On June 4, there was a Zoom Congregation Meeting to provide updates and discussion about the process of considering when and how we reopen the church building. The “Reopening Team of NOUMC” represented by 12 church leaders met on June 11 and discussed in further detail considerations for reopening the building for small group gatherings, office work, and in-person worship.
The “Team” is forming a plan which may allow small NOUMC groups and committees to meet with masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing practices, and other safe measures during the summer months. Outside groups such as the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Alcoholics Anonymous groups or people desiring to gather for social occasions and family celebrations may not use the building at this time in respect for maintaining prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and in consistently keeping surfaces sanitized and cleaned.
The office staff will continue to work remotely from home in communication with each other and the congregation. Small social gatherings outside the church with safe distancing of vehicles and people is being discussed as a future possibility.
In-person worship, fellowship, and Sunday School at NOUMC is preliminarily targeted for Sunday, September 13 depending largely on guidance from the Bishop and her cabinet, the Governor and his staff, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and respect for the health and safety of everyone. When Sunday morning activities do resume, they will be experienced differently compared to pre-COVID-19. From the parking lot to entering and using all spaces in the church, guidelines for: masks, sanitizers, social distancing, greetings, ushering, receiving the offering and Sacrament of Holy Communion, limited or no use of hymnals and bulletins, possibly no singing, and cleaning surfaces will need to be practiced in order to optimize people’s health and safety.
The Team is placing a high priority on offering our ministries in an inclusive way so that people who are not able or choose not to gather with future in-person, reopening activities may connect with one another via phone or other electronic communications. Group leaders and committee chairs are asked to keep this point in mind when it is announced that you may consider meetings in the building. Zoom meetings or similar computer tools are strongly encouraged as an alternative to in-person meetings.
Please note that returning to the building for in-person worship, small group gatherings, and office work is not without risk. We can’t guarantee that it will be completely safe to gather together in regards to COVID-19.
Finally, please note that the Team will provide updates about reopening the church building as they become known while seeking out more ideas and thoughts from the congregation.