Reopening Phase 2
August 11, 2020
Dear Beloved Church Family,
I bring you great news!
Groveport UMC is ready to move into our next phase of reopening. Our Church Reopening Exploration team met again on Monday August 10 and discussed where we are as a church in relation to the pandemic. While the numbers of COVID continue to rise, our world has grown tremendously in its ability to diagnose and treat the disease. Best practices have become norm in the grocery store, at the restaurant, and the zoo. In light of this, we feel it is time to take a baby step forward in allowing church groups to start using church space to meet in once again.
Starting Monday August 17, the Fellowship Hall of the church may be reserved for Youth group, share groups, Griefshare, Bible studies, meetings, etc. Please note that this does not include outside groups using our space. Groups that use the space will be responsible ensuring safety precautions are followed as well as being responsible for cleaning the space- including disinfecting tables and chairs. The use of this space will include the bathroom downstairs to be used, however, other parts of the church: the library, kitchen, and serendipity room will remain off limits. Without using tables the max number of people to be allowed in the space will be 20 and with using tables the number recommended is less to allow for 6 feet of social distancing at all times. Food and drink should not be brought and shared.
We are also excited to let you know that we are going to be trying an evening worship event on our front lawn. This will start sometime in September on a weeknight and will continue for a couple weeks. The worship event will be a time of prayer, devotional thought, and music. More details to be announced at a later point.
May God continue to guide us and use us as his vessel.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jonathan Mann
Groveport United Methodist Church
June 12, 2020
Dear Groveport Church Family,
It is my pleasure to invite you to worship with us for in-person Sunday morning worship! This past Thursday, our Ministry Table approved recommendations form our Reopening the Church Team on how to reopen adhering to the current guidelines for Religious Organizations. The experience of worship will look and feel a lot different than pre-Covid-19 and I wanted to send this letter out to the congregation so we can all know what to expect.
Date for Reopening:
We will offer one service at the normal 10:30am hour starting on June 21, 2020.
What to know before you come:
- The space for Church worshippers will be limited to the sanctuary and the two bathrooms near the back of the sanctuary. All other areas of the church will have access closed off.
- The front doors to the church will open to worshippers starting at 10:15am. These will be the only doors open for entering, all others will be locked and marked, “No Entrance.”
- The elevator will not be useable at this time. We know this will be a barrier for some of our congregation to attend worship. We are saddened to have to make this decision and will continue to work on how we can best serve those that need the elevator.
- The cry room will be temporarily designated as our sick room. If we encounter an emergency or someone begins to feel ill rapidly, they will be taken to the room and receive care until the paramedics are on scene. This room will have first-aid kits ready for use, a medical grade facemask, and gloves available.
- A station will be set up at the main doors and volunteers will help with this station. It will provide free hand sanitizer, free face masks for those who need them, and prepackaged communion elements (on appropriate Sundays.) Volunteers will also remind people that if they have been exposed to Covid-19 in recent days to play it safe and return home.
- The balcony will be closed for seating.
- For the purposes of contact tracing, worshippers will also be asked to text this number: 614-270-1773 before the start of service. This number is a “burner phone” and will be solely used for the following purpose: If a worshipper were to find out he/she was diagnosed with COVID-19, we will be able to quickly text back these numbers to inform our worshippers of their exposure. We will also communicate to the church via emails and mailings.
- Wearing a face covering will be the expectation of the service. If someone is not willing to wear the face covering, we ask that they worship with us via livestream and not in person.
- Bottled Water will be available in the sanctuary. There will be no access to the normal water stations in the church.
- Worshippers will be asked to sit in designated sitting areas. The church has signage on which pews are available and which areas are available for sitting. These are divided as either single/double or family. With this set up, we expect we can host somewhere between 30 and 64 people.
- HVAC will continue to be used. With the church’s long return air ducts, air filter, then long distribution air ducts, we feel that use of our AC in the summer months is safer than opening the small windows and creating a down breeze. The fans in the church sanctuary will remain off.
- After service, the sanctuary and bathrooms will have no access to ensure Covid-19 will die off within 5 days. This prevents the church from having to pay large amounts of money for sanitation and cleaning services.
- No Nursery or Children’s church will be provided at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience this brings to many families. We will continue to work on how we can start these back up in the future.
- After 3 Sundays of worship, the Opening the Church Exploration Team will reconvene. Their purpose will be to discuss how to enhance the worship experience, how to comply with any new and/or removed guidelines, and problem solve any unforeseen circumstances we may have encountered. The exact date of this meeting is still to be determined.
What will the worship experience be like?
Once worshippers have entered the sanctuary they should quickly move to a designated seating area while maintaining a 6 foot distance from other families. Ushers will be available to help families with this process. Once worshippers are in the designated seating area they can expect the following from the worship experience:
- The time frame for worship will remain roughly the same.
- There will be no printed bulletins, however, we will continue to send the bulletin via email so you can use your phone to follow along.
- All music will either be instrumental or special music done by an individual. We will not have congregational singing nor choir at this time.
- We will still have congregational liturgy in spoken word form such as the call to worship and the Lord’s prayer. During these times we will remain seated.
- All hymnals and other pew stuffers have been removed from the pews. Please advise if you
would like to be provided with offering envelopes and they will be mailed to you.
- Offering plates will not be passed around. Instead there will be a station where offerings may be dropped off near the entrance of the sanctuary.
- For prayer time we ask that everyone stay in their pews. We will not open the altars at this time.
- Pastor Jonathan will be preaching from the upper dais, near the altar. He will be wearing a face shield the entire service.
- After service, worshippers should exit the sanctuary promptly while adhering to social distancing and using hand sanitizer. The church lawn will be open for congregants to greet one another at their own discretion.
As your pastor, I would like to remind you that even though we are doing everything we can to limit exposure, attending a Sunday Morning service in-person will come with a certain amount of risk. By attending worship, you are accepting that risk as your own, acknowledging that even best practices cannot ensure transmission of Covid-19 will not take place.
If you do not feel comfortable with taking on that risk, I encourage you to keep worshipping with us via our livestream. You are still every much part of our church family when you join us online!
Finally, for those who are unable to attend worship due to some of the restrictions we have had to put into place, I want to say: we love you, we care for you, and we will continue to look at creative ways we can have you be part of our service in the near future.
May God protect us and guide us as we step into this new future.
Grace and Peace,