Elder Team Update—October 2020
Moving Back into the Building with COVID-19 Precautions
We are called to be Christ’s body. God has not put us on “pause” despite the pandemic. There are unique opportunities for personal and corporate spiritual growth and ministry due to this pandemic period. Let us encourage each other in how we can partner with God individually and as a body. –Myron Miller (Elder Team Chair)
Below are the Elder Team recommendations for moving to the next phase of inside worship services and Sunday School. These recommendations come with much prayer, discernment, and research into best practices of minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19. As we approach the winter season, we will continue to evaluate our practices to keep our church family safe. If there is an increase in Lebanon county cases that reach a threat level, we may resume our pre-recorded services and Zoom fellowships.
Starting on November 1st, we will be resuming Sunday School from 9:30-10:00 am, with the worship service beginning at 10:15 am. We have shortened our Sunday School time to 30 minutes to accommodate our smaller room environments and risk of exposure, and we are also looking into shortening our worship service times. We are still asking all ages to be wearing masks while indoors and will be refraining from singing indoors at this present time. We have also purchased air purifiers for each of the rooms that people will be present in—including the sanctuary and Sunday school rooms.
The rationale for caution within a church setting:
- Many people are in close proximity to each other. The larger our group, the higher the possibility that someone may have the infection, often without symptoms.
- One-on-one talking to each other occurs, often in close proximity. Talking produces ten times the number of airborne virus particles than just breathing in silence does.
- Singing produces six times as many airborne virus particles as talking does.
- People are prone to physical contact—handshaking, and hugging.
- Air is typically recirculated. This allows the concentration of suspended (aerosolized) virus particles to continue to increase, especially if no fresh air is introduced into the system.
- Prolonged time The longer the time spent together, the higher the concentration of viral particles in the air becomes, which increases infection risk.
What can we do to help minimize exposure within our church?
- Continue to keep the sanctuary at 25-50% capacity.
- Limit the time together in smaller, closed spaces (i.e., classrooms). The longer the class time, the higher the viral concentration becomes. Our Sunday School classes have been changed to 30 minutes.
- Keep doors open in classrooms and bathrooms. Keep windows cracked open if weather permits.
- Provide air purifiers for each room people are in.
- Ask potential COVID carriers to stay home:
- Those who have the following symptoms (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
- Those who have had unprotected contact with a COVID positive person in the past two weeks
- Those who have traveled to a “hotspot” where COVID risk is high (and were unable to mask and social distance) in the past two weeks
- Avoid handshaking or hugs. Elbow bumps are acceptable.
- Separate by households and keep a 6-foot social distance. Use every other pew in the sanctuary.
- Where a mask properly. Masks should cover both the mouth and nose to be effective. We have masks available at the church for those who want one.
- Individuals who are speaking or singing from upfront are permitted to be mask-free in order to be heard well. We are asking that they practice 12-foot social distancing and check their temperature that morning to be sure they do not have a fever that they are unaware of.
- Use the provided hand sanitizers on arrival, at departure, and any other time your hands may have been in contact with a commonly used surface. Avoid touching unnecessary surfaces.
- Bring your own water bottle or use those provided. Water fountains have been turned off.
- Use the offering container provided on the welcome table rather than passing the offering plate.
- Refrain from singing indoors. Singing continues to be one of the most challenging things to do safely inside. When inside, we ask persons in the congregation not to sing out loud. You can choose to listen worshipfully to the words as they are sung, sing them silently in your head, hum the tune, or speak the words.
- When talking to other people, maintain a 6-foot social distance and for not more than 5-10
- A temperature check station is available for those who wish to use it. If your temperature is >100.0 degrees, you should go home and participate online.
- In the bathrooms, wash your hands for 20 seconds (“Happy Birthday” twice or “Jesus Loves me” once).
- When coughing or sneezing in church, be sure to cough/sneeze into your elbow or a tissue/handkerchief.
Despite these recommendations and precautions, meeting together inside does involve some risk. High-risk individuals should consider not attending in person or at least skipping Sunday school. Risk factors include age >65 y/o, serious lung or heart conditions, diabetes, severe kidney disease, cancer, liver disease, obesity, and any immunocompromised condition. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to any member of the Elder Team
The Elder Team
Myron Miller, Carol Hershey, Tom Turley, and Pastor Amanda Rohrer