REOPENING THE CHURCH

Reopening Church for In-Person Worship

 

 

Introduction

        

We have been praying about what reopening our physical gatherings should look like and planning a timeline that is intentional and easy to understand. Some things that we have kept in mind as we planned are:

 

  • The call to fellowship with other believers. Online fellowship is a good complement to our ministry but not a complete alternative.

  • The responsibility to love our people and protect our more vulnerable population without making them feel left out of church life.

  • The need to follow guidelines from civil authorities whenever possible.

  • The call to be a witness to the love of Jesus in the practical steps that we take and in the way that we talk about reopening. We want our speech and our attitudes to be gracious, kind, and respectful.

  • The need to incorporate “lessons learned” from our time apart on how to be an effective church, as we move forward into this new season.

  • Plans  may evolve and change.  Let’s be gracious, kind, and flexible, as we walk and serve together.  

 

General Guidance

  1. We encourage those with underlying health conditions or in a higher-risk category to avoid in-person gatherings during the early phases of reopening. 

  2.  Each person has a responsibility to look out for the welfare of others. If you feel unwell, or if you suspect that you or a member of your family have symptoms, stay home until the period has expired and/or testing has occurred. If you know that you have been in contact with a suspected COVID-19 carrier, stay at home!

  3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California Department of Public Health, and Kern Public Health Service advise people that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

    1.  Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 

    2.  Fever 

    3.  Chills 

    4.  Repeated shaking with chills 

    5.  Muscle pain 

    6.  Headache 

    7.  Sore throat 

    8.  Loss of taste or smell 

  4.  Cough 

 

  1. Let us know if you believe that you may have the virus.  We want to support you as well as our entire church family.

  2. We will continue to work with medical professionals and others in our congregation and community to develop best practices related to the health of those attending in-person worship gatherings.

  3. Protocols will be implemented to reduce the risk of spreading the virus on campus.

  4. Church life, including corporate worship times, will be modified and different for a while.  

Phase One: Return (Sunday Services)

  1. This phase will last until further public health guidance is given from local and State officials.  At this point, the Board of Elders will reevaluate these guidelines and adjust as necessary and in line with public guidance.

  2. We will continue to offer live streaming of worship, thereby offering two options: limited worship at the church campus and live streaming online. 

  3. There will be two worship services initially:

    1. 9:00AM: This service will last one hour and will be similar in style to our regular worship service.  Face masks are required to attend this service. Participants should bring their own face mask. A limited number of masks will be available for those who may not have one. 

    2. 10:45AM: This service will last one hour.  Face masks are required.  This service will be more geared for families worshipping together, although all are welcome!

  4. There will be an alternative venue (on site) set up as an overflow room.  The same protocols will be followed as the main worship center. 

  5. Services will be spaced out enough to allow for one group to leave and the next group to arrive without intermingling.   The facility will be disinfected between services by a designated cleaning team. No refreshments will be served during this phase.  Worshippers will be directed to leave the facility at the close of the service.

  6. Worshippers will be invited to “register” for service attendance during this phase via the “Eventbrite” app.  This will allow the number of worshippers to be limited to 100 per service.  (In the event of a COVID outbreak, contact tracing will be readily available.) Unregistered guests will be directed to an overflow area when worship center maximum capacity has been reached. 

  7. Participants will be encouraged to maintain adequate social distancing of at least 6 feet apart. This guidance does not apply to family members of the same household.  The worship center and overflow room  will be set up accordingly.

 

 

  1. Greeters and ushers will politely ensure that worshippers are following published guidelines on social distancing and minimizing physical contact.  They will also open doors and direct worshippers to seating.

  2. Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the worship facility.  Greeters will direct worshippers to these.

  3. Restrooms may have a door attendant, limiting numbers in the restrooms at any one time.

  4. A designee will be responsible for “training” volunteers on basic hygiene control measures.  These volunteers will be involved with greeting, ushering, and monitoring adherence to protocols.  They will wear face coverings.  

  5. Published material will be limited (i.e.  bulletins, bibles, communication cards). A QR code will be used to access these materials on digital devices.

  6. The number of worship team members and others involved in leading the service will be reduced.  Singers will use a plexiglass screen in front of their microphones to increase protection for worshippers.

  7. For giving, worshippers should use the online option, mail-in giving, or drop offerings in boxes as they arrive or leave. No passing of the plate. 

  8. There will be no “physical”children’s or youth activities beyond the main service through the end of Phase 1. Online options will still be available.

  9. Mothers with small children may use the nursing mother’s room or another room to care for a child. Mothers are asked to inform an usher after they have finished using the room, so that proper sanitation can take place.

  10. Communion will be served using individually packaged elements and safely distributed to worshippers..

  11. Baptisms will be arranged individually with a member of the pastoral staff.

  12. The church office will be open by appointment only.

 

 

 

Phase One: Return (Small Groups)

  1. Groups are encouraged to continue to meet online or as a hybrid (on-line/in-person) at a home or other facility.

  2. For on-campus meetings, participants are encouraged to maintain adequate social distancing of at least 6 feet apart. (From different households).  The venue must be set up accordingly, with a maximum 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

  3. A designee of the ministry group using the facility will be responsible for  ensuring that the facility is disinfected prior to and after use.  The designee must coordinate with the church secretary  at least 24 hours prior. The designee is also responsible for “training” volunteers that are involved with hosting on basic hygiene control measures.

  4. No refreshments should be served.  Participants will be asked to leave the facility at the close of the event.

  5. Hand sanitizer stations should be placed strategically between entrance/exits and the room being used.

  6. Face mask requirements (required/recommended/optional) will be determined by the group ministry leader. 

THE OAKS COMMUNITY CHURCH I 10200 CAMPUS PARK DRIVE I BAKERSFIELD, CA 93311 I 661-663-3888 I TOCC@THEOAKSWEB.COM

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