After being closed for a year, churches have a plan to re-open. The South Central Conference Administration during the global pandemic monitored the situation in each of the conference’s territory states to assess the safety of re-opening church buildings for in-person worship. In March, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) shared with church pastors the protocol and mandatory processes needed for the ERT to grant permission to safely re-open for in-person worship.
The ERT took the position to recommend opening in 4 phases. Also, the community where the church is located would need to meet the CDC’s, WHO’s, and other governmental health agencies’ recommendations, and at least two of the following three conditions:
• 14 consecutive days of decreasing numbers of new coronavirus cases
• Widespread availability of an effective vaccine
• Widespread contact tracing
Churches with attendance of 100 or less would be able to request permission to open during Phase 1.
In addition to the attendance requirement, churches are asked to maintain social distancing; require the wearing of face coverings; no potlucks family style, or buffet meals; limited singing; no handshakes, hugs, or “holy kisses”; cleaning and sanitizing of spaces before each use; and more.
On April 10, twenty-three churches met the Phase 1 requirements and were given permission to re-open their doors to have in-person worship. Dr. John Nixon, Sr., conference executive secretary and chairperson of the ERT reported at the recent Conference Executive Committee, that the majority of churches in Phase 1 were not ready to re-0pen and are not in a rush to. The ERT will continue to monitor the situation and provide guidance to churches.
During Phase 2, churches with attendance of 150 or less will have the opportunity to make a request to re-open. Phase 3 will be for churches with 500 or less attendance and Phase 4 will be for the balance of churches.
The protocols and requirements set forth by the ERT have been totally vetted by health professionals and offers the highest recommended safety conditions for worshiping communities.
If you would like to know the plans for your church, please contact your church pastor or head elder to inquire.
For a copy of the protocol documents, visit the South Central Conference web page.