Worship Gathering Operational Plan

COVID-19 In-Person Worship Operational Policy

Grace Memorial Baptist Church (August 5, 2020)

Values

  • The Great Commands to love God with our all and to love our neighbor guide our priorities and therefore a desire to create a safe and welcoming space for all who gather together for worship.
  • Grace recognizes the importance of gathering together as an act of obedience and worship before God as part of the mission of church seeking to build a community of faith.
  • Grace recognizes the risk COVID-19 presents to our community, and therefore the need to develop and implement an operational plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of all who participate in public worship gatherings.
  • Grace also recognizes that part of achieving our priorities will include complying with public health guidelines from the province of New Brunswick. Therefore, we will seek to take necessary steps towards identifying and reducing the risk of exposure within our community context.
  • Grace will implement the following COVID-19 In-Person Worship Gathering Operational Plan for all worship gatherings.

Provincial Government Guidelines as of July 31, 2020

  • Religious gatherings are permitted with physical distancing. (A minimum of six feet/2 meters between people of different households.) “Occupancy of any facility must be based on the ability to maintain physical distancing between people that are not close friends and family.”[1]
  • Signage must be posted on proper hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing throughout your facility as applicable. [2]
  • Venues hosting celebrations and ceremonies (among others) are required to maintain a record of the names and contact information of all persons who attend.[3]
  • Wearing a non-medical mask, also referred to as a community face mask, is required when unable to maintain physical distancing.[4]
  • Public washrooms must be equipped with hot and cold running water under pressure, liquid soap, paper towel, toilet paper, and garbage containers. Handwashing signs must be posted.[5]
  • Participants should be advised if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate by Public Health regulations, they should stay home, contact Public Health Telecare 811 and not enter the premises. This can be done passively (signage) or actively (questioning.)[6]
  • Businesses open on a daily basis are required to clean common areas twice daily. [7]

Operational PlanDeciding to Attend Worship

We ask congregants (including staff) to self-screen using the provincial guidelines each time before attending a worship gathering, and to stay at home when not feeling well. If one begins to feel unwell while at worship, one should go home and let the office know as soon as possible.

A congregant must not attend a worship gathering in person if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Please call 811 for assistance and assessment.

Individuals who have travelled outside the Atlantic bubble (as defined by the Province), or people who have had close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases cannot enter the church building until they have isolated for 14 days and/or have been cleared by Public Health.

Entering/Exiting/Movement in the Building

No more than 25 households (not including those staffing the worship gathering) shall be permitted in the sanctuary in designated seating to maintain proper physical distancing. Congregants will be guided to an appropriate seat by an usher. Please do not change seating location after being seated.

Names and a phone number will be recorded by a volunteer as congregants enter the building. In the event there is an on-site exposure, Public Health will require the church to provide this information for the particular gathering in question.

Volunteers and staff who will be assisting persons (including greeters/door openers, ushers) are required to wear masks. (Masks for volunteers will be provided by the church as needed.)

Because physical distancing cannot be ensured, congregants will be required to wear masks while entering, exiting and moving about the building, but may remove their masks while seated in their pews.

Entrance to the building for Worship services will be through the Welcome Center doorways. Doors will be opened and shut by a designated person. Exiting after the gathering should be done in an orderly manner through the front doors or through the Welcome Center doors.

Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and at various locations throughout the building and must be used upon entering the building each time.

Worship Elements of the Service

Musical elements of the service will occur at the front of the sanctuary. Seating in the first 5 pews of the west side of the sanctuary (in front of worship team) can only be used those who are part of the music team for that particular worship gathering.

Musical instruments can only be used by one person during each worship gathering unless it is possible to sanitize contact surfaces between the use by different persons.

A microphone can only be used by one person during each worship gathering.

Congregants desiring to sing must wear masks while singing.

Physical distancing should be maintained during worship. Shaking hands, hugging, touching, passing items between people cannot not occur.

Offering baskets will be available in the entryway to the sanctuary and will not be passed around during the service. Use of electronic giving continues to be encouraged.

Bulletins will not be available during the service. They will continue to be emailed and posted on the church website.

Hymnbooks and Bibles will not be available during the service. Songs and Scripture passages will be projected on the video screen.

In the possible event communion is offered, it will only be by self-contained juice/bread packets which can be picked up as one enters the sanctuary.

Children & Youth

At this time, Grace is unable to offer nursery, children’s church or youth classes during the worship service. Children and youth are encouraged to remain in the service and efforts will be made to make the service intergenerationally relevant. Activity packets related to the service will be provide for children which can be picked up by parents in the entryway. Nothing within the packets needs to be returned.

Welcome Café

Providing beverages and food and a place to congregate in groups for conversations within the building is not possible at present.

Washrooms

The washrooms in the Welcome Center and outside the large kitchen on the lower level will be available for congregants at worship gatherings. We ask people to be courteous and physically distance when using washrooms and, in keeping with section 2, wear a mask while using the facilities.

Cleaning/Disinfection

Common areas, high touch surfaces and washrooms will be disinfected between worship gatherings.

Conclusion

We pray this Operational Plan reflects a commitment to love God and love others. Christ sacrificially gave Himself for the church. We are called to be the church and the presence of Christ in our time. Practices and procedures will likely continue to adapt as circumstances related to COVID-19 change, but we are all called to be the church in all circumstances. Faith, safety, flexibility and care for one another should be our guides as we trust God in whatever comes our way.


[1] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/recovery.html#yellow

[2] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/measures_businesses.html

[3] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/recovery.html#yellow

[4] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/community_measures.html

[5] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/measures_businesses.html

[6] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/measures_businesses.html

[7] https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/measures_businesses.html