“Watching Over One Another During Covid”
Lately I have been whispering under my breath the “3 Simple Rules” set in play by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement a couple centuries ago. Perhaps you know them too since they’ve been resurrected recently by Bishop Reuben Job’s marvelous book “Three Simple Rules”. They tell us to –
Do No Harm.
Stay in Love with God.
I heard of a youth pastor’s version of the rules that go: “Avoid the evil; Do the good; and Pay attention to God.”
What a practical and biblically-grounded set of guidelines for us all.
All sound advice, wouldn’t you say? But who would ever suspect that the rules could be at odd with themselves? Or so it seems.
Here we are as a church, longing to fellowship together, to open our building to hungry neighbors and recovery groups and bible studies and all the rest. Wesley himself would tell us how staying in love with God includes regular “public worship of God, the ministry of the Word, either read or expounded, partaking in the Lord’s Supper”, among other practices. All good reasons to open the building back up, right?
Yet we must balance our best intentions to re-gather with that first rule, to Do No Harm. That’s where Central’s Re-Gathering Task Force comes in. Their diligent work in recent weeks has been to create safe protocols for worshippers to gather in our building for Sunday services. You will be hearing updates from this team when we have clear guidance on when our doors can open for reduced size groups to worship at the 9am Well service as well as the 11am Traditional service. The Re-Gathering Task Force is researching best practices following recommendations from our bishop, our governor, and the CDC. Other large congregations are comparing protocols and timelines with us, as churches learn from each other how best to offer meaningful worship experiences during this pandemic.
Here are three of the protocols I can share with you that will be in place when we are able to open, and into the foreseeable future –
- Pre-registering to attend worship. Persons will be asked to register each week for the service one plans to attend. This will allow our guides and greeters to plan for safe entry and movement in the building, allowing for 6-feet social distance. Upon registration all persons will be asked these 3 health safety questions:
- Do you have any of the following symptoms: fever/feverish, chills, dry cough, difficulty breathing, or digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain?
- Have you had close contact with a confirmed/ probable COVID-19 case?
- Have you recently traveled outside of the county in the past 14 days (outside of your normal home to work/grocery/pharmacy route)?
Upon entering the building on Sunday, our guides will confirm with each person the information is still correct, and do a touchless temperature check. Allowance will be made for visitors who have not pre-registered to also be screened.
- We will also follow these recommendations from the Health Department for all entering the building –
- Masks must be worn
- Screening before entry
- Wash/Sanitize Hands
- Social Distancing of 6 feet
- Central’s building will be kept as safe and sanitized as possible. There will be fewer entrances being used to ensure safety. Handrails, restrooms and other surfaces will be sanitized following each service. A short video is being developed to show what a walk-thru of our building will be like on a given Sunday. Look for this to arrive in your email and post on our Facebook page in the coming weeks.
We realize these details are a bit tedious. But this is the work of watching over one another. We also realize there are unknowns about how long our life together will be different. I’ve decided to make an effort to pray daily for all affected by this virus, for communities of color especially affected, and for brilliant minds researching a vaccine.
In the meantime, we mean to do no harm to any of our neighbors, along with doing the good, and staying in love with God. No virus need stand in the way of that. For in the life of faith, there is still freedom and joy here for us, regardless.
Being the Church in all seasons,