Editor's Note: California-Nevada Conference staff are busy putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive protocol of guidelines that will help our local churches begin to re-open their buildings. What follows is a summary of those guidelines, shared in advance of the release.
“Our churches have been open, it’s just our buildings that are closed…”
As we prepare our churches for in-person worship and ministry activities while protecting our congregations’ health, the California-Nevada conference is working on protocols for our local churches to implement when the Bishop authorizes the resuming of in-person services. Here are some of topics being considered for a comprehensive document to be distributed soon.
Develop a Re-launch Ministry Team
The local churches will develop a team of 3 to 10 people, including the pastors and lay leaders, to prepare and move the church toward in-person worship. For ministry settings other than local churches, consider the director, board members, and constituents or participants
Draft a Ministry Plan Together
The team will develop a ministry plan through the lens of John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules: Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God. The ministry plan will have a strategy for implementation and monitoring of the protocols, including training staff and volunteers on proper practices, and will be submitted to the District Superintendent for approval prior to implementation.
Follow CDC, State, County and Local Public Health Guidelines
California-Nevada Conference covers significant areas of two states and many counties that experienced the COVID-19 pandemic with different intensities and subsequently developed specific guidelines, stricter than the state in some cases. Our churches continue to be asked to follow CDC, state and local guidelines as they develop their ministry plan.
Attention to High-Risk Populations, Physical Distancing and Maximum Occupancy
Each church’s plan is expected to focus on protecting the population that is at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Furthermore, the guidelines for physical distancing and maximum occupancy of buildings will be followed to minimize the risk of infections in our church buildings.
Leadership, Staff and Volunteer Responsibilities and Safety Actions
Local church leaders in partnership with conference leadership will make sure that the planning and implementation of the ministry plan is a shared responsibility. The training of staff and volunteers, as well as the safety actions to be implemented are steps that reflect our Christian love for one another and for our communities.
Worship and Ministry Activities in our Buildings
Both our in-person worship and our ministry activities are integral part of our service to God and our neighbors. We will prepare to return to in-person activities ensuring the maximum protection of the people we serve, while envisioning new ways to do God’s mission in each local church.
We will be cautious in re-launching in-person activities in our buildings and programs, do it gradually and with great care. Even as we move into a time with more moderate restrictions, we realize that we are not over the pandemic and it is our common responsibility to take the necessary steps to safeguard public health. We will “Do no harm, Do good, and Stay in love with God”.