are performing their duties.
• These masks should be removed when reading or speaking or by the choir members when singing.

Peace,

The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf

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