Local church COVID-19 guidelines: Staying safe as California and Nevada open for business

May 27, 2021 | by Admin

Local  church COVID-19 guidelines: Staying safe as California and Nevada open for business


Clergy and Lay Leaders of the Congregations of the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church:

We thank you for your steadfastness in this time of global pandemic.  You have faithfully found ways to be the Church in a time of prohibited gathering, shelter-in-place, isolation, and economic decline.  It has not been easy, but God has made a way for the work of the Church.  We give God thanks for your creativity, for your willingness to learn new ways to share the Good News through word and deed, for making care of neighbor a priority, and for modeling hope in a time of illness and death, fear, and despair.  We have been able to affirm together, by God’s grace, that Church is not a building but rather the living community of faith.  A new day is coming, and we know that the people of the California-Nevada Conference will journey into this new day before us with the passion and commitment of our Wesleyan faith and rules of life.

Our Wesleyan rules of life call us to “Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.”  These rules based on holy scripture have guided us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.   They have been at the heart of our pandemic protocols.    Your faithfulness in observing the protocols over the past year have kept countless people safe and spared lives. We are deeply grateful for the extraordinary witness of our clergy and laity. 

Mercifully, things are now shifting.  As more Californians and Nevadans are vaccinated, we have reached the place where we can safely begin to move back into utilizing our church buildings more fully for worship and other activities.   We give God thanks and praise for this sign of healing and wholeness.

We are asking each local church to continue to submit a relaunch plan using the template provided on the conference website until June 15, 2021.  But by June 15,

California and Nevada are expected to remove most of the restrictions we are now following.  To be responsive to these shifting dynamics, after June 15 we will no longer require churches to submit a relaunch plan.  In its place, we would ask that each church work closely with your District Superintendent to ensure that each church can open in a way that is safe in its context by following state and county public health guidelines.  

During the difficult season of pandemic, we have learned to be the church in new ways.  It is our hope that going forth we will continue to incorporate our new learnings into the life and witness of our churches including digital means of gathering even as we look forward to the joyous day of again meeting together in person.

God is with us and with all of Creation in this new day! 


Peace,

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, Dean of Cabinet and Bay DS Staci Current, Central Valley DS Debra Brady, Los Rio DS Shinya Goto, Great Northern DS Blake Busick, El Camino Real DS Samuel Hong 

 

Reopening of the Economy in California and Nevada 

California plans to fully reopen the economy on June 15, 2021. According to the Department of Public Health – CDPH (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/beyond_memo.aspx), on that date “all industries across the state can return to usual operations with common-sense risk reduction measures such as masking and vaccinations”. There are two criteria to be met for that plan to be implemented:  

  1. Equitable vaccine availability:  If vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years or older who wish to be inoculated (vaccine supply is sufficient for eligible individuals wanting a vaccine to obtain an appointment to receive the inoculation within 2 weeks) 
  2. Consistently low burden of disease:  Hospitalizations are stable and low, and specifically, hospitalizations among fully vaccinated individuals are low. CDPH indicates that, after the state moves beyond the tier system, “Common-sense health measures such as masking will remain across the state. Testing or vaccination verification requirements will remain in relevant settings.” Additionally, all sectors listed in the current Blueprint Tiers Chart may return to usual operations with limited public health restrictions, such as “masking, testing, and testing or vaccination verification requirements for large-scale higher-risk events,” and workplaces should “promote policies that reduce risk, including improved indoor ventilation, and mask wearing in indoor and other high-risk settings as well as remote work when possible, without impacting business operations”. 

Meanwhile, the state of Nevada announced the goal of “reopening business capacity to 100 percent in all counties by June 1” (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/4.20.21-Directive-044-Release.pdf). The responsibility for COVID-19 mitigation measures was transferred from the state to local authorities on May 1, except for the mask mandate that remains in effect statewide. The state adjusted its face covering mandate to align with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html).  


Statement about the United Methodist Center  

Staff will return to the United Methodist Center on June 15th, yet the center will not be open to the public until further notice. As staff resume daily operations of the conference center, we will be preparing for a time when it will be safe for the center to host meetings and gatherings for people across the conference.