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  • Mike Brown

Coming Home to Church


As I announced yesterday (June 21) in worship, we have been approved to begin "in-person" worship at Waycross FUMC on June 28. This means that we will re-start both services, with The Depot at 8:45 and Traditional Worship at 10:30. (The 10:30 service will still be available on Vyve Cable Channel 15, Facebook Live, and through our website.)


There will be a few differences in how we do things, but we are attempting to provide as normal a worship experience as possible. But I know you are all anxious to resume in-person worship. To facilitate our re-gathering, I'm posting here our re-opening plan. (This will also be emailed later this week.)


I look froward to seeing you as we worship together again!


Worship

1. Although we desire that all members of our congregation join us “in-person” for worship, those who fall into the “vulnerable” or “high-risk” categories should consider remaining at home until it is deemed safe to join in corporate worship. Of course, those who are infected with or who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus should not come to “in-person” worship. Online worship (website and Facebook Live) and our broadcast on Vyve Cable Channel 15 will remain available.

2. The Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, and Chapel will be completely cleaned and sanitized before in-person worship resumes and before services each week.

3. Congregants should use their own judgment as to wearing masks, gloves, etc., although the wearing of masks is highly recommended and encouraged. Furthermore, all worshippers are encouraged to use hand sanitizer before entering the worship space. Hand sanitizer will be provided at all entrances to the Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, and Chapel.

4. Congregants will be encouraged to avoid personal contact, i.e., handshaking, hugging, etc.

5. “In-person” worship should be planned so that congregants can maintain appropriate social distance from one another. Family units may sit together; however, persons not sitting with their family unit are asked to place an appropriate social distance between themselves and others on the same pew. For The Depot service, congregants should spread out across the entire Fellowship Hall. For the Traditional Service, every other pew beginning with the second pew in each section will be closed off (i.e., second, fourth, sixth, etc. pew). This will also apply to the overflow section of the Sanctuary. The balcony will be used only if attendance is large enough to need it, and the same protocol for closing off pews will be applied.

6. Greeters may be used during this time, however, greeters should refrain from physical contact in greeting congregants. Masks are certainly recommended for this.

7. Acolytes may be used, at the discretion of the parents and the Acolyte Coordinator. Care will be taken, however, to ensure that the candles are lit for the traditional services.

8. The Greeting will be modified to be a call and response between pastor and congregation—in other words, this will not be a time for handshaking, hugging, etc.

9. Children will remain with their parents throughout the service—there will be no Children’s Moment or Children’s Church, unless, in the opinion of the Children’s Director, there are enough volunteers to handle the number of children we may have and to assist in wiping down all toys, surfaces, etc. The sanitizing of rooms, toys, furniture, etc., is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY, as the children’s area must be completely ready for Children First on Monday morning.

10. The offering and collection of Connection Cards will be received through the plates being placed at either end of the chancel rail and on the tables in the narthex. After each service (The Depot and Traditional), those handling the offering and Connection Cards should be gloved and should place the offering and Connection Cards in zip-lock bags and should be left UNTOUCHED for 24 hours. (Because of this procedure, we will not need ushers as collectors of offering and Connection Cards.) The ushers will still be needed to assist in welcoming worshipers and in providing security (i.e., locking doors and patrolling the halls).

11. Because congregational singing and the use of the organ are an important part of this congregation’s worship experience, these will be continued. Those who are able to see the monitors in the Sanctuary are encouraged to use them rather than the hymnals and pew Bibles; however, for those who have difficulty seeing the monitors, the hymnals and Bibles will remain in the pew racks.

12. Use of choir members will be at the discretion of the Music Director, in consultation with the Choir and the Pastor. Use of soloists, instrumentals, and other musical offerings will be at the discretion of the Music Director. [The Music Director has made it clear that the Choir will not be used any time soon.]

13. Once we resume “in-person” worship, online Holy Communion will be discontinued. The elements will be shared in the “traditional” manner, i.e., trays of small cups and bread cubes available on plates. To facilitate not touching other cups or cubes, the elements should be spaced out in the trays and on the plates, and the Communion Stewards should be on hand and prepared to refill the trays and plates as needed. In preparing for Communion, the stewards should follow appropriate preparation techniques. (Ushers will be needed at this point to direct the congregation to the chancel rail.)

14. The Depot Team will decide the best way of sharing Holy Communion for that service.

15. Infant/child baptisms may be performed in consultation with the Pastor and family.

Nursery, Sunday School, and Other Gatherings

1. The use of the Nursery and Children’s Sunday School will be at the discretion of the Children’s Director; however, there must be enough volunteers to handle the number of children and assist in wiping down bedding, surfaces, toys, etc. (See #9 above.)

2. Youth and Adult Sunday School Classes can meet, although social distancing and other appropriate practices should be maintained.

3. Other gatherings should be discouraged until it is deemed safe to come together again.

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Waycross First United Methodist Church

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