St. Andrew’s Approved Reopening Plan
Plan Submitted to St. Andrew’s Church Council
Plan Submitted to District Superintendent Kathleen Weber
Plan Approved by District Superintendent Kathleen Weber
Reopening Plan Team Members: Rich Green, Kathy Bowen, Gary Skaar, Rev. Denise Roberts
The seven churches comprising the South Sound Coop cover three counties. The SS Coop includes St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church. This plan is specific to St. Andrew’s which is located in Thurston County.
Since March 2020, the South Sound United Methodist Coop has provided a collaborative online Sunday worship service. This online service option will continue through Sunday, September 6th. The Coop will reevaluate our commitment to collaborative worship in early August.
This document acknowledges requirements of both the WA State Safe Start guidelines as well as the PNW Reimagining Life Together: Guidelines for Reopening Buildings and Returning to In-Person Ministry.
In instances where there is discordance in the instructions from the state and from the UM Bishop, St. Andrew’s will err toward the more restrictive of the guidelines. This bias is per the Bishop’s request and with St. Andrew’s desire to place the health and safety of our membership as primary.
Currently, our building is closed. The Reopening Team of St. Andrew’s has determined that the most appropriate time for our reopening of worship would be at Phase 3. Prior to St. Andrew’s receiving approval for a Phase 3 reopening, the only people allowed in the building are;
All folks entering the church must sign in, do a temperature check and sanitize the areas they have visited.
Decision for Phase 3 Reopening
We are aware that Phase 1 would allow us to have five people in the building and Phase 2 would allow us to have up to 10 people in the building, however, our decision is that we keep our building closed, and that we keep our Committee meetings and our small group meetings on zoom until we enter Phase 3. There are two primary concerns driving this decision. First, the majority of our congregation is in the high-risk population for the virus, and so far, several of them have adapted well to meeting via zoom. Secondly, we are concerned that allowing small group meetings might jeopardize our ongoing ability to provide and maintain proper sanitization of the church.
Note on Sanitization Materials
We currently have in stock antibacterial wipes, gloves and bottled sanitizer. We are awaiting delivery of touch-free sanitizing stations, and we plan to order UV lights, though availability has been an issue.
The reopening of St. Andrew’s requires approval of our plan submitted to the District Superintendent. Our proposed re-opening date is September 13th, 2020 or whenever the Bishop moves us into Phase 3.
About St. Andrew’s
Prior to the church shutdown, St. Andrew’s conducted two worship services each Sunday. Attendance at the 8:30 am Celebration service was generally between 25 to 30 people. This service included Holy Communion and Passing of the Peace each week. Attendance at the 11:00 am Traditional service was generally between 55 to 60 people. This service celebrated Holy Communion on the first Sunday of the month. Passing of the Peace, Prayer Concerns and Coffee Hour were held at each service on a weekly basis.
St. Andrew’s is an older congregation with an active membership of 110 to 120 people. Of this group;
Under 50 years 11
50 to 65 years 14
Over 65 years 85
*Persons living in Senior Communities 16
*Senior Communities include Panorama, Colonial Inn, and the Air Stream Trailer Park
Summary of the Reopening Plan
Proposed re-opening date is Sept 13th, 2020
Reopening of the church requires a written plan approved by the District Superintendent.
Guidance for Individuals All phases
*Given that almost 70% of the St. Andrew’s population is over 65 years of age, we will be strident in utilizing safety precautions.
* For those who are living with a compromised immune system or any underlying health issues, we recommend our virtual online worship service which will continue throughout August. In-person worship attendance will be at your discretion.
In accordance with Bishop Stanovsky’s “Reimagining Life Together” requirements for the reopening of St. Andrews, the following plan is proposed. The Bishop’s requirements are based on a four phase approach to opening. Phases 1 and 2 mandate a closure of St. Andrews
Phase 3 allows for a limited opening for small groups and worship. Staff and volunteers may work in the building following the social distancing guidelines.
Phase 4 allows for more “normal” worship with still some, but less restrictive requirements. These are spelled out in more detail below.
The following plan addresses in detail the actions to be taken at St. Andrew’s in accordance with the Bishop’s requirements for Phases 3 and 4. The requirements call out 12 Key Actions that must be addressed in reopening.
1. High Risk Population
This population is allowed to attend worship at their own discretion.
It is felt that the “Safety Actions” described below will give these persons assurance that enough precautions, if followed, have been taken to “do no harm”.
2. Physical Distancing
Strict adherence to maintaining the 6 foot distance between individuals in worship will be followed, (see “Safety Actions” below) in Phase 3 and perhaps into the beginnings of Phase 4 or until Thurston County guidelines and the Bishop’s guidelines allow for the relaxation of the distance requirement.
3. Maximum Group Size
Phase 3 allows for groups of 50 or less to meet for worship, committee meetings, educational activities, or other church events. The size of the meeting space must accommodate the 6 foot spacing between individuals. Pews have been moved with some removed so as to accommodate the 6 foot spacing requirements. See “Safety Actions” below for steps taken and accommodations proposed when a group begins to exceed the 50 requirement.
Phase 4 will return to the usual 2 service format with some previously stated Safety Guidelines in place.
4. Leadership Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of St. Andrews leadership to prepare and publish this plan, seek input from the congregation, make amendments as needed, communicate progress in implementing the plan, provide ongoing training to affected groups, and insure its currency until all requirements have been satisfied. We recognize that the plan may change periodically, depending on local and state guideline as well as instructions from the Bishop.
The plan will be distributed to the congregation either through the mail or via the NEXUS newsletter and will be posted throughout the church. Periodic updates will be issued as significant modifications warrant.
Once our Plan is approved by the District Superintendent, we will call for another Church Council meeting, bringing people up to speed on any changes and reviewing responsibilities for the leadership of the church.
5. Safety Actions
The following actions are proposed for a safe opening of St. Andrews in Phase 3, such that we “Do No Harm” while attempting to return to a new normal. Unfortunately, some of these will be found rather restrictive but it is believed necessary. It is planned that by Phase 4 these restrictions can be, for the most part, lifted; however, each will be reviewed at that time for applicability. In both phases, individuals feeling ill are asked to stay home.
a. Only one door (South) will be used for entrance and exit from the building. Upon entry, each individual (guest and visitors included) will have their temperature checked via a no-touch thermometer. Those with a 100 degree or more temperature may be asked to not enter the sanctuary. Attendance, by name, will be noted (for subsequent cross tracking, as necessary). Each individual (except children under 3 years) will be asked to wear a mask covering the nose and mouth. Masks will be available. Those refusing to wear the mask will be asked to not enter the sanctuary. Tables and chairs in the Fellowship Hall have been put away to discourage seating.
b. In proceeding directly to the Sanctuary, individuals will be asked to limit touching of surfaces and to not bring unnecessary items, such as food, drink, etc. into the Sanctuary.
c. The Sanctuary doors and all restroom doors will be propped open to avoid touching. There will be limited use of the small handicapped restroom. Antibacterial wipes will be available both inside and outside the smaller restroom.
Touching of faucet, door, and flushing handles should be with an intervening paper towel or Kleenex. Other surfaces should be wiped down if touched. Trash cans and wastebaskets will remain open to avoid touching. Hands free sanitizing stations will be located throughout the church.
d. Immediately upon entering the Sanctuary, there will be a basket for depositing check and cash donations. There will be no taking of the collection during the service.
e. Safe, social distancing, seating will be arranged in the Sanctuary (see picture). Immediate families may sit together on the same pew. Others are asked to sit no more than 2 individuals to a pew and on the ends of the pew. It estimated that we can accommodate up to 50 persons with this configuration.
Those not maintaining social distancing or violating other safety rules will be given a warning and if it continues they will be asked to leave by the Pastor or other member of the Church Council. Every attempt will be made to help all attendees understand that the nature of our safety code is to keep everyone safe and healthy.
f. The current plan is to conduct a survey of the congregation to gain an understanding of what might need to be in place to allow them to feel safe in attending worship. If the survey indicates less than 45 people, then we will conduct only one service. If it indicates more than 45 people, then we will conduct 2 services and the church office will assign people to attend either the 1st or 2nd service so that we might adhere to the 50 person guidelines without having to turn people away.
As much as possible we will assign people to the service that they generally attend. We will assign up to 45 seats per service. This allows us to have 5 seats available per service for guests/visitors. On our website, we will request that people register to attend a particular service. We will provide information regarding online worship in all of our communication tools.
g. There will be no paper handling in the Sanctuary; no attendance cards, no hymnals, no Passing of the Peace and the bulletin will be projected on the wall. The hand-held mike will not be passed. Prayers and Concerns will be sent to the Church Office via email or texts.
h. The Bishop’s requirements identify no singing (congregational, choir, solo, etc) of any kind to prevent viral spread via mouth spray. There will be no choir practice.
i. After each service the high touch surfaces will be sanitized by the custodian and volunteers before the next service. In addition, we are considering Ultra Violet lights to sanitize the Sanctuary and other gathering places.
6. Staff and Volunteers
All Staff and Volunteers (incl. Preschool teachers) will be trained on new safety guidelines and asked to sign a covenant agreement to support the guidelines.
Activities normally performed by staff and volunteers will follow these requirements:
Phase 3 Virtual plus in-person worship up to 50 people. Church will assign attendees for each service, incl. potential guests. Safety precautions will be posted around the church. Doors will be propped open to minimize touching. No touch sanitizers will be available. Seating will comply with safe distancing guidelines and will accommodate movement of wheelchairs, walkers, etc. Face masks required. No weddings or funerals due to risk to our vulnerable population. No live singing. No Praise Band or Choir practices or live breath instruments. Handbells, incl practices are allowed. No Communion. No food or drink in sanctuary. Water Fountain and Hot Water dispenser will be made inaccessible. Adult Sunday School allowed with safe distancing. No Children’s Sunday School or Children’s Time. No paper prayer cards or bulletins. No Passing of the Peace. UV lights and manual wipe-down will be used to sanitize sanctuary between services. Balance of church will also be cleaned using UV light and manual wipe-down. AV Room is a keep-out area except for authorized volunteers and Gretchen who will guide the Custodial in cleaning this space. Offering plate will be near sanctuary entrance. Masks/Gloves required when Counters remove offering plate from sanctuary. Masks/Gloves required when changing paraments. Microphones wiped with disinfectant after each service.
Phase 4 Virtual plus in-person worship. We will be less restrictive but not back ‘to normal’ for the safety of our people. Temperature checks at church entrance will discontinue. Safety precautions will be posted around the church. Continue to prop open doors. No touch sanitizers will be available. Weddings and funerals allowed with size limits and safety precautions. Safe seating in sanctuary remains in place. No live singing, no live breath instruments. No Communion. Adult Sunday School allowed with safe distancing, but not Children’s Sunday School. Children’s Time reinstated. Limited/controlled coffee hour. No paper prayer cards or Bulletins. No Passing of the Peace. AV Room is a keep-out area except for authorized volunteers, Gretchen and Custodian. Offering plate will remain near sanctuary entrance. Gloves required when Counters remove plate from sanctuary. Masks/Gloves required when changing paraments. Microphones wiped with disinfectant after each service.
Phase 4 Plus
Unless there are concerns from the state, county or the Bishop’s guidelines, and with permission from the District Superintendent, we can restart Communion, choir and praise band, Children’s Sunday School, and we can return Bibles, hymnals, etc. to the sanctuary.
8. Ministry Activities and Events
Phase 3 Virtual plus in-person meetings. Normal church meetings and small groups allowed, eg. Bread of Life, Quilters (no shared lunch), Lectionary Study. Face masks and safety guidelines are in place. No VBS for 2020. 2020 REACH Program has been cancelled.
Phase 4 Virtual plus in-person meetings. Normal church meetings as well as small groups can occur. Unless there are concerns from the state, county or the Bishop’s guidelines, we can restart Communion, choir and praise band, Children’s Sunday School, and we can return Bibles, hymnals, etc. to the sanctuary.
9. Building Use
Phase 3 Essential access is limited to staff, volunteers, small church groups & designated services. Sign-in required for tracing and to know what areas may need cleaning. Tables removed from Fellowship Hall. Hangers removed from hall closets to discourage bringing extra clothes.
Phase 4 Facility can reopen to non-church groups, clubs, etc. that obey safety guidelines. Safety training for outside groups to be available. Safety guidelines posted throughout the church. Communication with non-church groups to be done via phone with identified group leader. Facilities Use Agreement will be updated to include new safety precautions. This agreement needs to be signed by groups using the church.
Hangers removed from hall closets to discourage bringing extra clothes. Tables in Fellowship Hall reflect social distancing guidelines.
10. Community Connections and Outreach
Phase 3 Sign-in required for tracing and to know what areas may need cleaning. It is preferred that non-church people be escorted while in the building. No food or clothes donations, but checks can be received. At this time, our summer VBS Program and our REACH Program have been cancelled for 2020. We are not planning to have a fall fundraiser or a Christmas Bazaar.
Phase 4 Food support to Lydia Hawk Elem. can begin. Food and clothes donations can be received. We await notification of the St. Benedict’s Meal program restart.
11. Essential Services
Phase 3 Our preschool has been deemed an ‘essential service’. We will follow state & local guidelines. We have not made a determination as to when St. Andrew’s will restart its preschool, though we have determined that upon the restart, parents will not be allowed in the church. They will need to drop off and sign-in children at the front door where the parents will meet a Teacher’s Aide. In addition, children will not be allowed to bring bags or backpacks into the building.
Phase 4 Our preschool has been deemed an ‘essential service’. We will follow state & local guidelines.
12. Other Ministry Settings
Phase 3 Though we partner with other entities outside the building (Food Bank, Lydia Hawk Elem, St. Benedict’s), there are no other ministry settings at our location.
Phase 4 We do not have any other ministry settings at this location.