July 16, 2020 Update // In-Person Worship Plan

July 16, 2020 Update // In-Person Worship Plan

First United United Methodist Church –
In-Person Worship Plan (COVID-19)

Reopening Church – Our Vision

Our Adrian First’s ministry team, our staff and our church leadership are excited about coming back to church after not being able to gather during these early months of the coronavirus. We recognize that our return is taking place not at the conclusion of the coronavirus, but while it is still a threat to our society. Offering this plan, we recognize that life and church life are not going to immediately return to what it was before COVID-19; therefore, how we live out our mission as the church will not be identical to what it was a few short months ago.

This plan for restarting church is not a focus on religious freedom or personal rights, though we view them as tremendously important. This plan is focused on the commandments to love God and neighbor. John Wesley’s first Simple Rule, “Do no harm” compels those of us who are Jesus’ disciples shaped by the Wesleyan tradition to make sure that our actions do not harm others, even if we are not intentionally doing so. This means that we need to exhibit abundant caution and, for the foreseeable future, act to keep everyone as safe as possible and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Church attendance is voluntary, and we certainly understand that many of our church family will choose for the time being to continue to stay home to protect their health. We support the decisions you make and encourage all of our church family to make a decision that is best for them and that keeps them safe. Please know that we will continue to broadcast our worship services through our website, www.adrianfumc.org, and through Facebook.

Plan Development

Our plan has been developed with the utilization of many resources. Not only have we taken the ideas and thoughts of our church ministry team, staff, and lay leadership, but we have also utilized guidance from our governmental and health leaders and experts, our Bishop, and a number of other churches.

Key Considerations

The safe reopening of Adrian First will involve at least four elements in the coming weeks and months knowing that opening is subject to change as conditions warrant:

  1. We will in as much as our setting allows, follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the Michigan Department of Health, Governor Whitmer, our Bishop, Lenawee County Health Department, and federal guidelines.
  2. We will practice appropriate social distancing, appropriate sanitizing and cleansing guidelines, the wearing of masks (we will make masks available on a limited basis, but due to the shortage of PPE we strongly encourage everyone to provide their own) and the practice of utilizing limited and clearly marked entry and exit points (the three doors providing direct entrance to the Narthex at Adrian First and Door 13 in Fellowship Hall) and the established seating and gathering requirements.
  3. Cooperation from all individuals, particularly those who are symptomatic or in an at-risk or compromised population. Please know that church attendance is voluntary, and no one should come who is frightened. Make the right choice that is best for you. Do not come if you are sick or have been exposed to a known positive case of COVID-19 unless there has been a 14-day quarantine.
  4. We will monitor all guidelines and take appropriate action. We believe that your best interest is God’s first interest. We will implement everything we can to make sure that Adrian First is the safest place in Adrian.

Worship Service and Guidelines

The guidelines for safe practices for worship and gathering as shown further in this plan will be adhered to for ALL services at First United Methodist Church. Musicians will be limited by number, perform in the chancel area of the sanctuary, and will maintain a distance of 20 feet between them and the congregation, and maintain proper social distancing between performers.

Criteria and Action Steps for Worship Services

Capacity for Worship Services

Based on guidance that suggests spacing of six feet between, in front of and behind every person to achieve safe social distancing, we have determined that no more than 50 spots can populate our sanctuary at any given time for any single gathering. With two Sunday morning worship services this should provide us the opportunity for up to 100 people to worship on Sunday mornings.  There will be no seating in the balcony at this time so our video and audio volunteers can efficiently and safely perform their duties. 

Usher Training:

A training session(s) will be held to train ushers on appropriate seating protocols, safe spaces, utilization of masks, maintaining closed worship space.  Along with appropriate cleaning between services occurs, seating and dismissal practices, appropriate form of collecting offering; and how to assist those that need help while maintaining the safety measures of this plan.

Arrival, entry, seating and exit for Worship Services:

All current parking for Adrian First will be available for usage as it was prior to this point. It is important, however, to know that the three entrances to the Narthex and Door 13 entrance to Fellowship Hall will be the only access for our services. The west wing of the church will not be open for egress into the building, and the kitchen and Fellowship Hall will be off-limits.  Ushers will be trained to follow a seating plan that will provide for safe and social distancing to take place. Spouses and family units that live together under the same roof will be allowed to sit closer than the required social distancing of six feet. Seating will utilize every third pew for safe space practices. All others will be seated at six foot intervals. All that enter will maintain safe social distancing while waiting to be seated by an usher. We will label all entry and exit aisles and ask those attending to please utilize those specific aisles for entry and exit. All that attend will be seated by an usher and dismissed by an usher. All are to remain seated until the usher dismisses them. Entering the sanctuary will be down the center aisle. To avoid passing within six feet of congregants, we will have to seat people in the sanctuary from front to back. Exiting the sanctuary will be down the side aisles to side doors, one family group or individual at a time.

There will be no gathering for coffee or treats at this time. There is only space for worship at this time.

We join our church family in the excitement of being able to worship with one another again, but we want to make certain that we greet one another in ways that joyfully acknowledge each other without physically touching or violating social distancing practices. All persons attending our services will be required to wear masks at all times except for clergy and musicians and only when they are speaking or performing. Handshakes, hugs, elbow bumps, fist bumps or physical touching outside of families living under the same roof is discouraged.

Weekly offerings will be collected in marked containers placed at the exit side aisles and each individual will have the opportunity to share their offering as they enter or leave worship. You may also continue to mail-in your offering or utilize one of the electronic methods of tithing on our website (www.adrianfumc.org). 

We encourage those attending to utilize restrooms only in the event of an emergency as spreading of viruses and bacteria is heightened in high-touch areas with water vapor and water droplets. We will clean surfaces between all worship services to maintain a clean, sanitized, and safe space for all that attend our worship services. All appropriate and deeper cleaning will take place Monday through Friday.

There will be no hymnals, bibles, pens, cards, etc. of any kind in our seating areas.

Order of Worship

All of our worship services will be shorter in length and will average 35 minutes per service. As a result of the guidance being provided on the aerosol effect of spreading germs and bacteria, we are following the guidance in not having congregational singing nor will we utilize a large group choir. The safe distancing of six feet practiced by the congregation would be mitigated by the aerosol that comes from large group singing. We, therefore, will provide instrumental music, soloists, and small group ensembles, but only when they are at a 20-foot distance from the congregation, and 20 feet from each other. There will not be congregational singing of any kind at this point. 

Doors to the worship spaces will remain open to increase air flow.

Guidelines for Small Groups, Bible Studies, Youth and Children’s Activities and Sunday School Classes

Upon reopening we will not be holding Sunday School Classes, Choir, Bible Studies, church committee and ministry meetings, youth or children’s activities and other non-worship gatherings in face to face meeting style on the premises as we have become accustomed. We encourage the use of Zoom, that allows for groups to meet electronically.  Contact Stacey Munson or Bryan Bowers to get help on electronic meetings.

Summary of Plan Do No Harm

If you are symptomatic (fever, cough, known exposure over previous 14 days to COVID-19), or at higher risk, please stay home.  Stay up to date on current symptoms and illness concerns regarding COVID-19.

Six (6) foot social distancing will be practiced for all worship services and any other church activity. Six (6) feet from the front, back and both sides will be adhered to.

We will not be able to have physical contact. No hugs, elbow bumps, fist bumps nor any form of physical touching.

Please plan the appropriate amount of time to arrive and to make your way to the designated entrances. Entrances and exits will be labeled and will be only one-way traffic. No thru traffic via the church building will be available, so please plan appropriately. Additionally, our ushers will seat and dismiss everyone, therefore allowing time and appropriate social distancing as you wait will be important.  There will be floor markers placed in the Narthex and the center aisle to facilitate six (6) foot social distancing while waiting to enter the Sanctuary

We encourage use of restrooms only in the event of an emergency.  For everyone’s safety after you use the restroom, please wash your hands, dry them, and utilize the paper towel to open the door.  There will be a waste receptacle outside of the restroom to dispose of the used toweling.  Then sanitize your hands at one of the stations in the Narthex before returning to the Sanctuary.

Personal Protection

  • Masks will be required for all in attendance, except for clergy and musicians when speaking or performing. We encourage everyone to bring their own mask. However, Adrian First will provide a mask for those that do not have one. Masks should always be worn while on church premises.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available at the entrances to the sanctuary.
  • Weekly offerings will be collected in containers that will be placed at the exits and each individual will have the opportunity to share their offering as they leave the service.
  • Ushers will have access to no contact IR Thermometers if you would like your temperature checked prior to entering the building.
  • Ushers will be wearing Nitrile Gloves to safely be able to perform their duties.  Some extra Nitrile gloves will be available should you feel that you need them, but we encourage you to supply your own if you feel they are necessary.

Safe Spaces

Our ushers will be trained on how to seat within the scope of this plan. The Sanctuary will utilize seating on every third pew. Congregational singing will not be a part of our worship at this time and singing by congregants is discouraged.

There will be no nursery, children’s sermon, or children’s chapel available for our worship services. Please be tolerant of those families who bring small children so that they can participate in live worship.

All cleaning and sanitizing protocols of this plan will be adhered to. The worship space will be cleaned and sanitized between each respective service.