Phase 1: Reopening the Building during the Pandemic

Small groups may be in the building. Worship is still online only, with some exceptions for outdoor worship.

The Building

  • Church boards, committees, or staff groups may meet in person in small numbers, respecting local restrictions, and with social distancing and masks.
  • Churches need to have an opening plan that spells out the provisions for safe opening. They should require the same of their tenants before allowing them back.

Worship Guidelines

Generally, worship will continue to be held online only, although some exceptions may be made for outdoor worship with social distancing and masks.

Communion

If communion is offered, best practices suggest the following:

  • The officiant and servers use hand sanitizer before offering communion.
  • Individual pieces of bread and individual cups are offered.
  • Servers offer the bread and cup to each person, rather than each person taking them from a communal plate or tray.
  • Each communicant places their empty cup into a separate receptacle.

Passing the Peace and the Offering Plate

  • Social distancing must be maintained. Offering a phrase or pressing hands together in a prayerful bow can convey the message of passing the peace.
  • Passing the offering plate should be avoided. Place the plate in the church for people to drop their offering into, and have gloves available for staff handling cash or cheques. Now is the time to suggest that people give through PAR

Singing

  • There should be no congregational or choir singing.
  • Soloists must be at safe distances from each other and from the congregation.

Source: A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing webinar recording.

Cleaning

After each gathering, it is important to thoroughly clean bathrooms, door handles, hymnbooks, pew Bibles, backs of pews, microphones, musical instruments, and all other highly used areas.

Over 60 or Otherwise Vulnerable?

  • People over 60, those with underlying medical conditions that have weakened immune systems, and those who have family members at home who are vulnerable are encouraged to participate only in online activities.
  • Clergy who are in one of these categories should have a conversation with their Ministry and Personnel Committee to develop an alternate option where exposure to groups of people is limited and high-risk activities are avoided altogether.
  • Ministry personnel who are at higher risk or who have family members at home who are at higher risk must exercise diligence in limiting their exposure to groups of people and higher-risk activities